O Oriens – O rising sun
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined.” Isaiah 9:2
- O Morning Star,
- splendour of light eternal and sun of righteousness:
- Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.
The English translation “O Morning Star” is nicely poetic but I prefer the literal translation of the ‘O Oriens’, “O Rising Sun”. I like the concept of Jesus the rising sun, light breaking forth from the darkness. Sunrise is gentle, it is not the flash of lightening smashing the darkness, it is the slow light of dawn. The sun caresses the shoulders of the mountains and emerges glimmering on the horizon of the sea. This rising sun comes “with healing in its wings” (Malachi 4:2) and a dawning freedom.
The O Antiphons help us to delve into the imagery of Isaiah and the other prophets to explore our understanding of God. ‘O Oriens’ gives us further insight into Jesus as the light of the world.
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.’John 8:12
This statement in John’s gospel draws on the images of light and darkness in the prophets and reading the prophets gives us further depth in our understanding. The 60th chapter of Isaiah is wonderful expectation of the end of exile. Looking forward not only to the restoration of Israel but, as many commentators have it, to all the Nations basking in the rising sun of the new kingdom.
Arise, shine; for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
and his glory will appear over you.
Nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn. Isaiah 60:1-3