Friday, December 18, 2009

Using the "O" Antiphons during Vespers

If you look at the Vespers service in The Lutheran Hymnal (page 42) or Lutheran Service Book (page 231) you will notice that the Magnificat appears to already have an antiphon, it just doesn't repeat at the end of the canticle.

From TLH:
V: Let my prayer be set forth before Thee as incense:
R: And the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.

My soul doth magify the Lord...

From LSB:
L: Let my prayer rise before You as incense:
C: The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.

My soul magnifies the Lord...

According to Deacon Dulas, the response of "Let my prayer..." is not an antiphon.  It is a versicle. 

ABOUT VERSICLES, by Iggy Antiochus

Simply put, a versicle is a short text from Scripture laid out in two parts:

* The pastor or leader begins the text: Let my prayer...
* The congregation or group responds: [And] the lifting up...

Note: Lutheran Service Book provides rubrics so that Vespers may be prayed in a congregational setting or in a private setting such as a father leading his family, students gathering for prayer, devotional time before studying the Word, etc.

So, if you are going to use the O Antiphons in Vespers, Deacon Dulas suggests the following order:

Let my prayer..
And the lifting up...

O Adonai...

My soul doth magnify...

O Adonai...

Listen to the "O" Antiphons each day between now and December 23 at

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." 

"O" Antiphons and "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel"

The Advent carol, "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" is a verse form of the "O" Antiphons.  Using the antiphon for December 18, here is how things line up in Lutheran Service Book.

O Antiphon:
O Adonai and ruler of the house of Israel,
Who  appeared to Moses in the burning bush
and gave him the Law on Sinai:
Come with an outstretched arm and redeem us.

Hymn Stanza:
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.

Using Deacon Dulas' definition from yesterday, the Old Testament reference to Christ in the antiphon is "Adonai" and the promise or blessing is that God would "redeem us."

When you apply this criteria to the hymn verse, "Lord of might" is the Old Testament reference to Christ, omits the promise or blessing is missing.  Each of the hymn verses uses only the Old Testament description without asking for the promise or blessing.

Another unique feature of the hymn is that they are not ordered in the same way as the O Antiphons. 

Antiphon for December 17 = Stanza 2
Antiphon for December 18 = Stanza 3

Antiphon for December 19 = Stanza 4
Antiphon for December 20 = Stanza 5
Antiphon for December 21 = Stanza 6
Antiphon for December 22 = Stanza 7
Antiphon for December 23 = Stanza 1

The Service of "O" Antiphons uses the prose text of the antiphon, the correlating hymn text and the appropriate reading from Scripture or the inter-testamental books.  Also, a short message can be preached about each antiphon.

Listen to the "O" Antiphons each day between now and December 23 at

Keep an eye out here at All for Hymn for Deacon Dulas' expositions on the O Antiphons.

Advent III: Sound of Majesty

If you have not heard the Dale Warland Singers (DWS) sing "Prepare the Way, O Zion" then Sunday's broadcast of Sound of Majesty is must-listen material.

The Singers use a different translation and a slightly different melody than Lutheran Service Book. 

Dale Warland Singers:
O blest is He that came
In God the Father's name.

Lutheran Service Book:
Hosanna to the Lord
For he fulfills God's Word.

Original Swedish:
Välsignad vare han
Som kom i Herrens namn.

Literal Translation:
Blessed is He
Who came in the Lord's Name.

I like the imagery of the LSB, yet the traditional translation is more faithful to the literal translation.

Here's the tune used by the Dale Warland Singers.  This setting is in Swedish with solo voice and, I believe, solo bagpipe!  All you experts on historic instruments, please enlighten us in the comment box.

And for another Swedish tradition, here is the same tune sung on the Commemoration of St. Lucia. Each year a girl is chosen to be St. Lucia. She wears a crown or wreath of candles. I am not Swedish and have only witnessed this once, so perhaps someone could enlighten us in the comment box.

Here's the tune found in LSB, to yet another translation.

Other highlights from this broadcast include Scripture readings from the historic lectionary for Advent III and excerpts from a sermon from Martin Luther preached on this day.

Listen to Sound of Majesty Sundays through Fridays at Midnight ET on (old links to will redirect).  Listen to a few months of archives and find other information here.

The direct link to last Sunday's broadcast is here, and the playlist is here.