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

ents 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.