Christmas is so near - this day, the 21st of December, is the 4th Sunday of Advent this year; and at Vespers all adherents of the Roman Rite sing O Oriens: Come, Thou Daystar, Thou Dawn, Thou Dayspring, Thou true East, Thou Sun of Justice, rising and nevermore setting, risen with healing in Thy wings! Look to the East, O Jerusalem, O new Israel, thou Church of the living God - behold, Thy Saviour draweth nigh! He comes to wake thee from thine unhappy slumbers; shake off the sleepy torpor of sin, deck thyself in righteousness by His secret grace, and welcome Christ the King!
O Oriens, splendor lucis æternæ, et sol justitiæ: veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris et umbrâ mortis.O Orient, splendour of light eternal, and Sun of justice: come, and enlighten those sitting in darkness and the shade of death.
Long time past, I collected these sentences of Scripture to shew the derivation of this short yet very splendid anthem, which curiously enough repeats some of the sentiments of its brother O Clavis (is this then a later addition?):
- Ecce vir, Oriens nomen ejus, et subter eum orietur, et ædificabit templum Domino. (Zach 6:12b)
- ...in quibus visitavit nos, oriens ex alto... (Lc 1:78b)
- ...candor est enim lucis æternæ… (Sap 7:26a)
- Splendor ejus ut lux erit… (Hab 3:4a)
- Et orietur vobis timentibus nomen meum sol justitiæ, et sanitas in pennis ejus… (Mal 3:20a = 4:2a)
- Sedentes in tenebris et umbra mortis. (Ps 106(107):10a)
- ...illuminare his qui in tenebris et in umbra mortis sedent… (Lc 1:79a)