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the world; and while the first lessons speak of the former, the Collects, Epistles, and Gospels chiefly point to the latter. This mode of beginning the Christian year by a season of preparation is of great antiquity, and appears to have had its origin before the year 450.

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The collect for the first Sunday in Advent First Sanis founded on the Epistle; the phrase 'his vent. glorious majesty' appears to be derived from

the first lesson for the evening, in which the

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words the glory of his majesty,' twice occur. Isa. ii. 10,

The Gospel has been selected, not only as containing a remarkable prophecy of Zechariah, but because it describes the triumphal entry of our Lord into Jerusalem, and his visit to the temple, which may be considered symbolical of his coming at the end of the world to visit and purge his Church.



The collect for the second Sunday is sug- Second gested by the commencement of the epistle, which seems to have been chosen on account of the prophecies which it contains. The Gospel commences, And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars, and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring:' which may be compared with passages in both the first lessons of the day; Isa. xxiv. 23, Then

Third Sun



the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of Hosts shall reign in Mount Sion.' Isa. v. 30, And in that day they shall roar against them like the roaring of the sea; and if one look upon the land, behold darkness and sorrow, and the light is darkened in the heavens thereof.'

The collect for the third Sunday is closely connected with the Epistle and Gospel.

The collect for the fourth Sunday is an Sunday. elegant expansion of that in the Sarum Missal; Excita, quæsumus, Domine potentiam tuam, et veni, et magna nobis virtute succurre: ut per auxilium gratiæ tuæ quod nostra peccata præpediunt, indulgentia tuæ propitiationis acceleret. Qui vivis et regnas cum Deo Patre. "Raise up," i. e. stir up, excita.



The greater part of the Eastern Church, for the first three or four centuries, celebrated the Nativity of our Lord on the 6th January, the same day on which they also celebrated his baptism; but the Western Church always kept the Nativity on the 25th December, in compliance, as St Augustine says, with a tradition that that was actually the day of his birth. But as the close of the year was among the Romans a season of rejoicing and merriment, the feast of the Saturnalia being held

at that time, it seems more probable that the Christian festival of rejoicing was fixed at the same season, to take the place of the heathenish revels; that there might be as little disturbance as possible of ancient custom.

The Latin name of this festival is festum Nativitatis. The French Noel is said by Du Cange to be a corruption of Natale, formerly a frequent exclamation in processions on days of public rejoicing, such as Christmas and Ascension-days.

Among the Proper Psalms for the morning, the 85th has most of the prophetic character; 'Mercy and truth are met together,' &c. The others are appropriate as hymns of praise and rejoicing. The 89th Psalm, read in the evening, is quoted by our Lord and referred to himself. 'The Lord said unto my Lord' &c. The Lessons, Epistle, and Gospel, contain the prophecies of the Old Testament with regard to this event, and their fulfilment in the New.

In the collect for Christmas-day, and in several others, an analogy is traced between an event in the history of our Lord, and our own spiritual life; the objective and subjective aspects of our religion are connected together. In this collect, for example, the birth of Christ is made to remind us of our own new birth or

regeneration in baptism, and its consequences. In the collect for the circumcision, we pray for that self-discipline, which is called by the AposRom. ii. 29. tle, the circumcision of the heart.' On Easter Even, the burial of Christ suggests, that we ought to be buried with him, by the continual mortification of our corrupt affections. On Ascension-day we pray, that as he ascended into heaven, so we may even now in heart and mind thither ascend.'

The festi

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In the first Prayer Book of Edward VI. it was ordered that there should be two communions on Christmas-day, the one to set forth the incarnation of Christ, the other to commemorate his eternal generation. The collect for the second communion is that which we now use. The other collect was as follows: 'God, which makest us glad with the yearly remembrance of the birth of thy only Son Jesus Christ: grant that as we joyfully receive him for our Redeemer, so we may with sure confidence behold him, when he shall come to be our judge, who liveth and reigneth,' &c. In the unreformed Church three masses were performed on this day.

Of the festivals which follow immediately after after Christmas, that of Innocents' day and the Circumcision have an obvious connexion with


the Nativity. There was a tradition that St Stephen's relics were translated to the church of Sion at Jerusalem on the 26th December, A.D. 415. Hence the day after Christmas was dedicated to his honour, as well as the 3rd August, on which the relics were said to have been discovered. The feast of St John was

probably appointed to be held at this season, because he was pre-eminently the Apostle whom Jesus loved. Innocents' day was formerly called Childermas.

phen's day.

St Stephen's day. The former part of the st stecollect was added in 1662, in order that it might set before us the first martyr's stedfast faith under suffering, as well as his unfailing charity in persecution.


St John's day. In many passages of this st John's Apostle's writings Christ is spoken of as the light, the true light, &c. The repetition of this metaphor in the collect is, therefore, not inappropriate. The Latin is as follows:

Ecclesiam tuam, quæsumus, Domine benignus illustra; ut beati Joannis Apostoli tui et Evangelistæ illuminata doctrinis, ad dona perveniat. sempiterna. Per &c.


The Latin Collect for Innocents' day is Innocents' subjoined, as affording an example of the antithetical style which prevailed in many of the

B. C. P.


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