On December 1, Burk Parsons tweeted out…
This got me curious, so I dug into some research on Advent Antiphons and learned this…
Each stanza highlights a title for the Messiah: O Sapientia (O Wisdom), O Adonai (O Lord), O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse), O Clavis David (O Key of David), O Oriens (O Rising Sun), O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations), and O Emmanuel. Each verse praises the coming of the Savior by a different name, and closes with petitions appropriate to the title. According to musical scholars, the arrangement was not accidental. It is called an acrostic, something known to puzzle fanatics. If one starts with the last title and takes the first letter of each one – Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia – the Latin words ero cras are formed, translated as, “Tomorrow, I will be [there].”
So, when these are sung, they help express a longing for Jesus to come and each of these longings make an acrostic with a promise: “Tomorrow, I will be there.”
Now you may think, “I wish I could hear this song.” And, fortunately, you have probably heard it and maybe sung it already:
1 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.
2 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
3 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
4 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
5 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
6 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
7 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) (O Come, O Come, Emmanuel on Hymnary)
May this season be one in which you reflect on the longing those first-century people had as the Christ came and may you long for the returning Lord, as well.
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