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“O” Antiphon, 22.12.20: O Rex Gentium! O King of Nations!

O Rex gentium!

O Rex géntium
  et desiderátus eárum,
lapísque anguláris,
qui facis útraque unum:
veni et salva hóminem,
quem de limo formásti.
 
“O King of the peoples, whom they long for, the cornerstone, who make the two into one: come and save man, whom you made from clay.”
  
In this, the penultimate of the seven great antiphons to the Magnificat at Vespers which count down the days to Christmas, two new images appear. Jesus is now no longer the king just of Israel, but of all the peoples, who long to be united under his kingship. He is, then, like the stone at the corner of two walls, or (by an ancient and praiseworthy conflation) the keystone which, merely by being there, stops the two sides of an arch from collapsing inwards. These inanimate, even mineral images are appropriate because after all we ourselves are minerals given life by God. As Genesis says, “The Lord God fashioned man of dust from the soil. He breathed into his nostrils a breath of life, and thus man became a living being.” And Isaiah adds, “We are the clay, you the potter, we are all the work of your hand.”

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