Friday, December 18, 2009

Deacon Dulas: "O Adonai"

Here's the 2nd in the series on the "O" Antiphons by Deacon Jerry Dulas.

Listen to today's antiphon at


As we stated yesterday, each "O" antiphon has an Old Testament prophetic type of the Messiah (or two), and a promise of grace and blessing attached to it.

Looking at the second "O" antiphon --

O Adonai,
et Dux domus Israel,
qui Moysi in inge flammae rubi apparuisti,
et ei in Sina legem dedisti:
Veni, ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.

O Adonai*,
and Leader of the house of Israel,
who appearedst in the bush to Moses in a flame of fire,
and gavest him the Law in Sinai:
Come, and redeem us with an outstretched arm.

translation Lutheran Brotherhood Prayerbook
*not usually translated; Adonai means "God of the covenant"

--one can see that there are actually two prophetic types of the Messiah sung about in this antiphon. Even though this antiphon is typically referred to as "O Adonai," the second prophetic type, "Leader (or Ruler) of the house of Israel," also reveals something about who the Messiah is to be. The promise of blessing attached to this "O" antiphon is that the Messiah will redeem us with His outstretched arm.

Adonai, the God of the covenant, is our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the one who was promised, by a covenant, to Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and David. As the seed of David, He is the One Who sits on David's throne, and rules the house of Israel as the God of the covenant; the God who is the promised Messiah.

Two of this pre-incarnate Messiah's many appearances are mentioned in the antiphon: the appearance to Moses in the fiery bush, and the giving of the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai as lightning rained down. Notice that both of these appearances are to Moses, and both call to mind means that produce light, i.e., fire and lightning. These images are to call to mind the deliverance by Moses, from the bondage of slavery in Egypt, of the people of Israel. Our Christ, our dear Lord Jesus, delivers us from the bondage of slavery to sin with His outstretched arms on the cross. He redeems us with His outstretched arms.

So in the matter of one day, we go from the first "O" antiphon which pointed us toward the incarnation of our Lord Jesus, the Son of God, in the flesh, straight to His death on the cross. Such is the way of the Church, driving sinners to the cross, to receive forgiveness, life and salvation.

God was born in the flesh, to suffer and die for sin. So it is a little too simple to say that the true meaning of Christmas is "the birth of Jesus." And we get this silly notion of singing happy birthday songs to Jesus, as if the Church is celebrating Jesus' birthday. The Church is not. The Church is celebrating the incarnation of God in the flesh, Who will suffer and die for our sins. Therefore, it is more proper to say that the true meaning of Christmas is "the birth of God in the flesh of mankind in the person of Jesus, that He might fulfill the law perfectly for us, and suffer and die for us."

Through this suffering and death, He brings light to the whole world; the light of salvation. This is after all the theme of Christmas, "Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Light of the World." This is partly why Christmas takes place shortly after the Winter Solstice, because the world, at the birth of God in the flesh, slowly begins to increase daily in more and more light. Hence, the allusions to the scenes with light in the antiphon, to point us to our Covenant God, who is the Light of the World.


Deacon Dulas also provides this setting from Liber Usualis.  It is a different psalm tone than the one you'll here on Time Out.


Deacon Dulas is ordained into the pastorate and member of the Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of North America (  In his own words, "My call is to serve as deacon and missionary-at-large to MN and WI at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Tony, WI.  We are starting a mission here in Mayer, MN, and the surrounding area called St. Matthew Ev. Luth. Mission." 

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