SUNDAY AFTER ASCENSION
This day was anciently called by the significant name of "Dominica
Expectationis." Being the only Lord's Day which intervened between
the Ascension of our Lord and the Descent of the Holy Ghost, it represents
that period during which the Apostles were obeying the command of their
Master, when "He commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem,
but wait for the promise of the Father." [Acts 1:4]
The Collect for this day is an expansion of the ancient Antiphon to
the Magnificat on Ascension Day; and has a special interest in the English
Church from the fact recorded in the account of the Venerable Bede's death,
that it was among the last of the words which he uttered. He died
on the Wednesday evening about the time of the first Vespers of the Festival,
and the spirit in which he sang the Antiphon is well expressed by the aspiration
that concludes the modern Collect.
The alteration of the ancient form, which is addressed to the ascended
"King of Glory" of the twenty-fourth Psalm, into a prayer addressed to
the Father, is to be regretted. It was probably prompted by the principle
of offering prayer chiefly to the Father through the Son. But its
present form jars strangely with Scriptural ideas in Psalm and Gospel.
The day itself, within the octave of the Ascension, may be properly
considered as a continuation of that festival, but commemorating especially
the session of our Lord at the right hand of the Father.