· Prayer 
The Great Antiphons
    The Great Antiphons, or O Antiphons, as they are called, are said, one each day, from December 17 to 23 inclusive. They are highly poetical in thought and replete with Scriptural allusions. Each Antiphon salutes the coming Messias under one of His many Scriptural titles, and closes with a proper petition. The author is not known. They date from the ninth century or earlier.

O Sapientia
December 17
O Wisdom, that camest out of the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end, mightily and sweetly disposing all things: come to teach us the way of prudence. O Sapientia, quæ ex ore Altissimi prodiisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem fortiter, suaviterque disponens omnia: veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiæ.
    O Sapientia: "I (Wisdom) came out of the mouth of the Most High" (Ecclus. 24,5). attingens: "She (Wisdom) reacheth therefore from end to end mightily, and ordereth all things sweetly" (Wis. 8, 1). a fine usque ad finem: everywhere (Wis. 7, 24).

O Adonai
December 18
O Adonai, and Leader of the house of Israel, who didst appear to Moses in the fire of the burning bush, and gavest him the Law on Sinai: come to redeem us with an outstretches arm. O Adonai, et Dux domus Israël, qui Moysi in igne flammæ rubi apparuisti, et ei in Sina legem dedisti: veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.
    Adonai: a Hebrew name for God, usually translated in the Old Testament by the word "Lord." domus Israel: the house of Israel, the Israelites. in flammæ rubi: condensed from Ex. 3, 2: "Apparuitque ei Dominus in flamma ignis de medio rubi. And the Lord appeared to him (Moses) in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush." flammæ: The genitive flammæ is best accounted for by regarding it as a substitute for the adjective flammeus. In Eccl. and Late Latin the genitive of a noun is frequently used in place of the corresponding adjective; thus flammæ rubi = flammei rubi, a flaming bush. Cf. Stolz-Schmalz, Lateinische Grammatik (ed. 1928), p. 395; the Cath. University Patristic Studies, "The Syntax of the Simple Cases pf St. Hilary of Poitiers" by Brother Gimborn, p. 54 f.; Kaulen, Handbuch zur Vulgata, p. 254. in Sina legem dedisti: The giving of the Law on Sinai is recorded in Ex. 19 ff. in brachio extento: In the Vulgate the preposition in often demotes means, instrument, or agent. "Nec enim in gladio suo possederint terram. For they got not possession of the land by their own sword" (Ps. 43, 4). Cf. Pss. 2, 9; Luke 22, 49. The phrase in te, by Thee, is common. The arm is a symbol of strength, might, power; and an outstretched are is a powerful, helping arm. Cf. Deut. 26, 8; 3 Kings 3, 42; Jer. 27, 8.

O Radix Jesse
December 19
O Root of Jesse, who standest as the ensign of the peoples, before whom kings shall shut their mouths, to whom the Gentiles shall pray: come deliver us, tarry now no more. O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum, super quem continebunt reges os suum, quem Gentes deprecabuntur; veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.
    Radix: a descendant, offspring. Jesse: the father of David. The Blessed Virgin was of the house of David, hence she was a root of Jesse, but her Divine Son was by pre-eminence the Root of Jesse. "In that day the root of Jesse, who standeth for an ensign of the people, him the Gentiles shall beseech" (Is. 11, 10). Cf. also Rom. 15, 12. in signum populorum: an allusion to the ensign or standard of the Cross around which the converted Gentiles would in time rally; in here denotes purpose. super quem: "Kings shall shut their mouths at (in presence of) him" (Is. 52, 15). The kings of the nations, moved by respect and admiration, shall be silent in His presence.

O Clavis David
December 20
O Key of David, and Scepter of the house of Israel; who openest, and no man shutteth; who shuttest, and no man openeth: come, and bring forth from the prisionhouse the captive, who sitteth in darkness and in the shadow of death. O Clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israël: qui aperis, et nemo claudit; claudis, et nemo aperit: veni et educ vinctum de domo carceris, sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.
    Clavis David: "Thus says the holy one, the true one, he who has the key of David; he who opens and no man shuts, and who shuts and no man opens" (Apoc. 3, 7; Cf. Is. 22, 22). A key is a symbol of power, and Christ, who was of the house of David, possessed the supreme power. He could open heaven or close it. And in the Church He gave to St. Peter "the keys of the kingdom of heaven," the power of binding and loosing in His name (Matt. 16, 19). sceptrum:fig. land, kingdom. "Israel is the scepter of his inheritance" (Jer. 51, 19). educ: "Bring forth the prisoner from the dungeon, and those who sit in darkness out of the prision-house" (Is. 42, 7). vinctum: in a collective sense, the prisoners, "those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death" (Luke 1, 79; Is. 9, 2).

O Oriens
December 21
O Dayspring, Brightness of the eternal Light and Sun of Justice: come, and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. O Oriens, splendor lucis æternæ, et sol justitiæ: veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.
    Oriens: the term is used of the rising of the sun or of any heavenly body; here the Sun is Christ. It is one of the many Scriptural titles of the Messias, the Light of the world (John 8, 12), the Sun of Justice (Mal. 4, 2), the Orient (Daybreak, Dayspring) from on high that visited us (Luke 1, 78), the bright Morning Star (Apoc. 22, 16), the Light of the Gentiles (Is. 49, 6), the Brightness or Effulgence of the Father's glory (Heb. 1, 3). illumina: "To shine on those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death" (Luke 1, 79).

O Rex Gentium
December 22
O King of the Nations, and their Desired One, the Cornerstone the makest both one: come, and save man, whom Thou didst form out of clay. O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum, lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum: veni, et salva hominem, quem de limo formasti.
    Rex gentium: "He who shall rise up to rule the Gentiles, in him the Gentiles shall hope" (Rom. 15, 12, in which St. Paul quotes Is. 11, 10). It is Christ who shall rise up and make the Gentiles a part of His own people. desideratus: lit., the desired one. "And the Desired of all nations shall come" (Ag. 2, 8). lapis angularis: "You are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Jesus Christ himself as the chief corner stone" (Eph. 2, 20). qui facis utraque unum: Christ is our peacemaker who has broken down the partition wall and made Jews and Gentiles one in the Church (Eph. 2, 14). In the Church there is no distinction of race. in limo: "And the Lord God formed man of the slime (dust, clay) of the earth" (Gen. 2, 7). The Vulgate has "de limo terræ."

O Emmanuel
December 23
O Emmanual, our King and Lawgiver, the Desire of all nations and their Savior: come to save us, O Lord our God. O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster, exspectatio Gentium, et Salvator earum: veni ad salvandum nos, Domine, Deus noster.
    Emmanuel: "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son; and they shall call his name Emmanuel; which is, interpreted, 'God with us' " (Matt. 1, 23).
The Hymns of the Breviary and Missal, Rt. Rev. Msgr. Hugh T. Henry, LITT.D., 1948