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Thursday, December 17, 2009

O excitement! O Antiphons!

So, I'm in my car and the cell phone rings.  It's Ms. Conroy.  She's very excited.  Very Excited.

"Guess what?" she asks.

"What?" I said, expecting - oh, I don't know - something from one of the kids, something about her work . . . not this:

"Today begins the O Antiphons!" she practically chirped.

You have to know Ms. Conroy to know that 'chirping' is not her usual tone of voice.

I had no words for oh, five, ten seconds.

"Isn't that exciting? "she continued.

"Exciting?" I asked cautiously, more of a reflection than an actual question.  "Sure, sure.  Exciting."

She giggled like a six year old who had been waiting for this gift all year.

And, come to think of it, she had.

There are seven O antiphons which lead up to Christmas Day.  Sometimes called "Advent Season's Brightest Jewels," (with which Ms. Conroy would obviously agree) these O Antiphons express the theology of Advent: The incarnation of Jesus as Holy Wisdom, Lord of Israel, Root of Jesse, Key of David, Rising Dawn, King of Nations, Emmanuel (God-With-Us).

We sing these O antiphons in that great hymn:  "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel."

Today's O Antiphon is O Wisdom:

O WISDOM, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with Your strong yet tender care. Come and show Your people the way to salvation.


Christ, the Word of God through all the ages You have cared for Your people as a shepherd his flock, as a mother her child, as a potter his clay. Be present to us who cry out for Your compassionate, helping hand. Help us to be faithful to those values which You taught us by Your life and Your love. May we find Your presence in the needs of the poor and abandoned around us. Amen.
Now, were I to actually get excited about the O Antiphons, it would be over the way the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, PA observe them.

You can hear them chanting the O Antiphons here, as well as read Sr. Joan Chittister's daily meditations on them.  Here's her meditation for today:
December 17
Wisdom: the ability to see the
world as God sees it. Try reading
the newspaper today through the
eyes of a God who was born in a
stable, counted to be of no
account, hounded by society from
one place to another.
— Joan D. Chittister, OSB
Okay, everybody.  Time to get excited.   Ms. Conroy says so.


KJ said...

It is exciting.

At St. Marks Cathedral in Seattle, we begin each Advent with an "Advent Procession" service, a liturgical setting created by Peter Hallock, now retired from the Compline Choir. The processional (Let My Prayer Come Up), sung by the Compline and and Cathedral Choir brings chills and tears to me each year (As I was crucifer this year, I had to keep the tears on the inside.). The service then follows the pattern of the O Antiphon chanted, then a modern setting, composed by Peter, then the associated scripture, followed by hymn, then a collect.

It is an absolutely amazing service (Warning -- shameless plug). A CD of the service can be ordered from the Cathedral Shop at The recording includes a Christmas reading and carol, though the actual service does not.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks for the 'plug'. I, for one, appreciate it.

Bill said...

I experienced much the same excitement this evening when Ms Conroy rushed into evening prayer waving freshly printed copies of , oh yes, O Antiphons. I now have my personal copy which I have been instructed to use between now and Christmas. It takes so little to make her happy. :)

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Ah, Bill, and now you've discovered part of the glue that has kept us together lo these 33 years.

Kirkepiscatoid said...

Sounds to me like "How could Bill dare resist such excitement?"

June Butler said...

Elizabeth, I love the O Antiphons, too. Love them, love them.

Your sweets look scrumptious.