Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Grace

Since the 1980 Pastoral Provision, and the subsequent drawing-up of the Anglican Use Book of Divine Worship (published only in 2003), various Anglican prayers have been admitted, along with their pray-ers, into full communion with the Catholic Church. Especially considering the impending Apostolic Constitution on corporate reunion, it is good to consider some classic Anglican Use formulæ, and by them (or by any right and proper address) to pray God for His blessing on this great, fraught undertaking.

I think first of what is usually last - "the Grace" as Anglicans call it: that adaptation of St Paul's concluding benediction in II Corinthians xiii, 14 which, first introduced (try not to grimace) to end the Anglican Litany as read in Bad Queen Bess's chapel royal in 1559, found its way into the Elizabethan Prayer Book, was always used as the last prayer of Mattins, Litany and Evensong, and even to-day is widely used amongst all Anglicans, even those far from being High Church or liturgically-minded. In a way, it plays the part the Sign of the Cross can among Catholics.

THE grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost*, be with us all evermore. Amen.
[* "Spirit" in modern-language versions]

The only notable changes from the words of Scripture are the alteration from second person to first person plural ("you" to "us"), and the addition of "evermore". The Douay instead renders "charity" instead of "love", and "communication" instead of "fellowship", but such are verbal equivalents.

I believe that among the High it is customary to cross oneself at these words of the Grace, which so Apostolically beg the blessing of the Trinity.

Originally, it was said by the minister, all replying Amen, but it has become the practice for all to say it together.

This short prayer strikes me as excellent, and much to be commended to all.

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