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Although the antiphons and dates before have been fairly universally recognised throughout western Christendom, an alternative English medieval practice arose of moving all of the antiphons forward by one day (commencing therefore on 16 December) and adding an additional (eighth) antiphon on 23 December, with the acrostic thus becoming Vero cras, “truly, tomorrow”. Perhaps an example of why England was known as “Mary’s Dowry” because of the high affection held for her in this country? This is the antiphon O Virgo virginum (O Virgin of virgins), with the following text:

O Virgo virginum, quomodo fiet istud? Quia nec primam similem visa es nec habere sequentem. Filiae Jerusalem, quid me admiramini? Divinum est mysterium hoc quod cernitis.

English: O Virgin of virgins, how shall this be? For neither before thee was any like thee, nor shall there be after. Daughters of Jerusalem, why marvel ye at me? The thing which ye behold is a divine mystery.

It seems appropriate then to conclude our reflections on the O Antiphons with this last, on this the eve of the Nativity, when Our blessed Lady will fulfil all that God had intended for her from the beginning of the ages, “before the world was, I was” ever with the Son Whom she is about to bear for our redemption.

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