The last week of Advent is marked by the O Antiphons, the liturgical crossover between Advent and Christmas. The emphasis moves from the expectation of the coming of Christ at the end of time to the expectation of the birth of a babe in Bethlehem. These antiphons have been used differently in different traditions through the ages but are commonly used during Evening Prayer with the Magnificat – the Song of Mary.
The antiphons are prayers which reflect on the messianic promises proclaimed by the ancient prophets of Israel. They give a sense of eager expectation that builds throughout these seven days and climaxes at Christmas. The antiphons play out the Advent paradox of the three comings of Christ as described by Bernard of Clairvaux:
it is like a road on which we travel from the first coming to the last. In the first, Christ was our redemption; in the last, he will appear as our life; in this middle coming, he is our rest and consolation.
The antiphons encourage us to look forward to the coming of Christ in Glory, the coming of the Babe in Bethlehem and the presence of Christ with us in the here and now.
The reflections on this blog over the next seven days will reflect a little on each antiphon and the related prophecies.
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 Rising Sun)
December 22: O Rex Gentium (O King of the nations)
December 23: O Emmanuel (O God is With Us)