Contact Us

The O Antiphons of Advent

”The “O Antiphons” traditionally sung during the last week before Christmas (December 17-23), are more than a thousand years old. The traditional Advent hymn, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” Is probably the most popular and well known way of remembering some of those antiphons. They are called the “O Antiphons” simply because each begins with the word, “O” Originally used in monastic vespers during the last seven days before Christmas; gradually they came into use in the whole church. Today, at Evening Prayer (Vespers), the O Antiphons are used as the antiphons to introduce the Magnificat – Mary’s Hymn of Praise. The Gospel Acclamation at all Masses in these seven days uses the “O Antiphons” as well.

Each antiphon denotes an attribute of the coming Christ. In Latin, they are

December 17: O Sapientia (O Wisdom)

December 18: O Adonai (O Lord)

December 19: O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)

December 20: O Clavis David (O Key of David)

December 21: O Oriens (O Dayspring)

December 22: O Rex Gentium (O King of the nations)

December 23: O Emmanuel (O With Us is God)

If you take the first letter of each name of Christ, starting with last, “Emmanuel,” and go to the first, you have “ero cras,” a Latin phrase meaning, “I come tomorrow.”

 O come, O Come Emmanuel

  1. O come, O come, Emmanuel,
    and ransom captive Israel,
    that mourns in lonely exile here
    until the Son of God appear: 

    Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel
    shall come to thee, O Israel.

  2. O come, thou Rod of Jesse, free
    thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
    from depths of hell thy people save,
    and give them vict’ry o’er the grave:
  3. O come, thou dayspring, come and cheer
    our spirits by thine advent here;
    disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
    and death’s dark shadows put to flight: 
  4. O come, thou key of David, come
    and open wide our heavenly home;
    make safe the way that leads on high,
    and close the path to misery:
  5. O come, O come, thou lord of might,
    who to thy tribes on Sinai’s height
    in ancient times didst give the Law
     in cloud and majesty and awe.