A year ago I published a series of short meditations of the O Antiphons. Shortly after that I abandoned the blog without notice in favour of concentrated work on The Novel. As it happens, The Novel is now about a week’s worth of editing away from being sent to agents (on which more later), and, out of nowehere, two complete strangers emailed to ask me to repost them this year. Having imagined that the long, unexplained hiatus had alienated my faithful readership of twelve persons (which includes my mother), this outpouring of enthusiasm was stunning. So, I shall honour this request, reposting the O Antiphon meditations daily, with the hope that this exercise will be a small step towards new weekly posts come January. St Francis de Sales, pray for us!
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.