O Emmanuel; a final antiphon and a hidden message

So we come to the last of the Seven Great O Antiphons, which was sung on either side of the Magnificat on Christmas Eve, O Emmanuel, O God with us. This is the antiphon from which our lovely Advent hymn takes its name. It was also this final antiphon which revealed the secret message embedded subtly into the whole antiphon sequence. In each of these antiohons we have been calling on Him to come to us, to come as Light as Key, as King, as God-with-us. Now, standing on the brink of Christmas Eve, looking back at the illuminated capital letters for each of the seven titles of Christ we would see an answer to our pleas : ERO CRAS the latin words meaning ‘Tomorrow I will come!”

O Emmanuel

O Rex

O Oriens

O Clavis

O Radix

O Adonai

O Sapientia

I have also tried in my final sonnet to look back across the other titles of Christ, but also to look forward, beyond Christmas, to the new birth for humanity and for the whole cosmos, which is promised in the birth of God in our midst.

As always you can listen to the antiphon and sonnet if you wish by pressing the play button or clicking on the poem’s title

O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster,
exspectatio Gentium, et Salvator earum:
veni ad salvandum nos, Domine, Deus noster 

O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver,
the hope of the nations and their Saviour:
Come and save us, O Lord our God

O come, O come, and be our God-with-us
O long-sought With-ness for a world without,
O secret seed, O hidden spring of light.
Come to us Wisdom, come unspoken Name
Come Root, and Key, and King, and holy Flame,
O quickened little wick so tightly curled,
Be folded with us into time and place,
Unfold for us the mystery of grace
And make a womb of all this wounded world.
O heart of heaven beating in the earth,
O tiny hope within our hopelessness
Come to be born, to bear us to our birth,
To touch a dying world with new-made hands
And make these rags of time our swaddling bands.


Filed under christianity, Meditation, Poems

7 responses to “O Emmanuel; a final antiphon and a hidden message

  1. Pollyanna West

    Words cannot express how your reading of your sonnets has enriched our enjoyment and appreciation of our Saviour, and increased our longing for His coming.
    Sincere thank you for sharing,
    Pollyanna West

  2. janis bonner

    The house is full of sleeping family, and in the middle of the night I can’t sleep and rise to read the exciting message God used you to deliver and, though I know, I am excited again! I could almost wake the post revelry slumberers; I am so filled with Joy. “In His presence is fullness of joy.” Thank you for bringing us into His presence. We are so blessed.

  3. Last night I heard O Emmanuel read in a (deathly dull!) carol service. It has probably change the direction I’m going in – to some degree at least. Today I’ve spent the morning reading and rereading it, reading Lancia Smith’s interviews with you, and re-engaging with the beauty and richness of my Christian faith. And I’ve cried. And I’ve also ordered your book on what a Christian is! “Meeting” you on the internet has been wonderful and I just want to say thank you for showing me what it means to be fully human … and fully divine? (I’ve even been thankful for the carol service.)

    • malcolmguite

      Thank you Andrew. I’m
      Do glad you found that sonnet helpful and that you are rediscovering your faith. These things need constantly to be recovered and rediscovered and we need to have our imaginations rekindled to do that

      • I love the whole process of daily re-discovering God. I’ve been a Christian since I was a little boy and was a pastor for 15 years. It’s just that yesterday was particularly special as the beauty and richness had an ‘Isaiah 6’ quality to it for me. It has happened probably ten or so times in my lifetime. Thank you. Here’s to many more people being blessed by your life.

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