Commentary from THE ANNOTATED
BOOK OF COMMON
PRAYEREdited by JOHN HENRY BLUNT
Rivingtons, London, 1884
FOURTH SUNDAY IN ADVENT
On this Sunday, the close approach of the King of Glory to His kingdom
of grace is heralded by Scriptures of which the pointed words are, "The
Lord is at hand," "Make straight the way of the Lord." The Collect
has lost its Gregorian pointedness by a return to its Gelasian form, which
makes the whole a prayer for the Presence of God the Father, instead of
what it was in the Pre-Reformation books, one for the Coming among us of
the Incarnate Son. The alteration was probably made under a strong
impression of the truth that all prayer should be addressed to the Father
through the Son; and also with reference to the words spoken by our Lord
immediately after He had given the command respecting prayer, and had promised
a return of His own Presence, "If a man love Me, he will keep My
words, and My Father will love him, and We will come unto Him, and make
Our abode with him." [S. John xiv. 23] In Collect and Scriptures
the Church sounds her last herald-notes of the season which precedes Christmas;
and we seem to hear the cry of the procession as it draws nearer and nearer,
"The Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet Him." It is a cry that
should bring peace and joy to her children. "Rejoice in the Lord
alway," for "One standeth among you," even now, Who brings down from on
high "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding."
A very striking accidental coincidence with this joyous tone of the
Fourth Sunday in Advent occurs in the First Lesson for Christmas Eve, "Arise,
shine, for thy Light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.
For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people:
but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee."
The words sound like an answer from heaven to the prayers of Advent, that
the Light would vouchsafe to come, and illuminate the Church with His presence.
Other words which follow are equally striking, and offer themselves as
a benediction of the Christmas decorations which have just been completed:
"The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, the fir-tree, the pine-tree,
and the box come together, to beautify the place of My sanctuary; and I
will make the place of My feet glorious."