Artwork by the Benedictine Sisters of Turvey Abbey
December 19th: 'O Root of Jesse, who stand as a signal for the peoples, before whom kings will be silent, to whom the nations shall pray, come to free us, delay now no longer.'
'O Radix jesse, qui stas in signum populoram,
super quem continebunt reges os suum,
quem gentes deprecabuntur:
veni ad liberandum nos,
jam noli tardare.'
The text is taken from one of Isaiah's great Messianic prophecies (ch.11).
Jesse was the father of King David, Christ's ancestor, and Christ is the flower springing from the ancient root.
On him the Spirit of the Lord will rest, restoring God's creation to its original wholeness and innocence.
He will be given the throne of David, as the Angel announced to Mary (Luke 1:32) and in the Temple of Jerusalem Simeon will take the Christ child in his arms and proclaim him the light of the gentiles, the glory of God's people Israel (Luke 2:29-35).
His life will be marked by both glory and contradiction.
Mary's own heart will be pierced. The coming Kingdom will suffer violence.
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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