The New Catholic Encyclopedia 10: 587 states that the original antiphons, in inverse order, constitute the acrostic ERO CRAS. From this acrostic the author draws two conclusions: the first is that the primitive order of the antiphons is that preserved today in the Roman breviary, rather than that order indicated by Amalarius of Metz or that found in the Ambrosian antiphonary or in many Gregorian manuscripts. The second conclusion is that the original number of the antiphons is seven. Other antiphons modeled on these seven (such as O Thomas Didyme or O Virgo virginum) are not by the same author since they do not enter into the framework of the acrostic and they are not addressed to the Messiah. O Thomas Didyme was composed for the feast of St. Thomas the Apostle (Dec 21), which was always celebrated during the period when the O antiphons were sung. O Virgo Virginum, in honor of the Blessed Virgin, is probably earlier, having been cited by Amalarius of Metz and was sometimes sung on the vigil of Christmas. Amalarius attributes the composition of the O antiphons to some anonymous cantor, who probably lived in the eighth or seventh centuries [M. Huglo}.
The O Virgo Virginum was very popular, I think, in the middle ages. At the College de Cluny in Paris, the monks could substitute it for the Marian antiphon during the Christmas season.
Best wishes to all for this holy season.
Thomas Sullivan, OSB
From: Julia Bolton Holloway [SMTP:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Saturday, December 27, 1997 9:21 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: FEAST 18 December
Still Anglican Julia is still seeking answers to the question why Sarum Use
has the Great O Antiphons begin December 16 with O Sapientia, with an extra
one on December 23, O Virgo Virginum. And when the Great Os originated. :-).
At 13.24 27/12/97 +0000, you wrote:
>Today, 18 December, is the feast of ...
>* The Expectation of the Confinement of Mary
>- festival originated formally at the tenth council of Toledo, in 654; in
>France this day is sometimes known as 'Notre-Dame de l'O', because on it
>begins the antiphon, 'O Sapientia', the first of the eight Greater
>Antiphons, all beginning with 'O' (right, Julia? :-) )
Julia Bolton Holloway, [log in to unmask]
Hermit of the Holy Family
via del Partigiano 16, Montebeni, 50014 FIESOLE, ITALY
O Sapientia, O Adonai, O Radix Jesse, O Oriens, O Rex Gentium, O Emmanuel, O