The Last Seven Days

During the Dark Ages, well before 800 AD, a monk reading in Isaiah was inspired to write some poetry. He wrote seven stanzas of longing for the Messiah. Each stanza addresses the coming Messiah by one of the names recorded in Isaiah. Monks began to chant his poem. Eventually, each stanza became associated with one day of the last seven days before Christmas. To this day, they are sung each night from the 17th to the 24th around the world. They are often called the O Antiphons, because each stanza begins with O. In the 1800's the poem was set to music and we know it as the beloved "O Come, O Come Emmanuel," the most ancient Christmas carol that still survives.

Today we enter the final phase of Advent. The waiting is almost over, and we begin to rise. The King is close, oh, so very close. Our yearning for Him is more insistent. We beg him to come. And the O Antiphon for today is:

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
Who orders all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

Isaiah often calls the coming Messiah "Wisdom."

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and … he will be called Wonderful Counselor.” ~Isaiah 9:6
"The spirit of the Lord will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord—and he will delight in the fear of the Lord." ~Isaiah 11:2-3
“All this comes from the Lord Almighty, wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom." ~Isaiah 28:29

Tonight we will light one candle against the darkness. That flame will stand for our hope in the Promise of God, that He will send Himself, that He will be the Lamp. That lone flickering candle that gives us just enough light to ask for Wisdom enough to follow Him. For His Presence to grow in us a thirst for more Presence. O come Wisdom from on high!