Beginning on the 17th of December and leading to Christmas, the Church has prayed the ‘O Antiphons’ since the 8th Century. They accompany the Magnificat Canticle of the Evening Prayer. They present a theology that uses ancient biblical imagery drawn from the messianic hopes of the Old Testament to proclaim the coming Christ as the fulfillment not only of Old Testament hopes, but present ones as well. Their repeated use of the imperative “Come!” embodies the longing of all for the Divine Messiah (usccb.org).
A curious feature of these antiphons is that the first letter of each invocation may be taken from the Latin to form an acrostic in reverse.
So the first letters of Sapientia, Adonai, Radix, Clavis, Oriens, Rex, and Emmanuel, provide the Latin words: ERO CRAS . The phrase spells out the response of Christ himself to the heartfelt prayer of his people: “Tomorrow I will be there“ (catholic.org)
O Wisdom of our God Most High, guiding creation with power and love: come to teach us the path of knowledge!
O Leader of the house of Israel, giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai: come to rescue us with your mighty power!
O Root of Jesse’s stem, sign of God’s love for all his people: come to save us without delay!
O Key of David, opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom: come and free the prisoners of darkness!
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.
O King of all nations and keystone of the Church: come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!
O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law:
come to save us, Lord our God!
(Catholic Household Blessings & Prayers)
By Brian Bartholomew Tan