Today marks the beginning of the last week before Christmas, which means that we'll be praying the "O Antiphons" (so called because each one begins with the exclamation "O") before our rosary for the next week. Beautiful, ancient, holy. I love being Catholic, love thinking of all the hundreds upon hundreds of Christians who have prayed these antiphons before us, waiting gratefully to celebrate the day of Our Lord's birth; waiting for Him to come again in glory.
Main Entry: an·ti·phon
Pronunciation: \ˈan-tə-fən, -ˌfän\
Etymology: Middle English antiphone, from Middle French, from Late Latin antiphona
Date: 15th century
1 : a psalm, anthem, or verse sung responsively 2 : a verse usually from Scripture said or sung before and after a canticle, psalm, or psalm verse as part of the liturgy
THE "O ANTIPHONS" CROWN OF ADVENT PREPARATION
(From The Twelve Days of Christmas, Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN,1955)
The theme of the Advent season has been one of joyous expectancy as the Church, in vigilant preparation, waited and watched for the first signs ofthe coming of the Lord. The very name Advent, and the Masses of the four Sundays with their urgent plea to Christ to "hasten and delay not" have reminded us that we are awaiting His coming in grace at Christmas, and in glory at the end of time.
On the evening of December 17, the last and most intensive phase of Advent preparation begins. On this evening is inaugurated the first of the Great"O's" of Advent. The "O Antiphons" are seven jewels of liturgical song, one for each day until Christmas Eve. They seem to sum up all our Advent longing as they paint in vivid terms the wretched condition of mankind and his needof a Savior.
Addressing Christ with seven magnificent titles, they beg Him with mounting impatience to come to save His people. The "O Antiphons" are intoned with special solemnity in monasteries at the Vesper Hour, before and after the Blessed Mother's great song of thanksgiving, theMagnificat, which is sung every evening as the climax of this Hour of the Divine Office.
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