WDTPRS The O Antiphons: 19 December – root and branch

Here is the O Antiphon for 19 December: O Radix Jesse

Again O Lord is presented a the Liberator.

LATIN: O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum, super quem continebunt reges os suum, quem gentes deprecabuntur: veni ad liberandum nos, iam noli tardare.

ENGLISH: O Root of Jesse, that stands for an ensign of the people, before whom the kings keep silence and unto whom the Gentiles shall make supplication: come, to deliver us, and tarry not.

Scripture References:

Isaiah 11:10
Romans 15:12
Revelation 5:5

Relevant verse of Veni, Veni Emmanuel:

O come, O Rod of Jesse free,
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory o’er the grave.

What urgency there is in this antiphon.

Our Lewis & Short says that radix is “a root, ground, basis, foundation, origin, source”.

Ironically, roots are underground and invisible, but standards, ensigns are raised high in the air.

Something that lies below the earth (a root) stands high into the heavens like a banner!

Vexilia Regis Prodeunt we sing in Lent. The little root of Advent becomes by Lent grows into the Tree of our salvation.

The one from above takes our mortal clay into an indestructible bond. He raises us to the heavens.

Isaiah 11:10 gives us imagery for our reflection today.

The great prophet of Advent tells us that the kingdom of David would be destroyed, but not entirely destroyed. A root would remain. Jesse is David’s father. David is Jesse’s root. David leads to Christ.

After the destruction there remains a root.

No matter what the exigencies of life present to us or how turbulent the vicissitudes of the passing world may be, when we cling to the root we are sure to be victorious in the end.

Life includes patterns of destruction and rebuilding, pruning and regrowth, transplantation and rerooting. So long as we are grafted into the Root, we survive and grow.

Please share!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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7 Responses to WDTPRS The O Antiphons: 19 December – root and branch

  1. pinecone says:

    Father, do you have any idea why the LOTH translate this as “O Flower of Jesse?” It is puzzling to me.

  2. Supertradmum says:

    Vexilia Regis Prodeunt is my favorite Lenten hymn. This O Antiphon reminds me of the life of David, who sinned seriously in so many ways, but remained in love with God, and realizing God’s Forgiveness, went on to produce fruit, as promised by Nathan, in the form of the House of David bringing forth the Messiah. There is hope for all of us.

  3. pinecone: why the LOTH translate this as “O Flower of Jesse?”

    It does, does it? I don’t use the LOTH, in Latin or in English, so I didn’t see that.

    Once reason may be that in the Vulgate the verse from Isaiah whence comes this image reads: “et egredietur virga de radice Iesse et flos de radice eius ascendet …a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower (,em>flos) shall rise up.”

  4. Blaise says:

    Maybe I am confused as to what the LOTH refers to but in my (English) edition of “Daily Prayer from The Divine Office The Liturgy of The Hours According to the Roman Rite” it reads “O Stock of Jesse, you stand as a signal for the nations; kinds fall silent before you whom the peoples acclaim. O come to deliever us, and do not delay.” No flowers here.
    I quite like “Stock” for Radix in this particular instance although it does not quite have the underground / overground contrast with “signum”; not that the translation “signal” is as good as “ensign”. Signal suggests trains and loses the contrast even if you keep “root”.

  5. pinecone says:

    The American Liturgy of the Hours, published by the Catholic Book Publishing Company, says “O Flower of Jesse’s stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.”

  6. Pingback: O Radix Jesse « Knowledge Hungry

  7. Blaise says:

    It’s all too confusing with these multiple versions, the older English missal version, the new English missal version, the English liturgy of the Hours, the American liturgy of the hours. Why can we not have one normative version of the prayer for the whole Church?
    Oh, that would be the Latin version I guess.