Church of England Diocese of Blackburn St. Oswald Preesall

Advent antiphons



The ‘O’ Antiphons


Here are the seven mediaeval 'Greater' or  'O Antiphons' used at

Vespers (or Evening Prayer in Common Worship) from the 17th to the

23rd December.  The sequence progresses historically, from the

beginning, before creation, to the very gates of Bethlehem.


In their structure, all seven antiphons follow the same pattern, that of a

traditional liturgical prayer.  Each begins with an invocation of the

expected Messiah, followed by praise of him under one of his particular

titles.  Each ends with a petition for God's people, relevant to the title by

which he is addressed, and the cry for him to "Come".


The initial letters of the Latin titles, read from last to first, forms a Latin

acrostic, 'Ero Cras', meaning roughly 'Tomorrow I will be there."


The hymn O come, O come, Emmanuel is a lyrical paraphrase of these



17 December – O Sapientia

O Wisdom, you came forth from the mouth of the Most High

and, reaching from beginning to end, you ordered all things

mightily and sweetly.  Come, and teach us the way of



18 December –O Adonai

O Adonai and Ruler of the House of Israel, you appeared to

Moses in the fire of the burning bush and on Mount Sinai gave

him your law.  Come, and with outstretched arm redeem us.


19 December – O Radix Jesse

O Root of Jesse, you stand as a sign for the peoples; before you

kings shall keep silence and to you all nations shall have

recourse.  Come, save us, and do not delay.


20 December – O Clavis David

O Key of David and Sceptre of the House of Israel; you open

and no man closes; you close and no man opens.  Come, and

deliver from the chains of prison those who sit in darkness and

in the shadow of death.


21 December – O Oriens

O Dayspring, Radiance of the Light eternal and Sun of Justice:

come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the

shadow of death.


22 December – O Rex Gentium

O King of the Nations and the Desired of all, you are the

cornerstone that binds two into one.  Come, and save man

whom you fashioned out of clay.


23 December – O Emmanuel

O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the Expected of the

nations and their Saviour.  Come and save us, O Lord our God.