O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti,
attingens a fine usque ad finem,
fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia:
veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.

—Antiphon “O Sapientia,” for Dec 17

One of the oldest Advent traditions is the singing of the “O” Antiphons. Known today in the popular Advent hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” reference to these verses is seen in the work of the philosopher Boethius in the sixth century. Their ritual use had been cemented in Rome already by the eighth century. These chants are sung each year, one verse per day, from December 17-23, each referencing a prophecy of Isaiah, and addressing the promised messiah by a different title and asking that they would come and liberate the world from its captivity to injustice.

Today’s antiphon, “O Sapientia,” pleads with Lady Wisdom—the divine feminine in Christian theology, which is often identified not only with knowledge, or prudence, but with creative power—to come and guide us:

“O Wisdom” by Edith A. Ibbs (1905)

In Edith A. Ibbs’s illumination, we see her imagining the meeting of earthly and heavenly wisdom, at the Visitation of the Magi.  While this meeting is traditionally celebrated on the 12th Day of Christmas (January 6 for most Christians), I’m going to attribute the Magi’s early arrival on my calendar to good manners.

In the Gospel of Matthew, the Magi, often called the “Wise Men,” are said to have followed a star to the creche of the prophesied Christchild, bringing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, representing Christ’s kingship, divinity, and humanity. While some traditions imagine a cadre of twelve sages, the more popular western tradition typically depicts only three—one for each of the symbolic gifts.

For today’s selection, I’ve also chosen the much more manageable trio of wise men and gifts and a smattering of cards evoking wisdom and the stars.

Advent 17: Wisdom of the Magi

Creatures (7)
Anointer of Valor
Eidolon of Philosophy
Linvala, Keeper of Silence
Magus of the Candelabra
Magus of the Library
Magus of the Moat
Starfield Mystic

Artifacts (1)
Gilded Lotus

Spells (4)
Cowed by Wisdom
Gift of Paradise
Holistic Wisdom
One with the Stars
Lands (8)
Azorius Chancery
Bant Panorama
Seaside Citadel
Selesnya Sanctuary
Simic Growth-Chamber

This selection has multiple synergistic interactions to talk about, so we’ll get right into it. Early game, dropping any of our multiple low-cost creatures is a fine play. Perhaps we can benefit either from Magus of the Library’s card draw effect or Starfield Mystic’s triggered ability to grow into a more sizable threat. Linvala, Keeper of Silence stops our opponents from using the activated abilities of their creatures, stopping lots of these packs in the tracks if we can keep her safe. Keeping our hand full with Magus of the Library and Eidolon of Philosophy (in the late game) gives us options for Holistic Wisdom and keeps Cowed by Wisdom potent.Gilded Lotus plus Magus of the Candelabra to untap three lands that make two mana each means we can net more mana than this deck ever needs.

This brings us to the key role of this tri-color, three magi, three gift pack: support. On its own, this deck might grind to a slow control win; but it really shines when it can bring its gifts to others, leading them down the path of wisdom. This pack works well with other angels or flying creatures, so that Magus of the Moat can shut down aggressive ground games.

I’ve put a lot—mechanically and liturgically—into this selection. So I’ve got not one song to share today but four, for those who can stomach ancient hymns. Two of these classic Christmas tunes have roots in the fifth or sixth centuries, and one is a recent cover of an Indie Band’s song from 1999; but all of them have something to do with today’s cards. I hope you appreciate these arrangements.

Jacob Torbeck is a researcher and instructor of theology and ethics. He hails from Chicago, IL, and loves playing Commander and pre-modern cubes.

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