Thursday, December 17, 2009

Deacon Dulas: Chanting the "O" Antiphons

Deacon Dulas on the O Antiphons continues.  Note that Deacon Dulas is referring to the Magificat tune in the Order of Vespers from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941).  The tune for Vespers in Lutheran Worship (1981) and Lutheran Service Book (2006) may also be used.


Each "O" antiphon can be easily set to the Magnificat tune of the Hymnal by using the colon as the separation between the two half verses, and assigning the first two syllables of each half verse to the intonation notes of each line of the Magnificat.

If one desires to chant these antiphons to the ancient psalm tones, every antiphon is chanted according to the solemn tone 2D, see below for an example.

Here is another the ancient solemn tone set to the key of F major. Each note of the intonation, mediation, and termination is sung to a separate syllable. Syllables falling on slurred notes are sung to two notes.

If one desires to chant them according to the ancient tones, they may be render as such:

a) Antiphon, chanted by Cantor; Magnificat, chanted by choir in unison; Antiphon, chanted by Cantor.

b) Antiphon, chanted by choir in unison; Magnificat, sung to the tune in the hymnal*; Antiphon, chanted by choir in unision.

This gives this part of the liturgy a true antiphonal nature, i.e., responses back and forth between two groups, or persons.


Thanks, Deacon!

Catch the O Antiphons in real time starting today, December 17, over at  Hear them first at Noon ET on, and then at your convenience later after 12:15 pm ET on Time Out's website.

Visit St. Matthew Evangelical Lutheran Mission in Mayer, Minnesota where Deacon Dulas.  This mission post is about 1 hour west of Mall of America and about 1 hour northwest of Shakopee. 

*The psalm tones are compatible with the Magnificat in Vespers in TLH, LW, and LSB.  If you sing the 2nd tone in the key of C, you can use it with LSB's Evening Prayer in place of the printed antiphon.  Over at you can find audio files of LSB's Matins and Vespers.  Click here for the direct link to the Magnificat, beginning with the response, "Let my prayer rise..."

Introducing the "O" Antiphons and Deacon Dulas

Layman Dan and Southern Lutheran Kantor teamed up to present the "O" antiphons in real time.  Catch Time Out's Advent Special starting today with daily episodes straight through to the next regular broadcast on Christmas Eve.  The first broadcast will air today on at Noon Eastern and post at 12:15 pm ET on

In conjunction with this, I asked my new Facebook friend to write a few paragraphs for each of these broadcasts.  Deacon Jerry Dulas is an ordained minister with the Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of North America (more info at  His post is with St. Matthew Evangelical Lutheran Mission, Mayer, Minnesota.

Here is Part I with background on the O Antiphons as well as the application of today's unique antiphon.


On December 17th, the Church begins her final preparations for Christmas with the chanting of seven special solemn "O" antiphons before and after the Magnificat at Vespers. Each "O" antiphon comprises two parts,

a) An Old Testament name and prophetic type (or two) of the Messiah,
b) a promise of grace and blessing to be delivered at the coming of the Messiah.

So, if one looks at the first "O" antiphon for December 17th --

O Sapientia,
quae ex ore Altissimi prodisti,
attingens a fine usque ad finem,
fortier suaviter disponensque omnia:
Veni, ad docendum nos viam prudentiae!

O Wisdom,
Who came out of the mouth of the Most High,
and reacheth from one end to another mightily,
and sweetly doth she order all things:
Come, and teach us the way of prudence!

one can see that the prophetic type of the Messiah is "Wisdom," and the promise or blessing which she brings is "prudence."

Wisdom comes from God, she is one of His attributes, to fear God is to begin to get wisdom, and to have wisdom is to have prudence, that is knowledge, and not knowledge only, but knowledge of salvation.

Wisdom comes down from heaven, and takes on human flesh, and gives to the Church and her children the knowledge of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Knowledge of the incarnation is wherein lies true wisdom, and not just assent to the facts, but the true knowledge and wisdom that comes from faith and confidence in those facts. The facts that state that God became flesh and dwelt among us, and pours out the wisdom of His Holy Spirit upon us through Word and Sacrament.

Herein is where the Church begins her final preparations for Christmas, by directing our eyes of faith to the incarnation of the Son of God in our flesh through antiphons connected to the Song of Mary, the bearer of God in the flesh.


Regarding the text of the first O Antiphon, Deacon Dulas says,

The antiphon "O Sapientia" is taken from two books of the Apocrypha. The first part is taken from the Book of Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 24:3. The second part from the Book of Wisdom 8:1. One can see easily from reading these words in context the great allusions to Our Lord Jesus Christ. If you have access to these writings, it is recommended to read these words in context.

I asked Deacon Dulas why "Wisdom" is referred to as "she."  He explains...

The word for "Wisdom" in both Hebrew, Greek, Latin and German, the four theological languages, takes the feminine gender, and so Wisdom is always referred to as a she. Also, Holy Scripture describes Wisdom as a woman, so just like the Church is likened to a bride, wisdom is likened to a woman, and is always referred to as a she.

In the next post, chanting the O Antiphons.