Hand of God leedsacukThe ancient tradition of O Antiphons has characterised Vespers recited between December 17 and December 24, during the Octave before Christmas Day.

The Bible readings for these seven days help us to meditate on the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Together, the first letters of these traditional meditations spell SARCORE, which is the reverse of the Latin phrase ero cras, which means

I shall be [with you] tomorrow.

The Bible verses of SARCORE express the following:

  1. “O Sapientia, quae ex ore altissimi…” (O Wisdom from on high…)
  2. “O Adonai et dux domus Israel…” (O Lord and leader of the house of Israel…)
  3. “O Radix Jesse qui stas in signum populorum…” (O Root of Jesse who stood as a standard of the people…)
  4. “O Clavis David et sceptrum domus…” (O Key of David and scepter of our home…)
  5. “O Oriens, splendor lucis aeternae…” (O Dayspring, splendor of eternal light…)
  6. “O Rex gentium et desideratus…” (O longed-for King of the nations…)
  7. “O Emmanuel, rex et legifer noster…” (O Emmanuel, our king and law-giver…)

The office of Vespers for December 21 considers the ‘O’, Oriens, which means dawn, Dayspring, daybreak. It also means ‘east’ and is the origin of the word ‘orient’.

It is no coincidence, perhaps, that this contemplation is for December 21, Winter Solstice. The days are short, the nights long. We long for light, especially the eternal Light.

My post for this day last year examined one verse for this day, Isaiah 9:2, taken from ‘The O Antiphons’ page of Hymns and Carols of Christmas.

Although Isaiah prophesies about a three-year period of captivity and exile for Judah at the hands of the Assyrians, the Church also interprets this verse as an anticipation of Christ:

2 The people who walked in darkness
   have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
   on them has light shined.

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