The Great O Antiphons were traditionally sung before and after the Magnificat at Evensong starting on December 17.They are most familiar to us as they were paraphrased as the hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”
The reflections are a gift from the Reverend Canon Leonel L. Mitchell, Th.D. He is the retired professor of liturgics at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary and Canon Theologian of the Episcopal Cathedral of St. James, South Bend, IN.
Who holds the “power of the keys?” Certainly, the Messiah, the Son of David. And, yes, he cares about prisoners, P.O.W.s, detainees at Gitmo, and ordinary convicts in the world’s prisons and jails, and he offers them true freedom, the freedom he gave to the Penitent Thief on the Cross, BUT all of us “sit in darkness and the shadow of death,” and he comes with the keys to Death and Hell (or more properly Hades) to unlock for all of us the gates of heaven and to bring us to life in him. AND we have to bring all those other prisoners along with us, because Adonai loves us all. The unlocked door draws us through Advent to Christmas to Easter and the end of captivity..