the evening of December 17 the final phase of preparation for Christmas begins
with the first of the great "O Antiphons" of Advent. These prayers are
seven jewels of liturgical song, one for each day until Christmas Eve. They seem
to sum up all our Advent longing for the Savior.
"O Antiphons" are intoned with special solemnity in monasteries at Vespers,
before and after the Magnificat, Mary's prayer of praise and thanksgiving from
the Gospel of Luke (2:42-55), which is sung every evening as the climax of this
Hour of the Divine Office.
vestige of the "Great O's" can be seen in verses of the familiar Advent
hymn, "O Come, O Come Emmanuel".
interested in the liturgy have discovered these gems of liturgical poetry and
use them in their evening prayers. An "O Antiphon House" similar to
an Advent Calendar, can be made, with seven windows, each concealing an appropriate
symbol for the different "O Antiphons," and an eighth window hiding
the Nativity scene. As with an Advent calendar, one window is opened each day.
sublime meditation of the "Great 'O's" would be excellent for families
with children who have outgrown the Jesse Tree or Advent calendar. In any case,
they are beautiful additions to your family prayers in the days just before Christmas.
Wisdom, that proceedest
from the mouth of the Most High, Reaching from end to end mightily, and sweetly
disposing all things: come and teach us the way of prudence.
Lord and Ruler of
the house of Israel, Who didst appear unto Moses in the burning bush, and gavest
him the law on Sinai: come and redeem us by Thy outstretched arm.
Root of Jesse, Who
standest as the Ensign of the people, before Whom kings shall not open their lips;
to Whom the Gentiles shall pray: come and deliver us, tarry now no more.
Key of David, and
Sceptre of the house of Israel; Who openest, and no man shutteth, Who shuttest,
and no man openeth: come and lead the captive from the prison house, and him that
sitteth in darkness and the shadow of death.
Dawn of the East, Splendor
of the eternal Light, and Sun of justice: Come and enlighten them that sit in
darkness, and the shadow of death.
King of the gentiles,
yea, and the desire thereof, the Cornerstone
that makest both one: come and save man, whom Thou hast made out of the slime
of the earth.
Emmanuel, our King
and Lawgiver, the expectation of all nations and their Salvation: come and save
us, O Lord our God.