The final O Antiphon before Christmas is the familiar call of O Emmanuel. No translation is needed today, no Latin to understand. We comprehend now that the meaning is,”God with us.”
God is with us, what a powerful gift, what immense love – our God who comes to be with us, to love us, save us, and free us from all. A God who comes as a tiny infant, foretold by the prophet Isaiah. He was born in a lowly spot in terrible circumstances, yet the savior of all. A God who comes down to not only be with us, but to be one of us and to set us free.
O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster,
expectratio gentium, et Salvator earum:
veni ad salvandum nos,
Domines, Deus noster.
O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver,
desire of the nations, Savior of all people:
Come and set us free, Lord our God.
Our antiphon for today is O Oriens, or O Radiant Dawn, sometimes referred to as. As our days grow dark and short, we await the light, the dawn. On Christmas, the dawn will break with the Light of Christ, the day that we longed for, the day that we hoped in. As people who have walked in darkness, we will now walk in light, the Light of Christ!
O Oriens, splendor lucis aeternae,
et sol justitiae:
veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris,
et umbra mortis.
O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice:
Come, shine on those who dwell in darkness
and the shadow of death.
Today’s O Antiphon is O Radix Jesse, or Root of Jesse. Remember that King David was chosen, from the root of Jesse. In 1 Samuel 16:11, Samuel sees Jesse’s sons, and knows that none of them are the one whom God seeks. He then asks if there are any others, and David was brought forth – and immediately chosen by God. He was the unlikely one – as is The Christ. Think about unlikely so many things are in your life, and then consider all of that against these things. All things are truly possible with God.
O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum,
super quem continebunt reges os suum,
quem gentes deprecabuntur:
veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.
O Flower of Jesse’s stem,
you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples;
kings stand silent in your presence;
the nations bow down in worship before you.
Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.
Today’s O Antiphon is O Adonai. Two years ago I learned something very interesting about this particular name for God, Adonai. Apparently it has a meaning that translates to “bread keeper.” When we think of the Eucharist, this name has a powerful meaning! I am struck by the image of Moses before the burning bush that this antiphon presents us with. It is an encounter that changes everything, one that will change the world. So it is with our encounter with Christ, who is going to show himself, stretching out his might arm to save and to love.
O Adonai, et dux domus Israel, qui Moyse in igne flammae rubi apparuisti, et ei in Sina legem dedisti: veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.
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 Root of Jesse, standing as a sign among the peoples;
before you kings will shut their mouths,
to you the nations will make their prayer:
Come and deliver us, and delay no longer.
About four years ago I read a book about liturgy and worship, I believe that it was by Nathan Mitchell. I can’t find the book right now, so that’s as accurate as I can get at the moment.
Mitchell was talking about the communal nature of liturgy and of how networks arise. Trust me – it made sense in the book, which I hope to get my hands on and quote more directly. He wrote about the roots of rhizomes, which unlike tree roots, that go deep, reach out to connect to one another. While I have thought of this many times over the years, I never thought of it in relationship to this O Antiphon until today. Continue reading
December 17th marks the beginning of the O Antiphons.
From the linked article:
The “O Antiphons” refer to the seven antiphons that are recited (or chanted) preceding the Magnificat during Vespers of the Liturgy of the Hours. They cover the special period of Advent preparation known as the Octave before Christmas, Dec. 17-23, with Dec. 24 being Christmas Eve and Vespers for that evening being for the Christmas Vigil.
The Liturgy of the Hours is the prayer of of the church as we literally “pray through the day.” Many of us in the secular life use an abbreviated form of this prayer, but in monasteries, convents and all sorts of places, this is prayed daily.
Vespers is the Continue reading