The ‘O’ Antiphons for Advent
O Wisdom which camest out of the mouth of the most high, reaching
from one end to another, mightily and sweetly ordering all things;
O Lord and Ruler of the house of Israel, who didst appear to Moses
in a flame of fire in the bush and gavest him the Law in Sinai;
O Root of Jesse who standest as the ensign of the people, before
whom kings shall not open their lips, to whom the nations shall pray;
O Key of David and sceptre of the House of Israel, thou that
openest and no man shutteth, who shutteth and no man openeth;
O Dayspring, splendour of eternal light and sun of righteousness;
O King of Nations and their desired one, thou corner-stone who
makest both one;
O Emmanuel our king and lawgiver, the hope of all nations and their
The seven "O's" or antiphons were sung before and after the Magnificat at Vespers in the week before Christmas. In Latin the seven begin as follows:
The initials of the seven, read backwards as an acrostic, spell ero cras ("tomorrow I shall be there"). The practice of singing the Greater Antiphons dates from before the 9th century. The antiphons were never sung together, but one on each of the seven days leading up to Christmas.
O come, O come, Emmanuel - read more about this Advent hymn.