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Lent 4 – 19 March 2023

Let us pray (in silence) [that as Christ was restrained for our sake, we may be set free for his]


Forgive, O God, the offences of your people,
that through your goodness we may be freed from the bonds of the sins
which in our frailty
we have committed;
through our Saviour Jesus Christ,
who is alive with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God now and for ever.

The history and commentary for this ancient, shared collect is found here: collect for Lent 4, or below.

Lent 4 is Refreshment Sunday, marking the half-way point in the season from the first Sunday in Lent. The tradition of visiting the mother church of the diocese on this day, and of apprentices and servants visiting their parents, also led to it being called “Mothering Sunday”. It is also called Laetare Sunday from the introit, and this joyful pause (Laetare is Latin for “Rejoice”) in the Lenten discipline can be marked by rose vestments.

This is the introit:

Laetare Ierusalem: et conventum facite omnes qui diligitis eam: gaudete cum laetitia, qui in tristitia fuistis: ut exsultetis, et satiemini ab uberibus consolationis vestrae.

Rejoice, Jerusalem! Be glad for her, you who love her; rejoice with her, you who mourned for her, and you will find contentment at her consoling breasts. (See Isaiah 66:10-11)

TEC (BCP) uses another collect:

Gracious Father,
whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world:
Evermore give us this bread,
that he may live in us,
and we in him;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

It has a commentary here.

Resources beyond this website (you can add others in the comments section below):
Girardian reflection on the Lectionary
Resourcing Preaching DownUnder

Reflection on the Collect

The earlier Veronese (Leonine) Sacramentary had in September:

Absolue, domine, quaesumus, tuorum delicta populorum, et quod mortalitatis contrahit fragilitate purifica; ut cuncta pericula mentis et corporis te propellente declinans, tua consolatione subsistat, tua graita promissae redemptionis perficiatur hereditas.

By the Gregorian Sacramentary, the collect for the Sunday before the autumn (September) Ember Days was:

Absolve, quaesumus,
Domine, tuorum delicta populorum,
ut a peccatorum nexibus,
quae pro nostra fragilitate contraximus,
tua benignitate liberemur.

This was a penitential period. It became the collect for the 24th Sunday after Trinity, through Sarum also entering the BCP tradition, Cranmer translating it as:

LORD we beseche thee, assoyle [absolve] thy people from their offences, that through thy bountiful goodnes we maye bee delyvered from the handes of all those synnes, whiche by our frayltye we have committed : Graunt this, &c.

Roman Catholics have, since Vatican II, moved it to the Friday in the 5th Week of Lent. Many Anglicans have abandoned it. The CofE has restored it as the collect for Lent 4 (in Common Worship, after not using it in ASB).


Unloose, O Lord, we implore,
the transgressions of your people,
so that in your kindness we may be freed
from the bonds of the sins
which we committed by our frailty.

Common Worship version:

Merciful Lord,
absolve your people from their offences,
that through your bountiful goodness
we may all be delivered from the chains of those sins
which by our frailty we have committed;
grant this, heavenly Father,
for Jesus Christ’s sake, our blessed Lord and Saviour,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

ICEL (1973)

grant us your forgiveness
and set us free from our enslavement to sin.

Failed 1998 English Missal translation:

Pardon, merciful Lord, the offences of your people,
and in your goodness

release us from the bonds of sin
which in our human weakness
we have fashioned for ourselves.
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.

Current ICEL (2011):

Pardon the offenses of your peoples, we pray, O Lord,
and in your goodness set us free
from the bonds of the sins
we have committed in our weakness.

nexus, from necto (“to bind, tie, fasten; to join, bind, or fasten together, connect”), can involve “a personal obligation, an addiction or voluntary assignment of the person for debt, slavery for debt”.

absolvo undoes this tying: “to loosen from, to make loose, set free, detach, untie”. It also means “to bring a work to a close, to complete, finish (without denoting intrinsic excellence, like perficere; the fig. is prob. derived from detaching a finished web from the loom”.

Web and weaving, and being caught in the web woven of sin, and Jesus being bound and this leading to our unbinding are all images within this prayer.

Lent has polarities of joy-pain; error-truth. This prayer focuses on the polarity: sin-forgiveness.

image source

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