Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Veni, veni Emmanuel

As part of our Advent ritual, we always sing O Come, O Come Emmanuel around our Advent wreath.

The hymn is of course a metrical adaptation of (five of) the Great O Antiphons; the Magnificat antiphons for Vespers for the week preceding Christmas.

The Great O Antiphons start tomorrow, which is why I thought today a good day to post on them.

I was going to blog about both the O Antiphons and the hymn, but find that the Wikipedia entries on both cover all that I was going to say, and indeed more than I knew.

The entry on the Great O Antiphons is here; there is only one thing I would argue with, and that is the suggestion that the reverse acrostic, Ero Cras, is a coincidence. There is no place for coincidence in my theology...

The entry on O Come, O Come Emmanuel is here. I was fascinated to read Neale's original version; I had only known the Ancient and Modern version.

The O Antiphons (in German) have been set wonderfully by Arvo Pärt:


Unknown said...

Wonderful setting by Pärt - thanks for this post and wishing you a fulfilling remainder of the journey to Christmas.

Sig Sønnesyn said...

The O antiphons are among my favouritest liturgical prayers, and they form an integral part of advent for me. I would agree that coincidence is out of place in my theology, too, but should bad Latin have a place? Ero cras is a bit Romanes eunt domus – if the Church wanted to convey an acrostic message it would have been cras adero or thereabouts, no?

BTW, MacMillan's setting of O Oriens (in English) is wonderful, too!

Ben Trovato said...


Maybe it's a reflection of my abilities, but I'd be really pleased to achieve even a dog-Latin reverse acrostic!

Do you prefer the Premonstratensian Vero Cras ? (with the additional antiphon being:

O Virgo virginum, quomodo fiet istud?
Quia nec primam similem visa es nec habere sequentem.
Filiae Jerusalem, quid me admiramini?
Divinum est mysterium hoc quod cernitis.

Sig Sønnesyn said...

Vero cras is much better! We could also say that it makes sense to begin with the Virgin in order for the meaning of the words (or, rather, Word) to become revealed?

(I should also add that my previous comment was intended with the awkward mountain monkey equivalent of tongue in cheek – I do not actually want to raise myself to an arbiter of the Latin usage of the Church!)