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Selections from
The Book of Common Prayer


A Collect for Peace


O GOD, from whom all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed; Give unto thy servants that peace which the world cannot give; that our hearts may be set to obey thy commandments, and also that by thee, we, being defended from the fear of our enemies, may pass our time in rest and quietness; through the merits of Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.

 

About this prayer

This Collect was said as a 'Memorial' at the conclusion of Lauds in the Sarum Breviary. It is also found as the Post-Communion Collect in the Mass 'For Peace,' among the Votive Masses of the Missal. It first appears in the Gelasian Sacramentary. In Morning Prayer, as in Evening Prayer, this Collect and the one following it are complementary, the first being a petition for the universal Church in its spiritual welfare in the world, and the second for the specific congregation in its day-to-day tasks and difficulties. Thus, when the service is shortened by concluding with the Grace after these Collects, nothing essential to corporate worship is lost; for these prayers summararize all our supplications for 'those things which are requisite and necessary, as well for the body as the soul'.

The Collect for Peace begins with an acknowledgement that the highest purpose for our lives, towards which God's grace and love are continually extended toward us, is peace and concord, whether in the world, in the Church, or in our hearts. Such peace is possible only among those who have found true spiritual life, both now and everlastingly, through knowledge of Him as revealed in His Son (cf. John xvii.3) and who serve Him with complete self-giving because they have been freed by His forgiveness and grace from the bondage of selfishness and sin (cf. John viii.32-6, Rom. vi.22).

In the original Latin form of the Collect the thought is vividly and tersely put: 'whom to know is to live, whom to serve is to reign.' The petition of the Collect proceeds with the request for God's protection and help in our struggle to win this peace against all the adversaries of His will, both material and spiritual. We do not ask to be removed from the conflict, for as long as there is sin in the world and in our lives such assaults of enemies are inevitable. We do pray that we may have such sure trust in God's invincible power, made manifest and available to us in the 'might' by which our Lord conquered sin and Satan, that we may neither fear the sufferings evil can inflict nor be anxious about the ultimate victory. (cf. Psalm xxvii.1-3, Phil. i.28.)

from The Oxford American Prayer Book Commentary by Massey Hamilton Shepherd, Jr. (New York : Oxford University Press, 1950)

 

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