Today’s find: O Adonai

The second ‘O Antiphon’ in these last days of Advent invokes Adonai, the Hebrew word for “Lord” or “Lord of Lords”:

O Adonai of ancient Israel,
who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush,
who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain:
Come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.

There are a couple of things worth meditating upon in the term Adonai itself: First, it’s something of a construct — a word created by adding vowel marks to the letters for the sacred name of the Lord in the Hebrew alphabet, so that the reader would remember not to pronounce God’s name aloud.

In effect this means by saying “Adonai,” we are acknowledging our unworthiness before this Great Mystery, the Holy One of Israel. And yet, as Moses discovers, despite our unworthiness God wants to be with us. God is wholly (and unutterably) Other, but still the relationship grows. This God desires to meet us face to face.

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Sacred Lord of ancient Israel,
who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush,
who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain:
Come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.

 

~ ~ ~

The O Antiphons are part of a thousand-year-old liturgical tradition, as explained by Felix Just, S.J., in an article on the Roman Catholic Lectionary Website:

Most familiar today from the Advent hymn, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” the seven traditional “O Antiphons” are actually more than a thousand years old. They have long been used at the very end of Advent (Dec. 17-23) in the liturgical prayer of the Church, as Antiphons for the “Magnificat” sung or recited during Vespers (the Evening Prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours). Since the Second Vatican Council, they have also been adapted (slightly reworded and rearranged) for the “Alleluia Verse” of the Mass (the short scriptural text or paraphrase that immediately precedes the Gospel reading). Each Antiphon invokes the coming of the Messiah, beginning with a biblical title and closing with a specific petition.

Maran atha!

Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy One.

 

IHS

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