The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

O Wisdom, Which Camest Out of the Mouth of the Most High

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: W. J. Birkbeck, et al., eds., The English Hymnal. London: Oxford University Press, 1906, #734, pp. 878-879.

December 16. O Sapientia. O Wisdom, which camest out of the mouth of the Most High, and reachest from one end to another, mightily and sweetly ordering all things: Come and teach us the way of prudence.

December 17. O Adonai. O Adonai, and Leader of the house of Israel, who appearest in the bush to Moses in a flame of fire, and gavest him the Law in Sinai: Come and deliver us with an outstretched arm.

December 18. O Radix Jesse. O Root of Jesse, which standest for an ensign of the people, at whom kings shall shut their mouths, to whom the Gentiles shall seek: Come and deliver us, and tarry not.

December 19. O Clavis David. O Key of David, and Sceptre of the house of Israel; 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 the shadow of death.

December 20. O Oriens. O Day-spring, Brightest of Light Everlasting, and Sun of Righteousness: Come and enlighten him that sitteth in the darkness and the shadow of death.

December 21. O Rex Gentium. O King of the Nations, and their desire; the Corner-stone, who makest both one: Come and save mankind, whom thou formedst of clay.

December 22. O Emmanuel. O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the Desire of all nations, and their Salvation: Come and save us, O Lord our God.

December 23. O Virgo virginum. O Virgin of virgins, how shall this be? For neither before thee was any like thee, nor shall there be after. Daughters of Jerusalem, why marvel ye at me? The thing which ye behold is a divine mystery.


Originally, there were seven “Great O” antiphons. The eighth antiphon, O Virgo virginum, an antiphon to Mary, the mother of Jesus, was added by the liturgiologist Amalarius in the Ninth Century, and is found in the Sarum, York, and Hereford Breviaries, as well as others. See: "Antiphons," John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology, 1892, 1907 (Reprinted by Dover in 1957, in two volumes).

According to Professor Albert S. Cook, it is included for the feast of the Expectation of the Virgin, Dec. 18, although The English Hymnal and The Salisbury Antiphony designate it as the reading for Dec. 23. See Albert S. Cook, The Christ of Cynewulf. (Boston: Ginn & Co., 1900). ( ); accessed March 25, 2007.

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