Latin:O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodidisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem, fortier suavier disponensque omnia: veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae. English:O Wisdom, who came from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: come, and teach us the way of prudence.
We are coming into the final week before Christmas, and at evening Vespers, the “O” Antiphons will be chanted.
These were apparently composed in the seventh or eighth century when monks put together texts from the Old Testament, particularly from the prophet Isaiah, which looked forward to the coming, in flesh, of our salvation.
Each of the O Antiphons highlights a different title for 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. Each one refers to the prophecies of Isaiah.
When we sing “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” during Mass in Advent, its roots go a lot deeper than being sung as a common hymn in the back of the hymnal. This connection to the early days of the Church is a fitting reminder of the rich patrimony that Catholicism embraces and connects us to our inheritance and is preserved as Our Lord promised “…until the end of the ages…”
We will be presenting the antiphons, in order, from today until the the 23rd.
“Advent is concerned with that very connection between memory and hope which is so necessary to man. Advent’s intention is to awaken the most profound and basic emotional memory within us, namely, the memory of the God who became a child. This is a healing memory; it brings hope.
The purpose of the Church’s (liturgical) year is continually to rehearse her great history of memories, to awaken the heart’s memory so that it can discern the star of hope…
It is the beautiful task of Advent to awaken in all of us memories of goodness and thus open the doors of hope.”
–+Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Seek That Which is Above, 1986