Thursday, 22 December 2016

O King of the nations, come and save the human race

It is 2 days before Christmas Eve in the Advent count down to Christmas.

The O Antiphon for Evening Prayer today is 'O Rex Gentium', or in English 'O King of the Nations'.

Today's antiphon comes as a reminder that Jesus the baby of Bethlehem is born for all people, to rule over all. Today's antiphon is a prayer asking God to save all humanity, all creation.

An English version of this antiphon is:
O king of the nations, and their desire, 
the cornerstone making both one: 
Come and save the human race, 
which you fashioned from clay.

Like the other Advent O Antiphons it uses titles for the coming Messiah, the Christ, the anointed one. There are 3 titles here:

  1. King of the nations (or the Gentiles)
  2. Desire of the nations
  3. Cornerstone who makes Jew and Gentile one
The imagery in this prayer is based on many Biblical references. Here is a selection of them:

From the Book of Revelation
...Great and amazing are your deeds, 
Lord God the Almighty! 
Just and true are your ways, 
King of the nations! Revelation 15:3

From the Psalms

The stone that the builders rejected 
has become the chief cornerstone. Psalm 118:22

From the prophet Isaiah

See, I am laying in Zion a foundation stone, 
a tested stone, 
a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; 
"One who trusts will not panic." Isaiah 28:16

From the Gospels

The image of the cornerstone is applied by Jesus to himself, for example in Matthew 21:42, Mark 12:10 and Luke 20:17;


From the Acts of the Apostles

This Jesus is  
'the stone that was rejected by you, the builders;  
it has become the cornerstone.'  
There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved. Acts 4: 11 - 12

From the Epistle to the Ephesians
So then, you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. Ephesians 2:19 - 20

From I Peter
For it stands in scripture: 
"See, I am laying in Zion a stone, 
a cornerstone, chosen and precious; 
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame." I Peter 2:6






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