Novena For Christmas



From December 17 to 23, the liturgy uses seven short prayers that have special richness and importance. Known as the "O antiphons" or the "greater antiphons," these prayers compress and express the Old Testament Messianic hope for Christ. These antiphons are read each day at vespers and are used as the alleluia verse of the Advent Masses.

Each antiphon is a mosaic of biblical references, collected and written in a style called anthological. The unknown author of these beautiful prayers lived around the sixth or seventh century. The author chose seven titles whose first letters are S-A-R-C-O-R-E. Read in reverse order, these letters form two Latin words ero cras, meaning "Tomorrow I shall be."


Creator of the stars of night,
Thy people’s everlasting light,
Jesu, Redeemer, save us all,
And hear Thy servants when they call.
Thou, grieving that the ancient curse
Should doom to death a universe,
Hast found the medicine, full of grace,
To save and heal a ruined race.
Thou cam’st, the Bridegroom of the bride,
As drew the world to evening-tide;
Proceeding from a virgin shrine,
The spotless Victim all divine.
  At Whose dread Name, majestic now,
All knees must bend, all hearts must bow;
And things celestial Thee shall own,
And things terrestrial, Lord alone.
O Thou Whose coming is with dread
To judge and doom the quick and dead,
Preserve us, while we dwell below,
From every insult of the foe.
To God the Father, God the Son,
And God the Spirit, Three in One,
Laud, honor, might, and glory be
From age to age eternally. Amen.

V. (Is. 45:8) Ye heavens, drop down dew from above, and let the clouds rain down the Just One.
R. Let the earth open and bud forth the Savior.

Antiphons (one for each day of novena)

Day 1: Behold the king will come, the Lord of the earth, and he will remove from us the yoke of our captivity (cf. Hab 2:3; 1 Cor 4:5). (Magnificat and closing prayer)

Day 2: O Wisdom eternal, proceeding from the mouth of the Most High, you reach from end to end and order all things mightily and sweetly; come now to direct us in the way of holy prudence (cf. Sir 24; Wis 6-9). (Magnificat and closing prayer)

Day 3: O Lord and leader of the house of Israel, who once appeared to Moses and spoke to him from a bush aflame, and on the peak of Sinai gave him the law; come now, bring us your redemption with your mighty outstretched arm (cf. Ex 3, 15, 24; Deut 5). (Magnificat and closing prayer)

Day 4: O root of Jesse, standing an ensign of the people, before whom even kings silent will remain, whom the Gentiles, too, shall beseech, come now to deliver us all; delay no longer (cf. Is 11). (Magnificat and closing prayer)

Day 5: O key of David, royal scepter of Israel, Thou who openest and no one closeth; who close and no one can open, come now, and free humanity from its bonds in prison, where it sits in darkness and the shadow of death (cf. Is 22; Rev 3:7). (Magnificat and closing prayer)

Day 6: O radiant dawn, splendor of eternal light and bright sun of justice, come now and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death (cf. Zech 3:8; 6:12; Is 9:2; 60:1-3; Wis 7:26; Lk 1:78; Heb 1:3). (Magnificat and closing prayer)

Day 7: O king of all nations, the one for whom they have been yearning, the cornerstone who unites all of them in perfect union, come now, and rescue poor humanity, which from dust you have fashioned (cf. Jer 10:7; Hg 2:8; Is 28:16, Gen 2:7, Eph 2:14). (Magnificat and closing prayer)

Day 8: O Emmanuel, our ruler and lawgiver, the expected of the nations and the Redeemer of all, come now to deliver us, O our Lord and our master (cf. Is 7:14; Is 33:22; Gen 49:10; Zech 9:9; Jn 20:28). (Magnificat and closing prayer)

Day 9: O Emmanuel, our ruler and lawgiver, the expected of the nations and the Redeemer of all, come now to deliver us, O our Lord and our master. (Magnificat and closing prayer)


My soul doth magnify the Lord,
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
Because he hath regarded the humility of His handmaid;
   for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For He that is mighty, hath done great things to me; and holy is his name.
And His mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear him.
He hath showed might in his arm: He hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble.
He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich He hath sent empty away.
He hath received Israel his servant, being mindful of His mercy:
As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed for ever.

Closing Prayer
(To be said after the intercessions each day of the novena)

Days 1-8:
Christ goes before us. He is the Lamb without sin who will open to us the gates of heaven. He is the high priest forever according to the order of Melchisedech. He is the king of justice and His reign is eternal.

Day 9:
Let us pray. Come to live among us, Lord, so that we may always receive Thy forgiveness and mercy. Jesus our king, clothed in a robe of flesh, give us love, wisdom and understanding at Thy birth. Reveal to us the mystery of Thy life, then send us forth to reveal Thy Word over all the earth. Thou who livest and reignest with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Ghost, world without end. Amen.

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