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We are now into the Octave before Christmas.

With each day through to and including Christmas Eve, special readings have been designated to help Christians consider the meaning of Jesus’s birth.

The O Antiphons spell out SARCORE. These are an aide memoire, because, reversed, they spell out in Latin ero cras, which means

I shall be [with you] tomorrow.

The Bible verses behind SARCORE — ero cras — are as follows:

  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…)

If those phrases seem familiar, the ancient Advent hymn O Come, O Come, Emmanuel refers to the O Antiphons.

‘The O Antiphons’ page of Hymns and Carols of Christmas tells us that these Bible verses have been used in this context since the fifth century, although they did not begin to become widespread until the reign of Charlemagne in the eighth century. By the 11th century, they were in common use in monasteries:

… two 11th century copies can be found in manuscripts in the British Museum and the Bodleian [Oxford]. The usage of the “O Antiphons” was so prevalent in monasteries that the phrases, “Keep your O” and “The Great O Antiphons” were common parlance.

So far, I have posted on the S (here and here), the A (here and here) and the R (here and here).

Today’s O Antiphon relates to the C — Clavis David, Key of David — mentioned in Isaiah 22:22:

The O Antiphon for December 20

That post has a full explanation of the significance of what this key means and how it relates to Christ Jesus.

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