O Dayspring: come to lighten our darkness

It's the shortest day here in the northern hemisphere, with the winter solstice this year falling at 10.44 am GMT.

Every year I long to get past this day. I don't like reduced hours of daylight and I long for the hours of daylight to increase, as they will soon.

Darkness is not only a physical phenomenon that affects us physiologically and emotionally. Darkness can be political, societal, ideological and spiritual. Humanity has great need of true enlightenment, the light of true wisdom that bears the fruit of love, joy and peace in a world ruled with justice and mercy.

The Christmas celebrations are about light coming into the world. Christians celebrate that Christ the Light of the world enters our spiritual and physical darkness. God comes where we are. Light shines in the darkness. These words of the prophet Isaiah are often read at Christmas services:
"The people who walked in darkness 
have seen a great light; 
those who live in a land of deep darkness 
- on them has light shined." Isaiah 9:2

The 5th of the Advent 'O Antiphons' is 'O Oriens', translated 'O Dayspring' or 'O Morning Star' or 'O Rising Sun' is the response to Mary's Song (the Magnifcat) for 21 December. The O Oriens Antiphon is inspired by Isaiah 9: 2 and other passages in the Old Testament, such as Isaiah 60:1-2, Malachi 4:2, Malachi 3:20 that express the longings of a troubled people for light at the end of the tunnel of suffering.

The 'O Oriens' Antiphon will be sung at Evening Prayer or Vespers this evening by Christians in Aleppo, Berlin, London, New York, Mumbai, and many other places all around the world. Together with the Magnificat, to which the O Oriens Antiphon is a response, it feels like a shout of defiance against the many forms of darkness we may be aware of in our world. In spite of all that seems dark, we affirm our faith that the darkness will not win, we have "seen a great light", we can rejoice with Mary "in God my Saviour".

The Latin words of the O Oriens Antiphon are:
"O Oriens, 
splendor lucis aeternae, et sol justitiae 
veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis."

One English translation is:
"O Morning Star, 
splendour of light eternal and sun of righteousness: 
come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death."

You can here it sung in Latin in this clip below:


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