Light in Darkness: O Oriens

Today’s O antiphon is

O Oriens, splendor lucis æternæ, et sol justitiæ: veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.
O Morning Star, splendour of eternal light and sun of justice, come and illumine those seated in darkness and the shadow of death.

For those of us in the northern hemisphere, singing that antiphon on the day of the winter solstice seems especially appropriate. The darkness lasts so long, and this year, for those of us who live in Britain, there is the recollection of Lockerbie twenty-five years ago and the moral darkness we associate with violence and murder. Sometimes, when we look inside ourselves, we see darkness there also. Not, I trust, the darkness of violence, but perhaps the darkness of loneliness, failure (as we understand it), fear or despair. That is the darkness that keeps us imprisoned in the shadow of death, the darkness that the Morning Star comes to scatter with his wonderful light.

One of the small joys I experienced as a nun of Stanbrook was watching the dawn light steal over the sanctuary at Vigils. In the winter months we began and ended in inky blackness, but gradually, as the weeks wore on, the light began to pierce the gloom until finally, in summer, the great East window glittered and shone long before we went into choir. A similar rhythm can mark our sense of interior darkness. There are times when we think it will never end. We must hold firm and trust that it will lift. The Sun of Justice will rise with healing in his wings, as the prophet says, and they will be spread over us, too.

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3 thoughts on “Light in Darkness: O Oriens”

  1. Amen and thank you for your inspiring and encouraging words, which I and others of my family need to hear today.
    Gods blessing to you, Brother Duncan and the rest of your community.

  2. Proverbs 4 v 18 came to mind as I read this : ‘The path of the Righteous is like the first gleam of dawn shining ever brighter till the full light of day”
    Thank you

  3. I.
    AWAKE! for Morning in the Bowl of Night
    Has flung the Stone that puts the Stars to Flight:
    And Lo! the Hunter of the East has caught
    The Sultan’s Turret in a Noose of Light.

    The Rubayyat of Omar Khayyam
    Translated into English in 1859
    by Edward FitzGerald

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