Nov 16, 2014

Collect of the Day

One of my favorite collects in the entire Book of Common Prayer is the one appointed for Proper 28, the Sunday closest to November 16th. 

[Note for non-Episcopalians: the word "collect" in this context is simply Anglican-ese for "prayer" and is pronounced with the accent on the first syllable].

Here's how it reads in contemporary language:
Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The idea of "inwardly" digesting Scripture is a delicious image -- and I couldn't resist pulling out the good silver for this photo.

The collect itself was written by Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer, author of the first Book of Common Prayer, for the Second Sunday in Advent. The original 1549 version was composed thusly:
BLESSED Lord, which hast caused all holy Scriptures to bee written for our learnyng; graunte us that we maye in suche wise heare them, read, marke, learne, and inwardly digeste them; that by pacience, and coumfort of thy holy woorde, we may embrace, and ever holde fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast geven us in our saviour Jesus Christe. 
In the Oxford American Prayer Book Commentary, Massey Shepherd points out that the reference to "all holy Scriptures" hearkens to Cranmer's criticism of the medieval service books -- namely that they did not include readings from the entire Bible. Cranmer makes this very point in the Preface to the 1549 book (which you can read on pages 866-867 of the current 1979 Prayer Book). Cranmer's first Prayer Book remedies this situation by including the reading of "all holy Scriptures" via a cycle of lectionary readings.

All of which is simply to say, let the feast begin!


Alan C said...

I have a photo of my one-year-old granddaughter crumpling up the service leaflet from our new rector's first Sunday. Since she also likes to chew on paper I couldn't help thinking of that when hearing today's collect.

Anonymous said...

Our 2nd grader routinely uses such spelling in her compositions, spiritual and otherwise. If Cranmer is any indication, she is on her way to accomplishing great things in life.

Brendan O'Sullivan-Hale said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brendan O'Sullivan-Hale said...

And if you can't get enough of this collect (because who can, really?), you might check out the Proper 28 episode of the Collect Call, wherein we discuss the parts of scripture we know so well that they have become part of us, amid miscellaneous ramblings about Suzanne Somers and Christian Contemporary music.