Come, O Key of David


Today’s O Antiphon is below—in its Latin, English, and adapted forms. Subscribers can keep reading below the image for a short reflection and another response poem by the brilliant Fr. Malcolm Guite. I hope these brief moments of reading and reflection help you capture the heart of Advent in this busy final week before Christmas.

Latin Text
O Clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israel;
qui aperis, et nemo claudit;
claudis, et nemo aperit:
veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris,
sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

English Translation
O Key of David and sceptre of the House of Israel;
you open and no one can shut;
you shut and no one can open:
Come and lead the prisoners from the prison house,
those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel Adaptation
O come, O Key of David, come
and open wide our heavenly home.
Make safe for us the heavenward road
and bar the way to death's abode.

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A Poetic Response, by Fr. Malcolm Guite

The ancient O Clavis David verse describes Jesus as the Key that locks and unlocks life's ultimate mysteries; opening to us the way of life, while closing to us the way of death.

In today's poem by Fr. Guite, that same theme is also highlighted. But Guite also helpfully reminds us that there is only one key for our lock. Without that specific key, we have no hope.

We know our problem, and want a solution. And so we cry out for the advent of our Key.

O Clavis / O Key
Even in the darkness where I sit
And huddle in the midst of misery
I can remember freedom, but forget
That every lock must answer to a key,

That each dark clasp, sharp and intricate, Must find a counter-clasp to meet its guard, Particular, exact and intimate, The clutch and catch that meshes with its ward.

I cry out for the key I threw away That turned and over turned with certain touch And with the lovely lifting of a latch Opened my darkness to the light of day. O come again, come quickly, set me free Cut to the quick to fit, the master key.