- O Oriens, splendor lucis aeternae, et sol justitiae: veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.
- O Rising Light of the East! Splendour of Eternal Light and Sun of Justice: Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.
Oriens is a Latin present active participle singular vocative from orior. So, O Oriens is “O You Who Are Orienting!”
Of course, the Lord is always “oriented” in the English usage of “all in order”, and He is the One who alone provides that we are set in order, but that just so does NOT give us the sense of what is happening here. Transliterations of one-word-for-one-word are not necessarily translations, and can be exercises in esoteric philosophies of communication that are misleading concerning the body/soul existence of mankind. So, let’s try that again.
Oriens… It refers to that which is in the Orient, that is, the East, and that which is rising, such as the sun, and… and… that which is from the beginning, that which is in the origin of all things, and that which originates all things (also from orior).
That’s more like it! The analogy being that the Lord rises, resplendant and life creating in the healing life giving rays He shines upon us, the night past, He bringing us an eternal day in Himself, He having the right to provide us this mercy, for that mercy radiates from the justice He brings upon Himself on our behalf: For the sake of His sorrowful passion (that’s the justice bit) have mercy on us and on the whole world.
Yes! Yes! Yes! O You who radiate the light of the resurrection upon us, You who are the Splendor of Eternal Light, You who are the Sun of Justice! Do come and enlighten those who are sitting in darkness and the shadow of death!
The Italians speak of birth as the mothers bringing out into the light the children in their wombs (da alla luce), but in this case it’s the other way around. He who is being born is being born to take on Himself the darkness and shadow of death so as to have the right to shine the very splendor of our Heavenly Father upon us.
Now, few may know that the Latin orior is actually Hebrew in origin. And more than the word for “resplendant light” which orior transliterates for us, the Latin also sucks into itself the word in Genesis 3,24 for that which is of the origin, that which (in derivation) is rising, is in the East, that place from which we were driven out, the paradise aspect of the garden, that place to which we turn for redemption, stupidly grasping with our hands, but finally learning instead to receive in all humble thanksgiving.
We don’t run to the Son of the Mother of the Redeemer in Genesis 3,15, He who hangs on the Tree of the Living Ones, He who is Himself the Fruit of that Tree, that Cross.
He runs to us, feet nailed to that Tree. But He runs swiftly, as fast as the light of the Rising Son radiates from East to West, so quickly, with God-Speed, does He reach out to us, drawing all to Himself, that babe born to die and rise for us, bringing us with Himself, to the Father.