The Worship Quote of the Week for (12/06/2005):

A Hidden Message for Advent
Here we are in the middle of Advent. I suppose that many of us are in churches that have already sung—or will soon sing—the great hymn of longing, "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel." Today’s WORSHIP QUOTE is taken from these ancient Christian words for sung prayer.

There are seven stanzas in the earliest version of this text, but in the original Latin (12th century, some say 8th century), the seven verses were meant to be sung at different services on the days prior to Christmas Eve. "Our" first verse (“O come. O come, Emmanuel”) was actually the last in the proper sequence. In the early plainsong version, these verses are known as the GREAT ANTIPHONS or the "O" ANTIPHONS, because each one starts with an extended setting of the word "O."

But wait! There's more. Please read carefully.

The anonymous poet (or poets) who put these texts together did an amazing job of including a most delightful hidden message—a special meaning for a special time of year.

Here are the beginnings of the seven verses:

1. O Sapientia (Wisdom from on high) — December 17
2. O Adonai (Lord) — December 18
3. O Radix Jesse (Root of Jesse) — December 19
4. O Clavis David (Key of David) — December 20
5. O Oriens (Dayspring, Light from the East) — December 21
6. O Rex Gentium (King of the Nations) — December 22
7. O Emmanuel (Emmanuel, God with Us) — December 23

What's so special about that? Well, there is a wonderful acrostic message built into the structure of the verses. If you take just the first letter of the words that follow the initial "O" of each verse, you get “SARCORE,” which means absolutely nothing; but if you turn those letters around, you get:

"ERO CRAS," a two-word Latin sentence which means, "I will be tomorrow."

In other words, on December 23, the long-expected Jesus is saying, "Tomorrow's my birthday." The various prophetic names used in the text (Key of David, King of the Nations, Wisdom from on high, etc.) were selected and ordered in such a way that they pointed to the coming of Messiah. WOW!


If you do a web search for “O Antiphons” or “Veni Emanuel,” you’ll find lots more.

[And so we sing and pray, “Come, thou Wisdom from on high, Lord God, Root of Jesse, Key of David, Dayspring, King of the Nations—O come, Emmanuel. You are GOD WITH US. Amen! ]

“Let every heart prepare him room.”
Have a great day,

Chip Stam
Director, Institute for Christian Worship
School of Church Music and Worship
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Louisville, Kentucky

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