Of all the mystic titles of Christ, this is the one that connects most closely with our ‘secular’ psychology. We speak of the need on the one hand for ‘closure’ and on the other for ‘unlocking’, for ‘opening’, for ‘liberation’. The same ideas are also there in the lines from O Come O Come Emmanuel that are drawn from this antiphon, which could easily be part of anybody’s work in good therapy:
“Make safe the way that leads on high,
and close the path to misery.”
I see this antiphon, and the sonnet I wrote in response to it, as the ‘before’ picture that precdes the beautiful fifth antiphon O Oriens about Christ as the Dayspring and when l wrote this sonnet I found that I had at last written something clear about my own experience of depression. I hope that others who have been in that darkness will find it helpful.
You can hear me read this poem by clicking on the title or the play button. The image above was created by Lancia Smith. you can see this and more on her excellent Website Cultivating the True the Good and the Beautiful.. You can find you can find the words, and a short reflective essay on this poem in Waiting on the Word, which is now also available on Kindle
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
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.
Even in the darkness where I sit
And huddle in the midst of misery
I can remember freedom, but forget
That every lock must answer to a key,
That each dark clasp, sharp and intricate,
Must find a counter-clasp to meet its guard,
Particular, exact and intimate,
The clutch and catch that meshes with its ward.
I cry out for the key I threw away
That turned and over turned with certain touch
And with the lovely lifting of a latch
Opened my darkness to the light of day.
O come again, come quickly, set me free
Cut to the quick to fit, the master key.