Just in case you’re not up on your Latin phrases, Ero cras loosely translates to “Tomorrow I will be.” This phrase is perfect for today, December 23rd, when we look forward to tomorrow evening when we celebrate Christ’s birth. So, why this phrase and how does it relate to worship and music?
Perhaps you’ve noticed that throughout Advent, we have been slowly working through the 8 verses of O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. You may also have noticed that as we have lit our Advent Candles, we have called out to God by many names, imploring God to come among us. This song and these names for God come from a set of ancient prayers called the O Antiphons.
Dec. 17 – O Sapientia/O Wisdom
Dec. 18 – O Adonai/O Lord
Dec. 19 – O Radix Jesse/O Root of Jesse
Dec. 20 – O Clavis David/O Key of David
Dec. 21 – O Oriens/O Dayspring
Dec. 22 – O Rex Gentium/O King of the Nations
Dec. 23 – O Emmanuel/O God-with-us
These O Antiphons, whether by accident or design, form an acrostic SARCORE which when read backwards yields ero cras, “tomorrow, I will be.” Many of the images for God are taken from Isaiah and are recognized in some of our readings throughout this season. Some of these images also relate directly to the year and our experience of time. For example, we make our prayer O Oriens/O Dayspring on the shortest day of the year. We pray to the God who is the day-bringer on the day when we notice that we have the least amount of light.
So why bother with these ancient prayers with their outmoded language and repetitive style? What use could these have for us in our 21st-century hubbub? My suggestion is that by making these repetitive sentences our prayer for these days before Christmas, we can quiet our minds, our souls, and our bodies to truly reflect on what is about to happen. We are about to celebrate the miracle of God’s incarnation among us, not as a King who rules on high, but as a lowly babe in a manger.
Our plaintive prayers for deliverance and asking for the divine to intervene in our lives can help us to re-orient our lives around continuing to house God’s love in our hearts. God came in Christ 2000 years ago in the form of a human child and will continue to come to our world through our actions of loving service done in response to the love God has shown us. May our prayers help us to remember that all we have is a gift and that we are called to share those gifts with any who are in need.