Advent "O" Antiphons- use for Mass?
  • ncicero
    Posts: 38
    Hi all,

    I'm considering programming James MacMillan's "O Radiant Dawn" for the Second Sunday of Advent. It certainly is a beautiful and worthy composition, and more approachable for the average parish choir than some of his larger choral works.

    Given that it uses the antiphon for the the 21st of December, is it still liturgically appropriate to use it several weeks before that date? The text is definitely not in conflict with the readings of the day, or the spirit of the season, but I'm worried because of the "O" Antiphons' association with the imminence of Christmas, it might be unsettling or seem inappropriate to some.

    Is this a valid concern?

    Thanks!
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,100
    Nah. Use one or the other of the "O's" as a short Communion offering. They're wonderful Chants, projecting that longing/mysterious thang....
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • m_r_taylor
    Posts: 242
    On the sliding scale of inappropriateness for Mass, doing O Radiant Dawn on the 2nd Sunday of Advent seems pretty, uh, mild.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw ServiamScores
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,862
    Considering that most places use "O come, O come, Emmanuel", which is a versification of the "O"s on Advent I, I wouldn't worry about it.
  • I try to save the "O"s for the end of Advent. For example, we aren't going to do O Come O Come Emmanuel until the fourth Sunday this year.
  • Ncicero ,


    I'm pleased that you're asking the question. I lose the argument every year, but then my suggestion to use the Magnificat antiphons as written usually doesn't get very far either.

    If you're at an OF, and you can use them for the last two Sundays (if the 17th and 24th are Sundays) well and good. If you're catering to the spirit of the world, check that at the door. If you're short of good music.... work to expand your collection.





    Is Rome burning, by the way, and is it Sisero or Kickero?
  • I wouldn't hesitate to use the O Anitphons as anthems during Advent if a given text would magnify the readings. I think (but am not certain) that Willan quite beautifully set these antiphons as motets. There must be others.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,862
    I was once very rigid about not using "Veni, Emmanuel", etc., until 17 Dec. It was dogmatic to me that from Advent Sunday to 16 Dec. the music should be about the Second Coming, then only from the 17th should we prepare for Christmas. Just like the liturgists say. But I soon realized that the Lectionary doesn't really support that. I was completely cured of this scruple when I started using the 1961 Breviary. Liturgically the first and second coming are so intertwined that it doesn't make much difference. And apart from which, we're talking about a devotional motet/anthem during the Mass: Since most people don't go to daily Mass, when the "O"s are used as Alleluia verses (in the wrong order!), and even fewer say any form of the Office, why should we deprive them of these texts?
    Thanked by 2ncicero hilluminar
  • CatherineS
    Posts: 652
    Chichero?
    Thanked by 1WGS
  • ncicero
    Posts: 38
    Thanks all for the thoughts! Sounds like I might get extra liturgical brownie points for waiting until the appointed time, but I'm inclined to agree with Salieri that since most people never hear these texts or know their proper usage, it ranks low on the list of faux pas. (Fauxs pas? My French is nonexistent)

    And the Italian pronunciation (which my Spanish-speaking pastor consistently uses) is "Chichero" but at some point my ancestors decided that the anglicization of "Sisero" was better suited. Idk I would have kept the original...
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen tomjaw
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,797
    I'd use Macmillan early sooner that I'd use the chant, which I'd tend to use for its day. YMMV.
  • Not chichero, nor sisero, but kikero.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW ncicero
  • Carol
    Posts: 700
    The O Come O come Emmanuel question is what caused me to find this forum and for that I am grateful. I have learned a lot over the last couple years as a result.
    Thank you to all the habitual posters!
    Thanked by 1ServiamScores
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,373
    One year I used a choral setting of each of the 'O' antiphons as a prelude before the appropriate Sunday masses during Advent. We never did the Office so that was the only way I could really use them.
    Thanked by 1liampmcdonough
  • Jackson,

    Yes, but only to/for those who consistently sing "WHYWAT!, WHYWAT RAYJINA"
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • Very clever of you, Chris - but...
    Speakers of true classical Latin would say kikero.
    In Roman Latin all Cs are hard.
    Likewise Gs - they're all hard.
    Also, it just comes to me that
    Roman Vs are pronounced as Ws - so 'WHYWAT' is not far off of what a Roman would understand.

    As for the rest of English Latin it's best to tolerate it with a grain of salt -
    they are, after all, only doing what everybody used to do with their Germano-Latin, Franco-Latin, Hispano-Latin, etc., etc.
    Our near-universal Italo-Latin is a convention hardly two hundred years old (if that!).
    (But, surely, you must already know all that.)
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • Jackson,

    In 1935, Goodbye Mr. Chips posited that the new Classical pronunciation is younger than that.
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • If you have scruples about using one of these 7 antiphons outside of Sapientiatide, you could also use settings of O antiphons which proliferated outside of the original 7, such as O Rex Pacifice or O Ierusalem.

    "In the Roman Church, there are seven of these antiphons, one for each of the greater ferias. They are commonly called the O’s of Advent, because they all begin with that interjection. In other Churches, during the middle ages, two more were added to these seven; one to our blessed Lady, O Virgo virginum; and the other to the angel Gabriel, O Gabriel; or to St. Thomas the apostle, whose feast comes during the greater ferias; it began O Thorna Didjme.1 There were even Churches where twelve great antiphons were sung; that is, besides the nine we have just mentioned, O Rex Pacifice to our Lord, O mundi Domina to our Lady, and O Hierusalem to the city of the people of God."

    Source: Abbott Prosper Louis Paschal Guéranger, O.S.B., The Liturgical Year, Vol. 1, Advent. Westminster, MD: The Newman Press, 1948, pp. 483-4. Translation by Dom Laurence Shepherd, O.S.B., ca. 1867.

    In my collection of choral versions by Healey Willan, he sets all 12 antiphons mentioned above; they all all accessible to amateur choirs.