Introduction to the Great "O" Antiphons
Here is Pastor Cwirla's introduction to the meditations, with an historical reference by Fr. Wm. Saunders of Sterling, VA:
"The Great "O" Antiphons are seven brief prayers that are traditionally chanted or sung on successive evenings starting on December 17. The exact origin of the “O Antiphons” is not known. Boethius (c. 480-524) made a slight reference to them, thereby suggesting their presence at that time. At the Benedictine abbey of Fleury (now Saint-Benoit-sur-Loire), these antiphons were recited by the abbot and other abbey leaders in descending rank, and then a gift was given to each member of the community. By the eighth century, they are in use in the liturgical celebrations in Rome. One may thereby conclude that in some fashion the “O Antiphons” have been part of our liturgical tradition since the very early Church. These ancient supplications beautifully express the Christian church's profound yearning for her long expected Savior. They continue to be part of the seasonal devotions of many churches today. The Great "O" Antiphons form the basis of the popular Advent hymn, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel by English hymnographer John Neale.
The Great " O" Antiphons are rich in meaning and nuance. Each antiphon begins with the acclamation "O," addresses Christ by one of His messianic titles from the Old Testament, and ends with a heartfelt plea for His coming. The sequence of the antiphons is theologically precise, progressing from before the creation of the universe, through the messianic prophecies of Israel, and culminating with the Incarnation and birth of Christ in Bethlehem. The initials of each Latin titles of these antiphons were arranged by the Benedictine monks with a definite purpose-- Sapientia, Adonai, Radix, Clavis, Oriens, Rex, and Emmanuel -- combine to form SARCORE. When this is arranged backwards, it spells ERO CRAS, which means "Tomorrow, I will be." This wonderful coincidence has fascinated Christians since the Middle Ages because Christ seems to answer the pleas of the Great "O" Antiphons by promising to come to His people on Christmas Eve (December 24), the day after the singing of the final antiphon."
Tomorrow we will begin with the first Antiphon, "O Sapientia/O Wisdom".