Leigh Hatts  

Mary & Joseph set out for Bethlehem

O Sapientia

Mary and Joseph are said to have set out today from Nazareth on their 90 mile journey to Bethlehem which they reach on 24 December.

It was once the custom in monasteries to toll the loudest bell as each of the O Antiphons was sung over the coming days to remind people that Mary and Joseph were on their way.

The name for today’s antiphon, said or sung before the Magnificat at Evening Prayer, is O Sapientia, meaning O Wisdom.

‘What was born in Bethlehem was the Wisdom of God,’ said Pope Benedict XVI. ‘In the fullness of time this Wisdom assumed a human face, the face of Jesus.’

The O Antiphons begin to explain who the Messiah is.

The various and often beautiful translations used today can be found in Common Worship, New English Hymnal, the Missal and the Breviary.

Eleanor Parker has the best explanation of where we are and how these days have been observed in the past.

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