The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

O Wisdom, Which Camest Out

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: Unknown

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: Edward Bannerman Ramsey, et al, eds., Hymnal for the Scottish Church recommended by the College of Bishops. (No name or place of publisher, 1857), pp. 260-261. Printed on the Title Page: "(14th April 1857.—Proof— Private Circulation.)" Rev. Ramsay was Dean of Edinburgh, and was convenor of Hymnal Committee.

1. O Sapientia

O Wisdom, Which camest out of the mouth of the Most High. reaching from one end to another, mightily and sweetly ordering all things; Come and teach us the way of understanding.

Prov. 7.22. "All at once he followed her like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose."

Sirach 24.3. "And this is what she says: I came from the mouth of God Most High and like a mist I moved over the earth."

Wisdom 8.1. "Wisdom rules the universe and keeps it in order.

Isaiah 40.14. "Did the Lord ask anyone to teach him wisdom and justice? Who gave him knowledge and understanding?"

Proverbs 8.14. "I am strong, and I offer sensible advice and sound judgment.

2. O Adonai

O Lord, and Ruler of the house of Israel, Who appearedst to Moses in a flame of fire in the bush, and gavest him the law in Sinai; Come and deliver us with an outstretched arm.

Matthew 2.6. "Bethlehem in the land of Judea, you are very important among the towns of Judea. From your town will come a leader, who will be like a shepherd for my people Israel.’ ”

Acts 7.30-38

30 Forty years later, an angel appeared to Moses from a burning bush in the desert near Mount Sinai. 31 Moses was surprised by what he saw. He went closer to get a better look, and the Lord said, 32 “I am the God who was worshiped by your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Moses started shaking all over and didn't dare to look at the bush.

33 The Lord said to him, “Take off your sandals. The place where you are standing is holy. 34 With my own eyes I have seen the suffering of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groans and have come down to rescue them. Now I am sending you back to Egypt.”

35 This was the same Moses that the people rejected by saying, “Who made you our leader and judge?” God's angel had spoken to Moses from the bush. And God had even sent the angel to help Moses rescue the people and be their leader.

36 In Egypt and at the Red Sea and in the desert, Moses rescued the people by working miracles and wonders for forty years.

37 Moses is the one who told the people of Israel, “God will choose one of your people to be a prophet, just as he chose me.” 38 Moses brought our people together in the desert, and the angel spoke to him on Mount Sinai. There he was given these life-giving words to pass on to us.

2 Kings 17.36. "Worship only me! I am the one who rescued you from Egypt with my mighty power. Bow down to me and offer sacrifices."

Isaiah 40.9. "There is good news for the city of Zion. Shout it as loud as you can from the highest mountain. Don't be afraid to shout to the towns of Judah, 'Your God is here!' ”

3. O Radix Jesse

O Root of Jesse, Which standest for an Ensign of the people, at Whom kings shall shut their mouths, Thou to Whom the Gentiles shall seek; Come and deliver us, and tarry not.

Isaiah 11.10. "The time is coming when one of David's descendants will be the signal for the people of all nations to come together. They will follow his advice, and his own nation will become famous."

Isaiah 52.15. "My servant will make nations worthy to worship me; kings will be silent as they bow in wonder. They will see and think about things they have never seen or thought about before."

Isaiah 46.13. "I will soon come to save you. I am not far away and will waste no time; I take pride in Israel and will save Jerusalem."

4. O Clavis David

O Key of David, and Sceptre of the house of Israel, Thou That openest and no man shutteth, and shuttest and no man openeth; Come and bring the prisoner out of the prison-house, and him that sitteth in darkness and in the shadow of death.

Isaiah 22.22. "The Lord will put him in charge of the key that belongs to King David's family. No one will be able to unlock what he locks, and no one will be able to lock what he unlocks."

Isaiah 51.5-14

5 Those who live across the sea are eagerly waiting for me to rescue them. I am strong and ready; soon I will come to save and to rule all nations.

6 Look closely at the sky! Stare at the earth. The sky will vanish like smoke; the earth will wear out like clothes. Everyone on this earth will die like flies. But my victory will last; my saving power never ends.

7 If you want to do right and to obey my teaching with all your heart, then pay close attention. Don't be discouraged when others insult you and say hurtful things.

8 They will be eaten away like a moth-eaten coat. But my victory will last; my saving power will never end.

A Prayer for the Lord's Help

9 Wake up! Do something, Lord. Be strong and ready. Wake up! Do what you did for our people long ago. Didn't you chop up Rahab the monster?

10 Didn't you dry up the deep sea and make a road for your people to follow safely across?

11 Now those you have rescued will return to Jerusalem, singing on their way. They will be crowned with great happiness, never again to be burdened with sadness and sorrow. The Lord Gives Hope

12 I am the Lord, the one who encourages you. Why are you afraid of mere humans? They dry up and die like grass.

13 I spread out the heavens and laid foundations for the earth. But you have forgotten me, your Lord and Creator. All day long you were afraid of those who were angry and hoped to abuse you. Where are they now?

14 Everyone crying out in pain will be quickly set free; they will be rescued from the power of death and never go hungry.

Luke 1.79. "On us who live in the dark shadow of death this light will shine to guide us into a life of peace."

5. O Pastor Israel

O Shepherd of Israel, and Ruler in the House of David, Whose goings forth have been of old from the days of eternity; Come and feed Thy people in strength, and reign in justice and judgment.

Micah 5.2-4. "Bethlehem Ephrath, you are one of the smallest towns in the nation of Judah. But the Lord will choose one of your people to rule the nation— someone whose family goes back to ancient times. 3 The Lord will abandon Israel only until this ruler is born, and the rest of his family returns to Israel. 4 Like a shepherd taking care of his sheep, this ruler will lead and care for his people by the power and glorious name of the Lord his God. His people will live securely, and the whole earth will know his true greatness..."

