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Have you ever heard of or prayed the O Antiphons? This is a special form of Advent prayer that’s been around since the 8th Century. You’ve no doubt been praying or singing them during Advent for years without even knowing it in the hymn O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. Let’s take a deeper dive into this timeless prayer and discover how you can use the O Antiphons to make your Advent all you hope for and more.

What are the O Antiphons?

The word antiphon literally means a song, anthem or verse sung responsively. It’s usually a short chant or refrain sung in a song, repeated over & over in a religious setting. Something you can ponder or play over & over in your mind to keep you centered & focused on God.

The O Antiphons are the names given to Christ throughout the Old Testament. They are names or titles prophets used to proclaim the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. They represent the longing the Israelites felt for the Savior to come as well as what he would do.

The O Antiphons are generally prayed December 17th – 23rd. Which is perfect timing for a number of reasons. In the hustle & bustle of these last days before Christmas, it’s a great way to reflect on the Reason for the Season. By listening to/singing the song and/or meditating on 1 Antiphon each day also a perfect way to continue your Advent Journey to Jesus in a meaningful way.

List of the O Antiphons

So what are these O Antiphons? Here they are from the USCCB website as listed in the Catholic Household Blessings & Prayers.

  1. O Wisdom of our God Most High, guiding creation with power & love: come to teach us the path of knowledge!
  2. O Leader of the House of Israel, giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai: come to rescue us with your mighty power!
  3. O Root of Jesse’s Stem, sign of God’s love for all his people: come to save us without delay!
  4. O Key of David, opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom: come and free the prisoners of darkness!
  5. O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death.
  6. O King of all nations and keystone of the Church: come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!
  7. O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law: come to save us, Lord our God!

O Antiphons in Song

If you’re like me & like to listen to music, these antiphons are essentially the hymn, O Come, O Come Emmanuel. There are several variations on YouTube videos you can listen to. I couldn’t find one that encompassed all the verses, but found several I could listen to over & over again. Here’s the link to one of them:

Fellowship on Broadway: O Come, O Come Emmanuel

I personally like to meditate on the refrain of the song:

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

It’s a call to rejoice! To celebrate that Emmanuel, God is with us, is coming. God came 2,000 years ago to be with us as he walked the earth. Showing us the way, healing, forgiving, loving us all into the Father’s loving, welcoming, healing, peaceful embrace.

It’s also a plea, a holy longing asking Jesus to come to you, right here, right now. in 2022.

Health Benefits of Praying the O Antiphons

To tie this all back to health & well-being, when you are centered, grounded, anchored in God, placing #1 in your life, everything else seems to just fall into place. You see things from a different perspective.

When you are filled with Christ’s peace, you don’t feel the need to reach for the extra comfort food nor the sugary or adult beverages.

You find you have more patience & realize in the big scheme of things if you don’t get all the decorations up or get around to every party or family event, it will all be OK. The interactions you do have will be more meaningful because you’ll be more present.

Without the stress, your hormones can do what God designed them to do. From digestion & metabolism to PMS & menopause issues, lower stress means the related hormones can function at their best. So you can function at your best.

You’ll find you have time to move your body and sleep better too.

All this with the added bonus of keeping your blood sugar, blood pressure as well as your weight where you want them to be. Or at least not creep up any more over the next few weeks.

Using the O Antiphons

So if you’re looking for a way to wrap up your Advent, I invite you to pray the O Antiphons. Ponder their meaning & significance in your life. Meditate on how Jesus is lighting up your life as we approach his birth.

You could also use the antiphon as a journaling prompt & have a conversation with God. Express the gratitude for his blessings, especially that of sending his son, Jesus, not just for all humanity, but for you too.

So tell me…Have you ever intentionally prayed the O Antiphons? Which one do you resonate the most with? Is there a favorite YouTube video of O Come, O Come Emmanuel you could share? Share with us in the comments!

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