Easter and the Book of Common Prayer

It is a commonplace amongst those of us fond of the church year to observe that Christmas is not one day but twelve. Well, let it be known that Easter is not one day, either; it is 50. Or 40, depending on whether Ascensiontide is Easter or not.

To emphasise the fact that we should be celebrating the glorious truth of the Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ for more than a single day, I’m going to post some Easter-ish thoughts and what-have-you from the Great Tradition at least for the Easter Octave. Since it is the 350th anniversary of the 1662 edition of the Book of Common Prayer, here are some of the collects for this blessed Eastertide.

Easter Day:

Almighty God, who through thine only-begotten Son Jesus Christ hast overcome death, and opened unto us the gate of everlasting life: We humbly beseech thee, that as by thy special grace thou dost put into our minds good desires, so by thy continual help we may bring the same to good effect; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

If that one isn’t Eastery enough for you, Easter Day gets a second collect:

O God, who makest us glad with the yearly remembrance of the resurrection from the dead of thy only Son Jesus Christ: Grant that we who celebrate this Paschal feast may die daily unto sin, and live with him evermore in the glory of his endless life; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Octave Day of Easter — that is, the Sunday following — gives us this:

Almighty Father, who hast given thine only Son to die for our sins, and to rise again for our justification: Grant us so to put away the leaven of malice and wickedness, that we may alway serve thee in pureness of living and truth; through the merits of the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

These three collects, prayers to ‘collect’ the minds of the faithful gathered for worship, all have an ethical bent to them. There is no hint of cheap grace in Cranmer’s reformation and translation of the mediaeval sacramentaries. We recall the glorious redemption and justification wrought for us through Christ’s resurrection from the dead. And we ask that God would enable us to therefore and thereby live holy lives.

Sounds good to me.

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