The O Antiphons are a series of chants traditionally used across the final seven days of Advent. Each one is based on a particular characteristic of Jesus; the chant for 18th December is called O Adonai, or O Lord; you can hear it sung below:
They call it Whamageddon, the day on which the first Christmas pop song is heard. Like the first cuckoo of spring, you know when it’s time to switch on the lights and cover everything with tinsel when you hear George and Andrew singing Last Christmas. This time of year is marked by music
But the Christmas songs in the Bible are dangerous. Mary hears that she will spend nine months carrying the Son of God and she bursts into a protest song in which the child growing within her will one day overthrow the powerful, scatter the proud, feed the hungry. And what about the angels? They co-opt words used for the Emperor and his rule, words like Lord and Good News, images around the bringer of peace and celebrations in the heavens, and they divert them from praising Caesar to praising the baby in the manger. In occupied territory these are protest songs, dangerous songs; sings these songs and your name ends up on a list somewhere.
So when we sing Joy to the World, or Hark the Herald Angels Sing, think about what we’re proclaiming. Think about what that means – if it’s a King lying in that manger, if that stable is a venue of a royal birth, then that changes everything. It changes how we see the world. It changes how we vote, how we act, how we live. Because if Jesus is King, then we live in his Kingdom, and that’s where our citizenship lies, no matter what’s written in our passport. And that should stop us from becoming too comfortable, because although the Kingdom of God isn’t of this world, it’s here anyway, breaking through into soup kitchens and drunk tanks and office blocks and churches, appearing on our streets like daisies growing through concrete.