The O Antiphons – “O King”


(This can also be sung to the melody “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”)

O come, Desire of nations, bind,
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
and be Thyself our King of Peace.

Rejoice, Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel!


As Mary and Joseph huddled in the cave of Bethlehem, it may have been hard to believe they had just brought the King of the Nations into the world. And yet, Isaiah had declared that a virgin would conceive and bear a saving son (Isaiah 7:14) and later, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called ‘Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’” (Isaiah 9:5). With the coming King comes a vibrant and growing Kingdom. Every time we pray the Our Father, we make a request that this Kingdom will come. Rather than exclusively pointing to the coming of Christ’s kingdom at the end of time, this petition is the work of the Church, the mission of each of us. We make his Kingdom come every time we share the Gospel, protect and defend the unborn, forgotten, and abandoned. We make his kingdom come every time we inject gospel values into our conversations with our neighbors over the fence or with our elected officials in the public square. At the heart of the missionary message given to all of us to proclaim is “the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 10:7). Literally, it is within everyone’s reach. I love how Pope Francis put it in his latest Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, “To evangelize is to make the kingdom of God present in our world” (EG, para. 176).


It is likely that you have already purchased most of your Christmas gifts this season. Consider giving the gift of your faith in the form of a letter to friends and family. Share with them how your faith gives your life meaning, how the sacraments have nourished your life, why you are Catholic. For many of them, this gift will be a treasured possession they can read again and again. Faith is a gift, but never a private possession. By its very nature, it is made to be given away.


Take a moment to sit at the feet of the Desire of the Nations, the Prince of Peace, the King of All. Make Pope Francis’s petition to Mary your own, “Virgin of listening and contemplation,
 Mother of love, Bride of the eternal wedding feast, pray for the Church, whose pure icon you are, that she may never be closed in on herself or lose her passion for establishing God’s kingdom.” – Evangelii Gaudium, para. 288.

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Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith is the co-author of Revelation: The Kingdom Yet to Come and The Prophets: Messengers of God's Mercy. He is an international presenter for The Great Adventure Bible Timeline. Bringing a wealth of experience and insight on the Word of God to audiences across the U.S., Thomas is a repeat guest on EWTN and Catholic radio as well as a sought after parish mission and conference speaker. Thomas Smith has taught as an adjunct professor at the St. Francis School of Theology in Denver, and is the former Director of the Denver Catholic Biblical School and the Denver Catechetical School. He lives on his family ranch in southeastern Idaho and writes for his website

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  • DianeVa

    Great confirmation on an idea I had for my 18 yr daughter this Christmas. I bought her a gift, a metal wall hanging with the word FAITH. Wrapped it up with a letter why Faith is important to me and it is now time for her to accept and respond to her own personal gift of faith which comes from God. I did what I could to pass my catholic faith on to her but now it is time for her to “own” this treasure. Giving it to her Christmas Eve. HOPE I will give her at HS GRADUATION and LOVE on her wedding day.

  • Dave Morris

    I can make a gift to family and friends by sharing with them why I became Catholic and by having done so have come closer to Jesus This is a great idea and a wonderful reflection.

  • Marianne

    I am thoroughly enjoying this wonderful series on the O Antiphons.

    There has been so much to learn in the Read, Reflect, Respond and Rest. Practical insights to prepare our hearts for the celebration of Christ’s birth.

    Yes, “the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” Our faith
    is not something to keep to ourselves, but rather to share with every person we meet.

    Thank you Thomas, for these enlightening reflections.

    Merry Christmas, and may God bless you for generously sharing your faith with us!

  • Carol

    May we, who appreciate our Catholic heritage and embrace it with letter- of-the law passion, become compassionate toward those who are lukewarm or even disengaged from the faith, the Church, and even Christ Himself. Mother Mary, pray for us.

  • pnkyB4brain

    The word nourishment could be looked upon as the essence of this reflection on the “O King” antiphon. As you said, our spiritual nourishments come from the sacraments. This nourishment should be shared with family and neighbors as you also suggested.
    The body and the soul of an individual make up a whole person and both need to be attended to. Sometimes my soul craves for this sustenance and as we need to feed our bodies, our souls cannot and should not be ignored.

  • Jo Jackson

    Wow never thought of that … Making a gift of faith to my family and friends. I wonder if they will understand … I love these practical considerations ..