O Antiphons: Day Five, O Radiant Dawn


Anne Morse

For over a thousand years, Christians have sung the O Antiphons in the days leading up to Christmas. Together they comprise a hymn that centers our attention on the glories of Advent and the Incarnation.

From the 17th to the 23rd, we will be sharing the day’s verse along with a short meditation by members of the Colson Center staff.


O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice:

come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death.


How often in Scripture do we witness the contrast between light and darkness? What is its meaning? In Genesis, in His first command, God created light, declared that it was good, and separated the light from the darkness.

Isaiah, anticipating Christ’s birth, writes, “The people walking in darkness shall see a great light.” The great star that unexpectedly lit up the night skies above Bethlehem startled the shepherd boys and led the Wise Men to their destination. Not a map, but a star: Light.

Three decades later, Jesus tells us not to hide our light under a bushel. He means, don’t hide the truth of who He is, and what He represents in our lives. Instead, He notes, we are to be “the light of the world”—a light that shines “before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly father.” After His crucifixion, Mary Magdalene saw Jesus at dawn, as the night’s darkness fell away. Symbolically, it fell away forever.

Light shines its way into our most beloved Christmas hymns. In the third verse of “Silent Night,” we sing “Son of God, Love’s Pure Light, Radiant beams from thy holy face.” In “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” we ask Christ to “Disperse the gloomy clouds of night and death’s dark shadows put to flight.” Christ-eternal, radiant, joyful light—has forever put death’s dark shadows to flight, destroying the power of death itself. Two thousand years after the light-filled night of our Savior’s birth, His followers continue to spread the light of His truth to those who dwell in darkness.

Anne Morse is a freelance writer, a regular contributor to BreakPoint, and the co-author of several books with Chuck Colson.


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