In part because we so often feel captive to the demands and stresses of a commercialized holiday season, we pray:
O Key of David,
opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom:
come and free the prisoners of darkness!
Key of David, O royal Power of Israel,
controlling at your will the gate of heaven:
Come, break down the prison walls of death
for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death;
and lead your captive people into freedom.
Today’s O Antiphon draws on these texts from scripture: Revelation 3:7; Isaiah 22:22; Jeremiah 13:13; 51:19; Matthew 4:16; 16:19; and Luke 1:79.
The O Antiphons are part of a thousand-year-old liturgical tradition, as explained by Felix Just, S.J., in an article on the Roman Catholic Lectionary Website:
They have long been used at the very end of Advent (Dec. 17-23) in the liturgical prayer of the Church, as Antiphons for the “Magnificat” sung or recited during Vespers (the Evening Prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours). Since the Second Vatican Council, they have also been adapted (slightly reworded and rearranged) for the “Alleluia Verse” of the Mass (the short scriptural text or paraphrase that immediately precedes the Gospel reading). Each Antiphon invokes the coming of the Messiah, beginning with a biblical title and closing with a specific petition.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy One.