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O Antiphons

- Stephen McManus

Use: Advent
Required Resources: SATB choir
Language: Latin

The O Antiphons are the specific antiphons that surround the chanting of the Magnificat at Evening Prayer (Vespers) on the last days of Advent (December 17-23). The structure of each antiphon, which begins with "O," is tripartite: 1) addressing Christ with a noble title, 2) praise relating to that title, and 3) a relevant petition. These titles have their roots in the Messianic traditions of the Old Testament [see O Antiphons].

There are many ways to use the O Antiphons in liturgy [see Singing the Great O Antiphons], including the original chant forms found in the Liber usualis or CNP's Booklet of Chant, Volume 1.

Stephen McManus, living and working in the Northern Ireland coastal town of Donaghadee, has written a series of seven short movements for SATB choir, a cappella, based on the seven O Antiphons:

  1. O Sapientia — O Wisdom [SATB]
  2. O Adonai — O Lord [SA]
  3. O Radix Jesse — O Root of Jesse [SATB]
  4. O Clavis David — O Key of David [SATB]
  5. O Oriens — O Morning Star [S]
  6. O Rex Gentium — O King of the Nations [SATB]
  7. O Emmanuel — O God-with-Us [SATB]

The movements in this mini-suite are written in neo-Renaissance style, very accessible to church choirs. They are not "instant" music, but will require work on the part of the choir to be comfortable with the a cappella demands.

They are, of course, quite appropriate as the proper antiphons at Evening Prayer during the last days of Advent, perhaps with a chanted Magnificat added. One could also use them for the Gospel Verses at Mass on the same day (the texts overlap), using an Alleluia setting in the same key (usually g minor). These pieces by Stephen McManus are a fine way to recapture the beauty of the Great O Antiphons of Advent — take a look at this unique opportunity for your choir to continue the tradition of singing some wonderful music of the Advent season!


Order #: 5261
Price: $2.10


- Choral Music
- Advent
- SATB Choir
- a cappella
- Latin

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