The O Antiphons • Prayers for Catholic Kids


The O Antiphons are an ancient liturgical antiphon (response) sung or recited during the last seven days of Advent (one each day from December 17 through December 23) as part of the Liturgy of Hours. (The Liturgy of Hours is the way the Church prays throughout the day.)

No one knows the exact origin of the O Antiphons, but Christians have been singing them since at least the fifth century. You might recognize some of the words, because the O Antiphons are the basis of the popular hymn O Come, O Come Emmanuel.

Each antiphon begins with a title of Christ taken from the Old Testament. Do a little detective work to figure out what they mean, using the Scripture references as clues.


The O Antiphons

December 17
O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High,
reaching from one end to the other,
mightily and sweetly ordering all things:
Come and teach us the way of prudence.

December 18
O Adonai, and leader of the House of Israel,
who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush
and gave him the law on Sinai:
Come and redeem us with an outstretched arm.

December 19
O Root of Jesse, standing as a sign among the peoples;
before you kings will shut their mouths,
to you the nations will make their prayer:
Come and deliver us, and delay no longer.

December 20
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,

December 21
O Morning Star,
splendor of light eternal and sun
of righteousness:
Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

December 22
O King of the nations, and their desire,
the cornerstone making both one:
Come and save the human race,
which you fashioned from clay.

December 23
O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver,
the hope of the nations and their Saviour:
Come and save us, O Lord our God.


Scripture references

Wisdom: Isaiah 11:2-3, Isaiah 28:29

Adonai: Isaiah 11:4-5, Isaiah 33:22

Root: Isaiah 11:1, Isaiah 11:10

Key of David: Isaiah 22:22, Isaiah 9:7, Isaiah 42:7

Morning star: Isaiah 9:2

King of Nations: Isaiah 2:4, Isaiah 28:16

Emmanuel: Isaiah 7:14