Artwork by the Benedictine Sisters of Turvey Abbey
Christmas Day: 'Wonderful Exchange! The Creator of the human race took
to himself a human body and was born of a virgin, and becoming man he granted
This antiphon comes from the Greek Liturgy, and was, until Vatican II,
also part of the Roman Liturgy of January 1. The whole mystery of Christmas is
summed up here, God's plan for the human race, the pattern of all Christian
"The Spirit bears witness that we are God's children", wrote St Paul,
"God's heirs and Christ's fellow heirs, sharing his suffering now and his
glory hereafter." (Romans 8:16-17)
"God became man, so that man might come to share God's life," wrote
St Irenaeus, and, "Let us become gods through Christ, since Christ became
man through us."(St Gregory of Nazianzen)
The O Antiphons are a highlight of the Church's Advent Liturgy: from
December 17th - 23rd they frame the Magnificat at Vespers.
Rich in symbolism and meaning they take us right from the beginning of
creation, through the centuries of the world's waiting for the promised
Messiah, calling upon him who was hidden in signs and symbols, and revealed
when the fullness of time had come, leading us to the Mystery of the Incarnation
and beyond, to the Paschal Mystery, the coming of the Holy Spirit and the
Parousia (Christ's second coming).
The exact origin of the Latin texts is unknown. They may date from the
sixth century. There is evidence to suggest that the texts were in liturgical
use in Rome in the eighth century. Both the original Latin texts and an English
translation are given here.
Arriving at the 7th Antiphon on December 23rd, we may discover that the
letters of the Latin invocations, read from the last up to the first, form a
wonderful acrostic (ERO CRAS), like God's answer to our prayer:
Dec. 17: Sapienta (O Wisdom)
Dec. 18: Adonai (O Adonai [Lord])
Dec. 19: Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)
Dec. 20: Clavis David (O Key of David)
Dec. 21: Oriens (O Rising Sun)
Dec. 22: Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations)
Dec. 23: Emmanuel (O Emmanuel)
ERO CRAS: I
WILL BE HERE TOMORROW
Christmas: O Wonderful Exchange (Antiphon from the Greek Liturgy
"O Wonderful Exchange! The Creator of the human race took to himself a
human body and was born of a virgin, and becoming man he granted us
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