Let us pray (in silence) [that we may persevere in our growth into God’s life]


God of all inspiration,
you caused all holy scriptures to be written for our instruction
grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,
that by steadfastness, and by the encouragement of your holy Word,
we may embrace and ever hold fast to the blessed hope of everlasting life,
which you have given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ,
who is alive with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God now and for ever.

The above is my reworking of a very significant Anglican/Episcopalian collect. It was prayed at the end of October and the following week in the Church of England, last Sunday and this week in Canada, Australia, and other places, and will be prayed this coming Sunday and the week following in The Episcopal Church and elsewhere.

I am very happy to receive comments and also suggestions for improvement.

It is original to Thomas Cranmer in the 1549 Book of Common Prayer:

BLESSED lord, which hast caused all holy Scriptures to bee written for our learnyng; graunte us that we maye in suche wise heare them, read, marke, learne, and inwardly digeste them; that by pacience, and coumfort of thy holy woorde, we may embrace, and ever holde fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast geven us in our saviour Jesus Christe.

The form of this Collect is peculiar: the address made to the Father as ‘Blessed Lord’ is unique in the Prayer Book…The words ‘patience and comfort’ are used in their archaic meanings of steadfastness and encouragement. [The Oxford American Prayer Book Commentary Massey Hamilton Shepherd p92]

This collect was placed at Advent 2, where it picked up the language of the epistle, Romans 15: 4-13 (this was the Sarum and Roman selection also for that Sunday, and continues to be the second reading in Year A).

I have altered the “pacience, and coumfort” to the NRSV rendition of Romans 15:4 διὰ τῆς ὑπομονῆς καὶ διὰ τῆς παρακλήσεως τῶν γραφῶν (as also suggested by Shepherd, above). I have also followed this approach for translating διδασκαλίαν ἐγράφη. I am interested if you have any better or alternative address to God. Canada has it as “Eternal God”.

There is much that is eccentric about A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa, but the intentional removal of this collect from our common life must be one of the strangest! Please let me know if there is any other province which has removed this collect from its revision of the BCP. The phrase “read, marke, learne, and inwardly digeste” is one that is used regularly (even here and here in NZ, as just two examples), and deliberately removing this collect from our common prayer disconnects what the phrase refers back to.

This is not merely a collect for one day; it is a prayer we can use far more regularly than that. In my hope and pressing to see this collect restored in NZ there is the question of which Sunday to assign it to. All things being equal, I would currently follow the TEC sequence and use it this coming Sunday and next week, but you may have a better suggestion.

Lectio Divina as one way to hear the holy scriptures, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them.

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