Thursday, December 21, 2006

O Morning Star

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Latin translation of O Oriens Splendor
O Morning Star, splendour of light eternal and sun of righteousness: Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

Advent Carol
O come, thou Dayspring from on high, and cheer us by thy drawing nigh; disperse the gloomy clouds of night, and death's dark shadow put to flight. Rejoice, rejoice. Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

The antiphon today is based upon the image of Jesus as the "Light of the world," so prominent in John's gospel. His first and second Advents are likewise described as dawnings. The morning star is a symbol of God drawing closer to his people (see Revelation 22:16). Isaiah prophesied, "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined" (Isaiah 9:2).

Because we worship Jesus, the Dayspring, churches have been traditionally built with the altar at the eastern end, so that the faithful would worship the Lord toward the rising sun. John of Damascus explained, "It is not without reason or by chance that we worship towards the East. But seeing that we are composed of a visible and an invisible nature, that is to say, of a nature partly of spirit and partly of sense, we render also a twofold worship to the Creator; just as we sing both with our spirit and our bodily lips, and are baptized with both water and Spirit, and are united with the Lord in a twofold manner, being sharers in the mysteries and in the grace of the Spirit. Since, therefore, God is spiritual light, and Christ is called in the Scriptures Sun of Righteousness and Dayspring, the East is the direction that must be assigned to his worship. . . . And when he was received again into heaven he was borne towards the East, and thus his apostles worship him, and thus he will come again in the way in which they beheld him going towards heaven; as the Lord himself said, 'As the lightning cometh out of the East and shineth even unto the West, so also shall the coming of the Son of Man be'."


Anonymous said...

Thank you for you comments on the Great O's. It has been very helpful to me spiritually this Advent.

Fr Timothy Matkin said...

Thank you. I have found it quite worthwhile.