The Great “O” Antiphons

Tomorrow night marks the beginning of the Great “O” Antiphon readings, which mark the last seven days of Advent, leading up to Christmas Eve.

This is a new addition to our Advent routine this year, and I’m really looking forward to it. We’ll be adding an ornament that corresponds with the night’s antiphon to our Jesse Tree each evening during our Advent wreath/prayer time.

The O Antiphons have been in use for at least the last 1500 years. They’re often found as part of a Vespers service, and also match up with the verses of the Advent hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” Each Antiphon is one of the names of Christ found in the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah in Scripture:

If you look at the Latin title of each antiphon, and arrange them in an acrostic, starting with the last one, and working backward to the beginning (Emmanuel, Rex Gentium, Oriens, Clavis, Radix Jesse, Adonai, Sapientia), they spell out the Latin phrase “Ero Cras,” which means “Tomorrow I will come.” Very appropriate for the end of Advent, and for our hopes of the return of our Lord!

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