Ask Andy Anglican

Caroline Curious asked, “I remember during Advent last year we sang something called ‘O Antiphons.’ What exactly are the ‘O Antiphons’ and why are they important to me?

Andy’s Answer:
Many are familiar with the Advent hymn, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” This hymn, like the O Antiphons, recount some of the names for Jesus taken from the prophecies of Isaiah and Micah. We will sing these Antiphons throughout Advent, beginning on December 1. This year we also will have interactive prayer stations to help the promises of Jesus come alive in our hearts.

An ‘antiphon’ is a short phrase from a psalm which is usually sung. The O Antiphons spell out (in Latin) the phrase “ERO CRAS” (hint: read from the bottom up) which means “Tomorrow I come,” reflecting God’s promises. The titles for Christ and corresponding scriptures are:

Sapientia/WisdomIsaiah 11:2-3; 28:29
Adonai/LordIsaiah 11:4-5; Isaiah 32:22
Radix Jesse/Root of JesseIsaiah 11:1; Isaiah 11:10; Micah 5:1;
Romans 15:8-13; Revelation 5:1-5
Clavis David/Key of DavidIsaiah 22:22; Isaiah 9:6
Oriens/DayspringIsaiah:9:2; Malachi 4:1-3
Rex Gentium/King of the WorldIsaiah 9:7; Isaiah 2:4
Emmanuel/God with UsIsaiah 7:14

Experiencing the O Antiphons by singing them and by interacting with the prayer stations can help us enter this holy season by reflecting on how Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promises to the people of Israel and how we are part of this sacred story as heirs of the Jewish faith.