O Antiphon banners celebrate Advent

Eight new 42” x 5’ banners inspired by the Benedictine Sisters of Turvey Abbey, hang at St. Patrick Parish in Mount Dora. The parishioner-made banners help the faithful focus on Advent Scripture passages. (COURTESY)

MOUNT DORA | Parishioners at St. Patrick Parish in Mount Dora have been planning to make O Antiphon banners for the Advent season for a decade. This year, the 5-foot banners became a reality, just in time for Advent.

Michael O’Malley, St. Patrick’s director of music and liturgy, tries “to coordinate various elements of the liturgy to create a focus for each of the liturgical seasons.” He said, “We were excited to incorporate (the banners) as part of our Advent environment this year.”

Each Sunday throughout the season the congregations sings Marty Haugen’s song “Gift of God”, which includes verses based on each of the antiphons. “They are a bridge of sorts, connecting the Old Testament Scriptures to the coming of the Messiah. For centuries, they have expressed the great longing for the coming of Christ. Amid all the uncertainties and divisions of 2020, these beautiful words of our faith can unite us in hope and expectation this Advent,” O’Malley said.

According to the Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers book, the Church has been singing the “O” Antiphons since at least the eighth century. The antiphons accompany the Magnificat canticle of the Liturgy of the Hours Evening Prayer from December 17-23. The book states, “They are a magnificent theology that uses ancient biblical imagery drawn from the messianic hopes of the Old Testament to proclaim the coming Christ as the fulfillment not only of Old Testament hopes, but present ones as well. Their repeated use of the imperative “Come!” embodies the longing of all for the Divine Messiah.”

The “O” Antiphons

Dec. 17 – O Wisdom of our God Most High
Dec. 18 – O Leader of the House of Israel
Dec. 19 – O Root of Jesse’s stem
Dec. 20 – O Key of David
Dec. 21 – O Radiant Dawn
Dec. 22 – O King of all nations and keystone of the Church
Dec. 23 – O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law

—From Catholic Household Blessings & Prayers

By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic, December 8, 2020