On this, the shortest day of the year (in the northern hemisphere), we look with longing to our true Light, as we pray the fifth of the O Antiphons in these final days of Advent:
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!
Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice:
Come, shine on those who dwell in darkness
and the shadow of death.
For today’s O Antiphon, we draw on these texts from scripture: Isaiah 9:1; 58:8; 60:18-20; Malachi 4:2; Luke 1:78-79; John 8:12; and Revelation 22:16
The O Antiphons are part of a thousand-year-old liturgical tradition, as explained by Felix Just, S.J., in an article on the Roman Catholic Lectionary Website:
They have long been used at the very end of Advent (Dec. 17-23) in the liturgical prayer of the Church, as Antiphons for the “Magnificat” sung or recited during Vespers (the Evening Prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours). Since the Second Vatican Council, they have also been adapted (slightly reworded and rearranged) for the “Alleluia Verse” of the Mass (the short scriptural text or paraphrase that immediately precedes the Gospel reading). Each Antiphon invokes the coming of the Messiah, beginning with a biblical title and closing with a specific petition.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy One.