Today is called O Sapientia, from the Latin for O Wisdom. It is the first of what are called the Advent Antiphons, the special refrains used with the Magnificat at evening prayer (vespers) from today until the 23rd.
O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from one end to the other mightily, and sweetly ordering all things: Come and teach us the way of prudence. cf Ecclesiasticus 24.3; Wisdom 8.1
who gave such grace to your apostle Saint Andrew
that he readily obeyed the call of your Son Jesus Christ
and brought his brother with him:
call us by your holy word,
and give us grace to follow you without delay
and to tell the good news of your kingdom;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
– Common Worship
The hymn is a translation from the original by Mrs C F Alexander. She also wrote All things bright and beautiful which is one of my least favourite hymns, but she can be forgiven as she also gave us this masterpiece of hymnody.
Today we celebrate the immaculate conception of Our Lady.
The Salve Regina
Hail, our Queen and Mother blest!
Joy when all was sadness,
Life and hope you gave mankind,
Mother of our gladness!
Children of the sinful Eve,
Sinless Eve, befriend us,
Exiled in this vale of tears:
Strength and comfort send us!
Pray for us, O Patroness,
Be our consolation!
Lead us home to see your Son,
Jesus, our salvation!
Gracious are you, full of grace,
Loving as none other,
Joy of heaven and joy of earth,
Mary, God’s own Mother!
– Epistle of the Apostles, circa 150.
So much of Church Army ministry is helping people to discover the Jesus who reaches out to them.
Today is that day that Good King Wenceslas looked out on the feast of Stephen. Or, as I used to think as a child when the family sat round the piano as we sang carols, the day that Good King Wenslas last looked out, as if he were in the habit of looking out on a regular basis. It is, of course, the feast of Saint Stephen the first martyr. A day after we have celebrated the birth of the Prince of Peace we celebrate the death of a young man brutally murdered because some people didn’t like what he believed. Perhaps it seems odd to think about such things during this season of goodwill, but it’s a reminder that following Jesus isn’t an easy option. And we have been reminded of that fact by the news this morning that yesterday, Christmas Day, saw the bombing of churches in Nigeria. As we pray at our mass later this morning at St John’s for the victims and their families we pray also for Christians around the world who continue to suffer and die for their faith and for a greater understanding between those of different faiths.