O Emmanuel, come to save us

The last day for the great Advent antiphons is today.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and the waiting of Advent will be over.

This last Advent Antiphon is 'O Emmanuel'. Like the others on the preceding 6 days it is appropriate to sing this as a response to the Magnificat at Evening Prayer.

Emmanuel is a name given to Jesus and means 'God with us'.

One English translation of the O Emmanuel response prayer is:
O Emmanuel, 
our King and Lawgiver, 
the Expected of the Nations and their Savior, 
come to save us, O Lord our God.
There is a hidden message in the Latin titles of the O Antiphons. In reverse order they are:

O Emmanuel
O Rex
O Oriens
O Clavis
O Radix
O Adonai
O Sapienta

If you take the 1st letter of each title in reverse as I have set them out above, starting with today's, then you find spelt out the Latin words 'Ero Cras'. In English this means 'Tomorrow I come'. I love the sense of expectancy in that phrase, not just because tomorrow night Christmas begins but also because it kindles a sense of hope of a better tomorrow in God's renewal of all creation.

Malcolm Guite's sonnet inspired by the O Emmanuel antiphon explores the meaning of 'God with us' and cleverly weaves in allusions to the other O Antiphons of Advent. It also looks forward to a new birth for all humanity and a new creation. It has become one of my favourite prayer-poems for Christmas.

O Emmanuel 

O come, O come, and be our God-with-us
O long-sought With-ness for a world without, 
O secret seed, O hidden spring of light. 
Come to us Wisdom, come unspoken Name 
Come Root, and Key, and King, and holy Flame, 
O quickened little wick so tightly curled, 
Be folded with us into time and place, 
Unfold for us the mystery of grace 
And make a womb of all this wounded world. 
O heart of heaven beating in the earth, 
O tiny hope within our hopelessness 
Come to be born, to bear us to our birth, 
To touch a dying world with new-made hands 
And make these rags of time our swaddling bands.

Here is this last of the great Advent O Antiphons, sung in Latin together with the Magnificat and with some lovely images.

Image Credit: Sharing Horizons


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