Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Collect for the First Sunday of Advent...and Beyond

In a comment on the Arrivals thread down below, Fr. David Handy writes,

the familiar Collect for the First Sunday of Advent is one of my favorites of the whole year. Just marvelous.

The Collect (pronounced CA-lect, a prayer appointed for specific times to gather the church in a shared prayer focus) is so marvelous that it "made the cut" into the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. The rubrics (instructions in "fine print", once printed in red for visibility) in the 1928 BCP appoint the Collect for I Advent to be included all through the season, after the Collects for II, III and IV Advent.

Here it is:

ALMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen.

Contemporary versi0n:

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Fr. Handy is right. This is a marvelous summary of the Christian's quest. What more do we need to ask? It is a perfect prayer to begin the church calendar year, as we begin a fresh annual participation in the Way, the Truth and the Life - Jesus Christ.

3 comments:

Alice C. Linsley said...

I find this an inspiring Collect and am glad that it remains in its rightful place. What angers me is what happened to the traditional Second Collect for Advent.

This 1979 Prayer Book Collect for Advent 2 replaced the richer one (below):

Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

This is the Traditional Collect for Advent 2

Blessed Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our hearing; grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast, the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

I find this representative of all that is wrong with the Episcopal Church today.

If you don’t remember praying this Collect, it is because the 1979 prayer book moved this extraordinary prayer to the end of the church year, the Sunday closest to November 16, which means that some years it is skipped or trumped by Christ the King Sunday. The only collect in the Prayer Book that speaks of the authority of Holy Scripture has been denied its rightful place in the Church year. The only folks who seem concerned about this are the clergy and laity of the Continuing Church who knew the Book of Common Prayer very well. They broke with ECUSA in the 1980s and continue to use the 1928 Book of Common Prayer and for good reasons.

TLF+ said...

A good reminder, Alice.

Liturgy shapes us - for better or worse.

And liturgy divorced from a complete and accurate presentation of Holy Scripture is a turn for the worse.

Very good insight about the way the '79 book makes that traditional collect disposable.

David Handy+ said...

Tim+,

Thanks for the hat tip and for posting this spendid prayer. The old practice of using it throughout Advent recognized its worth and that it was too good to confine to just one Sunday/week.

But I also like how the lectionary for Year A appoints as the Epistle the passage in Romans 13 alluded to in the collect about casting off the words of darkness. It always reminds me that this was the very passage that the Holy Spirit used to prompt Augustine to finally repent and surrender to Christ. That is, this was the passage his eyes fell upon after he heard the child's voice crying out, "Tolle, lege" ("Take up, and read"). Would that it led more of us to turn to Christ anew as well and to submit more fully to him as Lord.