19 December 2012

O Clavis David

O Key of David and Scepter of the house of Israel, who opens and no man shuts, who shuts and no man opens: come, and bring forth the captive from his prison, he who sits in darkness and under the shadow of death.

When cities were enclosed by heavy walls for protection, the keeper of the key to the gate was a powerful and respected figure, usually the king (or prince, baron, mayor...). This is whence came the custom of presenting an honored guest with the "key" to a city: today it is a symbolic gesture indicating respect. By naming Christ Scepter of Israel, we announce his kingship; by naming Him the Key of David, we proclaim that He is not only the one with the power to open the gates (the key holder), but also the very opener (the key itself). Today's Antiphon immediately put me in mind of this verse:

And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.
Matthew 16:19, DRV

Christ comes to open the gates of Heaven to us, and he entrusted that key to the Church through the authority of St Peter, the first pope.

O come thou Key of David, come
And open wide our heav'nly home.
Make straight the way that leads on high
That we no more may have cause to sigh.


  1. Beautifully and educational...thank you for writing. I really enjoyed it.

  2. Thank you! I'm glad you have been enjoying these; reflecting on the Antiphons this week has really been helping my Advent preparation, so I'm happy to be able to share that!