Since 1980, the Sisters at St. Anne’s have been enhancing their commemoration of the final days of Advent by displaying “The O Antiphons,” beautifully calligraphed by Sr. Elaine.
At that time, before the advent of modern copy machines, a friend and supporter of St. Anne’s had them professionally re-produced/printed.
Before leaving for a weekend retreat I was asked to help with in Hankinson, I promised Sr. Elaine I would get her stand up from the basement, where it resides for over eleven months out of the year.
Sunday (yesterday) would be the first day of this beautiful liturgical tradition, and I would not be back in town until early evening.
We display these beautiful portrayals are displayed outside of our chapel.
In case you are not familiar with the “O Antiphons,” they are verses which we recite or sing for the gospel canticle during evening prayer as well as with the alleluia at Mass from December 17th through the 23rd. On each of these days, we plead for Christ’s coming, invoking Him with a different title. These are so beautiful and include: Wisdom, Leader of the House of Israel, Root of Jesse’s stem, Key of David, Radiant Dawn, King of all nations and keystone of the Church, and Emmanuel.
This tradition of using these antiphons on these final days before Christmas is very old. We aren’t certain as to their exact origin, but references date back about 1,500 years!
The traditional hymn “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” actually is based upon these beautiful, rich, and ancient texts.
Thank you, Sr. Elaine, for giving us such a beautiful visual presentation of them!
May these last days of Advent, in which we cry out “O come…” be a time when our hearts can be more prepared for the Advent that we seek.
Sr. Christina M. Neumann
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