The season of Advent shifts to stage two, and a set of antiphons take a certain pride of place. These are likely the most well-known and expected of their genre in the Catholic liturgy. The letter that identifies them in English, is the fourth most-used in my vernacular.

In Latin, the lead word is veni, a plea for the Lord to come. So we’ve moved on from the V-antiphons with the English vernacular at least. Across the language barriers, we do have that rounded “O” in some prominence. Hodie, or “today” as in the day of the Savior’s birth. Hosanna, as in the acclamation of the Palm Sunday entrance. And the petition “come” is hardly limited to the Advent season.

Without God, we find ourselves in difficulty. Maybe the feeling is more “uh-oh” than “oh” sometimes. I’ll admit it. I think the Jewish people, finding themselves under conquest, in diaspora, and struggling to maintain their religious traditions, were and are much more cognizant of it than First World Christians. “O God, help us” may often be rendered just as accurately as “Uh-oh! God help us!”

The vocative case “O” precedes many Biblical conversations with God. These last days of Advent, we can reflect on the Advent hymn, on Vespers if we pray it, or on the state of things in our lives. And if it slips out, “Uh-oh, come Emmanuel” that’s not inaccurate, is it?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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1 Response to O

  1. Liam says:

    There’s also Scooby R or Homer D = Ruh-Roh! or Doh!

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