“O Emmanuel. O God with us.” This is the “O Antiphon,” certainly one of seven, with which we’re most acquainted, sung in that marvelous hymn, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” These Latin texts echo the names of Christ revealed in Scripture and are sung the final week of Advent earlier than Christmas Eve.
These antiphons have been sung since the eighth century. When we sing them, we aren’t solely related to the Roman Church 13 centuries in the past but in addition to prayers from the Old Testament, as they draw from historical messianic imagery. These names for the Christ are wealthy in theology and inform us precisely who he’s, calling him with the crucial, “come,” or “O.”
The antiphons are primarily based on Isaiah’s prophecies, and the names are: O Sapientia (O Wisdom), O Adonai (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) and O Emmanuel (O God with Us). Each identify reveals the longing of the Israelites and us as a Church as we await the Lord’s return.
I really like how liturgy returns these names to my lips. Each yr, I neglect. I neglect who Jesus is. Many who have no idea Jesus misunderstand or misrepresent his character. Some inform us he’s somebody he’s not. This has been taking place for hundreds of years. It mustn’t shock me. But every year, I whisper the names in the O Antiphons and really feel emboldened. I bear in mind who he really is. In John’s Gospel, Jesus says, “I will do whatever you ask in my name” (14:13–14). These names of God reveal his energy.
When I pray the antiphons, they develop into a part of my dialog with Jesus. He jogs my memory who he’s. I’m reminded that that is the spirit I’ve inside me, O Emmanuel. I do not forget that he was the one foretold: O Radix Jesse, O Clavis David, O Rex Gentium. In O Oriens, I’m reminded that he has been there at all times, even when the world was darkish and void, and in it, God introduced his wonderful gentle. And I evoke his knowledge and authority by way of invoking O Sapientia and O Adonai over all, particularly me.
In praying these names, I do know God is trustworthy, not simply in my life however all through the ages. I get to know Jesus higher. And I await in joyful expectation his return.
Image by Castorepollux, Ordre des prêcheurs, used underneath CC BY-SA 4.0, by way of Wikimedia Commons.