Tonight’s O Antiphon is “O Sapientia,” which means “O Wisdom.” All of the first three O Antiphons are tied to the Messianic prophesy in Isaiah 11:1-5. I’ve bolded the relevant part for today’s Antiphon:
Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse,
And a branch from his roots will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him,
The spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The spirit of counsel and strength,
The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
And He will delight in the fear of the LORD,
And He will not judge by what His eyes see,
Nor make a decision by what His ears hear;
But with righteousness He will judge the poor,
And decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth;
And He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth,
And with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked.
Also righteousness will be the belt about His loins,
And faithfulness the belt about His waist.
This passage in fulfilled in a particular way in Jesus’ Baptism in the Jordan (Matthew 3:16-17), where we see the Holy Spirit descend and rest on Christ. But even prior to this, Jesus is the Wisdom of God, which is why St. John describes Him as the Logos of God in John 1:1-3. St. Paul also contrasts worldly wisdom and Godly Wisdom, personified in Jesus Christ, in 1 Cor. 1:25-31:
For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodisti,
attingens a fine usque ad finem fortiter,
suaviter disponensque omnia:
veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.
Which means, in English:
O Wisdom that comest out of the mouth of the Most High,
that reachest from one end to another,
and orderest all things mightily and sweetly,
Come to teach us the way of prudence!
It corresponds to the second verse from O Come, O Come Emmanuel:
O Come, Thou Wisdom, from on high,
and order all things far and nigh;
to us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go.
And the English version used in the Antiphon today:
O Wisdom, O holy Word of God,
you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care:
Come and show your people the way to salvation.
And finally, here are the Dominican student brothers at Blackfriars in Oxford singing the Latin plainchant:
This series was initially posted in Advent 2011.