The Great

UNKNOWN

On 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.

About the "Great O's"

On 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.

The "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.

A vestige of the "Great O's" can be seen in verses of the familiar Advent hymn, "O Come, O Come Emmanuel".

Families 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.

The 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.


December 17

O 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.

December 18

O 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.

December 19

O 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.

December 20

O 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.

December 21

O 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.

December 22

O 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.

December 23

O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the expectation of all nations and their Salvation: come and save us, O Lord our God.


Adapted from Celebrating Advent and Christmas A Sourcebook for Families, Women for Faith & Family Address PO Box 8326, St. Louis, MO 63132. Permission is granted to reproduce this text, with proper acknowledgement of source.




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