As early as the 4th Century, the Christian hymn Phos Hilaron (Hail Gladdening Light) was already considered ancient. It was sung during evening prayers in Jerusalem, when a lighted candle would be carried out of the tomb where Christ was buried. The light, of course, symbolizes the presence of the Risen Christ – the light of the world.
Phos Hilaron literally means, “hilarious light,” which is particularly significant since it most likely was sung in the catacombs during worship by the earliest Christians.
Our prayer today is this ancient hymn. As we pray, we join our hearts with our sisters and brothers in Christs over many, many centuries. Let us pray:
O radiant Light, O Sun divine,
of God the Father’s deathless face,
O image of the Light sublime,
that fills the heavenly dwelling place.
O Son of God, the source of life,
praise is your due by night and day.
Our happy lips must raise the strain
of your esteemed and splendid name.
Lord Jesus Christ, as daylight fades,
as shine the lights of eventide,
we praise the Father with the Son,
the Spirit blest and with them one. Amen.