2019 3rd Sunday Advent


Praying the O Antiphons: An Ancient Advent Tradition


During the final days of Advent, the anticipation increases as the birth of the Savior draws nearer and nearer.  In the eight days before Christmas this anticipation is marked by something special that happens in the prayers of the Liturgy of the Hours.

 The antiphons of Evening Prayer (Vespers) during the week before Christmas welcome the birth of the Savior by heralding one of His resplendent Biblical titles along with a special petition in light of that title.

It is a liturgical tradition started in the earliest centuries of the Church and continues in monasteries and convents today, and even in homes of the Catholic faithful who make portions of the Divine Office part of their daily prayers.

The “O” Antiphons

The O Antiphons refer to the seven antiphons that are prayed immediately before the Magnificat during Vespers of the Liturgy of the Hours (or the Divine Office). Each antiphon begins with the exclamation “O”, thus earning their popular name of the “O Antiphons.” They cover the special period of Advent preparation known as the Octave before Christmas, from Dec. 17-23, with Dec. 24 being Vespers of the Christmas Vigil.


 The O Antiphons are special because each one emphasizes a different prophetic title of the soon-to-be-born King of Kings as foreshadowed in the Old Testament by the prophet Isaiah: WisdomLord of IsraelRoot of JesseKey of DavidRadiant DawnKing of All Nations, and Emmanuel.

Additionally, the ancient monks who first assembled the O Antiphons were very creative with the order in which they are prayed.  If one takes the first letter of each antiphon (in the Latin) starting from the last to the first, the word ERO CRAS is formed which translates, “Tomorrow I will come.”


Listed below are the O Antiphons, which are prayed before and after the Magnificat during Vespers (Evening Prayer) of the Liturgy of the Hours.  I encourage you to make a new tradition this year to pray these antiphons on the eight nights before Christmas to help you welcome the newborn King.

O Wisdom

O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care:

Come and show your people the way to salvation.

(December 17)

O Lord of Israel

 O Sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush,

who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain:

Come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.

(December 18)

O Root of Jesse,

you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples;

kings stand silent in your presence;

the nations bow down in worship before you.

Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.

(December 19)

O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel,

controlling at your will the gate of heaven:

Come, break down the prison walls of death

for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death;

and lead your captive people into freedom.

(December 20)

 O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice:

Come, shine on those who dwell in darkness

and the shadow of death.

(December 21)

O King of All Nations

 O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart;

O Keystone of the mighty arch of man:

Come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.

(December 22)

O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver,

desire of the nations, Savior of all people:

Come and set us free, Lord our God.

(December 23)

Taken from Dec 16, 2016 By Gretchen Filz in https://www.getfed.com/

The Southern Cross website – remember to get your copy after Mass!

The Angelus

Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to pray at 6am, noon and 6pm. Alternatively, download the Angelus App (set the times that you would like to be reminded in settings):
Angelus App on Android    or    Praying the Angelus by Magnificat  on iphones

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