Sunday, 16 December 2012

magnificat or o du fröhlich

The evening prayers of the last seven days of Advent, leading up to Christmas, in Western church traditions are punctuated with vocative calls and responses called the O Antiphons. The cycle begins on 17. December with O Sapientia (O Wisdom), then O Adonai (O Lord), and so one, dedicating the evening’s meditation to one aspect attributed to Jesus. The tradition was originally restricted to the cloister and each of the seven days was an occasion to exchange presents among the community, but later was made part of Christmas time celebrations.
This seems like a very nice and collected way to approach the holidays and properly wind down from all the jingle-pressure, and although the 21. December has garnered an awful reputation—though only, I think, for this year and not for very much longer, I do appreciate the fact that the chant or that night is O Oriens—o breaking of the day, splendor of the light eternal. Though we should fear not, we ought not, I think, to stammer along without any take-away. It is not necessarily something dodged or a saving grace, to reboot from dreary pessimism, but could still be an antiphon that days, no matter how limitless or numbered, are gifts and should not be taken for granted.