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December 18, 2022: Fourth Sunday of Advent - Pastor’s Corner

 

One of my favorite aspects of Advent is the music.  The rich resonance of traditional hymns and carols both prepare us for and usher in the Christmas season.  Here at St. Dominic’s we celebrate the sounds of the season this Friday with our “O Antiphons” chanted prayer service which you are invited to this Wednesday December 21st  at 7:30 pm.  Music has a way of touching the heart of our souls, of unlocking our emotions in order to open our spirits.   One of my favorite Advent songs is O Come, O Come Emmanuel.  The history of this haunting hymn goes back to the 8th century when monks gathered a list of seven Old Testament images and characteristics of the promised Messiah and arranged them according to plainsong chant.  These images for Christ are called the “O Antiphons” and from December 17 – 24, we count down the days to Christmas by focusing on the ways in which the new born Christ will save His people.  Here is the list of the “O Antiphons” which approximately coincide with the present-day verses of the familiar hymn.

 

December 17 O Wisdom of our God Most High, guiding creation with power and love: come to teach us the path of knowledge!

December 18 O Leader of the House of Israel,
giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai: come to rescue us with your mighty power!

December 19 O Root of Jesse’s stem, sign of God’s love for all his people: come to save us without delay!

December 20 O Key of David, opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom: come and free the prisoners of darkness!

December 21 O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death.

December 22 O King of all nations and keystone of the Church: come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!

December 23 O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law: come to save us, Lord our God!

 

Each of these Messianic images expresses a divine quality of Christ which will overcome some aspect of our fallen human condition. For example, Christ as Wisdom will teach us the path of knowledge; as the Key of David, he will open the gates of heaven; as the Radiant Dawn, he will illumine our journey. The poignant refrain “Rejoice, Rejoice, Emmanuel shall come to thee O Israel” soulfully speaks to the source of our advent hope. On this 4th Sunday of Advent, we are eager for the coming of Christ.  He is on his way to show us the way, and so we call out O Come, O Come Emmanuel.  Come into our hearts. Live in us. Be born anew!

~ Fr. Michael


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