prayer

How Praying the “O Antiphons” Can Bring You through the Wait of Advent

How Praying the “O Antiphons” Can Bring You through the Wait of Advent

We are coming up on the last push of Advent.

Now is the time when perhaps waiting seems most impossible. Indeed, for some families, gatherings with grandparents, cousins, great-uncles, etc. will begin in a matter of days. Church musicals and special services are whipping to a frenzy. And maybe our hearts are burning, just a little, with the strain of the wait.

Good. This is probably a safe indication that Advent is well at home with us, in our bodies, minds, and spirits.

Keeping Advent in this space is possible and worth it. This could be the time in which it matters the most.

Water, Water

Water, Water

One of the first songs I learned in Ms. Stroud’s high school chorus was Mayim, Mayim—Water, Water. It is an upbeat Jewish children’s song and folk dance that draws its lyrics from Isaiah 12:3. 

The lilting, mysterious tune lured me, as did the challenge of a language different than my own. I tasted the Hebrew words phrase by phrase and imagined what they might have meant for a once wilderness-wandering and exiled people. I learned Mayim, Mayim by heart. I memorized somewhat out of survival (Hebrew transliterations are not easy to read in measure), but mostly because it was beautiful.

I can sing it even today, and I have been. Except my hums and whispered solos have not been in celebration. They have not even been on purpose. No, the recent events in Flint, Michigan brought Mayim, Mayim to me in deep waves of lament and prayer.