Names for a Yuletide Babe: The O Antiphons
I recently went back through the Nameberry archives to see what posts have been done about Christmas names and found articles listing names relating to Christmas movies (Ralphie, Zuzu) and TV specials (Linus, Virginia), seasonal foliage (Holly, Ivy), colors (Crimson, Scarlet), Elf on the Shelf names (Buddy, Nick), and, of course, the major players (Mary, Joseph, Emmanuel). What can be said about names relating to Christmas that hasn’t yet been said?
I uncovered an untapped source of inspiration in what’s known as the O Antiphons, the short verses recited, sung, or chanted before the part of Evening Prayer called the Magnificat in the Catholic Church in the week before Christmas Eve (December 17—23); a different one is sung on each of the seven nights. They’re called the O Antiphons because each one begins with the exclamation “O,” and “antiphon” refers to the fact that it’s recited before a psalm or canticle (in this case, they’re recited before the Magnificat, which is a canticle, or song of praise. It comes from the book of Luke in the New Testament, chapter 1, verses 46-55).
Each of the O Antiphons highlights a title for the Messiah, stemming from the prophecy of Isaiah: O Sapientia (O Wisdom), O Adonai (O Lord), O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse), O Clavis (O Key of David), O Oriens (O Rising Sun), O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations), and O Emmanuel. Using the O Antiphons as inspiration, here’s a selection of names that make sense for a Christmas baby (especially one born during the week before Christmas Eve):
O Sapientia (O Wisdom)
O Clavis (O Key of David)
Key—Long ago I read an article about a girl named Key and it stuck with me. I can see it working here.
O Oriens (O Rising Sun)
Dawn—The time of the rising sun.
King—You could certainly go right to the word itself.
Other related names
There’s a little overlap here with some of the Christmas name lists, but most of these are fresh ideas. Some of them may seem too removed from Christmas to really feel like Christmas names, but as I wrote in Good-Intention Baby Naming, I believe intention to be the most important thing when it comes to honor names.
What do you think about the O Antiphon names? Would you consider any of them for a Christmastime baby? What other names can you think of that would connect to each of these titles?
About the Author
Katherine Morna Towne
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