Our Lady of the O: awe and longing of creation

Why, again, is the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin usually called Our Lady of the O? The reason behind this is what the first 14 seconds of the video below reimagine:

This is the so-called eighth Great Antiphon. In the Roman Rite, we have seven O antiphons sung at vespers in the last seven days before Christmas. When chronologically read, the first letters of the invocations spell SARCORE, which, when reversed, yields, ERO CRAS, Latin for the English Tomorrow, I shall be. The eighth O antiphon, however, is about the Blessed Virgin, and it is sung on the feast of the Expectation.

At the second vespers of this feast, on 18 December, in the Cathedral of Toledo, the interjection O at the beginning of the antiphon at the Magnificat used to be intoned by all clergy in attendance, with neither order nor arrangement, being prolonged in order to express the yearning of the world for the coming of the Messiah. (More details and readings here.) The reimagining above is neither sufficiently prolonged nor candidly disorganised, but it captures the spirit.

Ut in omnibus laudetur Dominus.

Advent and the new liturgical year

Why does the liturgical year start on Advent, and yet the readings on the first Sunday of Advent are about the end of the world? Well, blame the choirs and the scribes who painstakingly copied the choral tomes.

The liturgical year originally began on Christmas Day. The Incarnation signified the onset of our salvation, and Holy Mother Church cemented the significance of this temporal fulcrum by starting the cycle of Her worship with the Liturgy of the Incarnation of the Lord, and ending it with the Liturgy reminding man of the end of days, of the second coming of Christ, the Second Advent of the Lord.

Enter cantors and their scribes. The scribes started compiling Church music, and, in so doing, placed the chants of Advent before the chants of Christmas. The altar books and the choir books diverged for some time, until, eventually, the altar books yielded to the arrangement of the choir books. Henceforth, Advent became the start of the liturgical year of the Church.

Ut in omnibus laudetur Dominus.