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The Seven Great “O” Antiphons of Advent

The O Antiphons are Magnificat antiphons used at Vespers of the last seven days of Advent in Western Christian traditions.

Each antiphon is a name of Christ, one of his attributes mentioned in Scripture. They are:

  • December 17: O Sapientia (O Wisdom)
  • December 18: O Adonai (O Lord)
  • December 19: O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)
  • December 20: O Clavis David (O Key of David)
  • December 21: O Oriens (O Dayspring)
  • December 22: O Rex Gentium (O King of the nations)
  • December 23: O Emmanuel (O With Us is God)

“O Key of David” with guest Rev. Steven Theiss of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Columbia, Illinois.

O Key of David and sceptre of the House of Israel; you open and no one can shut; you shut and no one can open: Come and lead the prisoners from the prison house, those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

“O DaySpring” with guest Rev. Dr. Anthony Steinborn, President of the New Jersey District, LCMS.

O Morning Star, splendour of light eternal and sun of righteousness: Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

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“O Desire of Nations” with guest Rev. Nathan Meador of St. John Lutheran Church in Plymouth, Wisconsin.

O King of the nations, and their desire, the cornerstone making both one: Come and save the human race, which you fashioned from clay.

“ERO CRAS – Tomorrow I Come” with guest Rev. Dr. Lane Burgland of Faith Lutheran Church in Churubusco, Indiana.

The Benedictine monks arranged these antiphons with a definite purpose. If one starts with the last title and takes the first letter of each one—Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia—the Latin words ero cras are formed, meaning, “Tomorrow, I will come”. Therefore Jesus, whose coming Christians have prepared for in Advent and whom they have addressed in these seven Messianic titles, now speaks to them: “Tomorrow, I will come.” So the “O Antiphons” not only bring intensity to their Advent preparation, but bring it to a joyful conclusion.

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