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Sunday 5 February 2023

Jump to Confusion in NZ Anglicanism for this coming Sunday

The shared collect for next Sunday (February 6) and the weekdays following:

Let us pray (in silence) [that our hope in God may influence us daily]


Keep the household of your church, O God, [or Keep the whānau of…]
safe in your tender compassion,
so that we who entrust ourselves totally to your heavenly grace
may always be defended by your protection;
through Jesus Christ
who is alive with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

This is part of my reworking collects, in my Book of Prayers in Common, with history and commentary.

Here is my commentary for this collect for Ordinary 5 or read below.

Resources beyond this site:
Resourcing Preaching Down Under
Girardian Reflection on the Lectionary

Commentary on the Collect

This prayer is sourced in the Hadrianum (sacramentary given by Hadrian I to Charlemagne in 785-786) where it is a prayer over the people at the end of the Eucharist on Saturday in the second week of Lent. It is in the Gelasian sacramentary (collect for the 5th Sunday after Epiphany), in Benedict of Aniane’s supplement to the Hadrianum (810-815 – where it is also the collect for the 5th Sunday after Epiphany). Alcuin placed it there also. Both traditions were preserved through the Sarum rite and Missale Romanum 1962.

Familiam tuam, quaesumus Domine, continua pietate custodi: ut quae in sola spe gratiae caelestis innititur, tua semper protectione muniatur. Per Dominum …

Cranmer translated this for the Book of Common Prayer 1549 as

LORD, we beseche thee to kepe thy Churche and housholde continually in thy true religion; that they whiche do leane onlye upon hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore bee defended by thy mightie power; through Christ our lorde. 

It remained in that Epiphany 5 place in different editions of Books of Common Prayer into the 1928 revision, and after that is prayed on Epiphany 5 in many others that continue that tradition. 

The 1549 BCP also would have people repeat the collect if there was a 6th Sunday after Epiphany: “The vi sonday (if there be so many) shall have the same psalme, Collect, Epistle, and Gospel, that was upon the v.” [The word “psalme” was only in the 1549 version of the rubric]. Since the 1552 BCP, after “The xxv Sondaye” (and later after the “Sunday next before Advent”) the following rubric was added: “If there be any mo Sondayes before Advent Sondaie, to supply the same shalbe taken the service of some of those Sondayes, that were omitted betwene Thepiphany and Septuagesima.” This means this collect became part of the “wandering Sundays”, sometimes repeated before Lent, sometimes appearing at the end of the church year. A similar practice was followed since medieval times. The Roman Missal provided for twenty-four Sundays after Pentecost, directing that, if there were more, the propers from Epiphany 3-6 be used. In 1662 a new collect was added (probably by Bishop Cosin) for the Sixth Sunday after Epiphany.

Roman Catholics continued the placement, as effectively the fifth Sunday after Epiphany, after Vatican II. That Sunday was now termed the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time. One could be forgiven for not recognising the collect in the ICEL 1973 translation:

watch over your family
and keep us safe in your care,
for all our hope is in you.

The 2011 RC translation has it as:

Keep your family safe, O Lord, with unfailing care,
that, relying solely on the hope of heavenly grace,
they may be defended always by your protection.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ,…

Familiam – this is not the “nuclear family” image that many would associate with the English word “family”. For many, also, their experience of “family” does not have the positive image intended by the word. The Latin is much more the extended family that would have included slaves, for example. Cranmer, in his agility both with Latin and English, rendered it as “thy Churche and housholde”. In Aotearoa New Zealand “whānau” is a word commonly used even in English sentences to express this concept of “familiam“.

continua – ongoing

pietate – usually refers to our duty; “piety” can indicate fulfilling the duties of religion; here it refers to God’s duty (I have taken this as “tender compassion”)

custodi – preserve, watch, protect, defend

quae in sola spe gratiae caelestis innititur – that relies upon the sole hope of heavenly grace/favour (can be seen as a purpose, rather than a result)

innititur – leans or rests upon or trusts or support one’s self by something/one

semper – for ever

protectione – by protection

muniatur – building a defensive wall (subjunctive; ie. contemporaneous and incomplete)

The whānau/household of the church is “we who entrust ourselves totally to God’s heavenly grace”. Totally! God is the only place we lean for all our hope. And God’s hope affects us not solely in the future (though it does there), God’s hope strengthens us now.

Confusion in NZ Anglicanism

In the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, the formulary (formally agreed teaching and practice) is that

Ordinary time is the period after the Feast of the Presentation of Christ until Shrove Tuesday,

Notes on the Calendar page 6

Being the Anglican Church of Or, the Feast of the Presentation of Christ (Candlemas) can be celebrated on 2 February OR many NZ communities moved it to last Sunday, 29 January. In either case, this coming Sunday, by that agreement, would be the “1st Sunday in [our NZ] Ordinary Time”.

In fact, we abandon our own agreement and suddenly call this coming Sunday the “5th Sunday in Ordinary Time”. We simply do not have the courage or consistency of our own convictions!

If this is the “5th Sunday in Ordinary Time”, there is no explanation what happened to the previous four Sundays in Ordinary Time. There is, in NZ Anglican worship documentation, no “4th Sunday in Ordinary Time”, no “3rd Sunday…”, and so forth.

To add to the confusion, the 2020 publication called A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa places “The Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time” in the section called Season after Pentecost [a Season we have not agreed to at all – this book not having gone through General Synod Te Hinota Whanui in the manner that previous books with this title have done]. Furthermore, in the running foot, “The Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time” is said to be in a “Season Before Lent” – again, a novelty in this 2020 publication that has nowhere been agreed to in our Church.

I am not in favour of our NZ Formularies’ confused, confusing, and conflicting approach to begin Ordinary Time with “The 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time”. I am fine with the majority Christian position which starts Ordinary Time with the Baptism of Christ on the Sunday which falls between 7 and 13 January. That way, we have happily been counting up to this coming 5th Sunday. 

Celebrate Candlemas on February 2 by all means – but think twice (or more!) about Sundayising it [What next: move Ash Wednesday to Sunday? Move Christmas to Sunday?]. If your community Sundayised Candlemas, you will end up never reading Luke 4:21-30 nor the great 1 Corinthians 13 at a Sunday Eucharist…

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