The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Points for Meditation on the Great Antiphons for the Eight Days Before Christmas

by A. C. A. (Arthur Crawshay Alliston) Hall, S.S.J.E. (1847-1930)

Source: John Mason Neale, ed., St. Margaret's Magazine, Vol. II (London: Skeffington & Son; Griffith, Farran & Co., 1891), pp. 286-292.
St. Margaret's Sisterhood founded by John Mason Neale

Copy can be found at the Internet Archive, St. Margaret's Magazine, Vol II.

See: Notes on Veni, Veni, Emmanuel

Points for Meditation on the Great Antiphons for the Eight Days Before Christmas


O Wisdom, Which camest forth out of the mouth of the Most High, and reachest from one end to the other, mightily and sweetly ordering all things : come and teach us the way of prudence.

Wisdom viii. 1-7 ; ix. 10.

I. Man in the darkness groping for the truth of life, deceived by many falsehoods, promised delights, and vain guides, in despair exclaims with Pilate, What is truth ?

Convinced that God could not mock man's desires and aspirations, that He must intend to reveal the truth concerning Himself, concerning man's true life, and his relation to God, earnest souls look upward and long for a word from God.

II. Worship the Personal Word of God, Incarnate in our nature, the Utterance of the Father's Mind, the Outshining of His glory, the Agent of Communication between God and His creatures. By Him all things were made : by Him therefore all are to be ruled. St. John i. 1-14; Heb. i. 1-3; 2 Cor. iv. 4-6.

He comes to act out man's true life, to be the Pattern Man, the Second Adam, Who is the Lord from Heaven. 1 Cor. xv. 47.

As both the Son of God and the Son of Man, He shews us at once what God is and what man should be.

III. Promise absolute submission to this revelation given in His teaching and example, however paradoxical it may seem. Lord, I will follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest.

Compare Josh. i. 16 : All that thou commandest us we will do, and whithersoever thou sendest us we will go.

Ecclus. xxiii. 28 : It is great glory to follow the Lord.

St. John viii. 12 : I am the Light of the world : he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

Prov. viii. ; Wisd. viii. ix.


O Lord and Ruler of the house of Israel, Who appearedst unto Moses in a flame of fire in the bush, and gavest unto him the Law in Sinai : Come and redeem us with an out-stretched Arm.

Ex. iii. 2 ; xx. ; Deut. xxvi. 8 ; Acts vii. 30.

I. Man in bondage to cruel tyrants, the Devil, the World, the Flesh, to whom he has sold himself, or by whom he has been overcome, calls for his true and legitimate Ruler to deliver him.

In obedience to His law alone can true freedom be found (Cui servire est regnare, " In Whose service is perfect freedom "), for this is the law of our nature. 1 St. John v. 3.

The miserable bondage of sin and evil habits. St. John viii. 34; Rom. vi. 19-23; vii. 22-24; 2 St. Pet. ii. 19.

II. To set man free the Lord Himself comes down, in pity for His people identifying Himself with their sorrows. Ex. iii. 7, 8; Isa. lxiii. 9; St. Matt. viii. 17.

The Seed of the woman shall crush the Serpent's head at the expense of His own heel being bruised in the struggle. Gen. iii. 15 ; St. Luke i. 74.


O Root of Jesse, Who standest for an ensign of the people, at Whom kings shall shut their mouths, unto Whom the Gentiles shall pray : Come and deliver us, and tarry not.

Isa. xi. 10; Iii. 15.

I. The new shoot springing up from the hewn-down stump

(1) of David's line now in total obscurity,

(2) of the human race sunk in miserable degradation,

(3) of thine own past failures.

In Him all the promises are to be fulfilled, in Whom all nations shall be blessed. St. Luke i. 32, 33; Gen. xxii. 18; 1 Chron. xxii. 9, 10. He is the Second Adam, in Whom all are to be made alive. 1 Cor. xv. 22.

Who shall gather round Himself both Jews and Gentiles that were scattered abroad.

In Him they shall find peace and security.

He shall reverse the defeat of the first Adam. Gen. iii. 15.

II. As in self-will and independence we have fallen after the example of the first Adam, let us return and seek restoration in simple obedience to the rule of Jesus, the little Child, born King of the Jews (St. Matt. ii. 2), the crucified King, reigning from the Tree (St. John xix. 19-22), the Heavenly King (Rev. xvii. 14; xix. 16).


O Key of David, and Sceptre of the house of Israel, Thou that openest and no man shutteth, and shuttest and no man openeth : come, and loose the prisoner from the prison-house, and him that sitteth in darkness from the shadow of death.

Rev. iii. 7 ; Isa. xlii. 7.

I. Man imprisoned by sin and death (in Adam all die, 1 Cor. xv. 22; Gen. ii. 17; iii. 29), feeling within himself

the corruption of his being,
the rebellion of his appetites and passions,
the blindness of his understanding,
the earthliness of his affections,
the weakness of his will ;

knowing that he is daily advancing toward the dissolution of his soul and body ;
fearing what may be hereafter ;
in truth sitting in darkness and the shadow of death. Rom. vii. 24 ; Heb. ii. 14, 15.

II. Jesus the Conqueror of death, the Lord of life. In Christ shall all be made alive. 1 Cor. xv. 22.

Worship Him in His glorified, risen Body, as St. John beheld Him. Rev. i. 17, 18 ; ii. 8 ; iii. 7, 8.

He has conquered death, having paid the penalty, having tasted death for every man, and having risen free from its grasp because of His own sinlessness.

He has opened the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers. The Cross is the key that opens it.

He holds, as being invested with supreme authority, the keys of death and Hades. All is subject to Him. Death cannot really hurt those who are in Him. They, like Him, have an indestructible life. Rom. viii. 31-39.

