O Day-spring, Brightness of the Light everlasting and Sun of righteousness:
come and enlighten him that sitteth in darkness and in the shadow of death.
Divine Worship: The Missal
‘Not sacred history but nature inspires today’s “O” antiphon. The sun as a symbol of Christ is one of the finest figures in Sacred Scripture and in the liturgy. And never is the metaphor more beautifully worded or more expressive of an entire season’s liturgy than in our present Magnificat antiphon.
The message is readily grasped and offers much material for meditation. Three metaphors link the Redeemer to Light eternal; He is the Sun of Justice. The expression “Rising Dawn” occurs in Zachary 3.8; 6.12; more familiar, however, is its use daily in the Benedictus, Oriens ex alto. In spirit the aged priest Zachary beheld Christ rising as the sun “to enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.” The verse is incorporated in our antiphon. Christ is the Rising Sun that disperses spiritual darkness and death. From the sun in the sky comes light and life; from Christ the divine Sun likewise comes light and life. Remember how Jesus called Himself the light and the life of the world. Let us summarise the points our comparison yields. The sun gives life, light, warm, joy, health. Now imagine a place where the sun’s rays do not penetrate, a dark cellar for example, wet with rottenness, darkness, death. And apply the proper deduction – spiritually.
… What the sun does for the realm of nature, that Christ as the Sun of grace does for the kingdom of God. Which makes the closing petition obvious. We ask Christ to enlighten us by His coming. Whoa re they who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death? Pagans and unbelievers, sinners and atheists. But also in us “the faithful” there is still much darkness, much of death’s shadow. Open your soul and let the divine light shine in’.
from The Church’s Year of Grace, 1959, by Pius Parsch 1884-1954
Fr Lee Kenyon