O Sapientia 

Tonight begins the Golden Nights, the octave leading up Christmas. In the old Latin breviary this is marked each evening from now until Christmas by the singing of the O Antiphons before the Magnificat at Vespers. The O Antiphons address the coming Lord under different titles from the Isiaic and Michan prophesies, filling out our image and understanding of the Babe of Bethlehem:

  • O Sapientia (O Wisdom)
  • O Adonai (O Lord of Israel)
  • O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse) 
  • O Clavis David (O Key of David)
  • O Oriens (O Radiant Dawn)
  • O Rex Gentium (O King of All Nations)
  • O Emmanuel (O God With Us)

The medieval mnemonic for remembering these was that, backwards, the first letter of each title is an acrostic: ERO CRAS, meaning ‘I come tomorrow.’ 

 Today’s antiphon, in English and Latin is:

Oh Wisdom, which proceeded from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end, mightily and sweetly disposing all things: come to teach us the way of prudence.

 O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem, fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia: veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.

You can hear it sung (which takes under a minute) by the Dominican students at Blackfriars, Oxford, by clicking here.

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