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An Invitation to Pray the “O Antiphons”

December 16, 2011

[Since at least the 6th century, the “O Antiphons” have been a part of the celebration of Advent. Each of the seven antiphons sets forth an aspect of Jesus’ majesty from the book of the prophet Isaiah. The “O Antiphons”  are recited or chanted preceding the Magnificat during Vespers of the Liturgy of the Hours from December 17 to 23. I invite us to make them part of our Advent journey this year:]

O Sapientia: O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care. Come and show your people the way to salvation.  

O Adonai: O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free. 

O Radix Jesse: O Flower of Jesse’s stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; monarchs stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.

O Clavis David: O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel controlling at your will the gate of Heaven: Come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom. 

O Oriens: O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

O Rex Gentium: O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of humanity, come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust. 

O Emmanuel: O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Saviour of all people, come and set us free, Lord our God. 


For more information about the “O Antiphons,” you can click here, and then type in stpaulscalgary as your email address and God’s Grace as your password, to access a document entitled “0025. What are the ‘O Antiphons’  (2008).” My favourite Advent hymn, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” is based on the “O Antiphons.” A powerful rendition of this hymn from Derby Cathedral is embedded below:

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