O Rex Gentium

o antiphons symbolsI tend to hand out in the Western traditions regarding Advent and Christmas. I find them to offer a tremendous context of transformation.

One of my favorite Advent hymns is “O come, O come, Emmanuel.” One of my favorite traditions is the “O Antiphon” days – December 17-23 – the seven days that precede the feast of the Nativity. Rather than burden you with the history and customs surrounding them, which are readily available online, let me just say they provide one final “Wake Up!! Pay Attention!! Your salvation is here!!” jolt from the Holy Spirit.

The antiphon for today, December 22nd is “O Rex Gentium.”

The Incarnate Son of God is the Messiah for all mankind, the Jew first and then the Gentile. Come one, come all!! And that is just what happens in the accounts of the nativity.

Here are some resources to help you continue on your pilgrimage to the place where not only God but all of those who have surrendered their life to God dwell or seek to dwell in contentment – your heart.

Fr. Thomas

———————-

Veni, Veni Emmanuel
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.
Refrain:
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, thou Wisdom from on high,
who orderest all things mightily;
to us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go. Refrain

O come, thou Rod of Jesse, free
thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
from depths of hell thy people save,
and give them victory over the grave. Refrain

O come, thou Dayspring, come and cheer
our spirits by thine advent here;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
and death’s dark shadows put to flight. Refrain

O come, thou Key of David, come,
and open wide our heavenly home;
make safe the way that leads on high,
and close the path to misery. Refrain

O come, O come, great Lord of might,
who to thy tribes on Sinai’s height
in ancient times once gave the law
in cloud and majesty and awe. Refrain

O come, thou Root of Jesse’s tree,
an ensign of thy people be;
before thee rulers silent fall;
all peoples on thy mercy call. Refrain

O come, Desire of nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind;
bid thou our sad divisions cease,
and be thyself our King of Peace. Refrain

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear. Refrain

Latin, Combined from various antiphons by an unknown author, possibly in the 12th Century
trans. John Mason Neale (1818-1866), 1851

O Rex Gentium – ENGLISH: O King of the gentiles and their desired One, the cornerstone that makes both one: come, and deliver man, whom you formed out of the dust of the earth.

Some Relevant Scripture References:
Revelation 15:3
Psalm 118:22
Isaiah 28:16
Isaiah 60:1-6
Matthew 21:42
Mark 12:10
Luke 20:17
Acts 4:11
Ephesians 2:20
I Peter 2:6

Relevant verse of Veni, Veni Emmanuel:
O come, Desire of nations, bind,
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of peace.

1 Samuel 1:19-28
[19] They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the LORD; then they went back to their house at Ramah. And Elka’nah knew Hannah his wife, and the LORD remembered her;
[20] and in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, “I have asked him of the LORD.”
[21] And the man Elka’nah and all his house went up to offer to the LORD the yearly sacrifice, and to pay his vow.
[22] But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, “As soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him, that he may appear in the presence of the LORD, and abide there for ever.”
[23] Elka’nah her husband said to her, “Do what seems best to you, wait until you have weaned him; only, may the LORD establish his word.” So the woman remained and nursed her son, until she weaned him.
[24] And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine; and she brought him to the house of the LORD at Shiloh; and the child was young.
[25] Then they slew the bull, and they brought the child to Eli.
[26] And she said, “Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the LORD.
[27] For this child I prayed; and the LORD has granted me my petition which I made to him.
[28] Therefore I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he lives, he is lent to the LORD.” And they worshiped the LORD there. (RSV)

Samuel 2.1-10
[1] Hannah also prayed and said, “My heart exults in the LORD;
my strength is exalted in the LORD.
My mouth derides my enemies,
because I rejoice in thy salvation.
[2] “There is none holy like the LORD,
there is none besides thee;
there is no rock like our God.
[3] Talk no more so very proudly,
let not arrogance come from your mouth;
for the LORD is a God of knowledge,
and by him actions are weighed.
[4] The bows of the mighty are broken,
but the feeble gird on strength.
[5] Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger.
The barren has borne seven,
but she who has many children is forlorn.
[6] The LORD kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
[7] The LORD makes poor and makes rich;
he brings low, he also exalts.
[8] He raises up the poor from the dust;
he lifts the needy from the ash heap,
to make them sit with princes
and inherit a seat of honor.
For the pillars of the earth are the LORD’S,
and on them he has set the world.
[9] “He will guard the feet of his faithful ones;
but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness;
for not by might shall a man prevail.
[10] The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces;
against them he will thunder in heaven.
The LORD will judge the ends of the earth;
he will give strength to his king,
and exalt the power of his anointed.”

Luke 1:46-56
[46] And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord,
[47] and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
[48] for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed;
[49] for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
[50] And his mercy is on those who fear him
from generation to generation.
[51] He has shown strength with his arm,
he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts,
[52] he has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and exalted those of low degree;
[53] he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent empty away.
[54] He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
[55] as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his posterity for ever.”
[56] And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her home.


A Reading from a commentary on St Luke’s Gospel by the Venerable Bede

Mary said: ‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.’ The Lord has exalted me by a gift so great, so unheard of, that language is useless to describe it; and the depths of love in my heart can scarcely grasp it. I offer then all the powers of my soul in praise and thanksgiving. As I contemplate his greatness, which knows no limits, I joyfully surrender my whole life, my senses, my judgement, for my spirit rejoices in the eternal Godhead of that Jesus, that Saviour, whom I have conceived in this world of time. ‘The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.’ Mary looks back to the beginning of her song, where she said: ‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.’ Only the soul for whom the Lord in his love does great things can proclaim his greatness with fitting praise and encourage those who share her desire and purpose, saying: ‘Join with me in proclaiming the greatness of the Lord; let us magnify his name together.’ Those who know the Lord, yet refuse to proclaim his greatness and sanctify his name to the limit of their power, ‘will be called least in the kingdom of heaven’. His name is called holy because in the sublimity of his unique power he surpasses every creature and is far removed from all that he has made. ‘He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy.’ In a beautiful phrase Mary calls Israel the servant of the Lord. The Lord came to his aid to save him. Israel is an obedient and humble servant, in the words of Hosea: ‘Israel was a servant, and I loved him.’ Those who refuse to be humble cannot be saved. They cannot say with the prophet: ‘See, God comes to my aid; the Lord is the helper of my soul.’ But ‘anyone who makes himself humble like a little child is greater in the kingdom of heaven.’ ‘The promise he made to our forebears, to Abraham and his children for ever.’ This does not refer to the physical descendants of Abraham, but to his spiritual children. These are his descendants, sprung not from the flesh only, but who, whether circumcised or not, have followed him in faith. Circumcised as he was, Abraham believed, and this was credited to him as an act of righteousness. The coming of the Saviour was promised to Abraham and to his descendants for ever. These are the children of promise, to whom it is said: ‘If you belong to Christ, then you are descendants of Abraham, heirs in accordance with the promise.’

Sources:
Celebrating the Seasons, pg. 39-40, by Robert Atwell, Canterbury Press, Norwich, 1999
http://www.catholic.org/clife/advent/advent.php?id=7
http://www.integratedcatholiclife.org/2012/12/daily-catholic-quote-from-o-rex-gentium/

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