The O Antiphones
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O come, thou Wisdom from on high, Who ordrest all things mightily;  To us the path of knowledge show, and teach us the way to go.  -

December 17th-
O Wisdom
O come, O come, Thou Lord of might, Who to thy tribes on Sinai's height; In ancient times didst give the law, In cloud and majesty and awe.


December 18th-
O Sacred Lord
O come, Thou rod of Jesse's stem, From ev'ry foe deliver them; That trust thy mighty pow'r to save, And give them vict'ry o'er the grave.

-December 19th-
O Flower of Jesse's Stem
O come, Thou key of David come, And open wide our heav'nly home; Make safe the way that leads on high, And close the path of misery.


-December 20th-O Key of David
O come, Thou Day spring from on high And cheer us by thy drawing nigh; Disperse the gloomy clouds of night, And earth's dark shadow put to flight. -

December 21st-O Radient Dawn
O come , Desire of nations, bind in one the hearts of all human kind; Bid thou our sad divisions cease, And be Thy self our Prince of Peace.

-December 22nd-O King of All the Nations
O come, O come, Emanuel, And ransom captive Israel, That mourns in lonely exile here Until the Son of God appear.

-December 23rd-
O Emmanuel


Antiphons vicardoug
“O” by Paul Turner                      
Yes, you read the title right.  That's “ O" - the letter of the alphabet that most reminds us of breakfast cereal, inner tubes, doughnuts, hula hoops, no hitters, and Advent.

In many parishes, " 0" is the first word said in the new church year.  Actually, we sing it in Advent's most popular hymn, " 0 Come, 0 Come, Emmanuel." It announces the season which anticipates the coming of Christ at Christmas.  This hymn, which tells us Advent is starting, used to announce that Advent was ending.  The last eight days of Advent form a little season all by themselves.  

As the church prepares for the birthday of Christ, the liturgy gets more intense.  At daily Mass, the Gospels relate the events leading up to the first Christmas.  At evening prayer we have a special series of antiphons which beckon the Messiah to come.  Each night gives him a new name, drawn from the Hebrew Testament.  " 0 Wisdom," " 0 Sacred Lord," " 0 Flower of Jesse's Stem, 0 Key of David," " 0 Radiant Dawn," " 0 King of All the Nations," and the greatest of them all, " 0 Emmanuel," a name that means " God is with us."

For reasons which will be immediately obvious, we call that group of refrains the " 0 Antiphons," a hallmark of Advent, and a collection of music our church has treasured for many generations.  The Mass now includes a version of them as the alleluia verses for the same eight days before Christmas.

By the middle ages those seven antiphons got strung together into a popular hymn.  The last one became verse one, and " 0 Come, 0 Come Emmanuel" was born.  Thus, the antiphon originally established for the last evening before Christmas Eve is now often sung to begin Advent.

That " 0," of course, simply tells us that we're talking to someone.  It's like saying, "Hey, you." Only more politely.  But " 0" reminds us of much more.  It makes us think of something having no beginning and no end.  Like love.  Or an Advent wreath.  It resembles the shape of our mouth, and the sound we make when we face a mystery we cannot fully comprehend.

See the O Antiphones below....