Thursday, 31 January 2013



Almighty ever-living God,
direct our actions according to your good pleasure,
that in the name of your beloved Son
we may abound in good works.

In the Gregorian Sacramentary and many other manuscripts. In 1570 this was the Collect for the Sunday in the Octave of Christmas. The 1970 revisers sought out prayers for the Christmas season more clearly suited to its themes, but retained this prayer in a new position.
This brief text is very difficult to translate satisfactorily.
What is the adverbial phrase ‘in the name of your beloved Son’ intended to modify? Most versions make it modify ‘abound’, which fits with the rules of Latin syntax, but I find it hard to see what it means to speak of abounding in the name of Christ.
It would make better sense to speak of abounding in good works done in the name of Christ, but that is not what the Latin says.
The official version leaves mereamur untranslated, although it is scrupulous about translating that word elsewhere.


Accept our offerings, O Lord, we pray,
and in sanctifying them
grant that they may profit us for salvation.

A prayer composed for the 1970 Missal by conflation of a text found in the Veronese and Gregorian Sacramentaries (which provided the first two lines) with one of somewhat later provenance (which provided the third).
To my ear, the use of ‘in’ suggests that the benefit that comes to us from the eucharistic offerings is simply a by-product of God’s sanctification of them. ‘By sanctifying them’ would perhaps indicate more clearly that our profit is caused by God’s act.


Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that, receiving the grace
by which you bring us to new life,
we may always glory in your gift.

Found twice in the Gelasian sacramentary, once for the First Sunday of Lent, and  once for the Third Sunday in Eastertime, and in many other manuscripts for use during Easter, in 1570 this is the Post-Communion for the Second Sunday after Easter.
Within that paschal context, the ‘grace by which you bring us to new life’ can more readily be understood to refer to the grace of baptism. Outside that context, the prayer has lost some of its point.