17th December: O Sapientia (O Wisdom) is the first great “O” which begins the week. Wisdom was there at the creation and brought order out of chaos. The prophesy about the Messiah said, “The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.” Isaiah 11:2-3
18th December: O Adonai (O Lord) reminds us of God who appeared to Moses in the Burning Bush and who gave him the Law (the Ten Commandments). “…Leader of the house of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: Come and redeem us with an outstretched arm.” Exodus 3:2 ; 24:12
19th December: O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse) spoke also of the line from which Jesus came. Jesse was King David’s father who he was working for minding the sheep when he was called and anointed to be the King over Israel. “A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.” Isaiah 11:1 “On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.” Isaiah 11:10 Micah had prophesied that the Messiah would be of the house and lineage of David and be born in David’s city, Bethlehem. Micah 5:1.
20th December: O Clavis David (O Key of David) These words, “O Key of David and sceptre of the house of Israel”, remind us of Christ’s Kingship. We are also drawn to remember the blind man who called Jesus by the title “Son of David” as he tried to attract His attention. Isaiah said “His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onwards and for evermore.” Isaiah 9:7 Also “I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and no one shall shut; he shall shut, and no one shall open.” Isaiah 22:22
21st December: O Oriens (O morning Star) The Prophet Malachi said, “You who revere my name the sun of righteousness shall rise”. Malachi 4:1. The words of this antiphon reflect this. “O Morning star splendour and light eternal and sun of righteousness. Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.” Isaiah had prophesied: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness on them light has shined.” Isaiah 9:2
22nd December: O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations) is a reference to the words of both the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah who told of a time when Israel would be gathered. “I am going to save you from far away and your offspring from captivity.” Jeremiah 30:10. “For a child has been born for us, a son given us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6
23rd December: O Emmanuel (O God with us) O come O come Emmanuel is a well-known Advent hymn which is based on words of this the last of the O Antiphons. “O Emmanuel, our king and our law giver, the hope of the nations and their Saviour. Come and save us, O Lord our God.”
God of promise, we thank you for those who, since time began,
have trusted your word.
Let us be ready to see you, listening for your good news so that
we may dance and sing our way into the Kingdom. Amen.
Jane Kraft is the Associate Area Dean of Sonning and has PTO in the Diocese of Oxford.