Sunday, December 18, 2011

O Radix Jesse (December 18)

Tonight's Great "O" Antiphon sung before and after the Magnificat is O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse).

O Root of Jesse, which standest for an ensign of the people, at whom kings shall stop their mouths, whom the Gentiles shall seek: Come and deliver us, and tarry not.
Below is a Latin version of the Magnificat itself.

The text comes from Luke 1:
"My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever."
If you'd like to pray the whole office of Vespers, you can do it at St. Bede's Breviary; choose "Amplified Prayer Book" under "Style" to get the "O's".

The text for this Antiphon comes primarily from Isaiah. The "root of Jesse" is a reference to Isaiah 11 - and the wonderful "kings shall shut their mouths" comes from the haunting "Suffering Servant" passages in Isaiah 52-53:
Behold, my servant shall act wisely;
he shall be high and lifted up,
and shall be exalted.
As many were astonished at you—
his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance,
and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—
so shall he startle many nations;
kings shall shut their mouths because of him;
for that which has not been told them they see,
and that which they have not heard they understand.

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