The O Antiphons. We don't hear about them at Sunday Mass, they don't figure into the daily Mass readings in Advent. But every year around this time you hear them talked about. They are 7 honorific titles for Jesus, each one sung during evening prayer on the 7 last days before Christmas.
I used to assume they each began with the letter "O" -- which was weird, because I couldn't really think of any such titles that might fit for Jesus. ("Orator?") But no, they're called "O" antiphons because each one starts with the word "O", as you use when you're addressing a king. "O Wisdom"; "O Lord"; "O Root of Jesse"; "O Key of David"; "O Dayspring" (also translated "O Morning Star", "O rising sun"; "O King of the nations"; "O Emmanuel" (aka God is with us).
And hidden within them is a cool, DaVinci Code type word game. Take the first word from the original Latin used in each of these titles:
Sapientia Adonai Radix Clavis Oriens Rex EmmanuelNow put them in reverse order:
Emmanuel Rex Oriens Clavis Radix Adonai SapientiaDrop all but the first letters:
ERO CRASAnd you have the Latin phrase: "Tomorrow, I will come." (Isn't that cool?)
If we're really going to appreciate these antiphons, though, we need to hear them, as they weren't read, they were sung.
With help from chantblog.blogspot.com, I found cool little videos of the 7 antiphons sung. They're each really short, just a minute or so, and if you're into chant, you actually see the chant lines moving across the screen as the antiphons are sung.
They might provide a nice little moment of peace in the midst of the busyness of the next few days.
O Root of Jesse:
O Key of David:
O Dayspring -- today's antiphon, which comes from Isaiah 9: "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness -- on them light has shined." That image of Jesus as light, probably one of my favorites.
O King of the Nations: