The seventh in a series of sonnets based on the Great O Antiphons. This sonnet is based on the antiphon, O Rex Gentium (O King of Nations). The translation reads: “O King of the nations, and their desire, the cornerstone making both one: Come and save the human race, which you fashioned from clay.”

The antiphon is based on several passages from the Old Testament including the following.
Hag. 2:7 I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the LORD Almighty.
Is. 28:16 So this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed.

O King of Nations, for whom we long and desire
Come to your creation, square it and right
Mend the marred, rebuild, and never tire
Till darkness is shaken, pull down the night.
As carpenter and joiner, he dovetails and makes one,
Bridges as keystone the pillared-arched ceiling,
Tears down hostility, makes righteousness run,
And cross-armed gathers in mercy and healing.
In concretion and cohesion, held fast by this King
Sustained by His pervasive presence and power
Made a people of his own sealed in promise as a ring
Wedded beneath his love’s banner and bower.
The King of our desiring has climbed into the clay
Creation’s cornerstone is laid Christmas day.

(c) Randy Edwards

artwork: Egerton MS 3277 2nd half of 14th century; Psalter and Hours (the ‘Bohun Psalter’)

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