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O Antiphons

O Antiphons

O AntiphonsThe O Antiphons are antiphons prayed with the Magnificat at Vespers/Evensong on the last seven days of Advent in Western Christian traditions. There has been an alternative English medieval tradition which had each of the antiphons a day earlier (starting on 16 December) and an extra one on 23 December. In Common Worship the Church of England has abandoned this and formal Anglican usage is consistent with the rest of the Western church. [The NZ Lectionary has “O Sapientia” on December 17, but no other mention of the O Antiphons whatsoever – I sincerely wonder what the majority make of this “O Sapientia” in that text!]

December 17: O Sapientia (O Wisdom)
December 18: O Adonai (O Lord)
December 19: O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)
December 20: O Clavis David (O Key of David)
December 21: O Oriens (O Dayspring)
December 22: O Rex Gentium (O King of the nations)
December 23: O Emmanuel (O With Us is God)

The alternative English medieval practice would have

December 23: O Virgo virginum (O Virgin of virgins)

For that English medieval practice, reading the first letters in reverse Virgo Emmanuel… cutely results in Vero cras, “truly, tomorrow (I come)”!

There are a lot of reflections on the O Antiphons on this site:

O Sapientia – O Wisdom – December 17
O Adonai – O Lord of might – December 18

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2 thoughts on “O Antiphons”

  1. When I think of the “O Antiphons”, the only thing that comes to mind is this book (which I haven’t read) because I met the author: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hasten-the-kingdom-mary-winifred/1111604288?ean=9780814623633&userid=2X8ZBS66F6&itm=1&

    So its something I don’t know about, and don’t think any church around me does anything with. Other than your post and the book title, I never had a clue what the “O Antiphons” are.

    But maybe I live under a rock. (I’m just a lay person.)

    1. Thanks, Sue. I don’t go in for the “just a lay person”, sorry 🙂 I would be very surprised if you and the other churches around you do not sing “O come, O come, Emmanuel” which is singing your way through the O Antiphons. As you click your way through the links I offered I hope you will find the O Antiphons enriching this last week of Advent. I encourage you to pray and reflect on one a day with the rest of the church. Advent Blessings.

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