The hymn is of course a metrical adaptation of (five of) the Great O Antiphons; the antiphons for Vespers for the week preceding Christmas, sung just before the Magnificat.
The Great O Antiphons start today.
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.
Here is the chant version of O Sapientia, the first of the O Antiphons, sung at Vespers today.
- O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti,
- attingens a fine usque ad finem,
- fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia:
- veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.
- O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High,
- reaching from one end to the other,
- mightily and sweetly ordering all things:
- Come and teach us the way of prudence.
- Here is Arvo Pärt's setting (in German)
- PS I have just noticed that this (in a poor and simplified translation, of course...) is also used as the verse for the Alleluia in today's Mass in the Ordinary Form.
O Weisheit, hervorgegangen aus dem Munde des Höchsten, die Welt umspannst du von einem Ende zu andern, in Kraft und Milde ordnest du alles: O komm und offenbare uns den Weg der Weisheit und der Einsicht, O Weisheit.
O Wisdom, proceeding from the mouth of the Most High, Thou encirclest the world from one end to the other, Thou orderest all things with might and mercy: O come to us and reveal the way of wisdom and of understanding O Wisdom.