Advent Daybook, 15: With Thanksgiving

An Advent daybook for these 24 days of prayerful expectation. Join me, won't you?

For an introduction read this post: Advent Daybook explained. You can see previous Advent daybook 2018 posts here.

Note: If you're reading this in email, the formatting usually looks much better at the website. Just click the post title to get there.


Look: The Holy Family with Saint Elizabeth, the Young John the Baptist and Two Angels (also known as 'The Large Holy Family'), Raphael

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Listen: “I Am Sure I Shall See the Goodness of the Lord” from Christe Lux Mundi, Taizé (lyrics)

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Listen to my entire playlist on Spotify: Advent Carols & Hymns 2018. Add it to your account by clicking ‘Follow.’


On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:

’Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

I will gather those of you who mourn for the festival, so that you will no longer suffer reproach. Behold, at that time I will deal with all your oppressors. And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth. At that time I will bring you in, at the time when I gather you together; for I will make you renowned and praised among all the peoples of the earth, when I restore your fortunes before your eyes,” says the Lord.”
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”‘Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day:

’Give thanks to the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted.

Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth. Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.’”
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”Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
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”As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, John answered them all, saying, ‘I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’

So with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people.
— Zephaniah 3:16-20, Isaiah 12:2-6, Philippians 4:4-7, John 3:15-18 (ESV)

Sunday Scripture readings are taken from the Revised Common Lectionary (Year C). Daily Scripture readings are taken from the Book of Common Prayer (Year 1).


Pray:

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.
— Book of Common Prayer, Collect for the Third Sunday in Advent

Do:

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Prepare

For the next 7 days of Advent, we’ll be joining in with countless Christians over the centuries who pray the “O Antiphons” the week before Christmas. Read some of the history in the links below.

Advent slightly shifts its focus beginning tomorrow (December 17) when the antiphons for Vespers known as the Greater Antiphons, but more commonly known as the O Antiphons, are sung at the Magnificat. Each O Antiphon addresses Jesus with a title which comes from the prophecies of Isaiah that anticipate the coming of the Messiah. The first letters of the titles in the original Latin in reverse order spell “Ero Cras,” meaning “Tomorrow, I will come.”

In the last few years, starting with the poet-priest Malcolm Guite’s sonnets during Advent, I began to notice references to this prayer tradition. Last year, we incorporated the prayers into our Compline service (using a wonderful resource from our friends at Modern Liturgic) at Church of the Apostles. This year, I’m embedding them into our final week of Advent Daybook posts.

The reality is that most of us who celebrate Christmas have been praying the O Antiphons without ever knowing it. The seven prayers make up the seven verses of the beloved Advent hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”. I know I’m not alone in my love for that hymn. I never get tired of it, and enjoy almost every arrangement I’ve ever heard.

For the next 7 days, leading up to Christmas Eve, I’ll keep the same daily format for Advent Daybook posts with the Scripture selections for each of the O Antiphons rather than the selection from the lectionary. I’ll also include a link to each of Malcolm Guite’s 7 sonnets. 

Here’s a little bit more of the background to this rich prayer tradition:

From Malcolm Guite: “In the first centuries the Church had a beautiful custom of praying seven great prayers calling afresh on Christ to come, calling him by the mysterious titles he has in Isaiah, calling to him; O Wisdom. O Root! O Key  O Light! come to us!

I have responded to these seven “Great O” Antiphons, as they are called, with seven sonnets, revoicing them for our own age now, but preserving the heart of each, which is a prayer for Christ’s Advent for his coming, now in us, and at the end of time, in and for all. (See these sonnets as the opening sequence in his cycle of sonnets for the liturgical year -  Sounding the Seasons or his Advent anthology, Waiting on the Word.)

… we come to the last of the Seven Great O Antiphons, which was sung on either side of the Magnificat on Christmas Eve, O Emmanuel, O God with us. This is the antiphon from which our lovely Advent hymn takes its name. It was also this final antiphon which revealed the secret message embedded subtly into the whole antiphon sequence. In each of these antiphons we have been calling on Him to come to us, to come as Light as Key, as King, as God-with-us. Now, standing on the brink of Christmas Eve, looking back at the illuminated capital letters for each of the seven titles of Christ we would see an answer to our pleas : ERO CRAS the latin words meaning ‘Tomorrow I will come!”

Here’s the list of prayers for each day - working backwards so you can see better the latin acrostic:

December 23 - O Emmanuel: O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the One whom the Gentiles expect, and their Salvation: Come and save us, O Lord our God.

December 22 - O Rex: O King of the Nations, and their Desire; the Cornerstone who dost unite the divided into one: Come and save mankind, whom thou didst create out of clay.

December 21 - O Oriens: O Day-Spring, radiant everlasting Light, and Sun of Righteousness: Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death.

December 20 - O Clavis: O Key of David, and Scepter of the house of Israel; who openest and no one shutteth, who shuttest and no one openeth; Come and bring the prisoners out of the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death.

December 19 - O Radix: O Root of Jesse, who standest for an ensign to the peoples, at whom kings shall shut their mouths, and to whom the gentiles shall pray: Come and deliver us, and do not delay.

December 18 - O Adonai: O Lord and ruler of the house of Israel, who didst appear to Moses in a burning bush, and didst give him the law on Sinai: Come and deliver us with an outstretched arm.

December 17 - O Sapientia: O Wisdom, who didst issue out of the mouth of the most High, and dost reach from one end of the world to the other, mightily and sweetly ordering all things: Come and teach us the way of prudence.

A few additional resources:

  • You can read thoughtful reflections on each Antiphon at Thinking Faithhere.

(See all Advent Daybook posts from 2017 here.)

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