O Morning Star – An Advent Reflection for 21st December

IMG_6229We are here again, decorating our tree, putting the finishing touches to it. For the last few days we have been using a symbol of God’s saving work in Jesus Christ as way of reflecting on some ancient texts, antiphons used before the Magnificat at Evening Prayer around this time of year. Today we have to put the star on the top and I need the ladder. Today’s antiphon is ‘O Morning Star’, or ‘O Dayspring’ as it is sometimes called.

O Morning Star, splendour of light eternal and sun of righteousness: Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death. Cf Malachi 4:2)

Stars shine at night, but around this time of year there is a bright star in the morning, called the Morning Star. This star lights up not the night, but tells of the promise of the new day. And with Jesus a new day dawns, a new day in God’s love for us.

The morning star is actually Venus, the brightest planet. It remains bright and beautiful in the first light of morning, as the ‘Morning Star’. Today it is in conjunction with Jupiter and Saturn, making a particularly spectacular sight. This star is one of the contenders for the  magi’s star, a star that leads in hope and promise.

Astronomers have long looked in the skies with awe and wonder. It has brought with it reflection on our own place and the more we know about the vastness of the universe and the uniqueness of this planet, the greater the awe and wonder. The star on the tree is a moment to reflect, to be struck by planets in their motion and how we are dependent on the life and love of God.

On day 5, 21st December, we put the star on top of the tree in awe and wonder at God’s creation through his Word and redemption in Jesus Christ.



O Dayspring, O Morning Star,

dawning from the dwelling of God,

reveal the promise of the new day.

Bless us with the gift you hold before us

and keep us in your saving love.


Come to our salvation

Come, Lord Jesus.

Advent Antiphons from ‘Common Worship: Daily Prayer’ is copyright © The Archbishops’ Council 2005.

 Prayers taken from Ian Black ‘Intercessions for the Calendar of Saints and Holy Days’ (2005, SPCK)

Text of an Advent Reflection, streamed online for Peterborough Parish Church, 21st December 2020.

About Revd Canon Ian Black

Ian is Vicar of Peterborough and Canon Residentiary of Peterborough Cathedral in the Church of England Diocese of Peterborough. He served as Rural Dean of Peterborough for 5 years. Prior to moving to Peterborough, Ian was in Leeds for 10 years in Leeds, as Vicar of Whitkirk and as a member of the Chapter of Ripon Cathedral. He has also worked in Kent in Maidstone and as priest-in-charge of a group of parishes 10 miles north west of Canterbury. He was a Minor Canon of Canterbury Cathedral, a prison chaplain and Assistant Director of Post-Ordination Training for the Diocese of Canterbury. Prior to ordination Ian had a career in tax, both with the Inland Revenue as a PAYE Auditor and a firm of Chartered Accountants as a Tax Accountant. Ian was born and grew up in Stratford-upon-Avon and is a former head chorister at Shakespeare's Church - Holy Trinity. He studied in Canterbury, Lincoln Theological College and has a Master of Divinity degree from Nottingham University. He is married with two sons. Publications include three books of prayers: Prayers for all occasions (SPCK 2011), Intercessions for Years A, B & C (SPCK 2009) and Intercessions for the Calendar of Saints and Holy Days (SPCK 2005). His most recent book, 'Follow me: living the sayings of Jesus', was published by Sacristy Press in 2017. There is a hymn based on this 'Christ the Saviour'. He has been writing online since the mid 1990s. Ian is a keen photographer and these frequently appear in his posts and on social media.
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