Self-Care: Sing Songs of Praise

Another way to care for your inner being is to sing. I write this blog entry on December 20, 2021, just a few days before Christmas.

One of the most delightful aspects of our annual Christmas celebration is singing Christmas carols.

Do you have a favorite Christmas carol? Mine may be O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.

Because I am married to a Danish woman, in our home, every year on Christmas Eve, we dance in circles around our Christmas Tree, holding hands as a family, singing Christmas carols. Everyone gets to choose their favorite. I often ask us to sing O Come, O Come.

A little history to this old carol. The lyrics date back to the 8th or 9th century, first found in European monasteries, as “Antiphons,” to be sung during the evening monastic vesper services the week prior to Christmas, beginning on December 17th, through December 23rd.

What is an Antiphon? Literally, anti + phon, “the sound before or against,” an Antiphon is a short sentence or scriptural prayer sung before the canticle or psalm in a monastic liturgy.

In the 8th or 9th century, in Europe, beginning on December 17th, antiphons were added into the evening worship service, with the prayers all drawn from titles for the Christ from the Prophet Isaiah. These became known as the O Antiphons.

The O Antiphons then developed into separate verses of a Advent carol during in the 17th and 18th centuries, and in 1844, the latin text of our carol was published as Veni, Veni Emmanuel, in a volume of hymns by Hermann Adalbert Daniel, Thesaurus Hymnologicus. By that century, the verses had been trimmed down to 5, and today, in most hymnals, we only find

n 1844, “Veni, Veni Emmanuel” was included in the second volume of Thesaurus Hymnologicus, a monumental collection by the German hymnologist Hermann Adalbert Daniel. 

Here’s a list of these seven O Antiphons, and the days of the year to which they relate:

DECEMBER 17: O WISDOM (Sapientia)

Isaiah 11:2-3

“The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.”

Isaiah 28:29

“he is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in wisdom.”

John 1:1

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

Latin:

O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti,

attingens a fine usque ad finem,

fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia:

veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.

English:

O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High,

reaching from one end to the other,

mightily and sweetly ordering all things:

Come and teach us the way of prudence.

This prophecy is also relevant in that it describes the Messiah as “coming forth from the mouth of the Most High”, which is very significant in light of the Christian doctrine, rooted in the first chapter of the Gospel of John, according to which Jesus Christ, the Messiah, is the Word of God the Father.

DECEMBER 18: O LORD (Adonai)

Isaiah 33:22

“For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our ruler, the Lord is our king; he will save us.”

Exodus 3:2, Exodus 24:12

John 8:58

Isaiah 11:4-5

“but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins.”

Latin:

O Adonai, et Dux domus Israel,

qui Moysi in igne flammae rubi apparuisti,

et ei in Sina legem dedisti:

veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.

English:

O Adonai, and leader of the House of Israel,

who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush

and gave him the law on Sinai:

Come and redeem us with an outstretched arm.

DECEMBER 19: O Root of Jesse (Radix Jesse)

Isaiah 11:1, 10

“A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. . . . On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.”

Jesse was the father of King David, and Micah had prophesied that the Messiah would be of the house and lineage of David and be born in David’s city, Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). Also compare Isaiah 45:14, Isaiah 52:15 and Romans 15:12.

Latin:

O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum,

super quem continebunt reges os suum,

quem Gentes deprecabuntur:

veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.

English:

O Root of Jesse, standing as a sign among the peoples;

before you kings will shut their mouths,

to you the nations will make their prayer:

Come and deliver us, and delay no longer.

DECEMBER 20: O Key of David (Clavis David)

Isaiah 22:22

“I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and no one shall shut; he shall shut, and no one shall open.”

Isaiah 9:7

“His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onwards and for evermore.”

Isaiah 42:7

“…To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.”

Isaiah 61:1

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners.

Revelation 3:7

“To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.”

Latin:

O Clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israel;

qui aperis, et nemo claudit;

claudis, et nemo aperit:

veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris,

sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

English:

O Key of David and sceptre of the House of Israel;

you open and no one can shut;

you shut and no one can open:

Come and lead the prisoners from the prison house,

those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

DECEMBER 21: O Rising Sun (Oriens)

Isaiah 9:2

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined.”

Isaiah 60:1-3

Arise, shine, for your light has come,
    and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth
    and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
    and his glory appears over you.
Nations will come to your light,
    and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

Malachi 4:2

But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves.

Luke 1:78-79

…because of the tender mercy of our God,
    by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven

to shine on those living in darkness
    and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

2 Peter 1:19

We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

Latin:

O Oriens,

splendor lucis aeternae, et sol justitiae:

veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

English:

O Morning Star,

splendor of light eternal and sun of righteousness:

Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

(Note: A literal translation of the Latin yields “O Rising Sun”, but the poetic “O Morning Star” or “O Dayspring” is often preferred.)

DECEMBER 22: O King of the Nations (Rex Gentium)

Isaiah 9:6-7

“For a child has been born for us, a son given us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

Isaiah 2:4

“He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plough-shares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”

Haggai 2:7

I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord Almighty.

Ephesians 2:14

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility

Rev. 19:15-16

Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: king of kings and lord of lords.

Latin:

O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum,

lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum:

veni, et salva hominem,

quem de limo formasti.

English:

O King of the nations, and their desire,

the cornerstone making both one:

Come and save the human race,

which you fashioned from clay.

DECEMBER 23: O Emmanuel

Isaiah 7:14

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.”

Isaiah 42:1-4 (cf Matthew 12:21)

“Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
    my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
    and he will bring justice to the nations.
He will not shout or cry out,
    or raise his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break,
    and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;
    he will not falter or be discouraged
till he establishes justice on earth.
    In his teaching the nations will put their hope.”

Matthew 1:22

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him ‘Immanuel’ (which means “God with us”).

Latin:

O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster,

exspectatio Gentium, et Salvator earum:

veni ad salvandum nos, Domine, Deus noster.

English:

O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver,

the hope of the nations and their Savior:

Come and save us, O Lord our God.

Here are the seven verses of this beautiful, ancient Christmas carol. Maybe you’d like to sing this song today, as a way to bring care to your soul, by welcoming God’s presence, Emmanuel, God with us.

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel,
shall come to thee o Israel!

O come, Thou Wisdom, from on high,
and order all things far and nigh;
to us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel,
shall come to thee o Israel!

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

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel,
shall come to thee o Israel!

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.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel,
shall come to thee o Israel!

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
and open wide our heav’nly home,
make safe the way that leads on high,
that we no more have cause to sigh.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel,
shall come to thee o Israel!

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.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel,
shall come to thee o Israel!

O come, Desire of the nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind;
bid every strife and quarrel cease
and fill the world with heaven’s peace.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel,
shall come to thee o Israel!