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Dec. 21: O Dayspring

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  • Br. Jerome Leo
    +PAX I realize that most modern renderings have O Rising Dawn , but indulge me in this one. As a lover of Gerard Manley Hopkins, I vastly prefer the much more
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 20, 2007
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      +PAX

      I realize that most modern renderings have "O Rising Dawn", but
      indulge me in this one. As a lover of Gerard Manley Hopkins, I vastly
      prefer the much more poetic "O Dayspring" And besides, who said
      translation must be pedestrian to be relevant? (It often seems
      someone must have....) "Daypsring" also carries the hopeful connotation of
      Spring-to-come, of Resurrection, a powerful thought on the first day of
      winter!


      "O Dayspring, Radiance of the Light eternal and Sun of Justice; come
      and enlighten those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death."

      I wonder if the appearance of today's sun image landed on the winter
      solstice accidentally. Given the Middle Ages' fascination with such
      things, one would suspect it was deliberate choice. Just as the
      natural sun ebbs to it weakest point, the Sun of Justice Who shall
      never diminish, is proclaimed. The images today, while reflected in
      both Old and New Testaments are more from nature than those of the
      days preceding.

      Jesus calls Himself the Light and the Life. Surely the sun gives
      both, and so, here, does the Sun of Justice. We could not live without
      the sun; our planet would be a barren, frozen wasteland without it.

      The image of dawn, of the dayspring, holds a further message: the sun
      at noon is at its peak of light and heat, but the gentler sun of both
      rising and setting is not only softer and less extreme, but floods
      the sky and the earth with its lovelier color and majesty. This is yet
      another
      repetition of the theme of gentleness/strength.

      The reference to the Sun of Righteousness (Mal. 4:1-2) contrasts two
      experiences of the Messianic power "glowing like a furnace." For the wicked,
      it will burn them like chaff, but for those who fear God's name, "the sun of
      righteousness shall rise with healing." Jesus' power and majesty and
      strength are truly a balm to us.

      Naturally, to Christian (and especially Benedictine!) ears, the most
      obvious connections here will be those of the Benedictus, the
      Canticle of Zachary in Luke 1:78-79, the "Oriens ex alto", the
      dayspring from on high, which shall burst forth and shine on all
      those "who sit in darkness and the shadow of death." The message
      today is the end of darkness, the end of shadow, the end of death.
      The Messiah, the Sun of Righteousness has dispelled them all.

      The Radiance of the Light eternal is found in Hebrews 1:3 as an
      attribute of Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity. My favorite
      translation, the New English Bible, renders it thus: "...the Son Who
      is the effulgence of God's splendour and the stamp of God's being and
      sustains the universe by His word of power." The Son is, as we say in
      the Creed, truly "Light from Light." He would not have to do anything
      to end the world, He would have to STOP doing something, stop willing
      it and us, stop sustaining it. The creation is the daily and ever
      present act of the Son, something ongoing in His will maintaining all
      that is.

      Those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death are not just a
      group of outsiders. There are many such corners of gloom in our own
      souls, to which we frequently retire for a holiday from the struggles
      of grace. Today we invite the Sun to illuminate even those recesses,
      to leave us no place to hide from Him in the damp and chill of
      selfishness.






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