Brother Jerome's Reflections: O Anthipons -- 17th
A re-run, but hope it brightens your late Advent prayers!
"O Wisdom, You came forth from the mouth of the Most High, and
reaching from beginning to end, You ordered all things mightily and
sweetly. Come and teach us the way of prudence."
Much of what I write to you about the O Antiphons comes from what
Abbot Lawrence of St. Augustine's Abbey, Ramsgate, Kent, told us in
his conferences. I've added a thing or two to this one, as well.
These Great Antiphons, which are sung at the Magnificat of Vespers
during the last days before Christmas, are among the oldest and most
poetic parts of the Western Liturgy. Their language soars and waxes
in elegance that one rarely finds in later forms. Yet, in all that
exquisite poetry, awesome theology, more to the point, Christology
The Old Testament treats of Wisdom as the eldest daughter of
creation, but also as a co-creator with God. Many of the OT
references are commonly (and easily,) applied to the Holy Spirit, but
this antiphon clearly applies them to Jesus.
A recurring theme in the O Antiphons is the ascription of qualities
of Yahweh to Christ, underlining the fact that all of God's divinity
is Christ's as well. The phrase here "from beginning to end" stresses
the eternal divinity of Christ, before all time, and the fact that
He "ordered all things mightily and sweetly" recalls the role of the
Logos, the Word, as creator of all things in the Prologue to St.
John's Gospel.His might is gentle, not harsh, He is forceful and
holds a creator's power, but sweetly, bearing these two traits, not
in contrast, but in perfect, divine complement. Think of the greatest
and most effective security protection imaginable, now think of that
with none of the harsh sides of such power, but with the utmost
tenderness of the gentlest of mothers. Multiply that image by
infinity and you might have a faint fraction of the tenderness of God
which enfolds His utter and absolute power. We have learned (often
quite rightly!) to fear power, yet in God the power is to nurture, to
love, to caress, not to harm. He cares deeply for
all He orders "mightily and sweetly" and that especially includes us!