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Monday, 16 December 2019 07:00

The Gift of the 'O' Antiphons

 2019.72Th Gift of the O Antiphons.main blog

Have you heard of the O Antiphons? They are a gift to us from the church in the final stretch of our advent preparation which help us reflect more deeply on the rapidly approaching birth of Jesus. Each O Antiphon is usually sung at Evening Prayer before the Magnificat from December 17-23, but if you are not a regular pray-er of the Divine Office you can simply use them in your daily prayer as a point of inspiration. 

In many monasteries throughout the world, bells are rung as these antiphons are sung, calling all people to rejoice as the birth of Jesus grows closer with each day. Each O Antiphon, begins with the word O. I was pondering why this was the case and came across a blog written by Sr Mary from Jamberoo Abbey.

She suggests that The first word “O” tells us that the cycle of time is almost complete – like the closing of a perfect circle. The very shape of the “O” conveys this. So it is time to mend the broken circles of our lives by doing our inner work and returning, as a circle does, to our point of origin. God is our beginning and comes to us at Christmas so we return to him and complete the circle once again. Thus, the O of our antiphons, becomes the O of our lives and the life of the world.

Each O is followed by a title given to the Messiah, O Sapientia (O Wisdom), O Adonai (O Lord), O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse), O Clavis David (O Key of David), O Oriens (O Rising Sun), O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations), and O Emmanuel, and each title is coupled with a prophecy of Isaiah about the coming of the Messiah.

Each one then concludes with a petition, such as O come to teach us the way of truth as a way of acknowledging our great need for the coming of the Saviour in our lives and in the world.

With this in mind, perhaps like me, you feel inspired to take the journey through these last days of Advent aided by the O Antiphons. Each day, starting tomorrow, we will post one on our blog with a short reflection.

Mel Edwards