Monday, December 17, 2007

O Sapientia

o sapientia.jpg

Beginning this day in the Roman Calendar, the Church counts the final days before the Lord's coming with the "O Antiphons." This seven days of observance is known collectively as the "Greater Ferias" (feria in the ancient tradition, referring to a regular weekday). They are the short hymns sung before and after the Magnificat during Vespers. Many of us have sung their paraphrases in the verses of the great Advent hymn "O Come O Come Emmanuel."

At this time last year, Father Zuhlsdorf prepared a series of commentaries on each of the antiphons upon which each of the verses of this hymn are based:

"There is a little-known fact about the order of these ancient O Antiphons. This is not apparent in English, but it can be seen clearly in the official language of the Roman Catholic Church: Latin. The Latin versions of each of the titles of the Messiah: Sapientia (Wisdom), Adonai (Lord), Radix (Root), Clavis (Key), Oriens (Dawn), Rex (King), and Emmanuel (Emmanuel). Take the first letters of each of the titles and write them backwards, thus counting down the days of the feast: EROCRAS or 'ero cras.' This means in Latin 'I will be (here) tomorrow'."

Last year featured a series of Gregorian chants produced by Dominican Friars at Blackfriars, Oxford (for those of you who are into that sort of thing). This year's series is from LoveToBeCatholic. As always, the entry for today's date is the first in a series of seven:

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!

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