Because of work load, the only Christmas-y thing I got to do was attend a carol service at a village church in the vicinity of work. In fact, it was a service sponsored by the employers who provided transportation to the church.
It was exactly the right thing, to recall what Christmas is about, to bring peace and calm to busy-ness, to make us realize that in the end that busy-ness is not life or living. As if to emphasize, the vicar talked about the O Antiphons:
Magnificat antiphons used at Vespers of the last seven days of Advent in Western Christian traditions. They are also used as the alleluia verses on the same days in the Catholic Mass.
They are referred to as the “O Antiphons” because the title of each one begins with the interjection “O”. Each antiphon is a name of Christ, one of his attributes mentioned in Scripture. They are:
- December 17: O Sapientia (O Wisdom)
- December 18: O Adonai (O Lord)
- December 19: O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)
- December 20: O Clavis David (O Key of David)
- December 21: O Oriens (O Dayspring)
- December 22: O Rex Gentium (O King of the nations)
- December 23: O Emmanuel (O With Us is God)
The antiphons also comprise an acrostic, a word puzzle. Starting with the last antiphon, the first letters of each title (E,R,O,C,R,A,S) form the Latin phrase, Ero Cras–Tomorrow, I will be there. In addition to composing an acrostic, each antiphon consists of prophecies of Isaiah (for the text of each antiphon see the wikipedia entry).
In turn these antiphons relate to the song sung during the lighting of the Advent Wreath to mark the weeks of waiting:
Veni, veni Emanuel!
Captivum solve Israel!
Qui gemit in exilio, Privatus Dei Filio.
Gaude, gaude, Emanuel
Nascetur pro te, Israel.
Veni, O Sapientia,
quae hic disponis omnia,
veni, viam prudentiaeut
doceas et gloriae.
(see this previous post For a time I rest in the grace of the world)
‘O Come, O Come Emmanuel’ is a synthesis of the great “O Antiphons” that are used for Vespers during the octave before Christmas (Dec. 17-23). These antiphons are of ancient origin, dating back to at least the ninth century. The hymn itself, though, is much more recent. Its first appeared in the 18th century in the Psalteriolum Cantionum Catholicarum (Cologne 1710). ( See http://www.preces-latinae.org/thesaurus/Hymni/VeniEmm.html)
It is one of my favorite hymns, perfectly expressing that period of waiting, anticipation, giving yourself up.
Kind of like this bee…
But a web was. We try to find already dead meals for Cheryl, this bee one of these. While I was trying to take the photo, I accidentally knocked an anchoring line and Cheryl was left dangling from a thread hanging onto the bee. She was justifiably miffed and took herself up to higher ground above the window this time.
I had thought we were going to lose her come November, but miffed or no, she is still alive and apparently thriving. I have even caught her re-weaving her web on occasion. If you think the O Antiphons are hypnotic, try watching a spider at her web.
She is getting rather particular, though. Not so inclined to accept dry stuff, she unceremoniously dumps them out of the web. Her last satisfying meal was a few days ago when we fished a freshly dead bee out of a bird bath. That she loved.
It’s Not All Dead Bees
In fact, as with other beekeepers, I have seen rather more of my bees than usual. I also have put off my winter varroa treatment as it it is difficult to tell where they are at with brood production etc.
I know that my newer hive is appreciating the fondant. Right before Christmas we undertook our yearly pruning of the forest that is our garden. During a tea break for the guys, we all of a sudden saw something fluttering out from the hive, looking like but unlike a butterfly or a moth. It landed and then took off again for the rosemary bush. This is where we find a tiny piece of shredded plastic (what I wrap the fondant in). A bee had either carried it out of the hive or it had been stuck to her. I have since found the same in the mouse guard. We will have to check on this in the coming week, especially if this warm weather continues
The Time for Waiting Is Over
Instead of looking down on the candles of the Advent Wreath, we look up:
We look forward, not forgetting what was left behind:
Should Old Acquaintance be forgot,
and never thought upon;
The flames of Love extinguished,
and fully past and gone:
Is thy sweet Heart now grown so cold,
that loving Breast of thine;
That thou canst never once reflect
On old long syne.
- On old long syne my Jo,
On old long syne,
That thou canst never once reflect,
On old long syne.
- (Ah, so that’s what it means!)
Firework photo: By Bjørn Erik Pedersen (© 2005, 2006, 2007 by Bjørn Erik Pedersen) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons.