A Christmas Ritual: the O Antiphons
The Son of God’s Face in the O Antiphons
The Church has preserved numerous poetic texts that, together with the Holy Scriptures, make up a splendid and extremely rich repertoire of prayers. For the Christmas concert of 2012, the Music Chapel of Lodi Cathedral has chosen some musical compositions that tell us how believers of all times, from the Middle Ages to our own day, have felt about their wait for the Savior and the mystery of the Incarnation.
Erocras, “Tomorrow I will come.” This promise in Latin may not say anything to the majority of believers today. But it is a very old promise, dating back to the times of Gregory the Great and hidden between the lines of seven antiphons that traditionally accompany the Magnificat, in the last week of Advent, at the Vespers of the Roman Catholic rite. The secret of the “great Os,” also called the “O Antiphons,” lies in the word set at the start of each. O Sapientia, begins the first, and it is followed by: O Adonai, O Radix, O Clavis, O Oriens, O Rex, O Emmanuel. “O Adonai, O Root, O Key, O Dayspring, O King, O Immanuel”: all the antiphons start with an invocation of Christ. But reversing the order of the words and taking the initial letter of each, we get the acrostic EROCRAS, “Tomorrow I will come,” I will always be: in the depths of darkness, from generation to generation, the repetition of a promise of light.
om Asia, the other from the countryside. They lose their identities and acquire new ones in the savage struggle for survival in cities. We are presented with conflicts between cultures, between generations (“the younger man wins the match”) and the kind of radicalization we have become accustomed to seeing every day: ideology, the worship of money, opportunism of every sort. They dream of escape, islands in the sun, perhaps love. They take drugs and dull their senses with alcohol. In 1921. Brecht’s gaze is extraordinarily lucid for such a young man, or perhaps precisely for this reason. It may appear cynical to those who feed on illusions, irreligious to those who place their hope in a consoling salvation. For me it is clear and poetic. In the Jungle of Cities is like a searchlight that reveals bits of reality in the darkness that surrounds us.
Music Chapel of Lodi Cathedral, director Don Piero Panzetti