From Ave Maria Meditations
As we prepare for Christmas:
THE GREAT ANTIPHONS
The public prayers of the Church consist not only of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass but also of the Divine Office, the prayers of the priests’ Breviary. The Office was at one time chanted daily by the faithful, and is still chanted by some religious Orders. Certain parishes are reviving the custom of having Solemn Vespers on the eve or afternoon of major feasts. The Magnificat or Canticle of the Blessed Virgin Mary is chanted near the end of Vespers. Starting on December 17 a series of Antiphons are added to Vespers before and after the Magnificat. Just to read these “0 Antiphons” each day would be a wonderful part of any Catholic’s preparation for Christmas!
The following great Antiphons are said entire before and after the Magnificat, from the 17th to the 23rd of December, inclusive.
Antiphon for the 17th of December :
O SAPIENTlA, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem, fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia: veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.
O WISDOM that comes out of the mouth of the Most High, that reaches from one end to another, and dost mightily and sweetly order all things: come to teach us the way of prudence!
Antiphon for the 18th of December :
O ADONAI, et Dux domus Israel, qui Moysi in igne flammae rubi apparuisti, et ei in Sina legem dedisti: veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.
O ADONAI, and Ruler of the house of Israel, who did appear unto Moses in the burning bush, and gave him the law in Sinai: come to redeem us with an outstretched arm!
Antiphon for the 19th of December :
O RADIX Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum, super quem continebunt reges os suum, quem Gentes deprecabuntur: veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.
O ROOT of Jesse, which stands for an ensign of the people, at whom the kings shall shut their mouths, whom the Gentiles shall seek: come to deliver us, make no tarrying.
Antiphon for the 20th of December :
O CLA VIS David, et sceptrum domus Israel; qui aperis, et nemo claudit; claudis, et nemo aperit; veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris, sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.
O KEY of David, and Scepter of the house of Israel; that opens and no man shuts; and shuts and no man opens: come to bring out the prisoner from the prison, and them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death.
Antiphon for the 21st of December :
O ORIENS, splendor lucis aetemae, et sol justitiae: veni, et illumina sedentes is tenebris, et umbra mortis.
O DAYSPRING, Brightness of the everlasting light, Sun of Justice, come to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.
Antiphon for the 22nd of December :
O REX Gentium, et desideratus earum, lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum: veni, et salva hominem, quem de limo formasti.
O KING of the Gentiles, yea, and desire thereof; 0 Cornerstone, that makes of two one: come to save man, whom Thou hast made of the dust of the earth!
Antiphon for the 23rd of December:
O EMMANUEL, Rex et legifer noster, exspectatio Gentium, et Salvator earum: veni ad salvandum nos, Domine, Deus noster.
O EMMANUEL, our King and our Lawgiver, Longing of the Gentiles; yea, and salvation thereof: come to save us, 0 Lord our God!