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LAST EIGHT DAYS OF ADVENT and THE "O" ANTIPHONS

Written By Franklin V on Tuesday, December 3, 2013 | 9:01 AM

THE LAST EIGHT DAYS OF ADVENT.


During the last eight days of Advent, it is useful to reflect on the different titles given to

the Lord who is to come.  The  titles  are  Old  Testament  titles,  here  conferred on Jesus,
showing he is the promised Messiah.




Wisdom


St. Paul tells us that God's foolishness is wiser than human wisdom. 

He is saying that it is hard to imagine the Wisdom of God,
who knows all things, because God has created all things.
This title of God reminds us especially of the Book of Wisdom 
in the Old Testament - a beautiful hymn 
in which wisdom is personified, 
and is active in the world.


Adonai


A name for the Most High God, 

whose true name could not be uttered, 
and of whom it was said that no-one could gaze 
on the face of God and live. 
Adonai is the Lord of armies, 
who will march out to save the people in battle.

Stock of Jesse


Jesse was the father of King David, 

and Jesus is a descendent of David. 
From David comes the association of Jesus as royal, of David's line. 
Jesus inherits the throne of David, 
re-defining his role as King of the Jews.

Key of David


Jesus is not simply a ruler descended from David, 

but a liberator, a redeemer. 
This name echoes the mission of Jesus to bind and to loose, 
a mission Jesus passes on to his disciples.

Rising Sun


The sun is a sign of God's creation, 

God's endurance, and a sign of God's glory. 
God's glory outshines the sun, 
and will endure after the sun and moon have failed. 
Psalm 84 describes God as the sun:
"For the LORD God is a sun and shield; 
he bestows favor and honor. 
No good thing does the LORD withhold 
from those who walk uprightly." (Psalm 84:11 NRSV)

King


God is the king above all kings, 

and the prophet Samuel is reluctant 
to anoint a king for the Israelites 
as this will seem like a rejection of God's rule. 
Pilate asks Jesus if he is a king; 
Jesus answers indirectly, 
because his kingship does not accord 
with the expectations of the Romans, 
the Jewish authorities, 
or even his followers.

Emmanuel


The prophecy of Isaiah foretells a sign to be given by God: 

a virgin will conceive and give birth to a son 
whom she will call Emmanuel: 
a name which means God is with us.
Jesus is the word made flesh, 
God in the midst of the people.

THE "O" ANTIPHONS.


There are seven short verses sung before the Magnificat during Evening Prayer of the Church on the seven days before the vigil of Christmas. They each begin with the exclamation "O". Each of them ends with a plea for the Messiah to come. As Christmas approaches the cry becomes more urgent.


The antiphons were composed in the seventh or eighth century when monks put together texts from the Old Testament which looked forward to the coming of our salvation. They form a rich mosaic of scriptural images. These seven verses, or antiphons as they are called, appear to be the originals although from time to time other texts were used. They became very popular in the Middle Ages. While the monastic choirs sang the antiphons the great bells of the church were rung. A curious feature of these antiphons is that the first letter of each invocation may be taken from the Latin to form an acrostic in reverse.


So the first letters of Sapientia, Adonai, Radix, Clavis, Oriens, Rex, and Emmanuel, provide the Latin words: ERO CRAS . The phrase spells out the response of Christ himself to the heartfelt prayer of his people: "Tomorrow I will be there". Why not join with the Prayer of the Church each evening and reflect on these words preparing for Christmas day by day:


December 17th:


O Wisdom, you come forth from the mouth of the Most High. You fill the universe and hold all things together in a strong yet gentle manner. O come to teach us the way of truth.


December 18th:


O Adonai and leader of Israel, you appeared to Moses in a burning bush and you gave him the Law on Sinai. O come and save us with your mighty power.


December 19th:


O stock of Jesse, you stand as a signal for the nations; kings fall silent before you whom the peoples acclaim. O come to deliver us, and do not delay.


December 20th:


O key of David and scepter of Israel, what you open no one else can close again; what you close no one can open. O come to lead the captive from prison; free those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.


December 21st:


O Rising Sun, you are the splendor of eternal light and the sun of justice. O come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.


December 22nd:


O King whom all the peoples desire, you are the cornerstone which makes all one. O come and save man whom you made from clay.


December 23rd:


O Emmanuel, you are our king and judge, the One whom the peoples await and their Savior. O come and save us, Lord, our God.
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