Aside from the wonderful "O" antiphons that enhance Vespers during this last week of Advent, the prayer of the Church is replete with antiphons that provide orientation and lead us deeper into the mystery that the liturgy celebrates.One practice we have restored in the parish where I reside is to begin the Sunday Eucharist by having the cantor chant the entrance antiphon proper to the Sunday. This has proved to create an atmosphere of silence prior to the full congregation singing the opening hymn. The communion antiphon is also chanted prior to the distribution of the Lord's body and blood. Again this provides a precious moment of silent recollection.Many of those who will read this post are slowly extricating cars and driveways from yesterday's snow fall; so the antiphon for one of the psalms at this morning's Lauds may offer solace and hope:

May the Holy One from heaven come down like gentle rain; may the earth burst into blossom and bear the tender Savior!

Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is a longtime Commonweal contributor.

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