O Adonai, and Leader of the House of Israel, who appearedst in the bush to Moses in a flame of fire,
and gavest him the Law in Sinai: come and deliver us with an outstretched arm.
Divine Worship: The Missal
‘“O Adonai” takes us to Moses, the dominant figure of Israel’s past. Adonai is the Hebrew for “Master” or “Lord”, and it comes in the plural form in order to emphasise God’s majesty; its Hebraic origin is the reason why it is often not translated. But it refers to God’s eternal leadership of his people. This antiphon is about encounter, for it contains echoes of the two most important encounters Moses had with God, both of them in the mountain range of Sinai. The first was before the burning bush (Exodus 3.2), and the second was when the Law was given (Exodus 24.12). The first was about his vocation, to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, away from slavery, into the Promised Land, into freedom. The second was about the means whereby they should live, which was to be no free-for-all. It forms the basis on which the whole Jewish Law was formed. It helped produce a tradition of interpretation that attempted to apply that Law in new situations, which were fraught with difficulty, hence the railings of prophets like Amos against those who are “at ease in Zion” (Amos 6.1). Yet it also produced a spirituality that loved the Law, best summed up in the longest psalm in the Psalter’.
from Watching and Waiting: A Guide to the Celebration of Advent, 2007
by Kenneth Stevenson (1949-2011), Anglican Bishop of Portsmouth, 1995-2009
Fr Lee Kenyon