The Great O Antiphons of Advent

The wonder and mystery of the coming of the Lord is wonderfully highlighted in a very long standing Church tradition called ‘The Great O Antiphons’. The historic record finds a first mention of them as early as the late fifth century (400s) and by the ninth century (800s) we see them widely used in the Church’s Advent intentions.

An antiphon is a psalm, hymn, or prayer sung in alternate parts ora verse or a series of verses sung as a prelude or conclusion to some part of a worship service. The O Antiphons are typically said or sung before and after the Magnificat (Mary’s Song) in the Evening Prayer Office. They worked their way into the larger devotional life of the Church so that they are often read or sung in family devotions as well.

The O Antiphons highlight different Names of Messiah in the Old Covenant Scriptures and in the Anglican tradition eight antiphons are sung or recited one each day from December 16th until Christmas Eve.

If you happen to be one of those people who commonly observe how things in the world are connected you might notice that each one of these is the foundation for verses in the famous hymn O Come O Come Emmanuel.

16 December (O Sapentia – Wisdom)

O Wisdom, which camest out of the mouth of the most High, and reachest from one end to another, mightily and sweetly ordering all things: Come and teach us the way of prudence.

Isaiah 11:2-3
And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom, and of understanding, the spirit of counsel, and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of godliness. And he shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord, He shall not judge according to the sight of the eyes, nor reprove according to the hearing of the ears.

Isaiah 28:29
This also is come forth from the Lord God of hosts, to make his counsel wonderful, and magnify justice.

Wisdom 8:11, 9: 4, 9, 10; Proverbs 8; Hebrews 1:1-3


Fr. Wayne


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