The O Antiphons: O Wisdom . . . teach us (re-send)

The well-known Advent hymn O Come O Come Emmanuel recalls the prophet Isaiah’s several descriptions of the coming Messiah. During the seventh and eighth centuries, these descriptions were compiled into antiphons and were recited before and after the Magnificat during Vespers or Evening Prayer for the seven evenings preceding Christmas.

We present these O Antiphons from December 17 to December 23 along with meditations from writers across the diocese and the photography of the Rev. Doug Earle.

December 17:
O Sapientia (Isaiah 11:2-3; 28:29):
“O Wisdom, you come forth from the mouth of the Most High. You fill the universe and hold all things together in a strong yet gentle manner. O come to teach us the way of truth.”

Wisdom responds:
Before the first Advent and before you ever sang, “O come, O come Emanuel,” I was there; “the first of his acts long ago” (Proverbs 8:22). “Before the beginning of the earth,” “when there were no depths” or “springs abounding with water,” I was there (Proverbs 8:23-24). “Before the mountains,” before “the hills,” even before “the world’s first bits of soil,” (Proverbs 8:25-26) I was there. Before “God said, ‘Let there be…’” (Genesis 1:1-27), I came forth from the mouth of the Most High (Sirach 24:3). I was there “beside him” each day of creation “rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the human race” (Proverbs 8:30-31).

I was there then. I am here now. “And for all the ages I shall not cease to be” (Sirach 24:9). I compass the vault of heaven and traverse the depths of the abyss (Sirach 24:5). I hold sway over you, the waves of the sea, all the earth, every people and nation (Sirach 24:6).

I am not conventional or of the ages. I am eternal. I am not information to be used or knowledge to be acquired. I am of the heart. I am not a quotation in calligraphy or a social media post. I am the writing of God’s finger on your heart.

My name is Sophia and I am ever a lady in waiting to your God and my God, “a spotless mirror of the working of God and an image of [feminine] goodness” (Wisdom 7:26).

I am the experience of divine presence shifting shape to fill the temple of your heart. For Solomon I was a bride, enamoring him with my beauty (Wisdom 8:2). For Job I was “the fear of the Lord” (Job 28:28). I gave voice to John the Baptist in the wilderness. I appeared to the magi as a star, to the shepherds as an angelic chorus, to Joseph as a dream, to Mary as pondering and treasuring. I am “hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3).

Who am I for you? How will you recognize me?

I am the hunger that is satisfied with more hunger and the thirst that is quenched with more thirst (Sirach 24:21). “Come to me, you who desire me” (Sirach 24:19).


Meditation by the Rev. Mike Marsh, rector of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, Uvalde TX. Reach him at marshmk@stphilipsuvalde.org.

Photography by the Rev. Doug Earle. See more of Doug’s work at Www.DougEarlePhotography.com.

For more about the O Antiphons click here.

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