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On December 17th the Church will begin praying what are called the “O” Antiphons.  The Church has been singing the “O” Antiphons since at least the eighth century. They are the antiphons that accompany the Magnificat canticle of Evening Prayer every year from December 17-23.  As well, the Church proclaims them as the Alleluia verses during the Mass for those days. They are a magnificent expression of our Faith, which uses ancient Biblical imagery drawn from the hopes of the Old Testament for the promised Messiah.  They proclaim the coming Christ as the fulfillment not only of Old Testament hopes, but present ones as well. Their repeated use of the word “Come!” in the last line of each antiphon embodies the longing we all have for Jesus. The O Antiphons describe our need for Jesus.  The first one describes Jesus as the teacher of “the path of Knowledge”.  All the others describe our prison in sin, not able to free ourselves from our sin without Jesus.  The last two reveal that our Savior, Jesus, is God Himself. They are also the source of the Advent hymn: “O’ Come O’ Come Emmanuel”  May they be a source of grace for us this Advent.

O’ Antiphons

 December 17

O Wisdom of our God Most High,

guiding creation with power and love:

come to teach us the path of knowledge!

December 18

O Leader of the House of Israel,

giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai:

come to rescue us with your mighty power!

December 19

O Root of Jesse’s stem,

sign of God’s love for all his people:

come to save us without delay!

December 20

O Key of David,

opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom:

come and free the prisoners of darkness!

December 21

O Radiant Dawn,

splendor of eternal light, sun of justice:

come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death.

December 22

O King of all nations and keystone of the Church:

come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!

December 23

O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law:

come to save us, Lord our God!



“O’ Come, O’ Come Emmanuel”

O come, O come, Emmanuel

And ransom captive Israel

That mourns in lonely exile here

Until the Son of God appear



Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, O Israel


O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free

Thine own from Satan’s tyranny

From depths of Hell Thy people save

And give them victory o’er the grave


O come, Thou Day-Spring Come and cheer

Our spirits by Thine advent here

Disperse the gloomy clouds of night

And death’s dark shadows put to flight


O come, Thou Key of David, come

And open wide our heavenly home

Make safe the way that leads on high

And close the path to misery


O come, O come, Thou Lord of might

Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai’s height

In ancient times did’st give the Law

In cloud, and majesty and awe

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