Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Give Back to Us the Light, Lord!
With the end of October drawing near, the darkness approaches, closes in. Not a positive thing, especially for someone with Seasonal Affective Disorder (fittingly shortened to SAD). Darkness is also a big deal for the worship and vigil of Holy Saturday. Today’s prayer comes under the notation “For the Kindling of the Light on Easter Eve.”
This is one of the oldest prayers I have yet seen, by Prudentius (348-410), in the section “Thine Is the Kingdom.” (Prayer 522, page 158)  Today’s prayer is about Sacraments.
Light is not a sacrament of the Church. In my Protestant tradition, baptism and communion are the two designated sacraments. However—light is fundamental to Christian belief. I can well understand how someone as significant as Prudentius could pen these distinctive lines.
“Good captain, maker of the light” – referring to Christ, who is acknowledged to be active in creation. And, focusing on the light. (Or, is it perhaps an oblique reference to the Light, Jesus, as mentioned in John 8:12?)
“Who dost divide the day and night” – again, a reference to the Second Person of the Trinity. Genesis 1 vividly speaks of the division in the first Creation narrative.
“The sun is drowned beneath the sea” – I think this is an allusion to the Sun of Righteousness, another name for Jesus from verses such as Malachi 4:2. And drowned? Under the sea? I suspect this is a reference to Holy Saturday. Remembering our Lord when He died. Descended into hell, in the words of the Apostles Creed (one of the oldest existing Creeds).
“Chaos is on us, horribly.” – Ah, the chaos of Holy Saturday. Horrible, desperate loneliness. Chaos of Genesis 1:2, formless, void. Empty. Wasteland. Who can save us from this desperate state?
“O Christ, give back to faithful souls the light!” – Dear Christ, hear our cry. Send us Your light. Lead us forth from the seeming endless void of Holy Saturday into the blazing brightness of Easter morning.
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 The Oxford Book of Prayer, edited by George Appleton. (New York: Oxford University Press, reissued 2009), 158.