6. O Oriens

O Orient, Brightness of the Everlasting Light, and Sun of Righteousness; Come and enlighten them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

Revelation 22.16. "I am Jesus! And I am the one who sent my angel to tell all of you these things for the churches. I am David's Great Descendant, and I am also the bright morning star."

Luke 1.78. "God's love and kindness will shine upon us like the sun that rises in the sky."

Wisdom 7.25. "Wisdom is the breath of God's power, the true reflection of the glory of God All-Powerful, and so she cannot be touched by anything impure."

Malachi 4.2. "But for you that honor my name, victory will shine like the sun with healing in its rays, and you will jump around like calves at play."

Isaiah 9.2. "Those who walked in the dark have seen a bright light. And it shines upon everyone who lives in the land of darkest shadows."

7. O Rex Gentium

O King and Desire of all nations, Thou Corner-stone, Who hast made both one; Come and save man, whom Thou formedst from the clay.

Jeremiah 10.7. "You are King of the nations. Everyone should worship you. No human anywhere on earth is wiser than you."

Haggai 2.7. "I will shake the nations, and their treasures will be brought here. Then the brightness of my glory will fill this temple."

Isaiah 28.16. "And so the Lord says, 'I'm laying a firm foundation for the city of Zion. It's a valuable cornerstone proven to be trustworthy; no one who trusts it will ever be disappointed.' "

Ephesians 2:14. "Christ has made peace between Jews and Gentiles, and he has united us by breaking down the wall of hatred that separated us. Christ gave his own body."

Job 33.6. "We each were made from clay, and God has no favorites."

8. O Emmanuel

O Emmanuel, our King and Law- giver Hope of the Gentiles, and their Saviour; Come and save us, O Lord our God.

Isaiah 7.14. "But the Lord will still give you proof. A virgin is pregnant; she will have a son and will name him Immanuel."

Isaiah 33.22. "The Lord is our judge and our ruler; the Lord is our king and will keep us safe."

Genesis 49.10. "You will have power and rule until nations obey you and come bringing gifts."

Haggai 2.7. "I will shake the nations, and their treasures will be brought here. Then the brightness of my glory will fill this temple."

Source Pages from Hymnal for the Scottish Church recommended by the College of Bishops. (No name or place of publisher, 1857), pp. 260-261.

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Editor's Note:

These Prose Anthems originally appeared in “The Advent Anthems,” Sacred Hymns and Anthems (Leeds: G. Crawshaw, 1846), Hymns 5-11, pp. 10-11. There is a handwritten note on the inside cover of the volume scanned for Google Books: “Issued for St. Saviours, Leeds.” There is no mention of the name of the translator.

The exception is verse 5, which was created for this hymnal.

In the Leeds hymnal, there were no Biblical citations.

This "Proof-For Private Circulation" Hymnal contained both the above Prose Anthems and also Metrical Anthems under the title “Anthems For The Close Of The Advent Season,” O Wisdom, Who O'er Earth Below, Hymn 12, pages 9-11. These Anthems In Meter were "To be used on the days before Christmas, each day one, commencing 16th December." Their meter was 6 of 8s. The earliest located occurrence of these Advent Antiphons was in the 1853 hymnal edited by Cooke and Denton except for the sixth verse, which occurred first in this hymnal.

The Preface, pp. iii – v.

For some time past members of the Church had regretted the great diversity which prevailed in the collections of Hymns used by various Congregations, and had felt the defects which belonged to them all. This great diversity of compositions selected for singing in public worship offered a remarkable contrast with the strict uniformity required in the use of prayers; and, although circumstances had hitherto retarded the adoption of an authorised Hymnal, which might supersede the use of all others in the Church of England, it was quite evident that the some reasons did not stand in the way of Scottish Churchmen making an attempt to raise the standard of Congregational Psalmody, and at same time to promote uniformity in this portion of divine service.

The Diocesan Synod of Edinburgh took the first practical step towards supplying this acknowledged want. Instead of compiling a collection, as had at first been intended, for the Diocese, they petitioned the College of Bishops to take such steps as they might consider advisable, for procuring a Collection which they could recommend for the use of the whole Church. It was understood, at the same time, that this petition from the Edinburgh Synod expressed the wishes of the dioceses generally. The Right Rev. Fathers at once accepted the charge, and appointed a Committee, composed of three delegates from each diocese, two clerical members and one lay member, to carry out the object proposed. This Committee held meetings at considerable intervals, to examine the joint-labours of the various Sub-committees and Diocesan Committees to whom had been intrusted the details of forming the selection, and who had been provided also with the general rules or principles on which they were to proceed. On the 17th day of April 1857, the work, as finally revised and corrected, was submitted to the Bishops. It has received their recommendation, and with this venerable sanction is now presented to the Church.

As Convener of the several Committees who have met in Edinburgh for the accomplishment of the desired object, I may perhaps be permitted to make the statement, that, during the, whole work of selection, no pains or labour has been spared in the execution of this duty. It has been the anxious wish of every member of Committee that this Hymnal should provide for the Divine Services of the sanctuary a suitable and consistent companion to the Book of Common Prayer, following the course of the Church’s Year, at the same time embodying the best specimens of earlier and modern Hymns. Their desire and determination have been throughout, on all theological questions, to express the decisions, and to illustrate the spirit, of our Liturgy, neither going beyond nor falling short of that Standard.


Convener of Hymnal Committee for the Scottish Church.

The "final" hymnal was titled A Collection of Hymns To Be Sung in Churches Approved and Sanctioned by the Episcopal Synod of the Church in Scotland (Edinburgh: R. Grant and Son, 1858). It contained neither set of Advent Antiphons.

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