You are most likely familiar with the Advent hymn â€œO Come, O Come Emmanuel.â€ ButÂ are youÂ as familiar with its rich history — a great treasure of the Advent season?
In Roman Catholic tradition, the Church begins reciting the Great Antiphons or â€œO Antiphonsâ€ on December 17 through December 23. This is the special period on the Church calendar known as the Octave before Christmas. There are seven antiphons, and a special one is recited each day of the Octave before and after the Magnificat prayer (Luke 1:46-55) during Vespers (evening prayer) of the Liturgy of the Hours. Flanking the antiphons around the Magnificat, or Maryâ€™s Canticle, illuminates the graces God pours out on Israel through Maryâ€™s fiat.
As shown below, each antiphon highlights a different name for Christ inspired by various attributes found in Scripture. You can see theyÂ also form the verses to â€œO Come, O Come Emmanuel.â€Â In seven various, but interrelated ways, the antiphons voice the ultimate petition of Scripture — â€œSurely I am coming soonâ€ (Revelation 22:20).
- December 17: O Sapientia (OÂ Wisdom)
- December 18: O Adonai (OÂ Lord)
- December 19: O Radix Jesse (OÂ Root of Jesse)
- December 20: O Clavis David (O Key ofÂ David)
- December 21: O Oriens (O Dayspring)
- December 22: O Rex Gentium (O King of the nations)
- December 23: O Emmanuel (OÂ God is with Us)
The first letters of the Latin titles in reverse order (as bolded and underlined above) spell out â€œERO CRASâ€, which translates to â€œTomorrow, I will comeâ€, representing the seven remainingÂ days ofÂ Advent preparationÂ before the coming of Jesus.
On each date above, a deeper reflection on the respective antiphon will be linked when posted.