III. Pray for all penitents, and for all who are not delivered from the bondage of sin. Ps. cxlii.

Examine thyself as to thine own freedom. He and He alone can give true liberty : dost thou seek it truly and rightly at His hands? St. John viii. 36 ; Ps. cxix. 32.


O Orient, Brightness of the Eternal Light, and Sun of Righteousness : Come, and lighten them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death.

St. Luke i. 78, 79 ; Mai. iv. 2 ; 2 St. Pet. i. 19.

I. Man pining away in his alienation from God begs for the cheering, quickening beams of the Sun of Righteousness. Ps. xix. In sin he has been averted from God : in penitence he is turned again toward God.

Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts : shew the light of Thy countenance, and we shall be whole. Ps. lxxx. 7-19.

II. Christ giving light to the penitent.

The promise is to you that fear My Name. Mai. iv. 2.

Look unto Me, and be ye saved. Isa. xlv. 22.

God, Who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Cor. iv. 4.

This is to be shed abroad more and more in the heart.

Now we have but the dawn. But how cheering and glorious is this ! What shall be the glory and the beauty of the full blaze of God's unveiled Presence ?

Awake, thou that steepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall shine upon thee. Eph. v. 14.

Ps. cxxx. (Lie low and look up.)


O King of the Gentiles, and their Desire, the Corner Stone, Who madest both one : Come and save man, whom Thou hast made out of the dust of the earth.

Eph. ii. 14.

I. On the Apostle's Feast Day a prayer for Missions, that the princes of the peoples, the Gentile world, may be joined to God as the people of Abraham, in the true Israel, children of the Father of the faithful (Ps. xlviii. 9; Rom. iv. u-16); that He Whom they ignorantly worship and feel after may be made known to them. Acts xvii. 23, 27 ; St. John x. 16.

II. The dignity of man as made in the image of God, to be conformed to His likeness. Gen. i. 26.

The inability of aught but God to satisfy man's longings.

Man's heart restless till it finds its rest in Him.

III. Pray for all who, taken out of the dust of the earth that they might be set with God's princes (the holy angels), are content to sink down again to the level of the beasts that perish (Ps. cxiii. 4-7) ;

whether in sensuality and pleasure seeking,
or in worldly ambition,
or in scientific ignorance of God.


O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the Desire of all nations, and their saviour : come, and save us, O Lord our God.

Gen. xlix. 10 ; Hag. ii. 7 ; Isa. vii. 14 ; ix. 6.

I. Worship Mary's Child as indeed Emmanuel. Adeste fideles .

Nothing short of this can satisfy man, to be in true fellowship with God.

This can only be by God's first stooping to man, that He may raise man to Himself.

The Word was made flesh, and tabernacled amongst us, full of grace and truth. As many as received Him to them gave He the right to become children of God. St. John i. 12, 14; comp. Heb. ii. 16-18; 2 St. Pet. i. 1-4.

II. Consider how this is realized now in the Christian Church, the Kingdom of Heaven upon earth

by Sacraments,
indwelling Grace.
  St. Matt, xxviii. 20 ; St. John xiv. 18, 23.

III. How it shall be fully realized hereafter.

Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God. Rev. vii. 15 ; xxi. 3.


O Virgin of virgins, how shall this be ? For neither before thee was any like thee, nor shall there be after : Daughters of Jerusalem, why marvel ye at me? The thing which ye behold is a divine mystery.

St. Luke i. 20-38.

Regard blessed Mary as the type and pattern of the elect soul in whom Christ is to be born according to the spirit. Gal. i. 16 ; iv. 19 ; S. Matt. xii. 47-50.

In us spiritually the mystery of the Incarnation, accomplished literally in her, is to be continually re-enacted, its grace perpetuated, and according to the same law.

The Word of God is to clothe Himself in our nature by the operation of the Holy Ghost.

I. Nothing short of the Divine holiness, truth, purity, love, is to be the standard of my life. I am made partaker of the Divine Nature. 2 St. Pet. i. 4 ; St. John i. 12 ; St. Matt. v. 48.

As I am a member of Christ, His likeness is to be reproduced in me. 1 St. John iii. 1-3.

This is to be the effect of my Meditations on His Life,

St. John viii. 12.
Communion of His Body and
Blood, St. John vi. 56, 57.
Religious Vocation to follow
His steps. St. Matt. xix. 21.

II. He is to be revealed in me, in my circumstances, with my gifts, disposition, &c.

As He was of One Substance with the Father according to His Divine Nature, so was He of the Substance of His Mother according to His Human Nature.

So in us. The Word is really to be made Flesh, to dwell among us, in all the fulness of His grace and truth, in the midst of our daily life and work. St. John i. 14.

III. This mystery is to be accomplished by the operation of the Holy Ghost.

We shrink at the thought of our own incompetence and earthliness.

Fear not, Mary, the Angel says, the Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee. St. Luke i. 35-37 ; St. Matt. i. 18-20 ; 2 Cor. iii. 5 ; Zech. iv. 6.

We are to rely not on human power, our own exertions, earthly influence, but on the power of the Holy Ghost. St. John i. 13.

Our part is to yield ourselves unreservedly to His inspiration. Phil. ii. 12, 13.

In what particular is Christ's likeness to be reproduced in me ?

How is He to be born in me this New Year ?


It is not known when this Meditation was first published in St. Margaret's Magazine, as we do not at this time have access to the original magazines. Volume 2 of St. Margaret's Magazine, published in 1891, was an undated assortment of articles that had originally appeared in the periodical.

Bishop Hall also published The Advent Antiphons With Scripture References and Paraphrases (1914)

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