O Come, O Come: O Wisdom

One of the things I look forward to each church season are the ways Grace Kernersville creatives collaborate to provide a means for us as a congregation to walk through a church season. The use of the creative engages our imaginations in a way that allows us to experience something from the inside. This bridges from knowing about something to knowing what it means.

The project for this Advent is based on the Great O Antiphons. You may read the introduction to the series HERE.

The first week’s antiphon is O Wisdom (Sapientia). It is the first and vaguest of the antiphons. This is to be expected because as the antiphons progress, they become more specific and clear. This is right because in the same way, the mystery of the Lord’s coming Anointed One grows with respect to clarity. The promise unfolds or is revealed.

The O Wisdom installation is composed of three parts. The first is a poem which I wrote based on the antiphon itself. The second is the artwork created by visual artist, Hannah Lis, based upon the texts of both the poem and the text. And thirdly, the poem is read by my father-in-law, Ed Pilkington who is a professional actor and who taught theater and speech in North Carolina for over 30 years — mostly at Appalachian State. It is not an understatement to say that Ed instructed a generation of Southern artists and as many more North Carolina educators.

The poetic form for the poems I have written are sonnets. Particularly they are Shakespearean sonnets, and these rhymed verses in iambic pentameter serve as a kind of lingua franca for actors and writers. Not that I am in anyway comparing my words with the Bard’s. However, iambic pentameter suits an actor’s love of the spoken word, and Ed’s readings make my words sound so much better.

Here are each of the components of the installation.

The antiphon, O Wisdom reads:

“O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High, 
reaching from one end to the other mightily, 
and sweetly ordering all things: 
Come and teach us the way of prudence.”

You may listen to my father-in-law read the antiphon and my sonnet via the player below.

O Wisdom

In the silence, before words, songs, or speech,
The Spirit breathes over the water's night;
The Most High speaks; Wisdom readies to teach,
Drive away darkness, sing: "Let there be light!"

O'er Sinai, I AM in glory thunders;
Wisdom speaks again, makes her precepts known,
Reveals the way, writing worded wonders,
Her purpose and promise on tablets of stone.

David's Branch shall come, rule with right wisdom;
Prince of Peace, Immanuel, God of Might,
O'erturn the proud, exalt in His Kingdom
The meek and low whom he heals, mends, makes right.

Tonight, Wisdom waits, poised in the world's wild--
Inhales to speak through the cries of a child.

And finally, Grace Kernersville artist, Hannah Lis, created this acrylic on canvas painting in response to the poem and the antiphon. How do you read what she has created? What story is she telling?

Spread the word. Share this post!