Every year during Advent, we hear the song “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” Honestly, it is the only Advent hymn I can identify by name. The verses of the song come from what are known as the O Antiphons. An antiphon is a short line that is meant to be sung before and after psalms and can be found in the Divine Office. The O Antiphons, specifically, are chanted during Vespers (evening prayer) from December 17 to December 23 and accompany the Canticle of the Blessed Virgin - also known as the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) on these dates.
The O Antiphons are believed to have been written in the sixth or seventh century, and each antiphon begins with a title for Christ taken from the Old Testament book of Isaias (Isaiah). Below is each O Antiphon along with the corresponding passage from Isaias.
The passages from Isaias are taken from the Douay-Rheims translation of the Bible.
December 17: O Sapientia/O Wisdom (Isaias 11:2-3;28:29)
O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem, fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia: veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.
O Wisdom, Who didst come out of the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: come and teach us the way of prudence.
Isaias 11:2-3; 28:29
"And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom, and of understanding, the spirit of counsel, and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of godliness. And he shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge according to the sight of the eyes, nor reprove according to the hearing of the ears; This also is come forth from the Lord God of hosts, to make his counsel wonderful, and magnify justice."
December 18: O Adonai/O Lord (Isaias 11:3-4; 33:22)
O Adonai, et Dux domus Israel, qui Moysi in igne 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 didst appear to Moses in the flame of the burning bush, and didst give unto him the Law on Sinai: come and with an outstretched arm redeem us.
Isaias 11:3-4; 33:22
"And he shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge according to the sight of the eyes, nor reprove according to the hearing of the ears. But he shall judge the poor with justice, and shall reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: land he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked; For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king: he will save us."
December 19: O Radix Jesse/O Root of Jesse (Isaias 11:1; 11:10)
O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum, super quem continebunt reges os suum, quem Gentes deprecabuntur: veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.
O Root of Jesse, Who dost stand for an ensign of the people, before Whom kings shall keep silence, and unto Whom the Gentiles shall make their supplication: come to deliver us, and tarry not.
Isaias 11:1; 11:10
"And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root; In that day the root of Jesse, who standeth for an ensign of the people, him the Gentiles shall beseech, and his sepulchre shall be glorious."
December 20: O Clavis David/O Key of David (Isaias 9:6; 22:22)
O Clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israel; qui aperis, et nemo claudit; claudis, et nemo aperit: veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris, sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.
O Key of David and Sceptre of the house of Israel, Who dost open and no man doth shut, Who dost shut and no man doth open, come and bring forth from his prisonhouse the captive that sitteth in darkness and in the shadow of death.
Isaias 9:6; 22:22
"For a CHILD IS BORN to us, and a son is given to us, and the government is upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, God the Mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace; And I will lay the key of the house of David upon his shoulder: and he shall open, and none shall shut: and he shall shut, and none shall open."
December 21: O Oriens/O Dawn of the East (Isaias 9:2)
O Oriens, splendor lucis æternæ, et sol justitiæ: veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.
O Dawn of the East, Brightness of the Light Eternal and Sun of Justice, come and enlighten them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.
"The people that walked in darkness, have seen a great light: to them that dwelt in the region of the shadow of death, light is risen."
December 22: O Rex Gentium/O King of Gentiles (Isaias 2:4; 9:7)
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 Desired of them, Thou Cornerstone that dost make both one, come and deliver man, whom Thou didst form out of the dust of the earth.
Isaias 2:4; 9:7
"And he shall judge the Gentiles, and rebuke many people: and they shall turn their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into sickles: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they be exercised any more to war; His empire shall be multiplied, and there shall be no end of peace: he shall sit upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom; to establish it and strengthen it with judgment and with justice, from henceforth and forever: the zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this."
December 23: O Emmanuel (Isaias 7:14)
O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster, exspectatio gentium, et Salvator earum: veni ad salvandum nos Domine Deus noster.
O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the Expected of the Nations and their Saviour, come to save us, O Lord our God.
"Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel."