Category Archives: Seasons of the Liturgical Year

O Emmanuel

Magnificat antiphon for December 23, at the evening Office

O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster, expectatio gentium et Salvator earum: Veni ad salvandum nos, Domine, Deus noster.

O Emmanuel, our King and lawgiver, the One awaited by the Gentiles and their Savior: Come to save us, Lord our God.

Magnificat

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;*
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:*
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him*
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,*
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,*
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,*
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel,*
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
The promise he made to our fathers,*
to Abraham and his children for ever.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:*
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Ant. O Emmanuel, our King and lawgiver, the One awaited by the Gentiles and their Savior: Come to save us, Lord our God.

__________________________________________________

The icon of Christ Emmanuel is taken from the website of the Holy Transfiguration Monastery.

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O Sapientia

O Sapientia, the name given to this day in the Calendar, denotes the first of the seven days leading up to the Christmas Vigil when one of the “O Antiphons” was to be sung at Vespers.

The O Antiphons (also known as the Antiphonae majores, the Major Antiphons) are a collection of antiphons sung in the Latin (Western) Rite with the Magnificat at Vespers for the seven days leading up to the Christmas Vigil. The origin of the antiphons is not known, though the philosopher Boethius made a slight reference to something like them in the early sixth century. There were known in the Roman Rite as early as the eighth century and there is an English poem based on them by Cynewulf (fl. eighth century). The Advent hymn Veni, veni Emanuel (“O come, O come, Emmanuel”) is a metrical text based on the antiphons that dates from the early 18th century and that was translated into English by John Mason Neale (among others) in the 19th century.

The Roman Rite made provision for seven antiphons, with one each sung with the Magnificat at Vespers on December 17 through December 23. The Sarum Use (one of the pre-Reformation forms of the Latin Rite in England) added an eighth antiphon to the original seven, O virgo virginum to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Thus the Calendar of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer designates December 16 as O Sapientia. Interestingly, while the 1662 Calendar preserved the pre-Reformation English date , there is no evidence for the use of the O Antiphons in Anglican worship in the 17th century, and the Marian antiphon appointed for December 23 in Sarum Use would not have been suitable for the reformed Church of England.

Each of the seven original antiphons is addressed to Christ under one or more of his scriptural titles: O Sapientia (O Wisdom), O Adonaï (O LORD), O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse), O Clavis David (O Key of David), O Oriens (O Dayspring), O Rex Gentium (O King of the nations), O Emmanuel.

Ignoring the initial “O”, the first letters of each antiphon spell out in Latin the reverse acrostic, SARCORE – ero cras, “I shall be [with you] tomorrow” – the last of the seven antiphons is sung at Vespers on December 23. The New Oxford Book of Carols calls the antiphon acrostic “a hidden counterpart of the joyful iteration of ‘cras’ [‘tomorrow’], which rings like a bell through the liturgy of the last week of Advent.”

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Magnificat antiphon for December 17, at the evening Office

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

O Wisdom, who proceeds from the mouth of the Most High, reaching out mightily from end to end, and sweetly arranging all things: Come to teach us the way of prudence.

Magnificat

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;*
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:*
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him*
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,*
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,*
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,*
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel,*
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
The promise he made to our fathers,*
to Abraham and his children for ever.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:*
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Ant. O Wisdom, who proceeds from the mouth of the Most High, reaching out mightily from end to end, and sweetly arranging all things: Come to teach us the way of prudence.

(English translations of the Latin originally taken from the website of the Order of Preachers, the Dominicans.)

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Celebrating Martyrs – in Christmastide?

Christmas is the yearly expectation of redemption and the proclamation of the consummation. Three feasts days came to be closely associated with Christmas: St Stephen, St John, and Holy Innocents. The ancient association of these martyr’s* days [and the later medieval addition in the West of the feast day of St Thomas of Canterbury] reinforces the eschatological understanding of the celebration of Christmas. The birth of Jesus is more than a commemoration of his birthday. His birth into this world prefigures the birth into the next world of his martyrs, who follow in his train. The birth of Christ is a judgment on the persecution and rejection of God and his Word, and means joy for those who remain faithful and steadfast even in the face of great persecution. These are days of judgment as well as joy…

…In the Western Church, St Stephen’s Day is the first of a succession of three festivals immediately following Christmas – St Stephen, St John, the Holy Innocents – that associate the three “heavenly birthdays” with the birthday of Christ: as he was born into this world from heaven, so they were born from this world into heaven.

from the New Book of Festivals & Commemorations, Philip H. Pfatteicher (Fortress Press, 2008)

*St John the Evangelist (the Theologian), while he did not suffer martyrdom by death, suffered martyrdom by exile to the island of Patmos during the reign of the emperor Diocletian.

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O Emmanuel

Magnificat antiphon for December 23, at the evening Office

O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster, expectatio gentium et Salvator earum: Veni ad salvandum nos, Domine, Deus noster.

O Emmanuel, our King and lawgiver, the One awaited by the Gentiles and their Savior: Come to save us, Lord our God.

Magnificat

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;*
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:*
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him*
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,*
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,*
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,*
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel,*
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
The promise he made to our fathers,*
to Abraham and his children for ever.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:*
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Ant. O Emmanuel, our King and lawgiver, the One awaited by the Gentiles and their Savior: Come to save us, Lord our God.

__________________________________________________

The icon of Christ Emmanuel is taken from the website of the Holy Transfiguration Monastery.

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O Rex Gentium

Magnificat antiphon for December 22, at the evening office

O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum, lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum: veni, et salva hominem, quem de limo formasti.

O King of the Nations, and the one they desired, Keystone, who makes both peoples one: Come and save mankind, whom you shaped from the mud.

Magnificat

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;*
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:*
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him*
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,*
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,*
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,*
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel,*
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
The promise he made to our fathers,*
to Abraham and his children for ever.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:*
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Ant. O King of the Nations, and the one they desired, Keystone, who makes both peoples one: Come and save mankind, whom you shaped from the mud.

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O Oriens

Magnificat antiphon for December 21, at the evening office

O Oriens, splendor lucis aeternae, et sol justitiae: veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

O Dawn, splendor of eternal light and sun of justice, come, and shine on those seated in darkness and in the shadow of death.

Magnificat

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;*
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:*
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him*
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,*
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,*
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,*
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel,*
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
The promise he made to our fathers,*
to Abraham and his children for ever.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:*
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Ant. O Dawn, splendor of eternal light and sun of justice, come, and shine on those seated in darkness and in the shadow of death.

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O Clavis David

Magnificat antiphon for December 20, at the evening office

O Clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israël, qui aperis, et nemo claudit, claudis, et nemo aperuit: veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris, sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

O Key of David, and scepter of the house of Israel, you open, and no one shuts, you shut, and no one opens: Come, and lead the prisoner from jail, seated in darkness and in the shadow of death.

Magnificat

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;*
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:*
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him*
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,*
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,*
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,*
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel,*
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
The promise he made to our fathers,*
to Abraham and his children for ever.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:*
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Ant. O Key of David, and scepter of the house of Israel, you open, and no one shuts, you shut, and no one opens: Come, and lead the prisoner from jail, seated in darkness and in the shadow of death.

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