O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
Dominic sent me this today to cool my head. I still think this is one of my favourite hymns for advent, despite Catherine Stead 's attempt to ruin it for me earlier this week by sharing a heavy metal version on Facebook! I'm sure you will agree, this is far more civilised:
The hymn is a metrical version of the "O Antiphons" from the final week of Advent vespers. It is believed that the traditional music stems from a 15th Century French processional hymn for Franciscan nuns, but it may also have 8th Century Gregorian origins. It is one of the most solemn Advent hymns.
The O Antiphons are Magnificat antiphons used at Vespers of the last seven days of Advent in Western Christian traditions. The importance of the "O Antiphons" is twofold. First, each one is a title for the Messiah. Secondly, each one refers to the prophecy of Isaiah of the coming of the Messiah.
Each antiphon is a name of Christ, one of his attributes mentioned in Scripture. They are:
December 17: O Sapientia (O Wisdom)
December 18: O Adonai (O Lord)
December 19: O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)
December 20: O Clavis David (O Key of David)
December 21: O Oriens (O Dayspring)
December 22: O Rex Gentium (O King of the nations)
December 23: O Emmanuel (O With Us is God)
The first letters of the titles taken backwards form a Latin acrostic of "Ero Cras" which translates to "Tomorrow, I will be there", mirroring the theme of the antiphons.