Tomorrow, as we enter the final days of Advent, the O Antiphons become part of the Church’s liturgical prayer. They go back to the 8th or 9th centuries. These antiphons are short prayers taken from the Old Testament in the prophecies of Isaiah which express the longing of a captive people for the coming of a Messiah who would free them. Each has been adapted by Christianity as a title expressing a quality of Christ that will heal the world. From December 17th to December 23rd, one of the antiphons is prayed each evening at Vespers. As we think of the longing of the ancient people in exile for liberation, we can relate to them in the longing people all over the earth now feel for liberation from the present situations which oppress them.
Come! O Come Emmanuel
All the O Antiphons are sung in the complete version of the hymn O Come O Come Emmanuel. Click on the arrow below and take the opportunity to listen and get in touch with the poignant tones of the music.
List of antiphons: The O Antiphons
Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Emmanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).
The season of Advent means there is something on the horizon the likes of which we have never seen before… .What is possible is to not see it, to miss it, to turn just as it brushes past you. And you begin to grasp what it was you missed, like Moses in the cleft of the rock, watching God’s [back] fade in the distance. So stay. Sit. Linger. Tarry. Ponder. Wait. Behold. Wonder. There will be time enough for running. For rushing. For worrying. For pushing. For now, stay. Wait. Something is on the horizon.
Jan L. Richardson
You keep us waiting. You, the God of all time, Want us to wait. For the right time in which to discover Who we are, where we are to go, Who will be with us, and what we must do. So thank you … for the waiting time.
Advent: the time to listen for footsteps – you can’t hear footsteps when
you’re running yourself.
A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes…and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent.
One of the essential paradoxes of Advent: that while we wait for God, we are with God all along ,that while we need to be reassured of God’s arrival, or the arrival of our homecoming, we are already at home. While we wait, we have to trust, to have faith, but it is God’s grace that gives us that faith. As with all spiritual knowledge, two things are true, and equally true, at once. The mind can’t grasp paradox; it is the knowledge of the soul.