Heart's ease - an infusion was said to help mend a broken heart

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

O come...

We don't have a strong tradition of divine office in the Society, but in the England-Wales province, Advent is when we sing our own Veni Domini, composed several decades ago by one of our sisters. At that time it would have been sung by large communities, with several people taking each part; now our communities are smaller, and with fewer good voices, so parts are harder to sustain. A few weeks ago, at a weekend meeting, we made the most of the fact that there were ten of us there, including some strong singers able to sing the various parts: thus, after 18 years, I experienced a hint of how the Veni Domini would have sounded in its polyphonic heyday. I enjoyed it, and found it a moving, prayerful experience.

But I do love the Great Os! And I write this without having ever heard them sung in all their monastic glory. The words alone are enough for me; evocative words which speak of longing, desire and hope... and of belief in a God whose saving power lies in loving tenderness and mercy. They are great for our final few days of prayerful waiting.

I think today's antiphon is my favourite, recalling for me the God of the Benedictus, who visits us like the dawn from on high. O Oriens is variously translated as Morning Star or Rising Sun or my favourite, Dayspring, that point on the horizon at which the sun first appears. Except on the cloudiest mornings (like today) I can see my own Dayspring from my bedroom window, setting the trees alight. Here's what it looked like yesterday, to help imagine it for today, the shortest day of the year.

And in the English-speaking world we have one final chance to sing O come... this time directed not at Jesus but at ourselves. At midnight Mass we will undoubtedly sing Adeste fideles, and if we sing it in English then we sing a chorus which grows in depth and vigour... O come let us adore him, Christ the Lord...

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