The O Antiphons are an ancient Advent season prayer, dating at least to the sixth century. Traditionally the antiphons are sung or recited during vespers between December 17 and 24, immediately before the Magnificat. Since the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council, the antiphons are also included as the Gospel acclamation during Mass on the same days. Each of the seven antiphons begins with a different title for the long-awaited Messiah, followed by petitions to teach, redeem, deliver, free, enlighten and save the people of God. Today the antiphons are the basis for the hymn O Come, O Come Emmanuel. During this Advent season, seven sisters are reflecting on each of the beautiful antiphons.
A note from the artist, Sister Renee Yann:
“When depicting the O Antiphons for 2023, I wanted to do so in the context of Pope Francis’s call to the world in his recent Apostolic Exhortation Laudate Deum. Defining the issues underlying climate change, Pope Francis ‘asks everyone to accompany this pilgrimage of reconciliation with the world that is our home …’
During this Advent as we once again plead for Christ to enter our world, we may do so in the spirit of concern, reverence, and care for all Creation.
Each image depicts the world, embraced in a huge ‘O,’ and standing within the universe. We see a central equator on which rests both the warm Christmas of the southern hemisphere and the cold Christmas of the northern hemisphere.
Surrounding the earth toward the bottom are the phases of the moon, indicating how quickly time passes and the urgency of our response to Pope Francis’s call.
At the top are eight suns representing the Church’s global prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours: Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, Compline, and Matins.
This continuous prayer daily embraces the whole world in prayer and focuses, during the final week of Advent, on the great cry ‘O Come, our God…'”
You came forth from the mouth of the Most High,
and reaching from beginning to end you ordered all things mightily and sweetly:
Come, and teach us the path of knowledge!
Reference: Sir. 24:3. Wis. 8:1, Prov. 8:12, Isa. 11:2
quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti
attingens a fine usque ad finem,
fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia:
veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.
O Ruler of the house of Israel,
You appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush,
and on Mount Sinai gave him your law:
Come, and with an outstretched arm redeem us!
Reference: Exod. 3 and Exod. 20
O Adonai, et Dux domus Israel,
qui Moysi in igne flammae rubi apparuisti,
et ei in Sina legem dedisti:
veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.
O Radix Jesse
O Root of Jesse,
You stand for the ensign of all peoples;
before you kings shall keep silence and to you all nations shall have recourse:
Come, save us, and do not delay!
Reference: Isa. 11:1, Isa. 52:15, Hab. 2:3, Matt. 1:1-17
O radix Jesse,
qui stas in signum populorum,
super quem continebunt reges os suum,
quem Gentes deprecabuntur:
veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.
O Clavis David
O Key of David and scepter of the house of Israel,
You open and no one closes; you close and no one opens:
Come, and deliver those from the chains of prison who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death!
Reference: Isa. 22:22, Rev. 3:7
O Clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israel;
qui aperis, et nemo claudit;
claudis, et nemo aperit:
veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris,
sedentem in tenebris et umbra mortis.
O Radiant Dawn,
Radiance of the eternal light eternal and sun of justice:
Come, and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death!
Reference: Isa. 9:1, Ps. 23:4
splendor lucis aeternae, et sol justitiae:
veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.
O Rex Gentium
O King of the all nations and the desired of all,
You are the cornerstone that binds two into one:
Come, and save your people who you fashioned out of clay!
Reference: Ps. 118:22, Mk. 12:10, Acts 4:11, 1 Pet. 2:6-7
O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum,
lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum:
veni, et salva hominem,
quem de limo formasti.
O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver,
the expected of the nations and their Savior:
Come, and save us, O Lord our God!
Reference: Isa. 7:14, Matt. 1:23
O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster,
exspectatio Gentium, et Salvator earum:
veni ad salvandum nos, Domine, Deus noster.