O Radix Jesse
LATIN: O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum, super quem continebunt reges os suum, quem gentes deprecabuntur: veni ad liberandum nos, iam noli tardare.
ENGLISH: O Root of Jesse, that stands for an ensign of the people, before whom the kings keep silence and unto whom the Gentiles shall make supplication: come, to deliver us, and tarry not.
There are several references to this prophecy in Scripture. Here are a few:
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. (Isaiah 11:1)
In that day the root of Jesse shall stand as an ensign to the peoples; him shall the nations seek, and his dwellings shall be glorious. (Isaiah 11:10)
For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, “Therefore I will praise thee among the Gentiles, and sing to thy name”; and again it is said, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people”; and again, “Praise the Lord, all Gentiles, and let all the peoples praise him”; and further Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse shall come, he who rises to rule the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles hope.” May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:8-13)
And I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals; and I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I wept much that no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to into it. Then one of the elders said to me, “Weep not; lo, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” (Revelation 5:1-5)
Isaiah prophesied a restoration of David’s throne – a new branch budding out of the old root. Christ is the root of Jesse in two ways: he is the descendant of David, who was the youngest son of Jesse, and he inherited the royal throne. The angel foretold to Mary, “The Lord God will give him the throne of David his father. He will rule over the house of Jacob forever and his reign will be without end.” (Luke 1:32-33). Isaiah foretold that the kingdom of David would be destroyed, but not entirely. A root would remain. Jesse is David’s father. David is Jesse’s root. David leads us to Christ. After the destruction of David’s kingdom a root remains. Likewise in our own lives, no matter what the circumstances or trials or no matter how turbulent the times of this world may seem to be, when we cling to the root and allow ourselves to be grafted to it we shall be victorious in the end.
In that victory may we abound in hope.
The third O Antiphon is referred to in the following verse of O Come O Come Emmanuel:
Veni, O Iesse virgula, ex hostis tuos ungula,
de spectu tuos tartari educ et antro barathri.
O Come, Thou Rod of Jesse’s stem,
from ev’ry foe deliver them
that trust Thy mighty power to save,
and give them vict’ry o’er the grave.