The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

O Sapientia

For Advent

Words: Veni, Veni, Emanuel (the "O" Antiphons),
Authorship Unknown, 8th Century Latin;
Published As A Hymn in Psalteriolum Cantionum Catholicarum, 7th Edition, Köln, 1710.

See: Notes on Veni, Veni, Emmanuel

Source: Abbott Prosper Louis Paschal Guéranger, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year, Vol. 1, Advent. Westminster, MD: The Newman Press, 1948, pp. 484-6. Translation by Dom Laurence Shepherd, O.S.B.



O Sapientia, qun ex ore
Altissimi prodiisti, attingens
a fine usque ad finem forti-
ter, suaviterque disponens
omnia; veni, ad docendum
nos viam prudentin.
O Wisdom, that proceedest
from the mouth of the Most
High, reaching from end to
end mightily, and disposing
all things sweetly come
and teach us the way of


O uncreated Wisdom, who art so soon to make Thyself visible to Thy creatures, truly Thou disposest all things. It is by Thy permission that the emperor Augustus issues a decree ordering the enrolment of the whole world. Each citizen of the vast empire is to have his name enrolled in the city of his birth. This prince has no other object in this order, which sets the world in motion, but his own ambition. Men go to and fro by millions, and an unbroken procession traverses the immense Roman world; men think they are doing the bidding of man, and it is God whom they are obeying. This world-wide agitation has really but one object; it is, to bring to Bethlehem a man and woman who live at Nazareth in Galilee, in order that this woman, who is unknown to the world but dear to heaven, and who is at the close of the ninth month since she conceived her Child, may give birth to this Child in Bethlehem; for the Prophet has said of Him: ‘His going forth is from the beginning, from the days of eternity. And thou, 0 Bethlehem! art not the least among the thousand cities of Juda, for out of thee He shall come.’1 O divine Wisdom! how strong art Thou in thus reaching Thine ends by means which are infallible, though hidden; and yet, how sweet, offering no constraint to man’s free-will; and withal, how fatherly, in providing for our necessities! Thou choosest Bethlehem for Thy birth-place, because Bethlehem signifies the house of bread. In this, Thou teachest us that Thou art our Bread, the nourishment and support of our life. With God as our food, we cannot die. O Wisdom of the Father, living Bread that hast descended from heaven, come speedily into us, that thus we may approach to Thee and be enlightened 2 by Thy light, and by that prudence which leads to salvation.


(The Mozarabic breviary, fourth Sunday of Advent, Oratio)

Christe, Dei Filius, qui in mundo per Virginem natus, Nativitatis tuæ terrore et regna concutis, et reges admirari compellis, præbe nobis initium Sapientiæ, quod est timor tuus; ut in eo fructifloemur, in eo etiam proficientes, fructum tibi pacatissimum offeramus: ut, qui ad gentium vocationem, quasi fluvius violentus, accessisti; nasciturus in terris ad conversionem peccantium, manifesta tuæ gratiæ dona ostendas: quo, repulso terrore formidinis, casto te semper sequamur amore intimæ charitatis. Amen. O Jesus, Son of God! born of a Virgin! whose Nativity struck the nations with terror, and compelled kings to reverence thee; grant unto us the beginning of Wisdom, which is thy fear; that we may thereby yield fruit, and render thee, by our advancement in the same, the fruits of peace. O thou that didst come like a torrent to call the nations, and wast born on earth for the conversion of sinners, show unto us the gift of thy grace, whereby all fear being removed, we may ever follow thee by the chaste love of inward charity. Amen.

Notes from Dom Guéranger:

1. Mich. v. 2; St. Matt. ii. 6. Return

2. Ps. xxxiii 6. Return


The first of the seven Great Antiphons. See Guéranger's Preface: The Commencement of the Great Antiphons.

All of Guéranger's commentaries:

See: The Great Advent Antiphons, The O Antiphons, and The Prose Antiphons.

See also O Come, O Come, Emmanuel - Version 1, and Christ by Cynewulf.

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