St. Mary's Church, Woodbridge
"We are here for the glory of God; to be the body of Christ, broken and restored to reflect the Gospel in our lives."
Worship > Pew Sheet

16th December 2018 - Advent 2


 Longing for Christmas – the Great ‘O’ Advent Antiphons

Do you remember how, as a child, the days of December passed so slowly and you couldn’t wait for Christmas to come?  Those of us with young children or grandchildren are probably having to cope with the same feeling again; I certainly am!  The monks and nuns of the medieval Church felt exactly the same, and from the 8th century onwards expressed their impatience and frustration with waiting in the words of these Antiphons.

Antiphons are passages based on Scripture that are said or sung before and after the canticles at Morning and Evening Prayer.  These seven are written to accompany the Evening Magnificat, a different one for each evening from 17-23 December.  Each one addresses the coming Christ in a title, based on Old Testament Prophecy and ends with the urgent plea  ‘Come’.

You’ll recognize them in today’s opening hymn ‘O Come, O Come Emmanuel’, which, incidentally, has them in the wrong order!  Many Churches follow the rule that this hymn should not be sung before 17 December, which is marked as ‘O Sapientia’ in the Common Worship Kalender.  However in the old English Kalender, as printed in the Prayer Book, ‘O Sapientia’ falls on 16 December, so we’re following the older tradition today!

The seven Antiphons are printed below with the  date for each.  May I suggest you use them with the Magnificat, or simply ponder each for a short while on its day.

17 December - O Sapientia

O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High,
reaching from one end to the other mightily,
and sweetly ordering all things:
Come and teach us the way of prudence.                             cf Ecclesiasticus 24.3; Wisdom 8.1 

18 December - O Adonai

O Adonai, and 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.                                      cf Exodus 3.2, 24.12 

                   19 December - O Radix Jesse

O Root of Jesse, standing as a sign among the peoples;
before you kings will shut their mouths,
to you the nations will make their prayer:
Come and deliver us, and delay no longer.             cf Isaiah 11.10, 45.14, 52.15; Romans 15.12  

20 December - O Clavis David

O Key of David and sceptre of the House of Israel;
you open and no one can shut;
you shut and no one can open:
Come and lead the prisoners from the prison house,
those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.                             cf Isaiah 22.22, 42.7  

                   21 December - O Oriens

O Morning Star,
splendour of light eternal and sun of righteousness:
Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness
and the shadow of death.                                                                                 cf Malachi 4.2  

22 December - O Rex Gentium

O King of the nations, and their desire,
the cornerstone making both one:
Come and save the human race,
which you fashioned from clay.                                               cf Isaiah 28.16; Ephesians 2.14

23 December - O Emmanuel

O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver,
the hope of the nations and their Saviour:
Come and save us, O Lord our God.                                                                 cf Isaiah 7.14


John Hare


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