Friday, December 20, 2013

Chapter I: Advent - The O Antiphones: Key of David

The Fourth of the Great O Antiphons
O Key of David and sceptre of the House of Israel;
you open and no one can shut;
you shut and no one can open:
Come and lead the prisoners from the prison house,
those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

The original Latin:
O Clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israel;
qui aperis, et nemo claudit;
claudis, et nemo aperit:
veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris,
sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.
This O Antiphon again takes its inspiration from the Prophet Isaiah:
I will lay the key of David’s house on his shoulder. He will open, and no one will shut. He will shut, and no one will open. -Isaiah 22:22

Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end, on David’s throne, and on his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from that time on, even forever. The zeal of Yahweh of Armies will perform this. -Isaiah 9:7 open the blind eyes,
       to bring the prisoners out of the dungeon,
       and those who sit in darkness out of the prison. -Isaiah 42:7
Here we may pause for a moment to reflect on the utter hopelessness of humanity without the coming of Christ promised. We are blind, bound in deep dungeons, sitting the darkness. We are tossed about by the whims nature, others, the lord of the earth, and even our own flesh. Isaiah, elsewhere, paints and even more brutal picture of our state: we are sick, with open and oozing sores, crippled and lame. Another prophet paints the picture of Israel as a pathetic abandoned newborn, lying in the desert, squirming around in its own blood, screaming because of thirst, hunger, pain, and neglect.

This is our current state. So we wait, hope beyond all hope that the Bearer of the Key of David will actually come to set us free.

It seems appropriate that this O Antiphon should occur on an Ember Day. Fasting is designed to show us our own frailty and dependence. We spend today and tomorrow reflecting on the grief of our current situation, but the sun will brighten on Sunday as we light the Candle of Love. For now, we are reminded of our more natural state: "mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.

The lyrics from O Come, O Come Emmanuel inspired by this O Antiphon:
O come, Thou Key of David, come
and open wide our heav'nly home;
make safe the way that leads on high
that we no more have cause to sigh
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel! 

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