The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

The 'O Antiphons'
Bishop Lancelot Andrewes, The Mantle of Prayer (1881)

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.

Translator: Bishop Lancelot Andrewes

Music: "Veni Emmanuel," Based on a 15th Century French Processional,
Arranged by Rev. Thomas Helmore  and harmonized by Rev. S. S. Greatheed in
Hymnal Noted, Part II (London: 1856)

Accompanying Harmonies to the Hymnal Noted-Part II
(London: 1858)
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF / XML
Melody Only: MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF / XML

Meter: 88 88 88

See: Notes on Veni, Veni, Emmanuel

Source: Alice Nichols, ed., The Mantle of Prayer, A Book of Devotions Compiled Chiefly from Those of Bishop Lancelot Andrewes, Bishop of Winchester (1881), pp. 79-81 (The Greater Antiphons; plus 81-82 for Christmas).

December 16. O Sapientia.
O Wisdom, Which didst come forth from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from the one end of all things to the other, and ordering them with sweetness and might: Come, that Thou mayest teach us the way of understanding.

December 17. O Adonai.
O Lord of lords and Leader of the house of Israel, Who didst appear unto Moses in a flame of fire in the bush, and gavest Thy law in Sinai: Come, that Thou mayest redeem us with Thy stretched-out arm.

December 18. O Radix Jesse.
O Root of Jesse, Which standest for an ensign of the people, before Whom kings shall shut their mouths, and to Whom the Gentiles shall seek: Come, that Thou mayest deliver us; tarry not, we beseech Thee.

December 19. O Clavis David.
O Key of David and Sceptre of the house of Israel: Thou Who openest and no man shutteth, Who shuttest and no man openeth: Come, that Thou mayest bring forth from the prison-house him that is bound, sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death.

December 20. O Oriens Splendor.
O dawning brightness of the everlasting Light, and Sun of Righteousness: Come, that Thou mayest enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

December 22. O Rex Gentium.
O King and Desire of all nations, the Corner Stone uniting all in one: Come, that Thou mayest save man, whom Thou hast formed out of the ground by Thy Hand.

December 23. O Emmanuel.
O Emmanuel, our King and our Lawgiver, the Expectation and the Saviour of the Gentiles: Come, that Thou mayest save us, O Lord our God.


Although not part of the Great O Antiphons, these are included as they complete the anticipation of Advent.

God, Which makest us glad with the yearly remembrance of the Birth of Thy only Son Jesus Christ; grant that as we joyfully receive Him for our Redeemer, so we may with sure confidence behold Him, when He shall come to be our Judge, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

O God, Who hast made this most sacred night to shine with the illumination of the True Light; grant, we beseech Thee, that as we have known the Mystery of that Light upon earth, we may also perfectly enjoy it in Heaven, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

O sweet Saviour, Who for the love of mankind didst vouchsafe to descend from Thy royal throne, from the bosom of Thy Father, into this vale of misery, and to take on Thee the form of a sinner, and to be born of the Blessed Virgin Mary;

Grant unto me so to follow her in holy obedience to Thee, that by Thy grace I too may be reckoned among those of whom Thou hast said, "Whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is My brother, and My sister, and mother;" and be merciful to me.
O blessed Lord, Who being God Almighty, didst not disdain at Thy birth to be wrapped in swaddling clothes and to be laid in a manger;

Grant that I may be ever in Thy sight a little infant in humility and lowliness of spirit: take from me all ambitious thoughts; and be merciful to me.

O gracious Lord, Who at Thy Birth wouldst be received into this world with joyful hymns of blessed angels, and be found to the great delight and admiration of poor shepherds;

Give Thy grace unto me, Thy poor unworthy servant, continually to persevere in Thy praise, to seek Thee with the shepherds' affection, by seeking to find Thee, and finding Thee always to retain and enjoy Thee; and be merciful to me.


It is not clear from the text who authored these devotions.

Bishop Lancelot Andrewes (1555 – 25 September 1626) was an English bishop and scholar, who held high positions in the Church of England during the reigns of Elizabeth I (7 September 1533 – 24 March 1603) and James I (19 June 1566 – 27 March 1625). During the reign of James I, Andrewes served as Dean of Westminster (1601–1605), Bishop of Chichester (1605–1609), Bishop of Ely (1609–1619) and, until his death, Bishop of Winchester (1619–1626). He also served as Lord Almoner (1605–1619) and Dean of the Chapel Royal (1618–1626). He also oversaw the translation of the King James Version of the Bible (or "the Authorized Version"). His brother, Roger Andrewes (1574–1635) was an noted churchman and academic who also served as a translator for the King James Version of the Bible.

See the Wikipedia article concerning Bishop Andrewes, Lancelot Andrewes.

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