The antiphon that follows the singing of the Magnificat during the service of Vespers on December 19 is, O Root of Jesse, standing as an ensign before the peoples, before whom all kings are mute, to whom the will do homage: Come quickly to deliver us.
The promise of a branch growing from the root of Jesse in Isaiah 11 is telling us that deliverance for Israel will not come from the royal court of David with all its pomp and glory. Rather the shoot sprouting from the stump of Jess hearkens back to the more humble origins of David’s father who kept flocks of sheep in the environs of Bethlehem.
The Christ will spring forth from Bethlehem, the hometown of his forefathers.
When the root of Jesse, Jesus Christ, sprouts He shall be the signal that He is the gathering place for all nations and for the remnant of Judah. Old hostilities will be gone. Ephraim (northern kingdom of Israel) and Judah will not be jealous of one another nor harass each other. People will be drawn to Christ from the four corners of the world. Thus when the Savior was nearing the time of his crucifixion he said, “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself.” Christ’s cross stands as the banner that draws all nations to Him.
O come, thou Branch of Jesse’s tree,
Free them from Satan’s tyranny
That trust Thy mighty pow’r to save,
And give them victory o’er the grave.
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.