Of O Antiphons, Passionist Nuns, and the silence of Advent…

“Everything that the church gives you to sing, every prayer that you say in and with Christ and his Mystical Body, is a cry of ardent desire for grace, for help, for the coming of the Messiah, the Redeemer.”

– Thomas Merton, The Seven Story Mountain
Passionist Nuns Monastery in Whitesville, KY

The Seven Story Mountain is definitely my favorite of Thomas Merton writings. The above quote popped up on my Facebook Memories this morning from a few years ago. I think that it highlights these final days of the Advent Season in a beautiful way.

Currently, at Mass and Evening Prayer we are hearing/singing/chanting/praying the “O Antiphons”, (See my post from a few years ago here.) today we heard O Clavis David…Key of David. These ancient titles for the Christ, the Messiah, the Redeemer connect us with our Jewish roots and with principal titles for the Messiah and what he will/has/does come to do for us.

This evening, we joined our dear Contemplative/Cloistered Passionist Nuns in Whitesville for a small social gathering, music, a very creative/funny skit, as well as to pray Evening Prayer in their beautiful chapel. The Sisters, like those of us at Saint Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology  have the privilege of chanting the various hours of the Liturgy of the Hours in common. The Nuns used a beautiful tone for tonight’s Magnificat Antiphon:

O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel,
controlling at your will the gate of heaven:
Come, break down the prison walls of death
for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death;
and lead your captive people into freedom.

As the Nuns tend to chant in a higher register than we men (it tests my Tenor voice at times) I was struck particularly during the chanting of this Antiphon with the quote I had reread earlier in the day. As the nuns chanted higher, I envisioned that Royal Power of Israel, the one who commands death and life coming from the heights and leading us forth into freedom from our sin, from our false sense of selves, from the weight of the culture’s-lived-out idea of Advent…

“Everything that the church gives you to sing, every prayer that you say in and with Christ and his Mystical Body, is a cry of ardent desire for grace, for help, for the coming of the Messiah, the Redeemer.”

– Thomas Merton, The Seven Story Mountain

To me this evening, that antiphon spoke light into the semi-dark corners of my spiritual life and helped me to see just a little bit more clearly how much more I needed Christ in my life. How I needed the Key of David to come and unlock the chains that still bind me, how I needed the Key of David to lead me into a deeper sense and lived experience of freedom.

As we have come to the end of the school semester and my mind has been bogged down for the past few weeks with finals, papers, and readings, Advent hasn’t been all that “peaceful.” Tonight, that changed. Tonight I entered a bit deeper into that peace, that quiet waiting with joy, hope, and expectation for the coming of the Messiah, our Redeemer. Tonight, in my heart, in my soul, I was able to cry out in song, chant…for grace…for help…for the coming of Emmanuel…God with us.

May you have the opportunity to sit a while, rest in the silence, the peace, the quiet waiting of these coming days so that we might join the Angels, Singing in Exultation as Christ comes not only in the manger of Bethlehem, but into the mangers of our hearts. May we make him room!

O Oriens!

O-Dawn-300x241

O Oriens, splendor lucis aeternae,
et sol justitiae:
veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris,
et umbra mortis.

O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice:
Come, shine on those who dwell in darkness
and the shadow of death.

From the Lectionary Cycle:

Oriens, splendor lucis aeternae et sol iustitiae:
veni et illumina sedentes in tenebris et umbra mortis.

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!

From the Hymn:

Veni, Veni O Oriens, solare nos adveniens,
noctis depelle nebulas, dirasque mortis tenebras.

(6) O Come, Thou Dayspring from on high,
and cheer us by thy drawing nigh;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night
and death’s dark shadow put to flight.

This Evening the Church in her wisdom calls us to look to the Orient, the East, to look forward to the second coming of Christ. (Kind of fits with the whole Mayan World-ending thing don’t you think?) We gather together as a people who long to see Christ, we long for him to come, we long to see him, our Savior. We look to the East, because that is where the Dawn comes from, where the first rays of the sunlight of a new day come forth from. That is why for the longest amount of the Church’s history Mass was celebrated Ad Orientem, that is (to the East, though it became the Liturgical East in some places, because churches couldn’t always be built with the High Altar on the East side of the Church) Mass can still be celebrated this way, though many choose not to as the custom with the Novus Ordo is to celebrate Ad populum, (To the people). We await the coming of Christ from the East, we await him the dawn of a new day, he is the dawn who makes all things new. He comes to set us free of our sin and start us on the path to our redemption. He comes to restore the human race with God and open up the gates of Heaven for us through his death on the cross.

We seek the Son of Justice, who when he comes on that new dawn, that new day, he will give to each what they deserve. This is why Christ gives us the Sacrament of Reconciliation. If you haven’t made your Christmas confession yet, please GO! Now! Jesus is waiting for us to ask him for his help, to be the new day in our life, to be the new dawn of justice, the new dawn of love, the new dawn of whatever we are needing refreshed, open up your souls to him! Open up your hearts and sweep the staleness of not praying and sin out, ask for him to come and be your new day. Join with the church in welcoming him O Oriens, O Dawn, O Christ born for our salvation in a stable in Bethlehem. Come o Oriens, dawn of the new day. Come and refresh us, and make us yours, even so Lord Jesus, come and do not tarry!

Scriptural References for O Oriens:

Isaiah 9:158:860:18-20

Malachi 4:2

Luke 1:78-79

John 8:12

Revelation 22:16

O Radix Jesse!

dec-19-o-antiphon

O Radix Jesse! or O Root of Jesse’s Stem!

O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum,
super quem continebunt reges os suum,
quem gentes deprecabuntur:
veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.

O Flower of Jesse’s stem,
you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples;
kings stand silent in your presence;
the nations bow down in worship before you.
Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.

