The Advent ‘O Antiphons’ and the coded message

Recently Fr. Joe Holt and I were discussing the tradition of singing ‘O Antiphons’ during advent leading up the Christmas Eve. Not being familiar with this tradition, I did some research and I discovered a fascinating history of the church where seven antiphons that start with the letter O (hence called the O antiphons), followed by the Magnificat were sung or recited at vesper services during Advent.

Each of the seven antiphons are sung from Dec 17 – 23 culminating and pointing towards Christmas eve on Dec 24. The seven antiphons highlight a title of the Messiah:  O Sapientia (O Wisdom), O Adonai (O Lord), O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse), O Clavis David (O Key of David), O Oriens (O Rising Sun), O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations), and O Emmanuel.

If one starts with the last title and takes the first letter of each one – Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia, you get the Latin words ‘ero cras’, which means, “Tomorrow, I will come.”

You can find more information here. You can also here a chant version of the antiphons here. A beautiful setting by Arvo Pärt can be heard here: Part I, Part II.

~From your Music Director @Incarnation

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