Trinity VI, Collect (cf. Easter 6 in 1979 ECUSA BOOK)
The traditional Anglican Collect (see BCP, 1662 & BCP 1928) for the 6th Sunday after the Feast of the Holy Trinity is a Cranmerian translation (1549) of an ancient Latin Collect and prays to the Father Almighty through His Son in these words:
“O God [the Father], who hast prepared for them that love Thee such good things as pass man’s understanding: Pour into our hearts such love toward Thee, that we, loving Thee above all things, may obtain thy promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
The first part of the Collect, wherein we remind ourselves before God the Father of what He has taught us, recalls the words found in 1 Corinthians 2:9-10:
“Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of men the things which God has prepared for them that love Him. But God revealed them unto us by His Spirit.”
While God the Father through His Beloved, Incarnate Son, and by the presence of His Spirit, has revealed to us the general nature and character of the LIFE of the redeemed in the age to come in the presence of the Holy Trinity and with the angels, this LIFE is nevertheless in its quality and magnitude beyond our comprehension. It passes our understanding and imagination. Yet we can meditate upon it and contemplate its glories to encourage us to live as citizens of heaven!
Moving on to the petition in the Collect we note that we ask for the gift of agape/caritas/divine love to fill our hearts by the presence of the Holy Ghost, and we do so in order that “loving Thee above all things” ( above family, friends, possessions and all the best things this world provides as God’s created order) we may obtain& enjoy the promises concerning eternal life and final redemption in the age to come. We do not want to make a shipwreck of the Faith by only loving worldly things – however good and beautiful in themselves – above loving the Lord our God.
Now the original Latin concerning “all things” is as follows – “in omnibus et super omnia” which literally translated is “In and Above all things.”
To love God “in all things” is a related but different vocation to loving God “above all things.” In all things means in good times and bad, in poverty as well as in prosperity, in pain as well as in pleasure, in misery as well as in happiness, and so on. As in the old marriage vow of “in sickness and in health until death us do part” so in our vocation as the Bride of the Bridegroom, Christ Jesus. We are to love God the Father and His Son, the Lord Jesus, in all things and at all times with no exceptions. This is a part of our [extremely] high calling.
No doubt Archbishop Cranmer in 1549 (who only used “in all things”) and the revision committee in 1661/2 (who only used “above all things”) believed that one of these was more than sufficient for one petition in one Collect on one Sunday! But the Early Church thought otherwise!
If one looks in the 1979 Prayer Book of the Episcopal Church USA, one finds that the Collect for the 6th Sunday “of Easter” is this same Collect and does actually have both the “in” and the “above” --- “loving thee in all things and above all things” [I do not why it does not have “loving Thee in and above all things” but that is a small matter.].
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon
Minister of Christ Church, Biddulph Moor,
England & Vice-President and Emissary-at-Large
of The Prayer Book Society of America