Tag Archives: Christmas

O Radix Jesse

O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum,
Super quem continebunt reges os suum,
quem mgetes debrecabuntur:
veni ad liberandum nos,
jam noli tardare.

O Root of Jesse, standing as a sign among the peoples;
before you kings will shut their mouths,
to you the nations will make their prayer:
Come and deliver us, and delay no longer.

From O Come, O Come, Emmanuel:
O come, O Rod of Jesse free,
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory o’er the grave.

O Adonai

O Adonai, et Dux domus Israel,
qui Moysi in igne flammae rubi apparuisti,
et ei in Sina legem dedisti,
veni ad redimendm nos in brachi extento.

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

From O Come, O Come, Emmanuel:
O come, O come, thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times didst give the law
In cloud and majesty, and awe.

O Sapientia

For nearly 1200 years the Roman Church has been chanting the O Antiphons as the way to count down the days from December 17th to the Solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord. Acclamations to the pre-existent Eternal Word are drawn from imagery of the prophetic tradition of ancient Israel. As we wait to proclaim the Incarnation of the Eternal Word in Jesus who is Emmanuel, may we count down the days in eager anticipation for that solemn moment when we profess our faith: The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. O come O come Emmanuel!

Melkam Gena

Melkam Gena! That’s “Merry Christmas” in Amharic, in case you didn’t know.
Today in Ethiopia, the majority of people are feasting and celebrating. It’s Christmas for Orthodox Christians around the world, and the majority of Ethiopians are Ethiopian Orthodox. (Read the rest at Aleteia).



Earlier this year I was fortunate to travel to Ethiopia. Read about
Lalibela: The Mystery of Faith Hewn from Living Stone
here, or see all of the posts using the Ethiopia tag, here.

Merry Christmas

May our incarnate Lord bestow his many blessings upon you and your family on this Christmastime.

During this Christmas may we keep in our prayers in a special way our persecuted brothers and sisters in the Middle East.

I also share with you this beautiful Arabic Christmas hymn.

This Christmas I pray in hope that one day the Middle East, the birthplace of Our Savior, may be at peace and that Christians be an important part of the future of the Middle East. May the Lord once again reign in human hearts that seek the good of their brethren: Muslim, Jew, and Christian.

Come Worship With Us, Christmas Eve

Come to Mass at 10 p.m. tonight, Christmas Eve, at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Norfolk, Virginia to worship the newborn King. Christmas Carols will be sung starting at 9:30 p.m. We will have beautiful music for the season:

Prelude: La Nativité, Jean Langlais

O Magnum Mysterium, Francis Poulenc

Christmas Day, Gustav Holst

In Dulci Jubilo, Robert Lucas Pearsall

All Bells in Paradise, John Rutter

O Magnum Mysterium, Thomás Luis de Victoria

Postlude: Toccata en G, Théodore Dubois

The Lights of Advent

On Friday evening I was invited to attend the Williams School service of Lessons and Carols in Christ and Saint Luke Church. When I arrived at the school, all the students were lining up with the lanterns and candles forming a procession to the church. On the way to the school, I noticed churches announcing candlelight Christmas Eve services as well as so many candles in the windows of homes with Christmas trees, with lights shining in the darkness of the streets.

This scene gave me pause to ponder why candlelight always attracts us. My thoughts turned to the chant “O come, O come, Emmanuel” that the Roman Church has been chanting for almost 1200 years during the season of Advent. This chant holds a treasure trove of biblical imagery drawing from the Messianic hopes of the prophets of ancient Israel.

The Antiphon that came to mind as I meditated on all the illumination piercing the darkness of the night was this antiphon:

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.

On this fourth Sunday of Advent, the church praises God with these words:

O heavens let the just one come forth like the dew,
let him descend from the clouds like the rain.
The earth will open up and give birth to the Savior.

This wonderful Introit is inspired from the prophetic text of Isaiah. The dew that comes down from above is the eternal Word who takes upon himself our humanity, our earthliness, and comes forth from the Virgin Mary who gives birth to the Incarnate eternal Word of God.

When I saw the students at Williams School processing to Christ and Saint Luke with lanterns and candles it reminded me of the Rorate Mass. This is another ancient liturgical tradition that is practiced in Austria, Germany, Hungary, and in Poland, and I have noticed of late in Washington, DC and New York and other cities, a pre-dawn mass called Rorate, the word being drawn from the Introit on the fourth Sunday. People come to church early in the morning before the sun rises, with lanterns and candles to celebrate Mass by candlelight in honor of the Virgin Mary. As Mass proceeds and the sun rises the church becomes progressively brighter and illuminated by the sun, as our faith is illuminated by Christ; which evokes that beautiful antiphon again:

O radiant light, splendor of eternal day.

During these final days of Advent, take some time to walk through the neighborhood in the cold of the night marveling at all the lights dispelling the darkness. Each light is proclaiming that the  gospel “O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal life” has come into the world, the Word made flesh and dwelt among us.

A boy with a lantern. Nuremberg, December 2014.

O Come Let Us Adore Him

Epiphany, when the mystery of the Incarnation was made manifest to the kings!

A manger scene, or crèche, or presepio/praesepio, or, in German, krippe, can be found in most churches at Christmastime. I found that the city of Cologne has a pilgrimage where you follow the “stars” to visit the cribs, not only in churches but in some shop windows.


Sternsingers, "star singers," carrying the star, in Vienna.

Sternsingers, “star singers,” carrying the star, in Vienna.

Enjoy these cribs, from Bingen, Frankfurt, Cologne, and Vienna.


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