O Come O Come Emmanuel

Dec. 12, 2021 – “O Come O Come Emmanuel”

We’ve reflected on the Blessed Virgin Mary, especially with the celebrations of the Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Guadalupe; we’ve celebrated “Gaudete Sunday” and lit the rose-colored candle in anticipatory joy; now we have reached the time of a heightened level of joyful anticipation in the Advent season.

In Evening Prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours (called “Vespers”), the “Canticle of Mary” (also known as the “Magnificat” (Luke 1:46-56)) is prayed.  A verse (called an “Antiphon”) is prayed at the beginning and end of it.

Beginning on December 17th, and each leading up to Christmas this “antiphon” invokes Christ by a different Messianic title or image.  Thus these “Antiphons” are known as the “Great Advent Antiphons,” or the “O Antiphons.”

You probably know these “Great Advent Antiphons” because they were compiled together into an Advent hymn, which you probably know, titled, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”

This blurb I found online from Ascension Press explains further the significances of these “Great Advent Antiphons”: 

“These seven ancient prayers have been prayed by millions of Christians. The medieval monasteries used to ring their largest bell as the choirs of monks intoned Mary’s Magnificat and these Advent antiphons. They are invoking Christ in seven messianic titles.

They are seven heart cries for Jesus to come anew in our life. Each one of them is preparing us to invite the Christ child more completely in this blessed season. 

Like a final crescendo, these O Antiphons are intoned during Evening Prayer on the seven days leading up to Christmas Eve. Each night they form luminous bookends around Our Lady’s Magnificat, like seven prayers she prayed during her week-long journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. All seven are in the oracles of the Old Testament prophet Isaiah, who gives us many memorable images of the Messiah. They are rich meditations on the One who is to come.” 

I invite you to spend time praying and reflecting with these verses, the titles and images of Christ as we move closer to Christmas!

Here they are listed for each day of the final week of Advent:

December 17 – O Wisdom of our God Most High,

guiding creation with power and love:

come to teach us the path of knowledge!

December 18 – O Leader of the House of Israel,

giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai:

come to rescue us with your mighty power!

December 19 –  O Root of Jesse’s stem,

sign of God’s love for all his people:

come to save us without delay!

December 20 – O Key of David,

opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom:

come and free the prisoners of darkness!

December 21 – O Radiant Dawn,

splendor of eternal light, sun of justice:

come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the

shadow of death.

December 22 – O King of all nations and keystone of the Church:

come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!

December 23 – O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law:

come to save us, Lord our God!



-Fr. Kevin