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ancient collects, and which has sometimes (as in this case) been judiciously departed from in the translation:
Deus, cujus hodierna die præconium innocentes martyres non loquendo sed moriendo confessi sunt; omnia in nobis vitiorum mala mortifica, ut fidem tuam, quam lingua nostra loquitur, etiam moribus vita fateatur.
The Latin collect for the Epiphany is as follows:
Deus, qui hodierna die unigenitum tuum Gentibus, stella duce, revelasti; concede propitius, ut qui jam te ex fide cognovimus, usque ad contemplandum speciem tuæ celsitudinis perducamur. Per &c.
The epistle and gospel both treat of the same subject as the collect, viz. the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles, which is also foretold in the first lessons of the morning and evening service. The second lessons relate the manifestations of Christ's divinity and glory, which were made when he was baptized, and when he turned the water into wine. Three epiphanies, or manifestations, therefore, are celebrated on this day; and accordingly the feast was called in Latin Epiphaniæ, the Epiphanies. The common English name, Twelfth night, marks it out as the conclusion of Christ
mas-tide. In other countries it takes its title from the adoration of the magi. Thus in German it is called Dreykönigstag; in French Les Rois'.
On the Sundays following the Epiphany, Sundays the gospels contain examples of the Divine phany. power and wisdom of Christ, as manifested by his early miracles and discourses; while in the epistles, the practical effects of his doctrine. are set forth in some of the most excellent passages of St Paul's writings. The collects for the first, second, and fifth Sundays do not appear to have any special reference to either the lessons, epistles or gospels. But the expression in the collect for the third Sunday, 'Stretch forth thy right hand,' was probably borrowed from the words of the gospel, 'Jesus put forth his hand:' and the prayer for protection in danger, in the collect for the fourth Sunday, may have been suggested by the gospel, which relates how Christ delivered his disciples from the storm at sea, by rebuking the winds and the waves. The collect for the sixth Sunday is composed out of the epistle and gospel for the day; and the gospel closes the season of Epiphany by setting before us that last manifestation, which Christ will make of himself at 1 Christian Remembrancer, No. 78.
Septua gesima, &c.
his second coming. Until the Reformation, there was no collect, epistle, and gospel, for this Sunday.
The names of Septuagesima and the two following Sundays are of very ancient date, being mentioned by writers in the fifth and sixth centuries. The first Sunday in Lent was called quadragesima, being about forty days before Easter (whence the French word carême for lent); and for the sake of round numbers, the preceding weeks were counted by decads, as if Septuagesima were the seventieth day before Easter, Sexagesima the sixtieth, and Quinquagesima the fiftieth.
The object of the Church in appointing the offices for these Sundays, was to withdraw our attention from the festivals of the Nativity and the Epiphany, and to prepare us for the ensuing season of penitence and humiliation. Hence the proper lessons are no longer taken from the evangelical prophet; but portions from Genesis are read, which treat of the fall and its consequences. The collects for the two former Sundays contain acknowledgments of our sinfulness; the epistles exhort us to mortification and self-denial, by the precept and example of St Paul. The gospels admonish us by two parables of our Lord, first, that we
can never do more than our bounden duty, second, that it is very hard to do even that, by reason of the manifold temptations with which we are surrounded. On the third of these Sundays charity is enjoined, as the necessary accompaniment to all our works of devotion; and the beautiful collect for this Sunday, the composition of our English Reformers, will lose nothing by comparison with any of the prayers of antiquity.
The Tuesday after Quinquagesima Sunday Shrove is called Shrove Tuesday, from the old English word shrive, to confess; it being the ancient custom among the Roman Catholics to confess their sins on that day, and to obtain absolution, in order to receive the eucharist, and thereby qualify themselves for a more religious observance of Lent. But in process of time the religious character of the season was lost sight of in those festivities and sports, which are still retained under the name of the Carnival. Hence the French name Mardi gras.
The season of Lent takes its name from the Lent. time of year, the old English word Lent meaning the spring. It was customary for the Christians, from the very earliest ages, to set apart some time for mortification and self-denial, that they might prepare themselves for the celebration of Easter: and this they did probably.
in imitation of the Jews, who fasted for forty days before their yearly expiation. There was, however, great variety in the duration of the fast among the Christians; some keeping it only two days, others fifteen. In the fourth century it was generally commenced from the sixth Sunday before Easter, and as the Sundays, being festivals, were not included, it extended over only thirty-six days. Gregory the Great, about the year 590, added four days more, that it might be equal to the time of our Lord's abstinence. And so it has remained from his time to the present. The term of forty days is also frequently mentioned as the duration of fasts in the Old Testament, as in the case of Moses, Elias, and the Ninevites.
The Lenten fast was generally observed in ancient times, but with different degrees of strictness, according to each man's conscience and discretion; and the same liberty is allowed by our own Church. The private discipline consisted in abstinence from the more generous kinds of food (at least till the evening), and in the wearing of a sadder garb; while in the public offices of the Church the season was marked by penitential services, and by the non-observance of Saints' days, or rather by transferring the observance of them to the Lord's day.