“O Key of David and scepter of the House 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.”
We do not know for certain when the O Antiphons were composed, but there are indications they originated about the seventh century with Benedictine monks reflecting on the Old Testament events leading up to the birth of Jesus, the Messiah. They were well aware of the fact that the Documents of Vatican II points out, namely that the New Testament is concealed in the Old and the Old revealed in the New.
They saw predictions of Jesus’ coming as Messiah and scion of the House of David in Isaiah: “I will place the key of the House of David on his shoulder; what he opens, no one will shut,what he shuts, no one will open.”(Isaiah 22:22) and Isaiah 61:1 “He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free.”
The Isaiah 6 passage is the text quoted by Jesus in Luke 4:18-19 where He stands up in his home synagogue at Nazareth and quotes Isaiah 61:1: “He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free…'” He then stood before the synagogue and said : “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Isaiah’s text is echoed in Jesus’ giving the power of the keys to Peter in Matthew 16:18-19: “I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church… I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
An interesting note is that it is said that the Benedictine monks ordered the O Antiphons in the manner they did so that when the first letters of the Latin names were reversed they formed a Latin acrostic spelling out e r o c r a s or Ero Cras, which in Latin means “Tomorrow I will come.”
This post is also available in/Esta entrada también está disponible en: Spanish