December 17 - O Sapientia

o sapientia

Today's antiphon follows in Latin and English:

O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodidisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem, fortiter suaviter disponensque omnia: veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae. 

O Wisdom, who came from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: come, and teach us the way of prudence.

One of the things I learned about in Old Testament this semester, from my professor who is such a genius with Scriptural exegesis, was the understanding throughout the OT of the doctrine of the Trinity.  This "Wisdom", here presented coming from the mouth of the Most High, is developed throughout the wisdom literature as being another person; in Proverbs, we see Wisdom descending to earth and dwelling among men, preaching judgment and salvation (Prov. 1), and being the first act of God and creator with God (Prov. 8, 22-31).

The virtue of prudence, which we ask for in this antiphon, is the fundamental virtue; it is what orders us to act with virtue in the first place.  Aristotle tells us that in order to be virtuous we have to have prudence; however, prudence only exists in a virtuous man.  How, then, do we get prudence before we have it?  When we are children, the habits of virtue, and thus prudence, are instilled in us by our parents, who already have moral experience and are able to share it with us who have none.  This appeal to Wisdom to give us prudence is the cry of a child to its parent, asking Him to show us how to walk rightly.

There is a much better explanation of the O Antiphon here and here, both from Fr. Z.

O come, O Wisdom from on high,
who orders all things mightily,
to us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go.

17 Dec O Sapientia.jpg (186125 bytes)



  1. I miss singing that song... I never knew just how lucky I was to have spent two Advents at Christendom. I didn't get to sing this this year... Not even in English! ;( (The 7:30 Mass is "silent.")


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