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O Antiphon of the Day: Reflections on “O Rex”


JJ Wright - published on 12/22/16

Listen and pray along with the ancient sacred text

The following is part of an 8-day series, bringing to life the texts of the O Antiphons with the music of JJ Wright and a few words from Wright about the composition of the piece in relation to the the meaning of the sacred text:

Read more about the O Antiphons and JJ Wright’s interpretation of them in the album O Emmanuel.

“O Rex” from the album O Emmanuel


The next two days remind us that the journey is not quite over and present extreme ups and downs. We have been instilled with a newfound hope about Christ’s coming, but there is still ground that needs to be covered before we experience His arrival on earth.

“Rex” is based on a sonnet by the poet and singer-songwriter,Malcolm Guite. This poem recalls elements of Christ’s Passion and the prophecies thereof. The first line is extremely intense: “O King of our desire, whom we despise”. What follows is a series of convictions about the ways in which we replace Christ with other things. This is followed by a humble hymn, where we can remember that our existence comes from God: “O Hidden King, who shapes us in the clay of all creation”. We reflect upon the beautiful collaboration between ourselves and God toward the creation of a life directed towards meaning, purpose, and love.

O King of our desire whom we despise,

King of the nations never on the throne,

Unfound foundation, cast-off cornerstone,

Rejected joiner, making many one,

You have no form or beauty for our eyes,

A King who comes to give away his crown,

A King within our rags of flesh and bone.

We pierce the flesh that pierces our disguise,

For we ourselves are found in you alone.

Come to us now and find in us your throne,

O King within the child within the clay,

O hidden King who shapes us in the play

Of all creation. Shape us for the day

Your coming Kingdom comes into its own.

Latin text:

O Rex Gentium,

et desideratus earum, lapisque angularis,

qui facis utraque unum:

veni, et salva hominem, quem de limo formasti.

English text:

O King of all the nations,

the only joy of every human heart;

O Keystone of the mighty arch of man,

come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.

To learn more about the music and purchase the album visit
JJ Wright for Cecilia Music

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