Today’s antiphon is taken from Isaiah 11:10, which speaks of the root of Jesse being a signal to the peoples. The rather inadequate translation used at Evening Prayer in English speaks of the ‘stock’ of Jesse, not justified as a translation of the Latin ‘radix’ and a throwback to the first verse of Isaiah 11. Yet there’s a wisdom, no doubt unintended, in this liturgical kerfuffle. The uniqueness of the Incarnate Word is captured in the fact that he is, as a human being, of the stock of Jesse, the promised Messiah of Davidic descent, whilst at the same time, as God, being behind and before all human kinships. “O wonder of wonders which none can unfold, the Ancient of Days is an hour or two old“.
O Root of Jesse, standing as a sign among the peoples;
before you kings will shut their mouths,
to you the nations will make their prayer:
Come and deliver us, and delay no longer.