Monday, December 17, 2018

The O Antiphons - The Final Catholic Countdown to Christmas

A special and very beautiful prayer tradition is associated with the last seven days of Advent in the Catholic Church. The Vespers prayers for December 17 - 23 each include what is called an O Antiphon particular to each day (so called because each antiphon begins with the vocative "O," followed by a title associated with Christ, derived from Scripture). In the post-Vatican II liturgy of the Church, the O Antiphons are also used during the Alleluia verses corresponding to each day. In Medieval English tradition, the O Antiphons included an eight one, with the sequence starting on Dec 16 to allow for the addition.

Below, I include a video rendition of each antiphon. To read more, visit the Wikipedia entry on the O Antiphons.

December 17: O Sapientia

December 18: O Adonai

December 19: O Radix Jesse

December 20: Clavis David

December 21: O Oriens

December 22: O Rex Gentium

December 23: O Emmanuel

Medieval English O Antiphon for December 23: O Virgo Virginum

As mentioned above, in Medieval English tradition, the O Antiphons started on December 16 and an 8th one was added on December 23. (Please note: The video below inaccurately states that this antiphon was used on December 24).

Photo Credit: The 14-pointed star marking the site of the birth of Christ inside the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem by Zoltan Abraham (c) 2016.

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