omorrow begins the octave before Christmas. While octaves following key feast days (Easter, Christmas, Pentecost) are an important part of our liturgical celebrations, this octave precedes the feast. We are in the homestretch of preparation – we can see the light on the horizon. The Gospel readings at daily Mass begin to tell the story of the birth of Christ as found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.
The O Antiphons belong to this time. Each day, all over the world, Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) is prayed at Vespers (Evening Prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours). It is preceded by a short verse or prayer called an antiphon. From December 17-23, these antiphons invoke Our Lord using rich biblical titles for the Messiah. You may recognize them from the beloved Advent hymn, O Come, O Come Emmanuel. They are also prayed as the Alleluia verses at daily Mass during the octave.
The exact origin of the antiphons is unknown, but they are mentioned as early as the 6th century. By the 8th century, they were used in liturgical celebrations in Rome. When the first letter of each (Latin) title is read backwards, the seven spell Ero crans – tomorrow I will be!Trust and Expectation with the O Antiphons — Integrated Catholic Life™