Reflecting on 21 Centuries of Faith

“O” My Lord and My God

One of my favorite Christian songs from the 80’s is Michael Card’s, El Shaddai sung by Amy Grant. Classic! It is through this song I learned my first Hebrew word, Adonai. The title, Adonai or Lord, is what is called a circumlocution of the tetragrammaton (You didn’t need to know that – I just like saying it :)) – otherwise known as the way of getting around speaking the four letter word. Adonai is a common tetragrammaton for the unspeakable name: YHWH.

As we mentioned yesterday, the O Antiphons have begun. And today is day two. Fr. Saunders shared a really cool factoid that I wanted to pass on:

According to Professor Robert Greenberg of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the Benedictine monks arranged these antiphons with a definite purpose. If one starts with the last title and takes the first letter of each one – Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia – the Latin words ero cras are formed, meaning, “Tomorrow, I will come.” Therefore, the Lord Jesus, whose coming we have prepared for in Advent and whom we have addressed in these seven Messianic titles, now speaks to us, “Tomorrow, I will come.” So the “O Antiphons” not only bring intensity to our Advent preparation, but bring it to a joyful conclusion.

The Benedictine monks, avid scholars of Scripture, have over the centuries had a better understanding that the number seven connotes oath and covenant. It is not surprising then, that they chose the seven messianic titles related to the covenantal promises.

As you know, O Come O Come Emmanuel, was written for this special liturgical time. As Professor Greenberg observes, the O Antiphons (especially when sung) intensify the conclusion of our Advent with a note of joy. It is a way of observing what the Church calls progressive solemnity – building the ceremony and joy from reserved to expressive glory (all with noble simplicity). Another way of saying it, “First we fast then we feast!” This song is a wonderful didactic way to share with our children and students titles for our Lord while teaching Scripture… and having a little Advent fun.

May He be your Lord not only on Sundays and in the Church but every moment, in all activities whether private of public. The following is the traditional prayer we recited today:

O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.” Isaiah had prophesied, “But He shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.” (11:4-5); and “Indeed the Lord will be there with us, majestic; yes the Lord our judge, the Lord our lawgiver, the Lord our king, he it is who will save us. (33:22).

2 Responses to “O” My Lord and My God

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