O Antiphons Collection
The O Antiphons herald back to the Middle ages near the year 800 when in monasteries throughout Europe the monks would chant specific scriptural phrases prior to the Magnificat. Traditionally each was recited for seven days beginning with December 17 through December 23. They can be also seen as a bit of an historical progression from the ancient world of Wisdom placing all things in order to the final antiphon O Emmanuel in which the Chosen people were anticipating their Messiah. The verses of the more modern Advent hymn “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” find their origin in the O Antiphons.
My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden,
For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm:
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and exalted those of low degree.
He has filled the hungry with good things;
and the rich He has sent empty away.
He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy;
As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to His posterity forever. (Luke 1:46-55)
One interesting aspect of these antiphons is that the first letter of each may be taken from the Latin to form an acrostic in reverse. So the first letters of Sapientia, Adonai, Radix, Clavis, Oriens, Rex, and Emmanuel, provide the Latin words: ERO CRAS . The phrase spells out the response of Christ to the heartfelt prayer of his people: “Tomorrow I will be there”.