O Antiphons

T

he O Antiphons are inspired by messianic titles taken from the book of Isaiah and are sung in the season of Advent in the days immediately preceding Christmas. They are sung both at the Canticle of Mary (Magnificat) at Evening Prayer (Vespers) and at the Alleluia in Mass beginning on December 17th:

17 December: O Sapientia (O Wisdom)

17 December:
O Sapientia (O Wisdom)

18 December: O Adonai (O Lord)

18 December:
O Adonai (O Lord)

19 December: O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)

19 December:
O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)

20 December: O Clavis David (O Key of David)

20 December:
O Clavis David (O Key of David)

21 December: O Oriens (O Dayspring)

21 December:
O Oriens (O Dayspring)

22 December: O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations)

22 December:
O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations)

23 December: O Emmanuel (O With Us is God)

23 December:
O Emmanuel (O With Us is God)

In addition, on December 24th, in the Norbertine tradition, we sing an additional O Antiphon, O Virgo virginum (O Virgin of virgins).

The O Antiphons make up a lyrical paraphrase in the Christian hymn “O come, O come, Emmanuel” (in Latin, Veni Emmanuel).

Also, if one were to take the first letter of these Latin titles in reverse order (Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia), it forms an acrostic of Ero cras, meaning, “Tomorrow I will be.”

ERO CRAS
"Tomorrow I will be."

At Saint Michael’s Abbey, since our tradition includes the antiphon about the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Latin words Vero cras are formed, meaning, “Truly, tomorrow.”