Wednesday, December 19, 2007

19 Decembris -- O Radix Iesse

O Root of Jesse, which standeth for an ensign of the people, at whom kings shall shut their mouths, to whom the Gentiles shall seek: Come and deliver us, and tarry not.

from Pius Parsch’s “The Church’s Year of Grace”.

“The burden of the text is taken from various sections of the book of Isaias (see 11:1; 11:10; 52:15). Let us try to unravel the liturgical synthesis. In spirit the prophet saw how Judah and the kingdom of David would be destroyed. But there would remain a holy root. From the stump of Jesse (the name of David’s father) springs forth a twig, a twig that becomes a banner unto all nations. In its presence kings will become reverently silent, and the nations adore. It is clear that the prophet is speaking of the Messiah. David’s royal line was dethroned with the exile and thereafter remained shrouded n oblivion – Jesse’s stump. But with Christ a new branch buds out of the old root; the throne of David is again occupied. “And the angel said to Mary: The Lord God will give unto Him the throne of David His Father and He will reign in the house of Jacob forever.” Christ is of the root of Jesse, both as a descendant of David and as occupant of the royal throne. The wording of the prophetic text, however, does no pas over our Savior’s external lowliness and poverty..

“The bulk of the antiphon is devoted to a description of the kingdom. The small twig becomes the unifying principle about which the nations will gather like soldiers and citizens about their flat. With yarning the peoples will assemble around Him, will turn and acknowledge Him as Ruler. The Messiah’s glory will be so great that eve kings will stand dumbstruck in wonder and awe.”

And today we have the four line staff and Solesmes notation. I'd forgotten I did this once before a few years ago and the antiphon copies are still in the archive. I wonder how I got the text flat enough on the scanner to copy? The younger me was apparently more creative than the current version.