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Christmas – Incarnation

Let us pray (in silence) [that through celebrating the Incarnation we will deepen our relationship with Christ]

pause

God,
year by year you make us glad
with the hope of our redemption,
grant that we who joyfully receive your only begotten Son as our Redeemer
may with sure confidence behold him when he comes as our judge;
who is alive with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God now and for ever.
Amen.

The above is my reworking of the collect shared by Roman Catholics and Episcopalians/Anglicans. I am very happy to receive comments and also suggestions for improvement. The process of producing such a reworking is always a wonderful mulling over and over and over. The process has value – even though I acknowledge the product may be able to be improved.

The original was

Deus, qui nos redemptionis nostrae annua expectatione laetificas: praesta: ut Unigenitum tuum quem redemptorem laeti suscipimus: venientem quoque judicem securi videamus Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum. Qui tecum…

In the 1549 Book of Common Prayer, Thomas Cranmer made this:

GOD, whiche makest us glad with the yerely remembraunce of the birth of thy onely sonne Jesus Christ; graunt that as we joyfully receiue him for our redemer, so we may with sure confidence beholde hym, when he shall come to be our judge, who liveth and reigneth &c.

It is found in the Advent Masses of the Gelasian sacramentary (#1156). In the Gregorian sacramentary (#33) and in the Sarum missal it was the collect for the vigil Mass of Christmas.

Cranmer altered the premise/preamble to “…with the yerely remembraunce of the birth of thy onely sonne Jesus Christ…”. He had propers for two Eucharists on Christmas day, and this was his collect for “At the First Communion”. The 1552 revision reduced the provisions for Christmas day to one proper and in Anglicanism this collect disappeared until its revival in the nineteenth century. I have restored its original images, fitting it back into the larger Western tradition and current Roman Catholic usage. It forms a threshold from Advent into Christmas. Roman Catholics use it at the Vigil Mass for Christmas. If Anglicans are using different collects over the Christmas period, and this collect is one of those to be used, then it is appropriately used first.

These are some current versions of it:

Roman Catholic:

O God,
who gladden us year by year
as we wait in hope for our redemption,
grant that, just as we joyfully welcome
your Only Begotten Son as our Redeemer,
we may also merit to face him confidently
when he comes again as our Judge.
Who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

CofE Common Worship:

Almighty God,
you make us glad with the yearly remembrance
of the birth of your Son Jesus Christ:
grant that, as we joyfully receive him as our redeemer,
so we may with sure confidence behold him
when he shall come to be our judge;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Amen.

BCP TEC:

O God,
you make us glad by the yearly festival
of the birth of your only Son Jesus Christ:
Grant that we, who joyfully receive him as our Redeemer,
may with sure confidence behold him when he comes to be our Judge;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Amen.

NZPB:

Almighty God,
you make us glad with the yearly festival
of the birth of your Son, Jesus Christ,
the light of the world;
grant that we,
who have known the revelation of that light on earth,
may see the radiance of your heavenly glory;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God now and for ever.
Amen.

For some it appears I need to explain the layout I have been using. I am suggesting that we use a collect with four movements: a bidding, silence, proclaiming the collect, and “Amen”. So the gathering community is called to deep prayer, either simply by “Let us pray”, or something like “Let us pray that through celebrating the Incarnation we will deepen our relationship with Christ”, or even “Let us pray in silence that through celebrating the Incarnation we will deepen our relationship with Christ”. If the community is standing, and has a habit that one can only pray kneeling, they may even need assistance, “As we remain standing, let us pray…” After the bidding the gathering community prays in deepening silence, the presider proclaims the collect (which collects the prayers of the community and helps to gather), and then the gathered community affirms the collect that has been proclaimed by saying, “Amen.”

Let us pray (in silence) [with joy and hope as we await the dawning of God’s Word]

pause

Almighty God,
you make us glad with the yearly festival
of the birth of your Son, Jesus Christ,
the light of the world;
grant that we,
who have known the revelation of that light on earth,
may see the radiance of your heavenly glory;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God now and for ever.
Amen.

NZPB p. 555b

This collect has a complex history resulting in weaving together threads of Advent, Christmas, and the solstice. The skillful uniting of Advent and Christmas makes it appropriate for the transition between these two seasons.

Cranmer’s 1549 Christmas collect was:

GOD, whiche makest us glad with the yerely remembraunce of the birth of thy onely sonne Jesus Christ; graunt that as we joyfully receiue him for our redemer, so we may with sure confidence beholde hym, when he shall come to be our judge, who liveth and reigneth &c.

This was a translation of a Gelasian Advent collect (one can see the Advent theme), later used in the Gregorian sacramentary for the Vigil Mass of Christmas where it is also placed in the Sarum Missal. Cranmer has changed the preamble from “who makes us glad with the annual expectation of our redemption.”

It was dropped for the 1552 Prayer Book but restored in 1928 for Christmas Eve.

A second collect, found in CofE’s ASB for Christmas “midnight or in the early morning”:

Eternal God,
who made this most holy night
to shine with the brightness of your one true light:
bring us, who have known the revelation of that light on earth,
to see the radiance of your heavenly glory:
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

This collect originates in the Gelasian Sacramentary for the Vigil Mass of Christmas (5) and the Gregorian Sacramentary for the stational Mass of Midnight at St Mary Major (36) and is used in the Sarum Missal for the Christmas Mass at Cockcrow (iv). It is an early reminder of the Christian rivalry with solstice celebrations.

The NZ collect has seamlessly combined these two early collects.

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