December 19, 2006

Tomorrow I Will Be

This one goes in the 'you learn something every day' file:

One of the brothers pointed out to me that the initials of the "O" antiphons, read backwards, make an acronym of the mystery of Christmas.

During the last seven days before the vigil of Christmas, the church sings the famous "O" antiphons, either with the Magnificat at Evening Prayer (Vespers) or as adapted into songs, such as the classic O Come, O Come Emmanuel or Marty Haugen's My Soul in Stillness Waits.

Here they are:

(clunky translations are my own)

O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem, fortiter suaveritque disponens omnia: veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae. (O Wisdom, who comes from the mouth of the Most High, governing from beginning to end, strongly and sweetly disposing all things: come and teach us the way of prudence.)

O Adonai et Dux Domus Israel, qui Moysi in igne flammae rubi apparuisti, et ei in Sina legem dedisti: veni ad redimendum nos bracchio extento. (O Lord and Leader of the house of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the flame of the burning bush, and gave him the Law on Sinai, come to redeem us with outstretched arm.)

O Radix Iesse, qui stas in signum popolorum, super quem continebunt reges os suum, quem gentes deprecabuntur: veni ad liberandum nos, iam noli tardare. (O Root of Jesse, who stands as a sign for the people, in front of whom kings shut their mouths, whom the people seek: come to save us without delay.)

O Clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israel: qui aperis, et nemo claudit; claudis, et nemo aperit: veni et educ vinctum de domo carceris, sedentem in tenebris et umbra mortis. (O Key of David and scepter of the house of Israel: what you open no one can close, and what you close no one can open: come and lead the one in chains out of the prison, and also those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death.)

O Oriens, splendor lucis aeternae et sol iustitiae: veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris et umbra mortis. (O Dawn, splendor of eternal light and sun of justice: come and illumine those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death.)

O Rex gentium, et desideratus earum, lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum: veni et salva hominum, quem de limo formasti. (O King of the nations and their desire, cornerstone who unifies: come and save the people you formed from the earth.)

O Emmanuel, rex et legifer noster, exspectatio gentium et salvator earum: veni ad salvandum nos , Domine Deus noster. (O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, hope and salvation of the nations: come and save us, Lord our God.)

If you then take the initials of the antiphons and read them backwards, you get Ero Cras "I will be tomorrow." The Tomorrow we look forward to is the manifestation of the Lord himself.

The Lord is coming, and he will not delay. Nor will he pro-cras-tinate, for he says, ero cras.


Anonymous said...

I've heard the "Ero cras" acronym before, but I had not heard that the latin "cras" is what shows up in procrastinate. This connection between "I will come tomorrow" and procrastination reminds me of Samuel Becket's "Waiting for Godot" where Vladimir and Estragon continually wait for the od who is always promising to come tomorrow and never does. I had not noticed before how that play was the antithesis of Christmas.

How wonderful it is to know that the Root of Jesse does not delay, but comes as He promised, and that he stays with us.

friar minor said...

Thanks for the great comment. It's true that part of the tragedy of the late modern person is that we are waiting around for a God who isn't God at all, but is somebody more akin to Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny.

That's the trick of atheism; you convince yourself of a concept of God that nobody in their right mind could believe in and you're all set.

The "tomorrow" when God promises to come isn't in time, but is the freshness and newness of life that is His presence. Thanks!