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Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday Collect reflection

Palm Sunday

Let us pray (in silence) [that through this week we may share in Christ’s dying and rising]


Almighty everliving God,           [or God of transcendence]
as an example of humility for the human race,
you sent our saviour to become incarnate
and to submit to the cross,
grant us the grace to learn from this patient suffering
and so to share in the resurrection;
through Jesus Christ
who is alive with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

This is my reworking for my Book of Prayers in Common in which I seek to provide a set of collects with history and commentary. It is a collect shared by Roman Catholics, Anglicans, and others. Somehow it did not get from my notes into the first edition of the Book of Prayers in Common. It will obviously be in the next edition.

I would, hence as usual, appreciate receiving any suggestions for improvement of my text.

I provide a fuller commentary on this collect here.

One of Baumstark’s liturgical laws has – the more significant the day the more likely it preserves ancient forms. This is the only Sunday collect in Lent that Roman Catholics retain from the pre-Vatican II Missal.

The original is

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus qui humano generi ad imitandum humilitatis exemplum salvatorem nostrum carnem sumere et crucem subire fecisti concede propitius ut et patientiae ipsius habere documenta et resurrectionis consortia mereamur…

Cranmer rendered it as

ALMIGHTIE and everlastynge God, whiche of thy tender love towarde man, haste sente our savior Jesus Christ, to take upon him oure fleshe, and to suffre death upon the crosse, that all mankynde shoulde folowe the example of his greate humilitie; mercifully graunte that we both folowe the example of his pacience, and be made partakers of his resurreccion; thoroughe the same Jesus Christ our lorde.

The Roman Catholic version is

Almighty ever-living God,
who as an example of humility for the human race to follow
caused our Savior to take flesh and submit to the Cross,
graciously grant that we may heed his lesson of patient suffering
and so merit a share in his Resurrection.
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.

Massey Shepherd states

This Collect is the nearest thing to a statement of the doctrine of Atonement to be found in the Prayer Book, and it is significant that it associates it with Christ’s Incarnation no less than his Passion. Also the stress upon the ‘humility’ of Christ in coming into the world for our redemption is noteworthy. [The Oxford American Prayer Book Commentary]

A New Zealand Prayer Book version weakens some of that insight

Almighty and everliving God,
in your tender love towards us
you sent your Son to take our nature upon him,
and to suffer death upon the cross;
grant that we may follow the example
of his great humility
and share in his glorious resurrection:
through him who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God now and for ever.

More on the Palm Sunday rite here.

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6 thoughts on “Palm Sunday Collect reflection”

  1. morena Bosco,
    One could test and even challenge the theology of this collect as it suggests that God forced his beloved to endure the cross. In a time where we are opposed to violence and abuse, maybe we need to revise this collect to reflect a more just and loving god. Its not ok.

    1. Thanks, Rob. I was very conscious of your point as I prayerfully reflected towards my reworking. It is a reason why I’m not as happy with the RC “caused” as my own “sent”. In Christ God came to share our suffering – if you have suggestions how that can be held in there without creating a completely new collect, I’m listening. Blessings.

      1. The peace of God be with you brothers,

        I don’t see the word “cause” as a point of change. The sin of the world was caused by us, therefore we needed a redeemer to be sacrificed for our salvation and to restore communion with God. God did not caused Jesus to die for us, but we did. God cause His Son to take flesh but Jesus submitted out of love to the cross. Jesus confirms that as He asked to allow the bitter cup to pass but that God’s will be done. Perhaps we oversee the sacrifice that God did by sending His one and only Son to complete the Salvation plan. We should not see it as an act of an Angry god but as a loving God who made the only way to Salvation and communion with God the Father. The violence around the death of Christ was done by people, sinful people who had no reason to crucify him other then their own gain. The weight of sin was death and so Christ carried that death for all of us and is risen so we can have eternal life. Also the abuses today are not caused by God but by the sin of mankind. The end of times has begun with the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ and we are warned in the bible that we will see these type of atrocities of the lawlessness man. Using the word sent is also fine, perhaps the translation has also something to do with the word choice.

        1. Thanks, Julieta. The subject of the verb “cause” in the collect is God. Your reflection that ultimately we caused is good, but is a reflection alongside the collect, rather than a direct reading of it. What we need to beware of is giving the impression that God sent an other. In Christ it is God who is acting, God who is coming to us, God who is redeeming. That must be in and under this prayer, and if there is a better way to make that clear within the rendition, while respecting the integrity of the collect, that would be great. Blessings.

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