O Dayspring, Splendor of light everlasting, Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.
There is a darkness about this world. And this darkest day of the year is but an image of that deeper darkness. The darkness of our sin, which locks us in a prison of old habits and fears. The darkness of our death and the death of those we love, which brings a darkness into the soul that is palpable. Dylan Thomas urged his father to "rage and fight against the dying of the light" - but he went into that dark night all the same. For those in such darkness, there is no fight left. The people sit. They sit and wait and know they cannot fight it, overcome it, destroy it. It's far bigger and badder than they. But in the darkness they can still do one thing: they can pray. They can call to Him who is a Light that no darkness ever has or ever will overcome, and pray for His gracious visitation. They can ask for His presence to lighten the darkness and lead them to that place "where the angels singing with all His saints unite, sweetest praises bringing, in heavenly joy and light!" This the Church does on this darkest day, calling out:
O come, Thou Dayspring from on high
And cheer us by Thy drawing nigh.
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight!
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel!