o-come-o-come-emmanuel

In case you have figured it out by now, I’m completely enamored with ancient Christian practices.  Today, for those who aren’t familiar, I wanted to provide you with a great resource that was originally used in ancient corporate worship, but for the past few years, I’ve used this beautiful tool in my personal prayer time.

The “O Antiphons” are a collection of short verses that have been chanted or sang during worship since the earliest days of  Christianity.  The earliest historical record of these is documented by a writer named Boethius, who lived from 480-525AD.  He was a Roman citizen, and during his life, he longed for a peaceful and harmonious relationship between Constantinople and Rome, the Eastern and Western Branches of the Church.  This wasn’t a popular political stance at the time, and Boethius was eventually charged with treason and executed.  He is considered a martyr for the faith and a Saint of the Roman Catholic Church.

The “O Antiphons” Boethius wrote of were simple lines, chanted during Evening Prayer during the week before Christmas, beginning Dec. 17, and ending Dec. 23.  There are seven “O Antiphons” altogether.

If you’re a Protestant like me, you’re probably thinking, “I’ve never heard of this!”  Fact is, though, if you’re in the habit of listening to Christmas music, you’ve likely heard the core of the “O Antiphons” a million times, in the lines of the great hymn by John Mason Neale and Henry Sloane Coffin, “O Come, O Come,  Emmanuel”.

In the liturgical context, the “O Antiphons” are prayed before and after the reading of “The Magnificat”, Mary’s prayer found in Luke 1:46-55.  The primary titles of the “O Antiphons” are:

Dec. 17 – O Wisdom (Sapienta)

Dec. 18 – O Lord (Adonai)

Dec. 19 – O Root of Jesse (Radix)

Dec. 20 – O Key of David (Clavis)

Dec. 21 – O Dawn of the East (Oriens)

Dec. 22 – O King of the Gentiles (Rex Gentium)

Dec. 23 – O Emmanuel (Emmanuel)

Now, here’s my random piece of useless, but meaningful information for the day.  If you use the Latin terms listed above, take the first letter, starting from the back, you wind up with the acrostic, ERO CRAS, which translates to “Tomorrow, I will be there.”  I can’t think of a more fitting message for Advent!

Today, I’m going to provide y’all with the first in a series of evening prayers for Dec. 17-23, starting today with Dec. 17,  that includes the “O Anitphons”, some Scripture, etc.  I hope that using this as guide for prayer will benefit you during this time, and help you to focus not only on the celebration of Christ’s first coming, but also on the return of our great King.

Readings for the week prior to Christmas were borrowed from Full Homely Divinity’s O Antiphon page.  Full Homely Divinity is one of my favorite resources, and can be visited here.  Other readings were obtained from the Church of England’s Common Worship page.    Here’s a sample of what’s coming over the course of the next few days…

wiisdom

Wisdom

O Antiphon and Prayers for Dec. 17

In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (The sign of the cross should be made in remembrance of your baptism)

O Wisdom, who came from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: come, and teach us the way of prudence.  Amen.

The Magnificat

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
    For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
    and holy is his name.
 And his mercy is for those who fear him
    from generation to generation.
 He has shown strength with his arm;
    he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
    and exalted those of humble estate;
 he has filled the hungry with good things,
    and the rich he has sent away empty.
 He has helped his servant Israel,
    in remembrance of his mercy,
 as he spoke to our fathers,
    to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Readings for the Evening: 

Psalms 90

Proverbs 8:1, 22-32

I Corinthians 2:1-13

John 1:1-5

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth,
As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,the power, and the glory,

For ever and ever.  Amen.

Personal Prayers and Petitions

Silence

Stir up your power, O Lord, and come among us with great might, that the sins which weigh us down may quickly be lifted by your grace and mercy;  through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

The Lord Almighty order our days and our deeds in His peace.  Lord, be pleased to deliver us.  O God, make haste to help us.   Come quickly, Lord Jesus.  Amen.

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