The O Antiphons, also known as The great Os are Magnificat antiphons used at Vespers of the last seven days of Advent in Western Christian traditions. They are also used as the Alleluia verses on the same days in the post-1970 form of the Catholic Mass. They are referred to as the "O Antiphons" because the title of each one begins with the vocative particle "O". Each antiphon is a name of Christ, one of his attributes mentioned in Scripture.
According to Fr. William P. Saunders, "The exact origin of the O Antiphons is not known. Boethius (480–524) made a slight reference to them, thereby suggesting their presence at that time [the sixth century]. At the Benedictine Fleury Abbey, these antiphons were recited by the abbot and other abbey leaders in descending rank, and then a gift was given to each member of the community. By the eighth century, they are in use in the liturgical celebrations in Rome. The usage of the O Antiphons was so prevalent in monasteries that the phrases, "Keep your O" and "The Great O Antiphons" were common parlance. One may thereby conclude that in some fashion the O Antiphons have been part of our liturgical tradition since the very early Church."
O Wisdom, O holy Word of God,
you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care:
Come and show your people the way to salvation.
Donald Jackson, artist and scribe
Matthew Frontispiece: The Genealogy of Christ (Matthew 1:1-17)
Genesis 49:2,8-10; Matthew 1:1-17
Do you know who your ancestors were, where they came from, and what they passed on from their generation to the next? Genealogies are very important. They give us our roots and help us to understand our heritage. Matthew's genealogy of Jesus traces his lineage from Abraham, the father of God's chosen people, through the line of David, King of Israel. Jesus the Messiah is the direct descent of Abraham and David, and the rightful heir to David's throne. God in his mercy fulfilled his promises to Abraham and to David that he would send a Savior and a King to rule over the house of Israel and to deliver them from their enemies.
When Jacob blessed his sons he foretold that Judah would receive the promise of royalty which we see fulfilled in David (Genesis 49:10). We can also see in this blessing a foreshadowing of God's fulfillment in raising up his annointed King, Jesus the Messiah. Jesus is the fulfillment of all God's promises. He is the hope not only for the people of the Old Covenant but for all nations as well. He is the Savior of the world who redeems us from slavery to sin and Satan and makes us citizens of the kingdom of God. In him we receive adoption into a royal priesthood and holy nation as sons and daughters of the living God (see 1 Peter 1:9). Do you recognize your spiritual genealogy and do you accept God as your Father and Jesus as the sovereign King and Lord of your life?
"Lord Jesus Christ, you are the Messiah and Savior of the world, the hope of Israel and the hope of the nations. Be the ruler of my heart and the king of my home. May there be nothing in my life that is not under your wise rule and care."
By Don Schwager