06 January 2018

A Few Thoughts on the Epiphany Collect

I think the old Service Book and Hymnal did a better job than The Lutheran Hymnal or any of our modern books in getting the point of the traditional Latin collect for the day:

Deus qui hodierna die unigenitum tuum gentibus stella duce revelasti, concede propitius ut qui iam te ex fide cognouimus, usque ad conteplandam speciem tuae celsitudinis perducamur.

O God, who on this day by the leading of a star didst reveal thine only-begotten Son to the Gentiles: Mercifully grant that we, who know thee now by faith, may be brought to contemplate the beauty of thy Majesty. SBH

Rather than “brought” though I think the sense of the perducamur, as Reed notes, is “may be led on,” evoking the leading of the wisemen by the star.

TLH had “grant us the fruition of Thy glorious godhead.” I remember as a vicar asking pastor what that even meant and he confessed that he wasn’t sure. LSB asks “to enjoy in heaven the fullness of Your divine presence.” I think this loses somewhat the reference to the beatific vision and replaces it with a generic heaven and “presence.” It seems to me that we are impoverished in our thinking if we put that contemplation merely in heaven. It’s true that now we see through a glass darkly, but see we still do. As St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “And we all, beholding with unveiled face, the glory of the Lord are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” This praying to be led into the contemplation of the beauty of the Lord’s majesty, His highness, is the perfect way to enter the season of Epiphany when in one manifestation after another, we will behold the beauty of the Lord in His merciful and tender kindness to mankind; a beauty whose splendor grows and shines most brightly on the darkness of Calvary, as pastor reminded us this evening.

“One thing have I desired of the Lord; that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple.” Psalm 27

Blessed Epiphany, one and all! The Light shines!

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