Loose the prisoner

Daily Reading for December 20

O Clavis David

O Key of David, and Sceptre of the House of Israel,

Thou That openest and no man shutteth, and shuttest, and no man openeth:

Come, and loose the prisoner from the prison house,

and him that sitteth in darkness, from the shadow of death.

From The Greater Antiphons At Evensong During Eight Days Before Christmas from the Salisbury Antiphonary, edited by John Mason Neale and Thomas Helmore, in Hymnal Noted: Parts I and II (London: Novello, 1856).

O Jesus, Son of David!

heir to his throne and his power!

You are now passing over, in your way to Bethlehem,

the land that once was the kingdom of your ancestor,

but now is tributary to the Gentiles.

Scarce an inch of this ground which has not witnessed

the miracles of the justice and mercy of Jehovah, your Father,

to the people of the old Covenant, which is so soon to end.

Before long, when you have come

from beneath the virginal cloud which now hides you,

you will pass along this same road doing good,

healing all manner of sickness and every infirmity,

and yet having nowhere to lay your head.

Now, at least, your Mother’s womb affords you the sweetest rest,

and you receive from her the profoundest adoration and the tenderest love.

But, dear Jesus, it is your own blessed will

that you leave this loved abode.

You have, O eternal Light, to shine in the midst of this world’s darkness,

this prison where the captive, whom you have come to deliver,

sits in the shadow of death.

Open his prison-gates by your all-powerful key.

And who is this captive, but the human race, the slave of error and vice?

Who is this captive, but the heart of man,

which is thrall to the very passions it blushes to obey?

Oh! come and set at liberty the world you have enriched by your grace,

and the creatures whom you have made to be your own brethren.

From The Liturgical Year, volume 1, Advent by Abbott Prosper Louis Paschal Guéranger, O.S.B. (Westminster, Md.: The Newman Press, 1948). Translation by Dom Laurence Shepherd, O.S.B., ca. 1867. Text lightly modernized.

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