Oh come, Oh come! Some Advent Reflections

Advent Sunday! The first sunday in the Church’s year. The beginning of a holy season in which we connect again with our inconsolable longing, as CS Lewis called it, our yearning for the One who is to come and is also, mysteriously, the One who has come already, come as child, come as fellow-sufferer, come as Saviour, and yet whose coming, already achieved, we hold at bay from ourselves, so that we have to learn afresh each year, even each day, how to let him come to us again.

In the first centuries the Church had a beautiful custom of prayng seven great prayers calling afresh on Christ to come, calling him by the mysterious titles he has in Isaiah, calling to him; O Wisdom. O Root! O Key  O Light! come to us!

I have responded to these seven “Great O” Antiphons, as they are called, with seven sonnets, revoicing them for our own age now, but preserving the heart of each, which is a prayer for Christ’s Advent for his coming, now in us, and at the end of time, in and for all. Over the course of this Advent season I shall post these sonnets onto my blog, so here is the first one; O Sapienita, (O Wisdom). I shall also give you the original o antiphon, in both Latin and English. You should also be able to hear the antiphons sung and hear me read the sonnet if you click on the play button just before the poem, or else click on the title of the sonnet to be taken to my audio page. Also check out the wonderful resources on the Advent Antiphons and aother mediaeval Wisdom on Julian holloway’s beautiful website  The Great O Antiphons

O Sapientia

O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem, fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia:
veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.

O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the
Most High,
reaching from one end to the other mightily,
and sweetly ordering all things:
Come and teach us the way of prudence.

O Sapientia

I cannot think unless I have been thought,

Nor can I speak unless I have been spoken.

I cannot teach except as I am taught,

Or break the bread except as I am broken.

O Mind behind the mind through which I seek,

O Light within the light by which I see,

O Word beneath the words with which I speak,

O founding, unfound Wisdom, finding me,

O sounding Song whose depth is sounding me,

O Memory of time, reminding me,

My Ground of Being, always grounding me,

My Maker’s Bounding Line, defining me,

Come, hidden Wisdom, come with all you bring,

Come to me now, disguised as everything.


Filed under christianity, imagination, literature, Meditation, Poems

11 responses to “Oh come, Oh come! Some Advent Reflections

  1. Keith L


  2. Rich, deep, imbued with the Mystery…

  3. Pingback: Tweets that mention Oh come, Oh come! Some Advent Reflections « Malcolm Guite -- Topsy.com

  4. Ed

    What a wonderful sonnet – thank you for sharing it!

  5. Beautiful, holy mystery couched so perfectly in poetry. I hear your voice, Malcolm, reading this as I read it. Lovely.

  6. Pingback: O Adonai, a second Advent reflection and sonnet | Malcolm Guite

  7. Donna Ialongo

    Ruan Wright sent me a link to this website. She’d sent me your Advent 2 poem, which was lovely. But, as I told her, this Advent 1 poem “blew me away, took the top of my head off.” It’s reminding me of John Donne in the best metaphysical sense. Ruan promised to introduce us on FB. I’m easy to find. Only person in the U.S. with this name.

  8. Pingback: Ascension Day Sonnet | Malcolm Guite

  9. Pingback: O Adonai, my second Advent reflection and sonnet | Malcolm Guite

  10. Pingback: A Sonnet for Ascension Day | Malcolm Guite

  11. Pingback: O Adonai, a second Advent reflection and sonnet | Malcolm Guite

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