Advent Finale: O Antiphons

– Br. Michael, ofm

December 17-23 marks the Advent days of the O Antiphons. These Antiphons make up the verses of the Advent Carol “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” These Antiphons have been observed since the eighth century and are drawn from the ancient biblical images of the messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. They repeatedly use the invitation “come” as a way to address the longing of the coming Messiah. Each of the seven days offers a title for the Savior (the first line of each antiphon).

Reflecting on these titles and inviting Christ to come into our heart each day, we offer these short reflections for the remaining days of Advent. We invite you into some moments of quiet in the days ahead. There is a brief reflection and questions for each Antiphon (the first stanza is the antiphon proper), there is also original artwork for you to enter into some moments of Visio Divina. Visio Divina means “sacred seeing” where we allow our hearts and imaginations to enter into the holy image and then in silence see what God is saying to us or inviting us to see. The ancient Latin title has been included for each of the days.

December 17 – O Sapientia

O Wisdom of our God Most High,

guiding creation with power and love:

come to teach us knowledge!

Yes, O Creative Wisdom, you stir in me new life

guiding me in your love, I trust you are walking with me.

Who has been a guide for me during 2020?

Where has God’s wisdom stirred my heart this year?

How is Divine Love inviting me into 2021?

December 18 – O Adonai

O Leader of the House of Israel,

giver of the Law of Moses on Sinai,

come to rescue us with your mighty power!

Yes, O Mighty Power, you draw near to me

for your power is in the intimacy of relationship which is the law of love.

Where have I seen God’s power in my life this past year?

Who helps me to see the intimacy of God’s love?

What needs rescuing in my life?

December 19 – O Radix Jesse

O Root of Jesse’s stem,

sign of God’s love for all people:

come to save us without delay!

Yes, Lover of All,

you remind me I have a story and history which is woven into yours

and connects me to creation and humanity.

What specific story in my life and in the world has reminded me about the connections of humanity this past year?

How am I nurturing the roots and branches of my faith?

Who do I need to express gratitude to, with our delay, for their story woven into my own?

December 20 – O Clavis David

O Key of David,

opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom:

come and free the prisoners of darkness!

Yes, O Great Gate Opener, you invite me into your kingdom

here and now as you encourage me to build with the gifts which are mine.

This past year has seen a lot of division, what do I need to do in my part of the world to help make all people one?

Who always offers me a warm invitation to be present and to share my gifts?

How will I open the gate to my heart in 2021?


O Radiant Dawn,

splendor of eternal light, sun of justice:

come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death!

Yes, O Light of Lights, you enlighten my heart and mind

with the depth of your life and love: born, died, and risen for me.

What darkness do I need to let go of as 2020 comes to an end?

Who offers me light for my daily living?

How do I shine God’s love into our broken world?

December 22 – O Rex Gentium

O King of all nations

and keystone of the Church:

come and save humanity,

whom you formed from the dust!

Yes, O Generous Creator,

you who form all in your generosity, transform me and raise me up

for I can not do this on my own.

What is my connection with creation and in being generative?

Who encourages me when I am lost in selfishness?

How do I feel about surrendering into God even more in 2021?

December 23 – O Emmanuel

O Emmanuel,

our King, and Giver of Law:

come to save us, Lord our God.

Yes, O God With Us, you are here and now,

you proudly call me one of your own

and guide me in your ways of love.

Who has shown God With Us to me this past year?

How does it feel to be aware of God’s love for me?

What am I being called to birth in the new year?

God O Life,

come to us

in these final days of Advent,

show us your light,

lead us in your ways

of hope, peace, joy and love,

so, as we enter into the

great feast of Christmas

we may carry these gifts

to our family, community and world

as you restore our awareness

that they always reside at our core.


O Come, O Come, Emmanuel!


Artwork: Claire Ziprick