From the Lectionary Cycle:

Radix Iesse, stans in signum populorum:
veni ad liberandum nos, iam noli tardare.

O Root of Jesse’s stem,
sign of God’s love for all his people:
come to save us without delay!

From the Hymn:

Veni, O Iesse virgula, ex hostis tuos ungula,
de spectu tuos tartari educ et antro barathri.

O Come, Thou Rod of Jesse’s stem,
from ev’ry foe deliver them
that trust Thy mighty power to save,
and give them vict’ry o’er the grave.

Today the Church draws us to remember Christ’s Royal and powerful Lineage, that of Jesse in the fact of Christ as supreme ruler and king. That at the end of the age, Christ will gather all together. The verses of this antiphon appear not only in the Veni, but also have their own song inspired by it. “Lo How a Rose Ere Blooming.” I have included a nice rendition for your below. The means of our salvation is Jesus on the Cross. Jesus has put down the mighty from their thrones and has exalted the lowly. He is the one who came to draw all to Himself. All nations will beseech His mercy, forsaking earthly kings and turning to the King of Kings. We remember he, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah who will come to set us free of our sin and save us to be his forever. So today we join with the church in praying to that root of Jesse’s tree, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, that he will deliver us from our enemies and save us with his mighty power. Come Lord and do not delay!!

Scriptural References for today’s Antiphon:

Isaiah 11:111:10

Isaiah 52:15

Romans 15:12

I hope that you’re enjoying the Chant texts as much as I have been!

O Oriens

O-Dawn-300x241

O Oriens, splendor lucis aeternae,
et sol justitiae:
veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris,
et umbra mortis.

O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice:
Come, shine on those who dwell in darkness
and the shadow of death.

From the Lectionary Cycle:

Oriens, splendor lucis aeternae et sol iustitiae:
veni et illumina sedentes in tenebris et umbra mortis.

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!

From the Hymn:

Veni, Veni O Oriens, solare nos adveniens,
noctis depelle nebulas, dirasque mortis tenebras.

(6) O Come, Thou Dayspring from on high,
and cheer us by thy drawing nigh;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night
and death’s dark shadow put to flight.

This Evening the Church in her wisdom calls us to look to the Orient, the East, to look forward to the second coming of Christ. (Kind of fits with the whole Mayan World-ending thing don’t you think?) We gather together as a people who long to see Christ, we long for him to come, we long to see him, our Savior. We look to the East, because that is where the Dawn comes from, where the first rays of the sunlight of a new day come forth from. That is why for the longest amount of the Church’s history Mass was celebrated Ad Orientem, that is (to the East, though it became the Liturgical East in some places, because churches couldn’t always be built with the High Altar on the East side of the Church) Mass can still be celebrated this way, though many choose not to as the custom with the Novus Ordo is to celebrate Ad populum, (To the people). We await the coming of Christ from the East, we await him the dawn of a new day, he is the dawn who makes all things new. He comes to set us free of our sin and start us on the path to our redemption. He comes to restore the human race with God and open up the gates of Heaven for us through his death on the cross.

We seek the Son of Justice, who when he comes on that new dawn, that new day, he will give to each what they deserve. This is why Christ gives us the Sacrament of Reconciliation. If you haven’t made your Christmas confession yet, please GO! Now! Jesus is waiting for us to ask him for his help, to be the new day in our life, to be the new dawn of justice, the new dawn of love, the new dawn of whatever we are needing refreshed, open up your souls to him! Open up your hearts and sweep the staleness of not praying and sin out, ask for him to come and be your new day. Join with the church in welcoming him O Oriens, O Dawn, O Christ born for our salvation in a stable in Bethlehem. Come o Oriens, dawn of the new day. Come and refresh us, and make us yours, even so Lord Jesus, come and do not tarry!

Scriptural References for O Oriens:

Isaiah 9:158:860:18-20

Malachi 4:2

Luke 1:78-79

John 8:12

Revelation 22:16

O Adonai

Image

From the Breviary:

Adonai, et dux domus Israel,
qui Moyse in igne flammae rubi apparuisti,
et ei in Sina legem dedisti:
veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.

O Sacred Lord of ancient Israel,
who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush,
who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain:
Come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.

From the Lectionary Cycle:

Dux domus Israel, qui Moysi in Sina legem dedisti:
veni ad redimendum nos in bracchio extento.

O Leader of the House of Israel,
giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai:
come to rescue us with your mighty power!

From the Hymn:

Veni, Veni, Adonai, qui populo in Sinai
legem dedisti vertice in maiestate gloriae.

O Come, O Come, Thou Lord of might,
who to thy tribes on Sinai’s height
in ancient times didst give the law,
in cloud, and majesty, and awe.

 

This Evening the Antiphon for the Magnificat is O Adonai… The term adonai is the word that the Jewish People called God, he was their adonai, Sacred Lord, Master of All, their Majesty. They so reverenced the name of God that one has to wonder why we do not any more? They were scared that if they mentioned the name of God they would use it unworthily, that they would be profaning his sacred name. And now when we go out of our homes we hear his name used for anything and everything, we hear that his last name is Da*nit, We hear his son’s name used when someone scares someone, when someone slams their finger in the door “JESUS CHRIST!” or just Christ. At what point did we begin to have such disregard for the Lord’s name? Let us take today as a chance to go back to our respect of his name, let us join with our Jewish brethren in exclaiming O Majesty! O Sacred Lord! O Master of All! O Adonai!

The Church remembers today: the giving of the law to Moses, the law that we are born with written on our hearts, and the power of God to deliver us from slavery to Satan.

Scripture References to O Adonai:

Exodus 3:2

Isaiah 33:22; 63:11-12

Micah 6:4

Acts 7:30-31