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Three Celebrated Sacramentaries

Three of the Sacramentaries deserve here special mention.

I. Gregory the Great, who was Pope of Rome from 590 to 604, was the
author of one of them. The English Church owes him gratitude for
sending missionaries to this country at a time when the older British
Church was deficient in missionary zeal: and we must here notice our
debt to him for a number of our best-known collects, as well as other
improvements in the Services. Canon Bright gives a list of 32 or 33
taken from Gregory's Book. Some of them may perhaps have been added
after Gregory's time; for it is often difficult to distinguish between
the original passages of an ancient Service-book and the additions
which were quickly made to it.

Twenty-eight Collects in that list are in our book amongst the Epistles
and Gospels. Besides these there are: one in the Baptism
Service--Almighty and {136} immortal God: the first part of We
humbly beseech thee in the Litany: O God, whose nature and property
in the Occasional Prayers: Prevent us, O Lord at the end of the
Communion Service.

II. The Sacramentary of Gelasius (who was Pope of Rome 492 to 496) had
provided much material which Gregory adopted. From this ancient source
we have our Second Collect, for Peace in the Morning Service; and the
Third Collect, for Grace: the Second Collect, for Peace in the
Evening Service: the Third Collect, for Aid: the Collect for the
Clergy and People: Assist us mercifully, at the end of the Communion
Service: the Confirmation Collect, Almighty and everlasting God: a
Collect in the Visitation Service: O Lord we beseech thee, in the
Commination: and 21 of those which are placed with the Epistles and

III. We go back still further for seven of the Sunday Collects, which
are taken from the Sacramentary of Leo the Great (Pope of Rome, 440 to

Thus, five-sixths of our Sunday Collects are from these three
Service-books: although we do not purpose here to say much of the
Collects used in the Communion Service, and ranking as the "First
Collects" of Morning and Evening Prayer, we think it useful to note
their derivation from the 5th and 6th centuries. Even those which are
not so derived owe their form and manner to the same models.

This last remark applies to all the prayers which have the Collect
form. We may suppose that, in the years which preceded Leo the Great,
the Collects were being made. Perhaps the dignity of their {137}
diction grew by the survival of the simplest and best; by the falling
away of superfluous words; and of words of effort: in any case the
absence of small auxiliary words, in Latin sentences, contributed much
to their tone of modest dependence on God, as well as to their poetic

To take an illustration, our Second Collect at Mattins is translated
from the following Gelasian Collect: Deus auctor pacis et amator, Quem
nosse vivere, Cui servire regnare est, protege ab omnibus
impugnationibus supplices tuos; ut qui defensione tua fidimus, nullius
hostilitatis arma timeamus: Per &c.

These 27 Latin words are equivalent to the 51 English words which we
use. We do not, however, suggest that the tone has been altered in the
translation. On the contrary, our Translators had so learnt the right
tone of the old prayers, that they not only translated them and the
tone, into a language of a very different sort; they also composed new
prayers, in English, which rank with the old ones, and have the same
great excellences. The Collects for Easter Eve, and Christmas Day, may
be taken as good examples of this.

Next: What Then Are The Characteristics Which We Must Expect In A Collect?

Previous: The Collects

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