Today is December 17th, the beginning of the Octave before Christmas. The antiphons change in the liturgical offices of Lauds, Vespers and Midday, to celebratory tunes and anticipatory words for the coming of Jesus, the Son of God. Each Vespers service from now until Christmas will have an O antiphon in Latin before the traditional Magnificat ~ O Root of Jesse, O Wisdom, O Key of David. Each addresses God by a different name asking him to come. The beginning letters of each Latin antiphon written backwards is Ero Cras ~ “Tomorrow I will come” ~ very reassuring! A choral Sister (no doubt through the centuries) hopes to be honored to sing an O antiphon albeit much practice is required. It is so at my home Convent and this Convent is no different! The list is posted now assigning days to each Sister, so she can practice!
Another sign is the appearance of the nativity just inside the ancient Beguines’ entrance hall, with its wonderful, medieval, high-beamed ceiling. The faces are delicately painted leaving us the onlookers to muse about what Mary or Joseph might have been thinking on that night of nights. Of course two wonderfully sculpted sheep and a cow and horse are there worshiping and waiting too. No camels yet!
Last evening’s scripture service, chanted usually to a silent church, was sung to an accompaniment of clatters and bangs: chairs, 500-year old benches, and pews were being moved by electricians and computer men who also periodically clomped up and down the creaky organ loft stairs. Sunday is the annual Christmas Choir concert and the choir needs one practice evening in the church.The choir is from the Sint Salvator Cathedral with its premiere and well-known organist/choir conductor. This organist also graciously prepares us, the Sisters, every week for the Sunday antiphons. We eagerly await the concert. I am told the church is volzet (filled), and the chairs are numbered! Kerstmis is close here at the monastery.