December 23rd: 'O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, for whom the peoples
are waiting, and their Saviour, come to save us, Lord our God.'
O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster,
exspectatio gentium, et Salvator earum,
veni ad salvandum nos, Domine Deus noster.
We continue to acclaim him as our King. Yet as Christmas draws near he comes to
us in the humility and tenderness of a newborn child: Emmanuel, God-with-us.
(Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23; Revelation 21;3).
Mary bears him who is both God and Man, great Lawgiver and lover of sinners,
mighty Ruler and helpless child, son and brother.
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
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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