Language is funny thing. Change just a few letters and the whole meaning of a sentence can change. Change just one letter, and a whole new word is created. This morning, as I read the Collect for Sunday, I realized that the absence of a “y” makes a world of difference.
Read this phrase, “Mercifully hear the supplications of your people, and in our time grant us your peace…”
And now, this one, ” Mercifully hear the supplications of your people, and in your time grant us your peace…”
The addition of a “y” makes a huge difference both practically and theologically. Of course, either way the Collect is a far cry from its original incarnation in 1549.
“Almightie and euerlasting God, whiche doest gouerne all thynges in heauen and earthe : mercifully heare the supplicacions of thy people, and graunt us thy peace all the dayes of our life.” (Collect of The Second Sunday after Epiphany, BCP 1549)
In reading the original, I understand why the authors of the 1979* made the decision to omit the “y.” It only makes sense that if we are asking God for his peace in our lifetime, then we would overtly ask it, but it does sound awfully funny to my mind’s ear when I read a prayer asking for things to happen in our time rather than God’s time.
Despite years of turning the Gospel into personal salvation and self-help, one thing that seems to still be strong in the human heart is the understanding of Kairos, God’s time. We seem to sense it best during times of relative discord, rather than peace. We wait for God’s time during those moments in our life when things aren’t as we’d wish them to be: unemployment, illness, and death, for example. We pray, every Sunday, for God’s will to be done, and I think we honestly believe what we pray. God’s will, of course, is not just about action, but is also about time. The phrase “God’s time isn’t my time,” is almost common among Christians these days.
Which, I suppose, is why the Collect for Sunday sounds so odd to me. It strikes me as a bit presumptuous: in the vein of that awful hymn, “No the silence” (H82 #333). God, grant me patience, please, and do it now.
Anyway, just a rambling post of the power of a little letter.
* I should note here that the 1928 Book of Common Prayer has an easier to read (i.e. “v” is v and not u) version of the 1549 Prayer, still assigned to Epiphany 2. We would have heard this prayer 2 weeks ago, The Rite I version of this Collect in the 1979 book retains the King’s English, but uses the same sentence structure as the Contemporary Collect. A total rewrite of the 1549 doesn’t seem “traditional” to me, but I digress. Just as another footnote, if we were still using that book, this Sunday would be Sexagesima rather than Epiphany 4.