O Radiant Dawn,

Splendor of light eternal and sun of righteousness:

Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

On December 21, 2021, the fifth O Antiphon addresses the longed-for Messiah as Radiant Dawn, found in Isaiah 9:2 and other biblical texts.

The image of dawn invokes hope, élan, fresh starts, and renewal of purpose.

Its illumination reveals the hazards of the crooked path, clarifies vagueness, warms the night’s chill, and restores color. Such must have been the experience of the ancient Israelites, dependent upon oil lamps and sentinels to ward off danger from enemies and wild animals.

Yet their moral and physical sufferings cried out for wholeness, inner peace, despite guidance afforded in the Mosaic Law. Centuries of prophets and judges and kings had tried to guide them, but subtle and gross temptations, largely from pagan neighbors, plunged them in moral darkness from which there was no escape.

Still a remnant of Israelites, the simple ones, remained faithful to Yahweh, their imaginations vibrant with hope for a Messiah, more brilliant that the sun, to intervene in their lives.

Again, the imperative, Come. Still dwelling in darkness and the shadow of death, we also need Another to purify our spiritual faculties and live holily with each other—the chanting of this O Antiphon in monastery chapels around the world intercedes for us.