Home » Blog » Prayer » An Advent Practice: Pray Your Way to the Manger

Author

Tags

Share this story

An Advent Practice: Pray Your Way to the Manger

Here’s a guide to an ancient tradition that can be shared with others, the “O Antiphons” of Advent.

An Advent practice--pray your way to the manger
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Prayer is a powerful force for good. At Guideposts, we believe in the strength of prayer to bring comfort, hope, and healing. Your generous donation today will help us continue to share the power of prayer with those in need. Together, through prayer and support, we can make a difference.

In my hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio, there is a church atop a hill called Mt. Adams. For more than 160 years, Good Friday worshipers have slowly ascended 85 steps from the neighborhood below to the church’s front doors, pausing to kneel and pray on each step. It’s a practice they’ve repeated year after year, decade after decade, step after step, as a way of kneeling their way to the cross of Jesus. But here’s a way to make that an Advent practice.

For centuries, followers of Jesus have “knelt” and prayed their way to the manger in the week before Christmas. They do it by means of a series of songs, or chants, called “The O Antiphons or Great Advent Antiphons.

Many Christians know them as a part of vespers or evensong services on each of the last seven days of Advent. Others have encountered them (though they may not have known the connection to the ancient antiphons) as the verses of the Advent hymn, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”

So, what if during these final days leading up to Christmas, you incorporated this as a new Advent practice? And you “knelt” your way to Christmas Eve by singing or praying a different verse of that hymn? The following could serve as a helpful guide:

December 17 (“O Wisdom”)

O come, O Wisdom from on high,
who ordered all things mightily;
to us the path of knowledge show
and teach us in its ways to go.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

December 18 (“O Adonai”)

O come, O come, great Lord of might,
who to your tribes on Sinai’s height
in ancient times did give the law
in cloud and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

December 19 (“O Root of Jesse”)

O come, O Branch of Jesse’s stem,
unto your own and rescue them!
From depths of hell your people save,
and give them victory o’er the grave.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

December 20 (“O Key of David”)

O come, O Key of David, come
and open wide our heavenly home.
Make safe for us the heavenward road
and bar the way to death’s abode.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

December 21 (“O Dayspring”)

O come, O Bright and Morning Star,
and bring us comfort from afar!
Dispel the shadows of the night
and turn our darkness into light.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

December 22 (“O King of Nations”)

O come, O King of nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind.
Bid all our sad divisions cease
and be yourself our King of Peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

December 23 (“O Emmanuel”)

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

By singing or speaking these lines with your family and friends—and with worshiping Christians around the world—we can, in this Advent practice, kneel together and pray our way to the manger this Christmas.

Share this story

Community Newsletter

Get More Inspiration Delivered to Your Inbox

Scroll to Top

Choose Address

×

You have no billing addresses.