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.
O Radix Jesse – December 19
O Root of Jesse, you stand as an ensign to the peoples; before you kings will shut their mouths, and nations bow in worship: Come and deliver us, and tarry not.
You can almost hear the voices of the prophets calling upon the LORD to get moving and deliver Israel from those who are oppressing it, or the cry of the psalmist, “Awake, O Lord! why are you sleeping? Arise! Do not reject us for ever. Why have you hidden your face and forgotten our affliction and oppression? We sink down in the dust; our body cleaves to the ground. Rise up, and help us, and save us, for the sake of your steadfast love.” (Psalm 44)
The Good News is that today’s the day. “On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious,” (Isaiah 11:10) . “That day” (illo die) is at hand as we look forward not only to the great and terrible Day of the Lord, but to the coming of Jesus Christ–in less than a week. As disciples of Christ, are we standing as an ensign to the peoples? or are we drifting along like those who are “at ease in Zion”? (Amos 6:1)