The last few days I've been thinking about the leadup to Christmas and how, amid the busyness of getting ready for the season, I can also keep in the Advent mode of reflection and contemplation. Then, it came to me: what about a series on the 'O-Antiphons' in the last week before Christmas. If anything would remind me of the expectation of Christ's coming, the 'O-Antiphons' should.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with them, the O-Antiphons are seven short verses sung before the Magnificat either in Evening Prayer or during Eucharist between December 17th and December 23rd. Each of the 'O-Antiphons' invokes the coming of the Messiah, beginning with a biblical title and ending with a petition. They are most popularly known in the Advent hymn "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel", even if the first verse really is the last in the series. This is the form in which I first encountered them and which I continue to cherish them. Yet, they are a staple of the monastic Advent experience (as mentioned by, among others, Kathleen Norris in her book, Cloister Walk) and they call us to a very different kind of preparation for the Christmas season.
So, what I propose to do is to post each antiphon on their appropriate day and to make a brief comment or two on them. My intention is not to be too tiresomely academic, but, rather, look for the spiritual meaning of each of the antiphons. So, I hope you'll join me for the O-Antiphon series starting on Friday.