The “O Antiphons” were mentioned in the 6th century and they were used in Rome by the 8th century. The texts of these antiphons are from the Old Testament Prophetic and Wisdom Books. These antiphons are recited or sung before and after the Magnificat or the Canticle of Mary at Vespers
Thus they focus our minds on Mary’s waiting and on her child, reminding us that He is also the Messiah, the one whom the ages long for.
Each of the antiphons begins with a title of Christ:
O Sapientia………….O Wisdom
O Adonai……………..O Lord
O Radix Jesse………O Root of Jesse
O Clavis David……..O Key of David
O Oriens……………..O Dayspring/Dawn
O Rex Gentium…….O King of Nations
O Emmanuel………..O Emmanuel (God is with us)
The waiting and the love and the longing they express are on a huge scale. The Church echoes the voice of Israel and her hope for a Messiah kept alive down the ages through her tortuous history, the promise of the Prophets.
The O Antiphons draw their mysterious titles from the Old Testament and from the Apocalypse with its promise of a new heaven. They call God by a historical title, but also call out to Him to come again.
The O Antiphons focus our minds on Mary’s waiting and on her child, reminding us that He is also the Messiah, the one whom the ages long for.
By these names we call out to Him with the authentic accents of those who have waited and felt the long anticipation of the history of salvation, the certainty that God would come, and we open our hearts to the future of His reign and power. (From https://catholicherald.co.uk/commentandblogs/2017/12/19/the-power-and-the-beauty-of-the-o-antiphons/)
Also, the monks who compiled them had a code built in to them. If you take the first letter of each antiphon (in the Latin) starting from the last to the first, the word ERO CRAS is formed which translates,
“Tomorrow I will come.”
The Antiphons are an ideal prayer for these end times – waiting for the Messiah and pleading to come and save us.
This Christmas Novena begins on 16th Dec. and ends on 24th Dec.
(Say 1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary and 1 Glory Be after each Antiphon.)
16th December: O Shepherd that rulest Israel, Thou that leadest Joseph like a sheep, come to guide and comfort us.
17th December: O Wisdom that comest out of the mouth of the Most High, that reachest from one end to another, and orderest all things mightily and sweetly, come to teach us the way of prudence!
18th December: O Adonai, and Ruler of the house of Israel, Who didst appear unto Moses in the burning bush, and gavest him the law in Sinai, come to redeeem us with an outstretched arm!
19th December: O Root of Jesse, which standest for an ensign of the people, at Whom the kings shall shut their mouths, Whom the Gentiles shall seek, come to deliver us, do not tarry.
20th December: O Key of David, and Sceptre of the house of Israel, that openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth, come to liberate the prisoner from the prison, and them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death.
21st December: O Dayspring, Brightness of the everlasting light, Son of justice, come to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death!
22nd December: O King of the Gentiles, yea and desire thereof! O Corner-stone that makest of two one, come to save man, whom Thou hast made out of the dust of the earth!
23rd December: O Emmanuel, our King and our law-giver, Longing of the Gentiles, yea, and salvation thereof, come to save us, O Lord our God!
24th December: O Thou that sittest upon the cherubim, God of hosts, come, show Thy face and we shall be saved.