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Ordinary 27 (Proper 22)

Forgiving and giving

Let us pray (in silence) [that we may be open to God’s goodness]

Pause

Almighty everliving God,                    [or Compassionate God]
you are always more ready to hear than we to pray,
and to give more than we desire or deserve;
pour upon us the abundance of your mercy,
forgiving us those things
of which our conscience is afraid,
and giving us those things
for which our prayer dares not ask;
through Jesus Christ
who is alive with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Amen.

The above is my attempt to provide a set of collects with history and commentary.

This collect has a lengthy history, present in Gelasian, Leonine, and Gregorian Sacramentaries, where in this last it settled effectively on the Twelfth Sunday after Trinity. There it is found in the Sarum missal:

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus,
qui abundantia pietatis tuae
et merita supplicum excedis et vota;
effunde super nos misericordiam tuam,
ut dimittas quae conscientia metuit,
et adjicias quod oratio non praesumit.

It was rendered in the Book of Common Prayer 1549 (Trinity 12) as:

ALMIGHTIE and everlastyng God, which art alwayes more ready to heare then we to praye, and art wont to geve more than eyther we desyre or deserve; Powre downe upon us the aboundance of thy mercy; forgeving us those thynges wherof our conscience is afrayde, and gevyng unto us that that our prayer dare not presume to aske, through Jesus Christe our Lorde.

In BCP (1662) this became:

Almighty and everlasting God, who art always more ready to hear than we are to pray, and art wont to give more than either we desire or deserve: Pour down upon us the abundance of thy mercy; forgiving us those things whereof our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things which we are not worthy to ask, but through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord. Amen.

The 1549 BCP “and gevyng unto us that that our prayer dare not presume to aske, through Jesus Christe our Lorde” was closer to the Latin than the 1662 expansion.

The Tridentine Missale Romanum had it as the collect for Pentecost 11. After Vatican II it was moved to Ordinary Sunday 27. The RC English translation of the collect (ICEL 1973) was:

Father,
your love for us
surpasses all our hopes and desires.
Forgive us our failings,
keep us in your peace
and lead us in the way of salvation…

In the failed 1998 English Missal translation:

Almighty and eternal God,
whose bounty is greater than we deserve or desire, pour out upon us your abundant mercy;
forgive the things that weigh upon our consciences and enrich us with blessings
for which our prayers dare not hope.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever.

The new RC translation (2011) rendered it as:

Almighty ever-living God,
who in the abundance of your kindness
surpass the merits and the desires of those who entreat you,
pour out your mercy upon us
to pardon what conscience dreads
and to give what prayer does not dare to ask.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

The Episcopal Church’s Book of Common Prayer (1979) placed it on Proper 22 (actually the same day as Ordinary Sunday 27, but with a different counting system), giving it as:

Almighty and everlasting God,
you are always more ready to hear than we to pray,
and to give more than we either desire or deserve:
Pour upon us the abundance of your mercy,
forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid,
and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask,
except through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Once again Roman Catholics and Episcopalian Anglicans and others are praying different translations of the same collect for the same Sunday and week.

Other versions of it are:

Almighty and merciful God,
more ready to hear than we to pray,
giving more than either we desire or deserve;
pour down upon us the abundance of your mercy,
forgive us those things
of which our conscience is afraid,
and give us those good things
which we are not worthy to ask,
except through your Son our Saviour
Jesus Christ

who is alive with with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God now and for ever.
Amen.

NZPB p.630a

The Church of England’s Common Prayer (as well as BCP USA) has kept closer to the BCP 1662 version:

Almighty and everlasting God,
you are always more ready to hear than we to pray
and to give more than either we desire or deserve:
pour down upon us the abundance of your mercy,
forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid
and giving us those good things
which we are not worthy to ask
but through the merits and mediation
of Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

One might argue, especially if one is a liturgically archaeological purist, that the NZ version restores the original. Others may find “merits and mediation” felicitous alongside “desire or deserve” and “forgiving… and giving” (or “forgive… and give”). The archaeological argument is lost by NZ’s changing “everlasting” to “merciful”.

There is certainly a wealth of material to reflect on in our understanding of prayer, forgiveness, worthiness, merits, and mediation. What are we not worthy to ask for? How ready are we to pray?

The Church of England has realised that with the Revised Common Lectionary there is no longer a “theme” for the readings. The collect is not an introduction to themed readings, it is the core and conclusion of the Gathering of the Community. The prayer is general. Hence, once again, this collect is restored by them to its ancient position of Twelfth Sunday after Trinity (yes, the Church of England has gone back to the English counting from Trinity, rather than from Pentecost). This collect there, hence, is no longer attached to a set of readings.

The above discussion about versions and translations is also a reminder that in NZ there is no requirement (as with so much else here now) which collect one uses. One might use NZ’s, or Common Worship’s, and so on. All this is explored in more detail in Celebrating Eucharist Chapter 6 found on this site.

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About This Site Welcome to this ecumenical website of resources and reflections on liturgy, spirituality, and worship for individuals and communities. It is run by Rev. Bosco Peters.

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