This year I will be taking the weekly Collects from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. I will post the readings, along with any rubrics, under the Collect. And then I will be quoting some meditative thoughts from a work by Peter Toon at http://www.pbs.org.uk/bcp/commentaries.php. On occasion I may also append some personal observations along with those of some of the earlier Church fathers.
The First Sunday of Advent.
Beatus vir, qui non abiit, &c.
1. BLESSED is the man that hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stood in the way of sinners : and hath not sat in the seat of the scornful.
2. But his delight is in the law of the Lord : and in his law will he exercise himself day and night.
3. And he shall be like a tree planted by the water-side : that will bring forth his fruit in due season.
4. His leaf also shall not wither : and look, whatsoever he doeth, it shall prosper.
5. As for the ungodly, it is not so with them : but they are like the chaff, which the wind scattereth away from the face of the earth.
6. Therefore the ungodly shall not be able to stand in the judgement : neither the sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
7. But the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous : and the way of the ungodly shall perish.
ALMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
[This Collect is to be repeated every day, with the other Collects in Advent, until Christmas-Eve.]
Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 28.14-22
Psalter: Morning-8, 50; Evening-96, 97
Epistle Reading: Romans 13.8-14
Gospel Reading: 21.1-13
Toon: “This beautiful and moving prayer was written specifically for The Book of the Common Prayer (1549) by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. Its structure, style and contents reveal just how perfectly he had mastered in English the grammatical structure of the traditional Latin Collects. It is a most appropriate prayer with which to begin the Christian Year for it is addressed to the Father, Almighty God, is centered upon the Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son, and looks for the direct help in daily living of the Spirit of the Father and the Son (the Holy Ghost). And it takes specific guidance and inspiration from the Epistle.
Here in remembrance before Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we remember both (i) the Advent/Coming of the Only-Begotten Son when he humbled himself, took to himself our human nature and was born from the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Bethlehem, and (ii) the future Advent/Coming of the same Son as the Lord of lords and King of kings to earth at the end the age in great glory, to raise the dead and to judge the peoples, and to inaugurate the kingdom of God.
As baptized believers, living in a world darkened by evil and sin, but given Light by Jesus Christ who is the Light of the world, we ask for the personal help of the Father, through the Holy Ghost, in order to live not as children of darkness but rather as children of light. Indeed, we pray to be protected by the armour of light (see Romans 13:12). When Christ Jesus returns to earth in his Second Coming he will dispel all shadows and darkness, clear up all doubts, chase away all sorrows and cause the new dawn of the new day of the new age to appear. Then we shall cast off our sleeping apparel and put on the shining dress of the kingdom of God, as we are raised to the life immortal.
Prayed each day at Morning and Evening Prayer and whenever the Lord’s Supper is celebrated during the four weeks of Advent, this Collect is a real means of grace whereby we prepare rightly during the four weeks of Advent to celebrate the Incarnation at Christmas and the Epiphany a little later.
In some forms of churchmanship Advent is regarded as a time of penitence, a kind of short Lent. Such may be based upon the words cast away the works of darkness, which requires not only effort (assisted by divine grace) but self- examination to become aware of sin and darkness in the heart, mind and soul. Further, the theme of the Second Advent calls forth from the people of God, fasting and prayer as they watch and pray.
Let us make full use of it and pray its words with appropriate piety and reverence” (http://www.pbs.org.uk/bcp/commentary_detail.php?CommentaryID=3).