‘Oriens’ is generally translated ‘Morning Star’. Today’s antiphon is not, however, a celebration of the Stalinist newspaper. A better rendering would be ‘rising sun’. On the shortest day of the year, in a nicely pagan move, the Church appeals to the image of the sun piercing the darkness to speak about the promised Saviour. The image is universally human; there is something primal about it. Yet it fits naturally into the particularity of Christian imagery. The darkness of sin is dispersed by the sun of redemption in Christ.
O Morning Star,
splendour of light eternal and sun of righteousness:
Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.