O Antiphons

We are about to enter the last week of Advent. We are making the final preparations in our hearts to welcome Christ and celebrate His birth. One way that we can do that is to pray the “O Antiphons,” and they start today (Dec. 17th). The “O Antiphons” are really prayers for Jesus to come in our lives. There are seven antiphons, each calling on a different name of our Messiah; and we pray one per day from Dec. 17th to Dec. 23rd.

You could pray them with Evening Prayer, as is the tradition. Or, if you have little ones, you could simply say the antiphon before bed each night, sing the corresponding verse from O Come, O Come Emmanuel, and read the Bible verse that mentions that name. Pray them in a way that flows naturally with your family’s prayer life.

I have listed the antiphons, Bible passages, and hymn verses for each day below. Here they are…

o-antiphons

December 17 – O Sapientia (Wisdom)

Tradition O Antiphon: “O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end, mightily and sweetly ordering all things: come and teach us the way of prudence.”

Isaiah 11:2: “The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.”

O come, thou Wisdom from on high,
who orderest all things mightily;
to us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

December 18 – O Adonai (Lord)

Tradition O Antiphon“O Adonai and Leader of the house of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the flames of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: come and redeem us with outstretched arm.” 

Isaiah 33:22: “For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our ruler, the Lord is our king; he will save us.

O come, O come, great Lord of might,
who to thy tribes on Sinai’s height
in ancient times once gave the law
in cloud and majesty and awe.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

December 19 – O Radix Jesse (Root of Jesse)

Tradition O Antiphon“O Root of Jesse, who stand as a sign among the people, before whom kings shall shut their mouths, to whom the nations shall make supplication: come to deliver us, and tarry not.”

Isaiah 11:1: “A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.”

O come, thou Root of Jesse’s tree,
an ensign of thy people be;
before thee rulers silent fall;
all peoples on thy mercy call.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

December 20 – O Clavis David (Key of David)

Tradition O Antiphon“O Key of David and scepter of the house of Israel; who open and none can shut; who shut and none can open: come and lead to freedom the prisoner who sits in darkness and the shadow of death.”

Isaiah 22:22: “I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and no one shall shut; he shall shut, and no one shall open.”

O come, thou Key of David, come,
and open wide our heavenly home;
make safe the way that leads on high,
and close the path to misery. 

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

December 21 – O Oriens (Rising Sun)

Tradition O Antiphon“O Rising Dawn, splendor of eternal Light and Sun of Justice: come and illuminate those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death.”

Malachi 4:2: “But for you who revere my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.”

O come, thou Dayspring, come and cheer
our spirits by thine advent here;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
and death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

December 22 – O Rex Gentium (King of Nations)

Tradition O Antiphon“O King of the Nations and their Desire, the Cornerstone who binds two into one: come and save mankind, whom you fashioned from clay.”

Isaiah 28:16: “See, I am laying in Zion a foundation stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation: ‘One who trusts will not panic.’”

O come, Desire of nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind;
bid thou our sad divisions cease,
and be thyself our King of Peace.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

December 23 – O Emmanuel (God with us)

Tradition O Antiphon“O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the hope of all nations and their Savior: come and save us, O Lord our God!”

Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.”

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

img_2003We plan to start the tradition of praying these antiphons as a family this year. Our children are little, and I have found that having something tactile or sensory to pair with a prayer or religious ritual helps them understand the meaning and get “into” it. So this year I’m finishing up some O Antiphon ornaments for us to hang each night after we pray, read, and sing. I will be posting them each day on Instagram. (You can follow me at jessica.ptomey.) If you are on social media, I encourage you to post your O Antiphons tradition using the hashtag #OAntiphons.