Wednesday, 6 December 2017

An Advent Wreath of Antiphons by Philippa Linton

Seven lights for seven 'O's - image from Pixabay

The seven ‘O’ Antiphons are sung in the ancient service of Vespers during the last seven days of Advent, from 17 to 23 December.  They’re called the great ‘O’s’, because they all begin with an ‘O’.   Each antiphon describes a title of Jesus.   I’ve come up with my own version of them in these seven prayer-poems, but do look them up and their biblical references. 

Wisdom (O Sapientia)

The planet turns and yearns,

she cries out for wisdom.

You are always speaking but we so rarely listen.

Wrapped in clouds of fear and hate,

we barely hear your silent voice

in rock and sea and sky and star

and Word made flesh.

Come to us, Wisdom, Sophia, Ruach, Spirit.

My Lord (O Adonai)

The mothers and fathers of Israel

hungered for your presence.

They hid from you and wrestled with you.

You sought them out, you chose them,

you guided them in fire and cloud.

You always surprise us with your grace.

You are closer to us than we can know.

Come to your people now and always,

Come soon, my Lord, Adonai.

Root of Jesse (O Radix Jesse)

The green shoot in the barren waste

becomes a tree fed by an eternal spring.

That mighty tree by its living well

uncurls its leaves,

gives shimmering life to all that breathes,

and shelters many, welcomes all.

In the desert you are the oasis,

in you creation flourishes,

Yeshua ben Joseph, Messiah ben David.

Come to us, root and branch of Jesse.

The Key (O Clavis David)

The cities mutter, the powers sneer.

Their towers and chimneys block the sun.

In you all barriers will be undone,

the forces crumble, shadows gone.

You will unlock each door, unbar each gate

and lead all prisoners from darkness into light.

Come soon, Key of David.

Morning Star (O Oriens)

The planet turns in murky night

but now the sunrise brings the gold,

a diamond in a sky of pearl,

the eye of dawn, our star of hope.

You will turn our winter into spring.

Come to us, our Dayspring, morning star. 

Come to us, our Dayspring, morning star.  Image by Pixabay

King of nations (O Rex Gentium)

You chose to be made of earth like us,

a baby in obscurity,

the boy who was a refugee,

the king who serves,

to set us free.

Make us one and make us whole,

the poor exalted over all.

Come soon, King of the nations.

God with us (O Emmanuel)

A baby curled within the womb. 

The power that erupts within a tomb.

You dwell with us in every place,

you burst through with us to spaciousness,

from exile into hope, the promised land,

where dreams come true,

the realm of grace.

Come to us, Emmanuel.


  1. I love these! I think we can sometimes miss the sense of the occasion of Advent, in modern, charismatic churches, such as the one I attend. This brings it back! Thank you.