O Wisdom: Advent Antiphons

by Natasha Zinos



Among the Church’s lesser known Advent traditions are the O Antiphons. Prayed during evening prayer from December 17th to the 23rd, these antiphons highlight Old Testament hopes for the Messiah. Accompanying the Magnificat which is prayed on these same evenings, the O Antiphons bear a strong resemblance to the Virgin Mary’s praise of God for sending his Messiah into the world through her.

The antiphons are referred to as Antiphons because they begin with the vocative “O” in the original Latin, a linguistic structure which conveys a sense of longing, in tone falling somewhere between a command and a request. Each “O” is followed by a name describing Christ’s role in the world. In the darkness of a December evening, it seems appropriate to call for a light to come into the world.


The O Antiphons offer an opportunity for the Christian to share in humanity’s wait for the Messiah. Drawing on Old Testament imagery of the promised Messiah, these prayers are a beautiful way to pray for the light and peace all people long for. Below is a list of the antiphons and their respective days so that you can join in this call for God to send His Son into the world’s darkness and suffering.


December 17

O Wisdom of our God Most High,

guiding creation with power and love:

come to teach us the path of knowledge!


December 18

O Leader of the House of Israel,

giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai:

come to rescue us with your mighty power!


December 19

O Root of Jesse’s stem,

sign of God’s love for all his people:

come to save us without delay!


December 20

O Key of David,

opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom:

come and free the prisoners of darkness!


December 21

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.


December 22

O King of all nations and keystone of the Church:

come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!


December 23

O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law:

come to save us, Lord our God!

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