Christmas is almost here. Starting tomorrow, Christians who observe the liturgical season of Advent—the four weeks before the observance of Christ’s birth, set aside for prayerful preparation—are entering the home stretch… or, if you prefer, the “Golden Span.” One ancient way the church marks the week leading to Christmas Eve (since at least the late ninth century) is through the chanting or singing of the “O Antiphons.”
An antiphon is a brief sentence that is sung or recited before or after a psalm or other biblical song. These Advent antiphons are prayers for the Savior’s coming. Each one uses a different scriptural name or title for Jesus, to highlight a particular aspect of his person and work. Even if your particular faith community doesn’t use the “O Antiphons,” you’re likely familiar with them; the hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” paraphrases several of them. Although they are traditionally associated with evening prayer, they can guide prayer and meditation at any time of day.
Starting tomorrow, I’ll be offering some science fictional reflections on each of the traditional Advent antiphons. I hope you’ll enjoy them, and that hearing these prayers transposed into a sci-fi key will help you as you ready your heart and mind for a holy Christmas.