Keep your O

The exact origin of the O Antiphons is not known. In the sixth century. At the Benedictine Fleury Abbey, these antiphons were recited by the abbot and other abbey leaders in descending rank, and then a gift was given to each member of the community. By the eighth century, they were in use in the liturgical celebrations in Rome. The usage of the O Antiphons was so prevalent in monasteries that the phrases Keep your O and The Great O Antiphons were common parlance. One may thereby conclude that in some fashion the O Antiphons have been part of Western liturgical tradition since the very early Church

It is especially in the final week of Advent that our attention is fixed on the messianic promises proclaimed by the ancient prophets of Israel.  A distinctive feature of the Liturgy of the Hours in this week preceding the Christmas vigil is the antiphon sung at Vespers – evening prayer – before and after the recitation of the Magnificat.  Originally incorporated into the monastic office in the Middle Ages, these antiphons, often called the Greater Antiphons or the O Antiphons, are also echoed in the daily lectionary as the verse for the gospel acclamation during this week.  They add a mood of eager expectation to the liturgy that builds throughout these seven days and ends at Christmas 
They are referred to as the O Antiphons because the title of each one begins with the interjection O.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


Antiphone – the response which one side of the choir makes to the other in a chant, alternate chanting or signing


Pray as you go – God With Us – Session 6 O King of All the Nations –