Today is Christmas, a day of celebration; for although all is not right, and sorrow and frustrations are real, the promised Messiah has come. His arrival, heralded by angels and foretold by prophets, is foretaste of our future and ultimate deliverance. Our Eternal God has stepped into human form, redeeming us by living and dying in the flesh, and he will come again.
Just as the reunion of a bride and groom on their wedding day is anticipated by their preparations, so the season of advent prepares us for today’s festivities. The seven great ‘O Antiphons’ of advent are a series of prayers thatcome from early Christians (as early as the 6th century). Each prayer uses a name of Christ from Scripture, calling upon him to come anew into our lives. Many will recognize them from the lyrics of ‘O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. The prayers are rooted in and breath forth Scripture. I was introduced to them through the outstanding influence of the Cambridge poet-priest Malcolm Guite, who has an excellent series of sonnets based on each of these prayers.
In the seven days leading up to Christmas, I paired an excerpt of each prayer with a photo and a few lines from Malcolm’s sonnet. Click on the lines of poetry to head to Malcom’s website where you can hear the entire prayer and poem. I hope you find in these prayers, their pictures, and Malcolm’s sonnets a fresh way to yearn for, and rejoice in, Christ’s coming.
Come, and teach us.
Come, and redeem us.
O Root of Jesse,
Come, and deliver us.
O Key of David!
Come, and lead the prisoners.
Come, and enlighten those who dwell in darkness.
O King of the Nations!
Come, and save the human race.
Come, and save us, O Lord our God.
By the way, as Malcom points out on his blog, the antiphonies reveal a “secret message embedded subtly into the whole sequence. In each of these antiohons we have been calling on Him to come to us, to come as Light as Key, as King, as God-with-us. Now, standing on the brink of Christmas, looking back at the illuminated capital letters for each of the seven titles of Christ, we would see an answer to our pleas : ERO CRAS the latin words meaning ‘TOMORROW I WILL COME!’
Christ has come. Let us rejoice in who he is this Christmas Day!