Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Deacon Dulas: "O Rex Gentium"

Here's the 6th in the series on the "O" Antiphons by Deacon Jerry Dulas.

Listen to today's antiphon at lutherantimeout.org.


Today's "O" antiphon contains two prophetic Messianic types --

O Rex gentium,
et desideratus earum,
lapisque angularis,
qui facis utraque unum:
Veni, et salva hominem,
quem de limo formasti.

O King of the Gentiles
and the Desire of all,
You are the cornerstone
that binds two into one:
Come, and save mankind
whom You fashioned out of clay.
[translation Pius Parsch]

-- "King of the Gentiles" and "Desire of All" are those prophetic types. The promised blessing is the salvation of all those formed from clay, that is, all mankind.

This antiphon departs strikingly from the previous five. In the first five, the Messiah is spoken of and promised to the Jews. But in this one the Messiah, our dear Lord Jesus, is proclaimed to be the "King of the Gentiles."

This title is found in Scripture in the Prophet Jeremiah (10:7). No longer is He just the King of the Jews, which was proclaimed on the banner above His head on the cross, but now He is proclaimed as the King of all Nations.

There were allusions to the salvation of the Gentiles in other "O" antiphons, but here it is explicitly stated. This King of the Gentiles will save mankind, whom He formed from the dust of the earth; out of clay.

The Messiah is also proclaimed as the "Desire of All." This title comes from the Prophet Haggai (2:7) and is also a beautiful bass recitative in Handel's Messiah. All those who were formed by Him, now desire Him and the salvation that He brings. They desire Him because He is the "cornerstone that binds two into one." The two into one, is a reference to the Jews and Gentiles becoming one nation. This new nation will be built upon the cornerstone, that is, the chief cornerstone, who is our dear Lord Christ.

Haggai 2:6,7 with Malachi 6:1

This idea of the Messiah being the "cornerstone" has much scriptural evidence, especially in the Prophet Isaiah (28:16). Also our dear Lord Jesus refers to Himself as the "cornerstone" in the synoptic Gospels (St. Matthew 21:42; St. Mark 12:10; and St. Luke 20:17), quoting the Psalmist (118:22). Upon this cornerstone has been built the Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. (St. Matthew 16:18) This imagery of a cornerstone is found also in the writings of the Apostles, where St. Peter quotes Jesus both in the Acts of the Apostles before the Jewish council (4:11), and he quotes the Prophet Isaiah in his epistle (1 Peter 2:6,7).

A cornerstone is the foundation upon which two walls are joined together in order to form one great wall. Those two "walls" in this antiphon, are the Jews and the Gentiles, and the cornerstone is our dear Lord Jesus. This reflects the words of the blessed Apostle, St. Paul, who states in his epistle to the churches of Galatia,

There is neither Jew nor Greek,
there is neither slave nor free,
there is neither male nor female;
for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Our dear Lord Jesus unites all mankind into one people. Just as he formed one man out of the clay of the earth with His own hands, so now he creates one nation out of all people through His hands being nailed to a tree, which brings us salvation from sin and death.

And so, our Lord God Who was born in the flesh, and suffered and died with outstretched arms, and Whose banner has become the cross, and Who gives the Church the Key of Heaven to be used by the ones sent by Him, and Who has enlightened the whole Earth, now unites the whole world, both Jews and Gentiles, into one people, the people Whom He created out of the clay of the Earth, and Whom He saved by His death on the cross, and His rising again on the third day.


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 (eldona.org).  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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