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The Annunciation

Advent 4

18 December 2022

The Annunciation
Image: Tanner, Henry Ossawa, 1859-1937. Annunciation

Let us pray (in silence) [that the message of God coming to save us may transform our lives]

Pour forth, we beseech you, O Lord,      [or Pour forth, we beseech you, O God,]
your grace into our hearts,
that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ your Son
was made known by the message of an angel,
may, by his passion and cross,
be brought to the glory of his resurrection,
through Jesus Christ, our Saviour,
who is alive with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

This is part of my collects with history and commentary.

This collect has been with us at least since the 8th century Hadrianum. It is in the Sarum Missal, the Book of Common Prayer, the 1962 Missal, and the Roman Rite after Vatican II. It is one of the well-known collects that has been sadly abandoned by the NZ Anglican Prayer Book.

Gratiam tuam, quaesumus Domine,
mentibus nostris infunde,
ut qui, Angelo nuntiante,
Christi Filii tui incarnationem cognovimus,
per passionem eius et crucem
ad resurrectionis gloriam perducamur.

It is well-known by those of us who pray the Angelus.

You can read more of the history and my reflection on this collect here, or below.

Remember: The Gloria (“Glory to God in the highest..”) is not used.

The O Antiphons of Advent

The NZ Lectionary booklet has O Sapientia in italics on 17 December. I wonder how many people reading that know what it refers to? There is no further mention of any of the other great O Antiphons. There is a lot on this site on these wonderful antiphons – the search box on the top right, as always, is the friend of those who want to explore.

December 17: O Sapientia (O Wisdom)
December 18: O Adonai (O Lord)
December 19: O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)
December 20: O Clavis David (O Key of David)
December 21: O Oriens (O Dayspring)
December 22: O Rex Gentium (O King of the nations)
December 23: O Emmanuel (O With Us is God)

The first letters taken backwards form a Latin acrostic “ero cras” – Latin for “Tomorrow, I will come”.

There was an alternative English medieval practice of moving all of the antiphons forward by one day (commencing on 16 December) and adding an eighth antiphon, O Virgo virginum (O Virgin of virgins), on 23 December, (the acrostic became Vero cras, “truly, tomorrow”). This was followed in the CofE, but has been abandoned in its Common Worship. NZ Anglicanism followed this – the last year being 1990. Then it had several years of no mention of these Antiphons. In 1999 its lectionary booklet began following the more common practice.

Other Resources

Original, Southern Hemisphere Advent collects
An outline example and resources for an Advent Eucharist
Advent in the Southern Hemisphere

Advent penitence

O Antiphons chants

Off this site:
Resourcing Preaching Down Under
Girardian Reflection

In the comments below, please continue adding quality Advent resources and ideas.

Lectionary Readings Introductions

This site provides something different: many sites and books provide a brief summary of the reading – so that people read out or have in their pew sheet an outline of what they are about to hear. They are told beforehand what to expect. Does this not limit what they hear the Spirit address them? This site provides something different – often one cannot appreciate what is being read because there is no context provided. This site provides the context, the frame of the reading about to be heard. It could be used as an introduction, printed on a pew sheet (acknowledged, of course), or adapted in other ways. This is an experimental venture and I will see how useful it appears. 

Isaiah 7:10-16

The year is 734-733 BC. King Ahaz of Judah has killed his son. Israel and Syria are threatening from the North, and hence the Davidic line is in danger. Ahaz appeals to Assyria for help. Ahaz does not seek a sign from God, but Isaiah declares that Ahaz’s wife is pregnant with a new heir to the throne and as a sign that God is with Ahaz. Tiglath-pilesar of Assyria then invades Damascus, exiling those who live there and killing the king (2 Kings 16). 

Romans 1:1-7

Paul writes this letter primarily to fellow-Judeans living in Rome (the letter nowhere refers to Romans, however). He is writing around 57-58AD probably from Corinth (or its port, Cenchrae). He is writing to a community he has never visited.

Matthew 1:18-24

In betrothal a couple were chosen for each other, normally by their parents. In marriage the man takes his wife into his home (Matt 25:1-12). The story assumes the separateness of men and women, with Joseph, hence, possibly one of the last to learn of Mary’s pregnancy. Women may have noticed Mary’s not sharing in the monthly ritual purification. Intercourse with a betrothed woman is adultery (Deuteronomy 22:23-24). Joseph realises he will be able to show the cloth with the “evidence of virginity” (Deuteronomy 22:13-21) and Mary is hence threatened with the possibility of death (see also Numbers 5:11-31). In seeking to divorce her quietly, Joseph is hoping the rightful father will come to Mary’s aid.

Reflection on the Collect

This collect has been with us at least since the 8th century Hadrianum, where it was a post-communion prayer for the 25th of March, “The Annunciation to Holy Mary”. It was in the Gelasian Sacramentary, through to the 1962 Missal as this post-communion prayer for the feast of the Annunciation. Via the Sarum Missal it entered the Anglican tradition as the collect for the feast of the Annunciation:

Gratiam tuam, quaesumus Domine,
mentibus nostris infunde,
ut qui, Angelo nuntiante,
Christi Filii tui incarnationem cognovimus,
per passionem eius et crucem
ad resurrectionis gloriam perducamur.

It is well-known by those of us who pray the Angelus.

Thomas Cranmer translated it for the 1549 Book of Common Prayer as:

WE beseche thee, Lorde, powre thy grace into our heartes; that, as we have knowen Christ, thy sonnes incarnacion, by the message of an Angell; so by hys crosse and passion, we maye be brought unto the glory of his resurreccion; Through the same Christe our Lorde.

Since Vatican II it has been the collect for Advent 4.

Mentibus refers to our inner life of mind, heart, conscience and intention.

Infundo means “to pour in, upon, or into” in this construct it can mean “communicate, impart”.

Angelo nuntiante – “as the angel announces”

cognovimus, “we have come to know” – in the perfect tenses, means “to know”

Perduco, means “to lead, to bring through, to guide to a certain goal”. It can also mean “to drink” linking back to infundo. That we may be led through his passion and cross to the glory of the resurrection.

Annunciation, incarnation, and Christ’s passover (in death and resurrection) is one many-faceted jewel. The dating of Christmas (25 December) may derive from a dating of (exactly nine months after) the Annunciation/incarnation as 25 March – being the Western calculation as the date of Christ’s passover. This is not merely the story of a cute baby – swaddling clothes link to burial wrappings, manger to sepulchre, incense and myrrh to anointing.

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2 thoughts on “Advent 4<p>18 December 2022”

  1. Hi Bosco, I want to thank you again for the resources, links and work you put into this site.
    I really appreciate that.

    Blessings and Peace to you and yours.
    Irene Brodie.

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