In this age of conspiracy theories and cracking hidden codes I thought people might find this interesting.
On each day from December 17-23, the antiphon proclaimed before the reciting of the Magnificat in the evening prayer of the Church’s Liturgy of the Hours refers to a different title for Christ. Each title is preceded by “O” – hence the designation “O Antiphons”.
The antiphons help to focus the expectation of the waiting Church on the coming feast of the Birth of Christ while presenting an aspect of who the Messiah is. Each antiphon also refers to a specific prophecy by Isaiah regarding the coming Messiah.
No one knows the exact origins of the “O Antiphons” – they are referred to by Boethius (c. 480-524) in his writings and by the eighth century they are in common use in the liturgical celebrations in Rome. Following this they become common throughout the universal church.
Below are the antiphons and the scripture passage(s) from Isaiah that they refer to:
December 17th – O Sapientia: “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.” Isaiah 11:2-3, 28:29.
December 18th – O Adonai: “O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.” Isaiah 11:4-5, 33:22.
December 19th – O Radix Jesse: “O Flower of Jesse’s stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.” Isaiah 11:1, 10 and Micah 5:1.
December 20th – O Clavis David: “O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel controlling at your will the gate of heaven: come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom.” Isaiah 9:6, 22:22.
December 21st – O Oriens: “O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.” Isaiah 9:1.
December 22nd – O Rex Gentium: “O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of man, come and save the creatures you fashioned from the dust.” Isaiah 2:4, 9:5.
December 23rd – O Emmanuel: “O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Savior of all people, come and set us free, Lord our God.” Isaiah 7:13-15
Now, some scholars point out that if you take the first letter of each title in Latin, starting from Dec. 23rd and working back to the 17th (Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia), you can form the Latin words “ero cras” which translates, “Tomorrow, I will come.” “Tomorrow” being the 24th and the beginning of the Church’s celebration of the birth of Christ.