This blog grows out of my conviction that every aspect of our lives is sacred and is to be nurtured and celebrated as a good gift of God. Most of the posts will be the sorts of things you would expect from a historian and worldview teacher, but some are likely to be a bit surprising. Since God created all things good, including all aspects of human life, everything is interesting and important from the perspective of a biblical worldview. Everything under the Sun and under Heaven is thus fair game here. I hope you find it interesting and enjoyable.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

O Come, O Come Emanuel: Christ the Wisdom of God

I talked about my favorite Advent hymn, “O Come, O Come Emanuel,” in my earlier post “Death at Christmas.” If you haven’t read that, I’d encourage you to do so. This year, I want to take the next week to talk about that hymn and its origins.

“O Come, O Come Emanuel” comes from the “O Antiphons” used in the Latin liturgy probably since the early 500s AD. Each of the Antiphons begins with “O” followed by a title of the Messiah from the Old Testament. One Antiphon was used in the liturgy in the eight days leading up to Christmas, with the final Antiphon said on Christmas Eve.

The titles of the Messiah form an acrostic: if you take the first letter from each of them, and then read them backwards, you get Ero cras, Latin for “I am coming tomorrow.” (We would do them in the opposite order, but for the medieval mind, once you start the word you need to be able to pronounce it straight through, so you need the first letter on the night before Christmas.)

I will be publishing the O Antiphons in order, in Latin and English, with the appropriate verse from “O Come, O Come Emanuel” and the biblical reference, each day leading up to Christmas Eve. For those of you who are Christians and are preparing for the celebration of Christ’s coming, these would work well in your devotions

O Antiphon for December 18
O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti,
attingens a fine usque ad finem,
fortiter suaviter disponens que omnia:
veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.[6]

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. 

O Come, O Come Emanuel
Veni, O Sapientia,
quae hic disponis omnia,
veni, viam prudentiae
ut doceas et gloriae.
Gaude! Gaude! Emmanuel,
nascetur pro te 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! Emanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel

 Scripture references: Isaiah 11:2-3; 28:29