An Advent tradition I’ve been participating in for a couple years now is praying the so-called “‘O’ Antiphons of Advent” during Evening Prayer on the seven days leading up to Christmas Eve. The church has been singing these since at least the eighth century.
An “antiphon” is a short liturgical text chanted or sung responsively preceding and/or following a psalm or canticle (song from Scripture). The “O” Antiphons of Advent accompany the Magnificat canticle of Evening Prayer from December 17-23. To use them as a standalone devotion, simply pray the antiphon, then pray the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), then finish by praying the antiphon again.
I love the rich biblical imagery they use to evoke the messianic hopes of the Old Testament to proclaim the coming Christ as the fulfillment of God’s promises, both past and present.
Here are the “O” Antiphons of Advent (translations taken from the Church of England):
December 17 – O Sapientia
O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High,
reaching from one end to the other mightily,
and sweetly ordering all things:
Come and teach us the way of prudence.
cf Ecclesiasticus 24:3; Wisdom 8:1
December 18 – O Adonai
O Adonai, and leader of the House of Israel,
who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush
and gave him the law on Sinai:
Come and redeem us with an outstretched arm.
cf Exodus 3:2; 24:12
December 19 – O Radix Jesse
O Root of Jesse, standing as a sign among the peoples;
before you kings will shut their mouths,
to you the nations will make their prayer:
Come and deliver us, and delay no longer.
cf Isaiah 11:10; 45:14; 52:15; Romans 15:12
December 20 – O Clavis David
O Key of David and scepter of the House of Israel;
you open and no one can shut;
you shut and no one can open:
Come and lead the prisoners from the prison house,
those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.
cf Isaiah 22:22; 42:7
December 21 – O Oriens
O Morning Star,
splendor of light eternal and sun of righteousness:
Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness
and the shadow of death.
cf Malachi 4:2
December 22 – O Rex Gentium
O King of the nations, and their desire,
the cornerstone making both one:
Come and save the human race,
which you fashioned from clay.
cf Isaiah 28:16; Ephesians 2:14
December 23 – O Emmanuel
O Emmanuel, our King and our lawgiver,
the hope of the nations and their Savior:
Come and save us, O Lord our God.
cf Isaiah 7:14
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