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the Advent Collect

Let us pray (in silence) [that we long for the advent of Christ]


Almighty God,
give us grace to cast away the works of darkness,
and to put on the armour of light,
now in the time of this mortal life,
in the which your Son Jesus Christ came to us in great humility;
so that that on the last day when he shall come again in his glorious majesty
to judge the living and the dead,
we may rise to the life immortal,
through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit now and for ever. Amen.

As regulars know, I have been working on a series of collects. The above is my reworking of the collect composed by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer for the 1549 Book of Common Prayer:

ALMYGHTYE God, geve us grace, that we may cast awaye the workes of darknes, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the tyme of this mortall lyfe, (in the whiche thy sonne Jesus Christe came to visite us in great humilitie;) that in the last daye when he shal come again in his glorious majestye to judge bothe the quicke and the dead, we maye ryse to the lyfe immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the holy ghoste now and ever. Amen.

It is quite a light reworking. I am very happy to receive comments and also suggestions for improvement.

It is based on the Epistle (Romans 13:8-14) and Gospel (Matthew 21:1-13) which followed, but is still appropriate with other Advent readings. It is my understanding that there is only one collect – the 1662 rubric to have a collection of collects (Bishop Matthew Wren’s suggestion) with this as one of them is a confusion. This replaces the Sarum collect which began Excita (a “stir up” collect). Roman Catholics, similarly have, after Vatican II, replaced any shared collects during Advent.

The collect rotates around Romans 13:12

ἡ νὺξ προέκοψεν ἡ δὲ ἡμέρα ἤγγικεν ἀποθώμεθα οὖν τὰ ἔργα τοῦ σκότους ἐνδυσώμεθα δὲ τὰ ὅπλα τοῦ φωτός (the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armour of light)

ἀποτίθημι may be better translated as “lay aside”, but I think that “cast off” is so deeply ingrained in our shared memory of this collect that I decided to retain it as it presents a similar image.

Note the pairs of images: cast off… put on; now… on the last day; mortal life… life immortal; great humility… glorious majesty.

“Now” ties together past, present, and future (cf. Romans 13:11 ἤδη – it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep).

commentary on the Advent Collect

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5 thoughts on “the Advent Collect”

  1. Very nicely done. I think the Advent Sunday is the most beautiful and theologically rich of all Cranmer’s compositions for the 1549. I do feel almost all the contemporary versions slip when tweaking the petition, “put upon us the armor of light.” I know we tend to think the ability to dress ourselves to be a mark of some maturity, but I think Dr. Cranmer was pretty clear that when it comes to this particular outfit we still require assistance.

    Bruce Robison

  2. Oh.. what a beautiful prayer.. really it’s contemporary and theologicaly meaningful..We remember our former archbishop..

  3. I share your passion for Collects. I too am a great lover of them. In fact I am a Lay Minister in the Anglican Church in Trinidad and Tobago West Indies, and I am tomorrow (Advent 4) going to preach on the Collects for Advent in order to a;lert my people that although Christmas is celebrated and commemorated on 25th December each year, that God in His mercy is reminding us gently each year to prepare ourselves for His Son’s second coming. We do not know the day nor the hour. As People of God, we must repent of our sins and prepare ourselves for His glorious appearing. It may or may not be in our mortal time here on the earth ….we may have passed on. Nevertheless we must be prapared.

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