Ancient tradition connects each of the days before Christmas with a biblical image. These are the basis of a special prayer used at the evening service each day as an ‘antiphon’. Today’s is ‘O King of the Nations’ or in Latin, O Rex Gentium.
What follows is a poem-prayer in three parts which reimagines this for today.
They treat us as clay indeed, the desire-makers:
we are plastic in their hands,
softer than putty or warm butter.
They fire us as earthenware pots that can
never be filled:
not transparent but porous, riddled with
pin-pricks through which contentment
runs out in rivulets.
The unwanted, odd-angled stone embarrasses the mason:
impossible to use in a foundation or wall. Undesired,
it waits on imagination and necessity:
the bridge, the strengthening arch, once
conceived, demand and prize the angular
one making curve, construction and
O Thou, offering order and purpose to all:
come touch my imagination,
come transform my longing,
come transfigure my desire.
Let us be bridges, not walls,
and let our awkward angles be your
The Original Aniphon
- O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum,
- lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum:
- veni, et salva hominem,
- quem de limo formasti.
- O King of the nations, and their desire,
- the cornerstone making both one:
- Come and save the human race,
- which you fashioned from clay.
For a different re-imagining see: http://malcolmguite.wordpress.com/tag/advent-antiphons/