THE GREATER ANTIPHONS
These seven verses are also known as The "O" Antiphons (or The Great O's) because each begins with that interjection. They are said in conjunction with 5 psalms at Vespers beginning on December 17th. The earliest ecclesiastical novena of which the Church has on record is the Christmas novena, which commemorates the nine months during which the Christ-child was carried in the womb of His Mother. It is based upon these Greater Antiphons.
The boundless desire for the coming of Christ which is the characteristic of Advent is expressed in the liturgy with an insistence which grows greater as we draw nearer to Christmas. This longing for the coming of Christ is seen most poetically in these "O" Antiphons. They embody the profound poignancy with which all creation waits for God's presence in Jesus Christ. They express the longing felt for the coming of the Messiah by the patriarchs, the prophets and all the Jewish people including Mary.
December 17: O Wisdom (O Sapientia).....come
December 18: O Adonai (O Adonai).....come
December 19: O Root of Jesse (O Radix).....come
December 20: O Key of David (O Clavis).....come
December 21: O Radiant Dawn (O Oriens).....come
December 22: O King of the Nations (O Rex Gentium).....come
December 23: O Emmanuel (O God-with-us).....come
The first antiphon translated:
O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem, fortiter suaviter disponensque omnia: come, ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.
O Wisdom, who camest out of the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: come, and teach us the way of prudence.