“Þu wysdom þat crepedest out”

A Clerk of Oxford has a fine piece about Middle English renderings of the great O Antiphons, which are said beginning tomorrow, December 17, in both forms of the Roman Rite. We won’t spoil the fun by quoting them. (Except, of course, for the little bit we spoiled with the title.)

One of our (several) idées fixes is that the Church lost something valuable—and probably irreplaceable—when it lost the regular, public celebration of the Divine Office. Part of that loss is the fact that the trajectory of the great seasons of Advent and Lent is shortened and hastened tremendously. We hop along, from one Sunday to another, moving toward Christmas and Easter in a few short weeks. To put it another way, a good deal of the expectation and penitential character of Advent is found in the Office. And the O Antiphons are an example of that expectation, “ancient songs of longing and desire,” as the Clerk puts it.