The deep and dark of longing presses in on these days of waiting. The ancient traditions spent this last week of Advent meditating on the “O Antiphons,” which are the names and images of the Christ, taken from the book of Isaiah. Each antiphon (the liturgical response, sung or said after the psalm), begins with the exclamation “O!” as if the worshippers’ longing can barely be contained. There are seven verses: O Sapientia, O Adonai, O Radix Jesse, O Clavis David, O Oriens, O Rex Gentium, and O Emmanuel.
For those who watch and wait, each day’s verse is full of depth and meaning, acknowledging the pain of our present reality, and anticipating the now-but-not-yet of comfort and joy.
This week will be busy, and there is darkness. But there is also new life, and light.
Settle in with this ancient poetry. Dwell on the promises. Rest in the presence.
This week’s playlist includes multiple versions of the traditional setting, along with a liturgical setting by Healy Willan, and a concert setting (in German) by Arvo Pärt. And don’t miss the bonus link to the setting by Steve Bell.
Steve Bell’s arrangement is one of my favorites. His also incorporates poetry by Malcolm Guite. Listen to it on Soundcloud: Steve Bell O Come O Come Emmanuel
O come, O come, Immanuel, and ransom captive Israel that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel shall come to you, O Israel.
O come, O Wisdom from on high, who ordered all things mightily; to us the path of knowledge show and teach us in its ways to go. Refrain
O come, O come, great Lord of might, who to your tribes on Sinai’s height in ancient times did give the law in cloud and majesty and awe. Refrain
O come, O Branch of Jesse’s stem, unto your own and rescue them! From depths of hell your people save, and give them victory o’er the grave. Refrain
O come, O Key of David, come and open wide our heavenly home. Make safe for us the heavenward road and bar the way to death’s abode. Refrain
O come, O Bright and Morning Star, and bring us comfort from afar! Dispel the shadows of the night and turn our darkness into light. Refrain
O come, O King of nations, bind in one the hearts of all mankind. Bid all our sad divisions cease and be yourself our King of Peace. Refrain
Psalter Hymnal (Gray)