The First Day of the O Antiphons: O Come thou Wisdom

I’d never paid attention to the O Antiphons until I read Kathleen Norris’ account in The Cloister Walk of searching during Advent for a place to hear them sung.

How could I have missed this?  The most common hymn we sing during Advent is Hymn 56, “O come, O come Emanuel.”  And there, beginning for December 17, clearly beside each verse, a date is clearly written, as well as rubrics at the bottom, The stanzas may be used as antiphons with “The Song of Mary” on dates given.

Since the passage we are hearing from Isaiah tomorrow for the Fourth Sunday of Advent contains these words: Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel (Isaiah 7.14), and the Gospel being like unto it:  Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel (Matthew 1. 23), I’ve spent some time this week thinking about Emmanuel (the spelling from the Greek) and Immanuel (from the Hebrew)–both meaning God with us.

One author I read said that in her parish a question was posed the last week of Advent in response to this hymn:  How will He come to us?

I believe we have a gift this final week of Advent. Beginning today, we can ask each day in prayer:  If God is indeed with us, how will Jesus come to us today?  The answer is found in singing a verse from the hymn appointed for that very day.

Today our verse is this:

O Come, thou Wisdom from on on high,
Who orders all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.
Rejoice!  Rejoice! 
Emmanuel shall come to, O Israel.
As a note, Israel, besides being the name of a country, besides being the name of Isaac’s son who was also named Jacob, Israel literally means may God prevail.  
So we are invited to sing this last week of Advent, in these final days of preparation for the Incarnation: 

Rejoice.  Rejoice.  
God with us
 shall come to us
 O may God prevail.

If God is indeed with us, how will God come to us today?


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