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Advent 4

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 collecting collects with history and commentary.

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.