04 March 2018

A Pity It Was Altered

A decent translation of the traditional collect for Oculi (the Third Sunday in Lent) is found in The Lutheran Hymnal:

We beseech Thee, Almighty God, look upon the hearty desires of Thy humble servants and stretch forth the right hand of Thy majesty to be our defense against all our enemies; through Jesus Christ, our Lord...

There is something of a delightful contrast with the Introit, which is “Mine eyes are ever toward the Lord” and the petition that His eyes might look upon our heart’s desires. Our eyes on Him and His eyes upon us. As our eyes “see” the Unseen, so His eyes behold the unseen recesses of our hearts and what they desire. This can be a terrifying thought, of course, when we think of some of the things we desire! Lord, have mercy. But the tone of the prayer is rather along the lines of Psalm 37, “delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of Your heart.” He sees and knows the longing of our new hearts which the Spirit has created within us.

This being so, we pray: “stretch forth the right hand of Thy majesty to be our defense.” This calls toward the Gospel reading with its reference to the finger of God by which Jesus drives forth the enemy. “If I by the finger of God drive them out, then the kingdom of God has come among you.”

Thus the traditional collect reaches back to Introit and forward to Gospel and ties them together rather beautifully. The one that has been substituted for it in our current book, sadly, does neither.


Chris said...

Which begs the question: If it ain't broke, why change it? When it comes to liturgics and translations, you Lutherans seem to bow to the worst trends imaginable.

William Weedon said...

One more thought on the collect: it is indeed in stretching out His sacred hand upon the cross that He affords us protection against all enemies and every adversity.