The run-up to Christmas

The final 'O' antiphon

Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

Now, perhaps more than any other season of the church’s year, the season of Advent stands at odds with what’s going on in the world at large.

For most people, we are now in the run­-up to Christmas and things are becoming increasingly festive with parties, eating, drinking, being merry – and frantic shopping.

In the church, we are also in the run-up to Christmas, but our preparations are somewhat different, as we reflect and prepare ourselves to meet with Christ who is to be amongst us. And that process of thinking and preparation is reflected in the distinctive spirituality of Advent – particularly in the prayers, readings, hymns and psalms of the Daily Office – all of which seem charged with hope, expectation and excitement about the future.

One particular tradition which reflects this feeling is that of the so-called ‘O’ Antiphons, seven short verses which are sung during Evening Prayer on the seven days before Christmas Eve. They each begin with the exclamation ‘O’; and each of them ends with a plea for the Messiah to come. As Christmas approaches, the cry becomes more urgent …

You can read the whole of our Rector’s article at this link.