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Sunday 13 November 2022


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


God of 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.

One of the best-known English phrases must, surely, be “…read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest…” It was heard every year in church in the lead-up to Christmas in the collect for Advent 2. I do not think that any of the histories of A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa explains why, when nearly all of Cranmer’s collects are retained, this memorable and important one was excised from the book.

So, although the above prayer is not an ancient one shared by Roman Catholics, I see it as significant enough to add to my Book of Prayers in Common. You will find my commentary and reflection here: Ordinary 33 or below.

You can add your ideas and resources in the comments below.
Preaching Resources from Down Under
Girardian Reflections on the Lectionary

Image: Naive drawing in the style of of an ancient map of Jerusalem, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=55326 [retrieved November 7, 2022]. Original source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/46811478@N03/6300357781/.

Reflection on the collect

This collect is an original by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer for Advent 2 in the Book of Common Prayer 1549:

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 collect picked up the language of the epistle, Romans 15: 4-13 (the Sarum and Roman selection for Advent 2. It continues to be the second reading in Year A).

The address made to the Father as ‘Blessed Lord’ is unique in that Prayer Book. The word “all” alludes to the pre-Reformation limiting of scriptures read – a practice that was remedied by the annual reading of “all holy Scriptures”.

For they so ordred the matter, that all the whole Bible (or the greatest parte thereof) should be read over once in the yeare, intendyng thereby, that the Cleargie, and specially suche as were Ministers of the congregacion, should (by often readyng and meditacion of Gods worde) be stirred up to godlines themselfes, and be more able also to exhorte other by wholsome doctrine, and to confute them that were adversaries to the trueth. And further, that the people (by daily hearyng of holy scripture read in the Churche) should continuallye profite more and more in the knowledge of God, and bee the more inflamed with the love of his true religion. But these many yeares passed this Godly and decent ordre of the auncient fathers, hath bee so altered, broken, and neglected, [Preface BCP 1549]

The words ‘patience and comfort’ are used in their archaic meanings of steadfastness and encouragement. I have altered the “pacience, and coumfort” to the NRSV rendition of Romans 15:4 διὰ τῆς ὑπομονῆς καὶ διὰ τῆς παρακλήσεως τῶν γραφῶν. I have also followed this approach for translating διδασκαλίαν ἐγράφη.

This collect is prayed at the end of October in the Church of England, Ordinary 32 in Canada, Australia, and other places, and will be prayed Ordinary 33 (Proper 28) in The Episcopal Church and elsewhere.

This is not merely a collect for one day; it is a prayer we can use far more regularly than that. Lectio Divina is one way to hear the holy scriptures, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them.

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