WDTPRS 23 December – The Final O Antiphon – O Emmanuel: The Lawgiver

Today is the final full day before the Vigil of Christmas.

In the last days of Advent before the Vigil, the Latin Church sings the O Antiphons for the Magnificat of Vespers.  The song O Come O Come Emmanuel is a setting of the essence of the O Antiphons.

When all of the O Antiphons have been sung, you can take the first letter of the first word (not O) and form an acrostic, SARCORE – which doesn’t mean much until you turn it backwards: EROCRAS, or “ero cras“, which in Latin means “I will be there tomorrow.”

LATIN: O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster, exspectatio gentium, et Salvator earum: veni ad salvandum nos Domine Deus noster.

ENGLISH: O Emmanuel (God with us), our King and lawgiver, the expectation of the nations and their Savior: come to save us, O Lord our God.

Again we find a reference to Christ as Liberator in the word “legifer“.

Scripture Reference:

Isaiah 7:14; 8:8
Matthew 1:23
Haggai 2:7

Relevant verse of  Veni, Veni Emmanuel:

O come, o come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear.

In his Christmas address to the Roman Curia in 2008, His Holiness Benedict XVI speaks of the rules and the order in creation flowing from the “message” in creation.

All thing came into being through the Eternal Word.  The Word, spoken from all eternity by the Father, echoes in all of creation.  A message is written into creation.

The message has consequences, including order in nature, rules for life.

The message, with the laws it conveys, also are the grounds of true freedom.

What so many people can’t grasp today is that submission to the Lawgiver results in true freedom.

Today we face a rising antinomian spirit.  I encountered a neologism the other day: nomophobia, which was defined as “fear of not having a mobile phone”.  At first I took it to be fear of law, because in Greek, law is nomos.   In the Church there are those who fear and hate law, invoking epithets such as “rigid” for those who desire to uphold it.  They claim authorization from “the spirit” (which spirit we are not ready to guess at) for their antinomian activities within the Church.  However, when these same antinomians and antirigidians are challenged, they attempt immediately recourse to law to shut down opposition.  Scratch one and, beneath, you find the rigidity of positivist dictators.

Law, however, is grounded in the order of creation, and commonsense elevated by charity.   In earthly terms, law and government, as Augustine points out, is a result of Original Sin.   Yet law we have, given by God in nature and in divine revelation.  Our Lord says: “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished” (Matt 5:17–18).

Good law is a necessary.  However, all human laws are time bound.  There is a phrase: leges humanae nascuntur, vivunt, moriuntur… human rises are born, live and die.  Christ, Emmanuel and Legifer, Lawgiver, lives now and forever, the sure Liberator from all that binds us to anything other than Himself.

Let’s hear the monks of Le Barroux sing the antiphon.

Antiphonale Monasticum

Note the variations.

Liber Usualis

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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