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Daily Advent Readings

The O Prayers

An antiphon is a short prayer response, sung or said, used in worship. The “O Antiphons” have been in use in Christian churches since the sixth century. One was said or sung each night in the week before Christmas Eve, usually before the reading of Mary’s Song of Praise (the Magnificat) from Luke 1. These prayers are called the “O” Antiphons because each prayer begins with the word “O”, as in “O God . . . ” Each “O Prayer” employs a title for Christ found in the prophesies of Isaiah and Malachi. The prayers affirm that the Son of God has come to us in Jesus to fulfill the ancient hopes. As we do every Christmas, these prayers look forward to Jesus’ second advent, his return in glory to set all things right. 
 
We’ll spend four days on each O Prayer. Every day, pray aloud the O Prayer. There’s a literal translation of the original. Then you might even want to sing John Mason Neale’s version, taken from his famous advent carol, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” Beneath each set of readings, we’ve placed Malcolm Guite’s poem about that O Prayer. They’re worth reading daily too, especially aloud, which unlocks his beautiful combination of sounds!
 
Daily readings will be posted to this page beginning Sunday, November 28, 2021.
 
Malcolm Guite’s poems may be found in Waiting on the Word: An Advent Anthology (Canterbury Press, 2017), used by permission.

 

 

December 1: O Wisdom

1 Corinthians 1: 21–31
 
For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
 
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 
 
O Prayer
 
O Wisdom which came out of the mouth of the Most High, and reaches from one end to another, mightily and sweetly ordering all things, come and teach us the way of knowledge.
 
Hymn Verse
 
O Come, O Wisdom from on high
Who ordered all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show
And teach us in its ways to go.
 
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
 
Malcome Guite Poem
 
I cannot think unless I have been thought,
Nor can I speak unless I have been spoken.
I cannot teach except as I am taught,
Or break the bread except as I am broken.
O Mind behind the mind through which I seek,
O Light within the light by which I see,
O Word beneth the words with which I speak,
O founding, unfound Wisdom, finding me,
O sounding Son whose depth is sounding me,
O Memory of time, reminding me,
My Ground of Being, always grounding me,
My Maker’s Bounding Line, defining me,
Come, hidden Wisdom, come with all you bring,
Come to me now disguised as everything.
 
 
Posted in: Advent Readings

November 30: O Wisdom

Proverbs 8: 12
 
“I, wisdom, dwell with prudence,
     and I find knowledge and discretion. 
 
Proverbs 8: 22–36
 
“The LORD possessed me at the beginning of his work,
     the first of his acts of old.
Ages ago I was set up,
     at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth,
     when there were no springs abounding with water.
Before the mountains had been shaped,
     before the hills, I was brought forth,
before he had made the earth with its fields,
     or the first of the dust of the world.
When he established the heavens, I was there;
     when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
when he made firm the skies above,
     when he established the fountains of the deep,
when he assigned to the sea its limit,
     so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
     then I was beside him, like a master workman,
and I was daily his delight,
     rejoicing before him always,
rejoicing in his inhabited world
     and delighting in the children of man.
 
“And now, O sons, listen to me:
     blessed are those who keep my ways.
Hear instruction and be wise,
     and do not neglect it.
Blessed is the one who listens to me,
     watching daily at my gates,
     waiting beside my doors.
For whoever finds me finds life
     and obtains favor from the LORD,
but he who fails to find me injures himself;
     all who hate me love death.”
 
O Prayer
 
O Wisdom which came out of the mouth of the Most High, and reaches from one end to another, mightily and sweetly ordering all things, come and teach us the way of knowledge.
 
Hymn verse
 
O Come, O Wisdom from on high
Who ordered all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show
And teach us in its ways to go.
 
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
 
Malcolm Guite Poem
 
I cannot think unless I have been thought,
Nor can I speak unless I have been spoken.
I cannot teach except as I am taught,
Or break the bread except as I am broken.
O Mind behind the mind through which I seek,
O Light within the light by which I see,
O Word beneth the words with which I speak,
O founding, unfound Wisdom, finding me,
O sounding Son whose depth is sounding me,
O Memory of time, reminding me,
My Ground of Being, always grounding me,
My Maker’s Bounding Line, defining me,
Come, hidden Wisdom, come with all you bring,
Come to me now disguised as everything.
 
 
Posted in: Advent Readings

November 29: O Wisdom

Isaiah 59: 15–20
 
Truth is lacking,
       and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.
 
 
The LORD saw it, and it displeased him
       that there was no justice.
He saw that there was no man,
       and wondered that there was no one to intercede;
then his own arm brought him salvation,
       and his righteousness upheld him.
He put on righteousness as a breastplate,
       and a helmet of salvation on his head;
he put on garments of vengeance for clothing,
       and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak.
According to their deeds, so will he repay,
       wrath to his adversaries, repayment to his enemies;
       to the coastlands he will render repayment.
So they shall fear the name of the LORD from the west,
       and his glory from the rising of the sun;
for he will come like a rushing stream,
       which the wind of the LORD drives.
 
 “And a Redeemer will come to Zion,
       to those in Jacob who turn from transgression,” declares the LORD.  
 
O Prayer
 
O Wisdom which came out of the mouth of the Most High, and reaches from one end to another, mightily and sweetly ordering all things, come and teach us the way of knowledge.
 
Hymn Verse
 
O Come, O Wisdom from on high
Who ordered all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show
And teach us in its ways to go.
 
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
 
Malcolme Guite Poem
 
I cannot think unless I have been thought,
Nor can I speak unless I have been spoken.
I cannot teach except as I am taught,
Or break the bread except as I am broken.
O Mind behind the mind through which I seek,
O Light within the light by which I see,
O Word beneth the words with which I speak,
O founding, unfound Wisdom, finding me,
O sounding Son whose depth is sounding me,
O Memory of time, reminding me,
My Ground of Being, always grounding me,
My Maker’s Bounding Line, defining me,
Come, hidden Wisdom, come with all you bring,
Come to me now disguised as everything.

 

Posted in: Advent Readings

November 28: O Wisdom

Isaiah 11: 2-3
 
And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,
       the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
       the Spirit of counsel and might,
       the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.
       He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
       or decide disputes by what his ears hear . . . 
 
 
O Prayer
 
O Wisdom which came out of the mouth of the Most High, and reaches from one end to another, mightily and sweetly ordering all things, come and teach us the way of knowledge.
 
Hymn Verse
 
O Come, O Wisdom from on high
Who ordered all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show
And teach us in its ways to go.
 
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
 
Malcolm Guite Poem
 
I cannot think unless I have been thought,
Nor can I speak unless I have been spoken.
I cannot teach except as I am taught,
Or break the bread except as I am broken.
O Mind behind the mind through which I seek,
O Light within the light by which I see,
O Word beneth the words with which I speak,
O founding, unfound Wisdom, finding me,
O sounding Son whose depth is sounding me,
O Memory of time, reminding me,
My Ground of Being, always grounding me,
My Maker’s Bounding Line, defining me,
Come, hidden Wisdom, come with all you bring,
Come to me now disguised as everything.
 
Posted in: Advent Readings