December 21, O Dayspring, splendor of light everlasting: Come enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.
The antiphon is fitting for this shortest day of the year, when we look forward to the lengthening of days. Think of being in Barrow, Alaska where the sun set in late November and won’t rise until well into next year.
Today’s name for Jesus, is “Dayspring,” a poetic word for Dawn. However, its not a biblical term. That impelled me search out my Latin dictionary.
This is my own unpoetic literal translation.
Come, come, O East!
Come, sun, drive out the night’s shade
And burst asunder our darkness.
Centuries prior to the writing of the O Antiphons, Clement of Alexandria penned fitting comments:
“As the sun illuminates not only the heaven and the whole world, shining on both land and sea, but also sends rays through windows and small chinks into the furthest recesses of a house, so the Word, poured out everywhere, beholds the small actions of our life.”
Jeremiah Ingalls wrote in the 18th century:
“How long, dear Savior, O how long
Shall this bright hour delay? Fly swifter round the
Wheel of time,
And bring the welcome day.”