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Dear Friends

December already – and this year the whole of the Advent Season falls within the month. This results in Christmas Eve being also the Fourth Sunday of Advent – not actually a problem since we shall celebrate Advent 4 in the morning and start the Christmas Eve stuff after lunch!

Those outside the church are really not aware of Advent as being a time of preparation for Christmas. Decorations will be up in shops, stores and shopping malls, with carols being played over the sound systems. It always reminds me of a previous vicar who insisted that no carols would be played or sung until Christmas Eve in the church or at any Parish functions. This upset the Mothers’ Union who traditionally sang carols at their December meeting. They got round the problem by simply omitting the theme for the December meeting from the published schedule. Since the vicar never attended anyway, both sides were, presumably, content with the situation!

One of the great Advent hymns is ‘O come, O come, Emmanuel’ – a long hymn (seven verses) sung to a slightly unusual tune. It is based on a series of antiphons, known as the Great Os of Advent. The word ‘antiphon’ comes from the Greek for ‘opposite’ and ‘voices’ and is traditionally used to describe a short chant in Christian ritual, with a verse and a response.

The Great Os are very old, with references from the Ninth Century onwards and were traditionally sung before the Magnificat at Vespers on the seven days before Christmas Eve.

‘They are addressed to God, calling for him to come as teacher and deliverer, with a tapestry of scriptural titles and pictures that describe his saving work in Christ.’ (Common Worship; Times and Seasons)






Each antiphon has a name of Christ, one of his attributes mentioned in Scripture. They are:

December 17th – O Sapienta (O Wisdom)

December 18th – O Adonai (O Lord)

December 19th – O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)

December 20th – O Clavis David (O Key of David)

December 21st – O Oriens (O Dayspring)

December 22nd – O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations)

December 23rd – O Emmanuel (O God With Us)

You will have noted that the hymn uses Emmanuel for the first verse instead of the last!  The verses of the hymn are translations of the original Latin words, modified where necessary to fit the tune and to rhyme in the couplets – though one or two rhymes are rather forced!

(There isn’t room in this letter to look further at the Great Os – I’ll give the editors a separate article for this!). Yes it's on pages 29 NS 30.

Advent is a time of waiting and anticipation – in addition to singing
O come, O Come, Emmanuel, we often use the word Marantha – our Lord, come.

It reminds us that Advent is not just a preparation for Christmas. As Common Worship: Times and Seasons puts it:

‘Advent is the season of expectation and preparation, as the Church prepares to celebrate the coming (adventus) of Christ in his incarnation, and also looks ahead to his final advent as judge at the end of time. The readings and liturgies not only direct us towards Christ’s birth; they also challenge the modern reluctance to confront the theme of divine judgement.’

‘Every eye shall now behold him

robed in dreadful majesty.’                     (Charles Wesley)  

May this Advent be for us a time of preparation and reflection.


Come, Lord Jesus

Tony King


Dear Friends

The Pre-Christmas Coffee Morning held on 11th November, despite the weather, was a great success, raising a magnificent sum of £508.00. Thanks to all who made this possible and helped us in any way. Thanks again. We are now into ADVENT season with Carol services, Christingle and Midnight Mass at St James. On Christmas Day at St Mark's there will be a family Communion service at 10.00am. All are Welcome.

May I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Peaceful New Year

With love and best wishes



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