During these final days of Advent, each evening at Vespers we sing the beautiful "O" Antiphons. They are a group of ancient texts, each containing a title of our Messiah with a prayer that he come to save us. They begin on December 17 with "O Wisdom", and continue with "O Lord", "O Root of Jesse", "O Key of David", "O Rising Sun", "O King of the Nations", "O Emmanuel". The Latin text for these antiphons are: O Sapientia, O Adonai, O Radix, O Clavis, O Oriens, O Rex, O Emmanuel. The first letter of each one, beginning at the last, spells the Latin "ERO CRAS", which means, "Tomorrow I will be with you".
On December 23rd the words are "O Emmanuel": God-With-Us. How comforting and encouraging to be reminded at this sometimes hectic season, that God is right there with us in all our joys and sorrows, all our hopes and fears. No matter how mundane or seemingly worldly, or simply practical the activity of the present moment might be, he is with us right in the midst of it. Just recalling this fact and being grateful for it, is a prayer. In this way, as we more and more often become momentarily aware of His presence, we begin to follow St. Paul’s recommendation to "pray always".
The melody, based on Gregorian Chant, is a hauntingly beautiful one that you can almost taste as you sing the words of the prayer. If you would like to hear this chant, our Brothers in England sing it here: