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O Clavis David

20 December O Clavis David by Philip Chircop SJ

O Clavis David, by Philip Chircop SJ. O Antiphon for 20 December.

O Clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israel;
qui aperis, et nemo claudit;
claudis, et nemo aperit:
veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris,
sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

O Key of David and sceptre of the House of Israel;
you open and no one can shut;
you shut and no one can open:
Come and lead the prisoners from the prison house,
those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

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]”.

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