The Christian Heritage Centre

20th December 2020

20th December - O Clavis David

“O key of David and sceptre of Israel, what you open no one else can close again; what you close, no one can open.
O come and lead the captive from prison; free those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.”

The prophecy of Isaiah in chapter 22, from which the first half of this antiphon is drawn, invests Eliakim as master of the royal household. This imagery is taken up in Revelation 3:7, in which Eliakim is replaced by Christ, the true Master. An echo of the imagery of the binding power of the key can perhaps be heard in Christ’s words to Peter in Matthew 16, in which Peter is given that power to bind and to loose by the Lord.

Into this phrase is inserted a reference to Genesis 49:10, “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah”. This is a further allusion to the promise of a kingly Messiah, as made to Jacob: he who would become known as Israel, and the father of a great nation.

The second half once again refers us to the Song of the Suffering Servant. Isaiah 42:7 speaks of the Lord who has come “to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.” To this is added “the shadow of death”, a phrase that is repeated twice in Psalm 106, which gives thanks to the Lord for His saving help.

Following on from the previous antiphon, “O Key of David” makes clear the saving action of the Messiah, His absolute power over life and death and His mission of Redemption.

Listen to the O Clavis David Iesse antiphon here

Stefan Kaminski

Director, The Christian Heritage Centre

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