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This ancient Advent tradition refers to the seven antiphons that are recited/chanted before the Magnificat (Canticle of Mary) in the Evening Prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours. They cover the special time of Advent known as the Octave before Christmas, Dec. 17-23, with Dec. 24 being Christmas Eve and Vespers for that evening being for the Christmas Vigil. The Roman Church has had this tradition since at least the eighth century. According to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the O Antiphons are a "magnificent theology that uses ancient biblical imagery drawn from the messianic hopes of the Old Testament to proclaim the coming Christ as the fulfillment not only of Old Testament hopes, but present ones as well. Their repeated use of the imperative "Come!" embodies the longing of all for the Divine Messiah." See a list of the Old Testament Scriptures that form the seven antiphons or pray the O Antiphons.
The Festival of Lessons and Carols is a liturgy with Scripture and song that dates back to the 19th century. It includes nine Scripture lessons that recount the fall of man, the promise of a Messiah, incarnation and the great commission to preach the Good News. Each lesson is followed by a carol or other song that reflects the lesson's message along with a brief prayer. Subiaco Academy and the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock will offer this traditional Advent service, which will include several choral pieces and congregational hymns and prayers, on Sunday, Dec. 8. If unable to participant in these services, visit the USCCB website to pray the Nine Lessons and Carols online.
Praying a Christmas novena, from Dec. 16-24, offers a great way to dive into the Scriptures and spiritually prepare for the birth of Jesus. Here are three options to consider: International Marian Library Christmas Novena, EWTN Christmas Novena or the Catholic Culture Christmas Novena. Nov. 30 is the feast day of St. Andrew, the Apostle. Here's a novena that begins on his feast day.
Submit a prayer request to our Prayer Book of Intentions Online any time of the year, but during Advent we are called to practice sacrifical good works as we prepare for the coming of the Lord. In addition to submitting your requests, we recommend you add all the prayer requests posted to our website to your daily prayer throughout Advent. You can never have too many people praying for those in need.
If you love to sing your prayers, check out the Antiphons of the Blessed Virgin Mary or Marian Music of Advent. Also available is a list of traditional Advent hymns and chants. Want to know the history of Christmas carols and hymns? What about how the Christmas custom of caroling came about? You might also want to view these lists of popular Christmas carols or the top 10 songs for Advent to see how they compare to your favorites. There are also online radio stations that play Christmas carols 24-hours-a-day. A couple of options are Christmas Carols Radio or iHeartChristmas.