We are almost done, so now we need to prepare for the final antiphon. Remember that Vespers on the 23rd begins the liturgy for the next day, the Vigil of Christmas. The next Vespers will be part of the last liturgical day before Christmas. For those of you who do not sing Vespers or the "O Antiphons" there is a poor man's version of the Antiphons. For those of you who cannot sing the 'O Antiphons', here are the lyrics to a song you can sing:
VENI veni, Emmanuel
captivum solve Israel,
qui gemit in exsilio,
privatus Dei Filio.
R: Gaude! Gaude! Emmanuel,
nascetur pro te Israel!
O COME, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that morns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.
R: Rejoice! Rejoice! O Israel,
to thee shall come Emmanuel!
Veni, O Sapi-en-ti-a,
quae hic disponis omnia,
veni, viam prudentiae
ut doceas et gloriae. R.
O come, Thou Wisdom, from on high,
and order all things far and nigh;
to us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go. R.
Veni, veni, Adona-i,
qui populo in Sinai
legem dedisti vertice
in maiestate gloriae. R.
O come, o come, Thou Lord of might,
who to thy tribes on Sinai's height
in ancient times did give the law,
in cloud, and majesty, and awe. R.
Veni, O Iesse virgula,
ex hostis tuos ungula,
de spectu tuos tartari
educ et antro barathri. R.
O come, Thou Rod of Jesse's stem,
from ev'ry foe deliver them
that trust Thy mighty power to save,
and give them vict'ry o'er the grave. R.
Veni, Clavis Davidica,
regna reclude caelica,
fac iter tutum superum,
et claude vias inferum. R.
O come, Thou Key of David, come,
and open wide our heav'nly home,
make safe the way that leads on high,
that we no more have cause to sigh. R.
Veni, veni O Oriens,
solare nos adveniens,
noctis depelle nebulas,
dirasque mortis tenebras. R.
O come, Thou Dayspring from on high,
and cheer us by thy drawing nigh;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night
and death's dark shadow put to flight. R.
Veni, veni, Rex Gentium,
veni, Redemptor omnium,
ut salvas tuos famulos
peccati sibi conscios. R.
O come, Desire of the nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind;
bid every strife and quarrel cease
and fill the world with heaven's peace. R.
I will not give you the last verse. I hope you see how verses 2-7 correspond with the 'O Antiphons'. Unfortunately, in this version the Holy Names are not preserved exactly and the O's are sometimes missing. The meaning of the verses stray as well. Some new biblical allusions have been added, but all in all they are not the 'O Antiphons'. I do not know what the author was thinking when he changed Radix to Virgula (Little shoot), thus destroying the code. Perhaps more people will bypass this song to sing the ancient and more precise one:
O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum,
Lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum:
veni, et salva hominem,
quem de limo formasti.
O King of the nations, and desire of them,
the cornerstone, who make both one:
Come and save man,
which you formed from slime.
In Ephesians, St. Paul tells the Gentiles that although they were far from God and unaware of the promise known to Israel, Christ has brought them close. Paul then says, "For He is our peace, who hath made both one." Christ as a King unites both the Jews and the Gentiles into one faith. So Christ as a King unites, but not by compromise with injustice. He brings true order as St. Paul says, "He is our peace." So Christ is really the "Desire of the nations." For what does a nation that is any good desire for itself but peace? This is the highest good within the power of a nation to obtain.
The Cornerstone is a familiar name of Christ as is the passage from Psalm 117:
"The stone which the builders rejected; the same is become the head of the corner."
This phrase is spoken in scripture three times, by the three great kings: here in the Psalms, David first says it, but then it is repeated by Christ himself and then Peter, the first Pope. Catholics today sound like Protestants when it comes to talking about Christ's kingship. Yes, Christ reigns in a special way over the hearts of the faithful, but his power would be stunted, if this was all. "Even the storms and winds obey him." Christ is not only King over the church, but is truly King of all nations. We should not be ashamed of this, but remember what follows in Psalm 117: "This is the Lord's doing: and it is wonderful in our eyes." We should be careful that we are not among those who reject the Cornerstone. Many Catholics today have contributed to the marginalization of Christ in their lives and society.
In the prayer we ask Christ to save us, recognizing His work of forming us from slime. We then have two natural ways in which Christ prepares us for salvation, both by the forming our nature and forming society. Let us not forget that our body and the political body are important for our salvation. Inopportune sickness in either can have a detrimental effect on the salvation of men. Christ as King sees to the health of things in so far as they help to save men. Truly wonderful is the salvation which he prepared for us. Again let us earnestly ask for it.
So now we have the second letter which gives us: "_ro Cras." You will know the answer tomorrow and perhaps be a little bit more prepared for Christmas.