Learning the Faith by Heart

Speaking, Praying, and Singing God’s Word Together 


The Week of Dec. 17 – Dec. 24, 2023

Preparing for the Nativity of Our Lord 


The Great “O” Antiphons 

             Around the ninth century or so, the tradition developed for the Church to voice her Advent longing with prayers addressed to Christ using titles for Him given to us in the book of Isaiah. These prayers, called antiphons, would be said or sung before and after their singing of the Magnificat – Mary’s Advent song of joyous hope that we still sing in Evening Prayer. Beginning on Dec. 17, each night had its own special antiphon. Eventually these antiphons would become the basis of the hymn, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” (LSB 357). These antiphons will be the basis of our daily prayers this week. The Antiphon for Saturday, December 17th is also provided. 


December 17: O Sapientia (O Wisdom)  


Scripture: Isaiah 11:2-3a

Prayer: O Wisdom, proceeding from the mouth of the Most High, pervading and permeating all creation, mightily ordering all things: Come and teach us the way of prudence. 

Meditation: What does Solomon say in Proverbs 1:2-7 about the value of wisdom? Read 1 Cor. 1:18-31. What is the great wisdom (v.23)? How does that wisdom seem to the world? What comes with having the wisdom that is Christ (v. 30)? 

Hymn: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (357, verse 2)   


December 18: O Adonai (O Adonai, “O Mighty Lord”)


Scripture: Isaiah 11:3b-5 

Prayer: O Adonai and ruler of the house of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the burning bush and gave him the Law on Sinai: Come with an outstretched arm and redeem us. 

Meditation: With an outstretched arm, Adonai redeemed Israel from their bondage in Egypt (Exodus 6:6). “In the fulness of time,” Adonai came to redeem you! Read Galatians 4:4-5. What has Jesus redeemed you from with His outstretched arm? 

Hymn: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (357, verse 3)


December 19: O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)


Scripture: Isaiah 11:1,10

Prayer: O Root of Jesse, standing as an ensign before the peoples, before whom all kings are mute, to whom the nations will do homage: Come quickly to deliver us. 





Meditation: Have you ever felt like you have no life left in you? As though you’ve been cut down or used up? Remember that it was out of a dead stump (a family tree that had been cut down) that God raised up new life. Read 2 Cor. 5:17. How have you been grafted into the tree of life? 

Hymn: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (357, verse 4)


December 20: O Clavis David (O Key of David)


Scripture: Isaiah 22:22

Prayer: O Key of David and scepter of the house of Israel, You open and no one can close, You close and no one can open: Come and rescue the prisoners who are in darkness and the shadow of death. 

Meditation: Read Galatians 3:22-24 and John 10:7-10. What doors have been opened and what rescue has been given to us? 

Hymn: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (357, verse 5)


December 21: O Oriens (O Dayspring)

            Scripture: Isaiah 9:1-2 

Prayer: O Dayspring, splendor of light everlasting: Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. 

            Meditation: Read Is. 60:1-2. What does the Messiah bring with Him when He comes? What was, and is now, the condition of the world to which He comes? Read Luke 1:78-79. What do you think of when you see the word “sunrise”? What other great events, besides the coming of Christ, might be described as “sunrise”? 

            Hymn: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (357, verse 6)


December 22: O Rex gentium (O King of Nations)

            Scripture: Isaiah 28:16-17

Prayer: O King of Nations, the ruler they long for, the cornerstone uniting all people: Come and save us all, whom you formed out of the clay. 

Meditation: Who doesn’t long for something or someone that can bring about unity at work, at home, among the nations, or within their own heart? Why does the description of Jesus in Isaiah 28:16-17 satisfy this longing like no one else can? 

Hymn: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (357, verse 7)              


December 23: O Emmanuel (O Emmanuel)

            Scripture: Isaiah 7:14 

Prayer: O Emmanuel, our King and our Lord, the anointed for the nations and their Savior: Come and save us, O Lord our God. 

Meditation: Read Exodus 13:17-22. How was the Lord “with” His people in the Exodus? What do you think was the significance of “cloud” and “fire”? In what ways does our Lord stay with us now (Luke 24:28-35; John 8:31-32)? What ransom did our Lord pay (Matt. 20:28)? 

Hymn: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (357, verse 1)


When the Latin titles of the Great “O” Antiphons are put together and read backward, they form the phrase “ERO CRAS,” which translated means, “Tomorrow, I will come.” 



December 24: Rejoice! Emmanuel has heard your prayers! Come to the Divine Service to hear the angels announce the Good News of great joy that Christ the Savior is born!