Tuesday, April 03, 2012

The Collect for Wednesday in Holy Week

Assist us mercifully with thy help, O Lord God of our salvation; that we may enter with joy upon the meditation of those mighty acts, whereby thou hast given unto us life and immortality; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

While consulting my library this morning, I was surprised to learn that this collect is something of an innovation. It is very different from the Sarum collect for Holy Wednesday. And Cranmer, for reasons unknown to me, declined to have special collects for Monday through Thursday in Holy Week. That continued to be the case in the 1559 and 1662 BCPs.

It is the 1928 US BCP that added this collect for Wednesday. Massey Shepherd’s American Prayer Book Commentary notes that it is based upon a Sarum collect for Vespers on Holy Monday. Before that, it was in the Gelasian Sacramentary for Sexagesima.

Personally, it has become one of my favorite collects, and I think it perfect for Wednesday in Holy Week. Right when we are about to enter the depths and the heights of the Passion, we ask God to help us to meditate upon “those mighty acts.” This prayer well expresses that we know we are about to enter into a suffering and a redemption too holy for us to comprehend.

And for me, the Triduum is indeed a time to meditate upon the Passion. I am glad that my parish is among those that provide ample opportunity for that with vigils. I am also thankful for the example of the medieval English church, which placed a great emphasis on meditation on and devotion to the details of the Passion, even making a point to reflect upon the instruments of the Passion as one can see in illuminated manuscripts of the time.

May God indeed help us to remember and to meditate upon the Passion for our good and to His glory.

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