O Wisdom

Were we to practice Christianity (as once we did), the approach of the Nativity would be marked with the beginning of the “O Antiphons,” this evening.

A fragment of this tradition survives in the Christmas carol, “O Come All Ye Faithful,” which the more backward oldies may still be able to hum. The tune was most popular in the English-speaking realms, but originated in late mediaeval France. The metrical form of words is a paraphrase, which of course deviates from the liturgical text. But that text was embodied prayerfully in music that is traced many centuries deeper.

“O Antiphons” are still sung by Catholics, in the traditional Latin services for Vespers, with the Magnificat, from this evening to December 23rd. I’ve lost track of what happened to this custom in the “clown masses” since Vatican II. They begin (or began) with the O Sapientia.

“Wisdom” is the first thing our post-Vatican reformers decided to throw out, and yet, like Our Lady herself, it belongs to God and will not be discarded.