Assembled by the early Church, the O Antiphons signal the Octave of Christmas, the eight days before the Nativity of our Lord. The ringing of steeple bells and the singing of antiphons, at the beginning of vespers, alerts the world to the celebration of God’s saving grace come to earth in the form of God’s Word made flesh. Emmanuel, God is with us.
With the first of the O Antiphons, we pray for wisdom to be made manifest through God’s goodness and mercy. It is Wisdom which was present since the day of Creation (Sirach 24: 8-12). Wisdom leads us in godly living (James 3:17), and helps Christians to discern God’s will (Ephesians 5:15-17). Wisdom is the foundation of fear of the Lord, of holiness, or right living. Wisdom teaches God’s people prudence.
At the beginning of the Octave of Christmas, the cry “Come, O Wisdom!” is repeated again and again by God’s hope-filled people, in preparation for the coming again of our Lord Jesus Christ. We know not the day of the hour, but we have the assurance of God’s promise. And so the Church sings:
O Come O wisdom from on high,
Embracing all things far and nigh;
In strengthened beauty come and stay;
Teach us your will and guide our way.
O Come, O Come Emmanuel v. 2 Traditional