O Adonai, and leader of the House of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: Come and redeem us with an outstretched arm.
When the Lord appeared to Moses in the burning bush, he revealed himself as “I AM,” in Hebrew, YHWH. Then he added:
“This is what you will tell the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you” — Exodus 3:14
To the Hebrews, the holy name of God was too sacred to pronounce. They would not even utter God’s revealed name when they read the Scriptures aloud. Wherever the holy name YHWH appeared in the sacred text, scribes wrote above it the word, ADONAI, meaning Lord in Hebrew.
Thus, the significance of Adonai in today’s O Antiphon:
The Great I Am — ADONAI — the Lord is the leader of the house of Israel; the very one who appeared to Moses in the burning bush and gave them the law on Mount Sinai; and the one of whom Isaiah prophesied:
“With righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins” — Isaiah 11:4-5
“For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our ruler, the Lord is our king; he will save us.” — Isaiah 33:22
Today’s antiphon harkens to the covenant between YHWH and his chosen people, when the Lord entrusted the Law for his people Israel to Moses on Mount Sinai. Jesus Christ, the one true God, our Lord, and the One Mediator between God and man, gave us a new covenant.
The Virgin Mary, to whom the angel revealed God’s word at the Incarnation, is for us the Arc of the Covenant, for she bore in her womb the Lord of the universe, who gave us a new law, not written in tablets of stone, but on our hearts.
Mother of the Word Incarnate, Arc of the Covenant, pray for us!
Here is today’s O Antiphon, “O Adonai,” as it is sung for the Liturgy of the Hours in Gregorian Chant:
For an explanation of the O Antiphons, please see our Post on the Christmas Novena, and visit our other posts on the O Antiphons this week:
- December 17: O Sapientia (O Wisdom)
- December 18: O Adonai (O Lord)
- December 19: O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)
- December 20: O Clavis David (O Key of David)
- December 21: O Oriens (O Dawn)
- December 22: O Rex Gentium (O King of the nations)
- December 23: O Emmanuel (O God is with us)
the little video & chant are simply sublime.
The chant definitely grows on you. It has a sublime affect when this melody is sung/prayed by a religious community for eight days leading up to Christmas, especially when contemplating the meaning of the words, which change each day. When I directed chant in the seminary, the brothers were always anxious to start rehearsing the O Antiphons. Their eyes would get real big and serious when they asked, “We’re going to practice the O Antiphons, aren’t we?!?” (It made me think of becoming like little children to enter the Kingdom of God — Blessed are they!).
You have given me a little taste of this community affect with these posts.
and they are all so beautifully sung, too, with wonderful visuals. Thanks!