Christmas is getting close! On December 17 we begin the O Antiphons to remind us of the many ways God has shown His mercy throughout salvation history, and to intensify our longing for the birth of Jesus. The O Antiphons are an ancient prayer of the Church, incorporated into the Liturgy of the Hours in anticipation of the Christmas season. We also hear these antiphons in the hymn “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” The words remind us of the many names of God and how desperately we are in need of a Savior.
To help the meaning of these prayers come alive for my children, they will get to open an “O Antiphon Box” each evening that contains a symbol for that day’s antiphon, a letter block with the first letter of the Latin word for that day’s antiphon, and a small treat to go along with that day. You could also include a special O Antiphon Jesse Tree ornament (ours is printed from the Holy Heroes website). Once we have collected all of the letter blocks for the beginning of each Latin name, they will spell “Ero Cras,” meaning “Tomorrow, I will come.”
My children look forward to opening their “O Antiphon Box” each night, and it signals our whole family to transition from the more reflective, penitential feel of Advent into the joyful celebration of the Christmas season.
The O Antiphons (and ideas for your own box):
December 17: O Sapientia
O Wisdom of our God Most High,
guiding creation with power and love:
come to teach us the path of knowledge!
Today’s box could include the letter “S,” a scroll or miniature Bible, and a roll of Smarties candy for each child.
December 18: O Adonai
O Leader of the House of Israel,
giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai:
come to rescue us with your mighty power!
Today’s box could include the letter “A,” a stone representing the Ten Commandments on the stone tablets, and an LED tea light for each child, representing the flames of the burning bush.
December 19: O Radix Jesse
O Root of Jesse’s stem,
sign of God’s love for all his people:
come to save us without delay!
Today’s box could include the letter “R,” a piece of bark or a twig as a symbol of the grace that flows through our family trees, and a small can of root beer for everyone.
December 20: O Clavis David
O Key of David,
opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom:
come and free the prisoners of darkness!
Today’s box could include the letter “C,” an old key as a symbol of God’s power to unlock every door that leads to the perfect plan for salvation, and a small puzzle, riddle, or brainteaser to solve or “unlock.”
December 21: O Oriens
O Radiant Dawn,
splendor of eternal light, sun of justice:
come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the
shadow of death.
Today’s box could include the letter “O,” a picture of a sun as a joyful symbol of the light of God, and a small flashlight for each child as a reminder of God’s ability to dispel all darkness.
December 22: O Rex Gentium
O King of all nations and keystone of the Church:
come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!
Today’s box could include the letter “R,” a crown as a symbol for our Lord, the King who rules over all, and some clay or play dough as a reminder that God will form us into who He created us to be, if we allow Him.
December 23: O Emmanuel
O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law:
come to save us, Lord our God!
Today’s box could include the letter “E,” a tiny baby Jesus, and a small nativity ornament for each child.
These ideas are meant to spark your own creativity as you come up with symbols and treats that will be meaningful for your family. Keep things small and simple — it doesn’t take much to build more Christmas excitement in our children! Create your own O Antiphon tradition and help this ancient prayer of the Church continue for generations to come.
O Antiphon prayers taken from www.usccb.org.
Copyright 2017 Charisse Tierney