Before there were advent calendars, the countdown to Christmas was done with song, using texts based on the names of the Messiah in the prophecy of Isaiah. They date back to at least the 6th century. They are intended to be read or sung as Morning or Evening Prayer and are called the ‘O Antiphons’ because each begins with the vocative O – O Sapientia, O Adonai etc. Over the centuries they have been set to some very beautiful music. Over the next seven days, I’ll put up the words for each one and links to music across the ages.
December 17th: O Sapientia (O Wisdom)
December 18th: O Adonai (O Lord)
December 19th: O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)
December 20th: O Clavis David (O Key of David)
December 21st: O Oriens (O Dayspring)
December 22nd: O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations)
December 23rd: O Emmanuel (O With us is God)
If you take the first letters of the titles and spell them backwards – E-R-O-C-R-A-S – you get Ero Cras, which translates as ‘Tomorrow, I will be.’
The Latin of the texts to be quoted come from the Breviarium Romanum, the English from the Church of England’s Common Worship liturgy.
I hope you will enjoy this taste of Christmas as a time of quiet connectedness in the midst of all the hurly burly.