O key of David and sceptre of the House of Israel; you open and none can shut; you shut and none can open: come and free the captives from prison, and break down the walls of death.
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
[…come, and lead the prisoner
seated in darkness
and in the shadow of death.]
O Clavis David,
et sceptrum domus Israël,
qui aperis, et nemo claudit,
claudis, et nemo aperuit:
veni, et educ vinctum
de domo carceris,
sedentem in tenebris,
et umbra mortis.
Isaiah 22:22; Revelation 3:7
O come, thou Lord of David’s key!
The royal door fling wide and free;
safeguard for us the heavenward road,
and bar the way to death’s abode.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.
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.
From at least the eighth century the antiphon before and after the Magnificat at Vespers (Evening Prayer), for the seven days leading up to Christmas Eve, has greeted Christ with a title starting with “O”. These became the basis of the popular carol “O come, O come, Emmanuel”. The initials, when read backwards, form the Latin “Ero Cras” which means “Tomorrow I come.”
They are now also used , in shorted form, in the Alleluia verses before the days’ Gospel readings.
Each day an O Antiphon could be used for prayer and reflection. These could form the basis of an Advent service with readings, music, and singing. Or of art, banners, or other ways of enhancing the worship environment symbolically. The carol “O come, O come, Emmanuel” and the Magnificat could form significant features in this.