Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Special Christmas Countdown...The "O Antiphons"

The seven O Antiphons (also called the "Greater Antiphons" or "Major Antiphons") are prayers that come from the Liturgy of the Hours, or the special universal prayers that all Catholic priests and religious offer each day. They are offered during the Octave before Christmas Eve (December 17-23), a time which is called the "Golden Nights." Each Antiphon begins with "O" and addresses Jesus with a unique title which comes from the prophecies of Isaias and Micheas (Micah). They speak of man's desire and longing for God, a longing which has existed throughout the history of God's people from the beginning of time through Abraham, Moses and David, fulfilled on the night when Emmanuel (God with us) was born.

If one starts with the last title and takes the first letter of each one - Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia - the Latin words ero cras are formed, meaning, "Tomorrow, I will come." Therefore, the Lord Jesus, whose coming we have prepared for in Advent and whom we have addressed in these seven Messianic titles, now speaks to us, "Tomorrow, I will come." So the O Antiphons not only bring intensity to our Advent preparation, but bring it to a joyful conclusion.

- As explained on,, and

The O Antiphons are a magnificent example of what priceless teaching and poignant reflection can be given us, the lay faithful, by glimpsing into the Liturgy of the Hours devotions. Their depth instills anew the wonder and beauty of our Catholic Liturgical Year.

December 17th began the Antiphons with O Sapientia (O Wisdom), followed by O Adonai (O Lord of Israel) on the 18th and O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse) yesterday.

And now, today we pray:

O CLAVIS DAVID [Key of David],
and Sceptre of the House of Israel,
You open and no man closes;
You close and no man opens.
Come and deliver him from the chains of prison
who sits in darkness and in the shadow of death!

~ ~ ~

Isaias 22:22 ~ And I will lay the key of the house of David upon his shoulder: and he shall open, and none shall shut: and he shall shut, and none shall open.

Isaias 9:6 ~ For a child is born to us, and a son is given to us, and the government is upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, God the Mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace.

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