O Virgo virginum

O Virgo virginum, quomodo fiet istud?
Quia nec primam similem visa es nec habere sequentem.
Filiae Jerusalem, quid me admiramini?
Divinum est mysterium hoc quod cernitis.

O Virgin of virgins, how shall this be?
For neither before thee was any like thee, nor shall there be after.
Daughters of Jerusalem, why marvel ye at me?
The thing which ye behold is a divine mystery.

O Antiphons by Philip Chircop SJ

O Antiphons, by Philip Chircop SJ.

From the 17th to the 23rd of December, in the final days of Advent, the antiphons for the Magnificat at Vespers are particularly elaborate. Each antiphon is a title of the Messiah, and each refers to one of Isaiah’s prophecies of the Messiah.

These “O Antiphons”, in metrical form, comprise the verses of the familiar Christmas hymn, “O come, o come, Emmanuel”. The initials of the second word in each antiphon (“Sapientia”, “Adonai”, et cetera), taken in reverse order, form the acrostic ero cras, meaning “Tomorrow, I will be [there]”.

In medieval England, the antiphons were moved up one day, to begin on the 16th, and another antiphon, “O Virgo virginum”, was added at the end. This changed the acrostic to Vero cras, “Truly, tomorrow”.

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