Thursday, 6 December 2012



Stir up your power, we pray, O Lord, and come,
that with you to protect us
we may find rescue
from the looming dangers of our sins,
and with you to set us free,
be found worthy of salvation.

This prayer, deriving from the Gregorian sacramentary tradition, is the Collect for the First Sunday of Advent in the 1570 Missal. Its first line is very like yesterday’s, except that it ends with ‘and come’, so that the line is a quotation of Psalm 80,3 ‘Stir up your power and come’.

The official translation nicely reproduces the rhetorical balance of the original, repeating ‘with you’ as the Latin repeats te with an ablative case.

The double use of the English verb ‘find’, which has no precise parallel in the Latin, serves to represent Latin mereamur. This verb, used very commonly in the Missal, indicates the reception of a reward given in response to a deed, with no implication that the deed and the reward are commensurate. So this prayer clearly implies that our rescue and our salvation are God’s gift, not our achievement. As Augustine famously said, when God crowns our merits, he is crowning his own gifts.

In the earliest manuscripts, this prayer is addressed to God the Father, but in later ones and in 1570 and 1970 it is addressed to the Son. 1970 has far fewer prayers addressed to the Son than 1570 has, perhaps under the influence of Joseph Jungmann’s The place of Christ in liturgical prayer.