Friday, 21 December 2012

Language rich enough to eat

We're on number five of seven of the Advent Antiphons in our stately march (aka mad rush) through the final days of Advent before Christmas.

The 'O Antiphons' developed in the early church as sung prayers before and after Mary's hymn, the Magnificat. They refer to different names of Jesus from the Old Testament Wisdom and prophetic books.

And they do sing. Even if you don't know any Latin, it's like having swallowed a slug of something rich and fulfilling that will last you throughout the sometimes tiring preparation for Christmas. They're a veritable feast of words and allusions.

O Sapientia: 17 December.

Sapientia - wisdom. The feminine divine?
The word drips juice. Sap. 
'Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from heaven, like the first dew fall on the first grass...' She was there in the beginning.

O Adonai: 18 December

Adonai - Lord. 
Beautiful One. Christ identified as God Almighty. Can it be any clearer than that?

O Radix Jesse: 19 December
Root of Jesse.
Like the male version of Cinderella: 'Are these all the sons you have?'
'Great David's greater son'.
God's only son.
Radix: root. Radishes. Radical.

O Clavis David: 20 December

Clavis: key.
The key which opens and no one can shut.
The key which locks and no one can open.
Be on the right side of that key then.

O Oriens: 21 December

Morning Star: 
'O Morning stars together proclaim the holy birth, and praises sing to God the King, and peace to men on earth.'
(I thought the morning star was Venus, hanging there in the dewy mist as the day breaks....?
Or it there some biblical image I've missed?)

O Rex Gentium: 22 December

King of the people.
'God rest ye merry, Gentium...'

O Emmanuel: 23 December

Know this one. God with us.
'O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel.'

I think of the O Antiphons like an Advent plum pudding - rich and full of goodness; ancient and long lasting. A wonderful mixture of things which fill and nourish in ways supermarket Christmas food adverts cannot compete with.

Happy munching.


  1. are you going all high church on us?? how on earth did you blog during yesterday?? x

  2. Not really high church - it's just the bible after all!
    Wrote it on Friday! which was a quiet-ish day!
    (Says the one who brought a laptop over here and blogged on Sat!!)