SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY.
From 1549 until 1661 the Church of England reckoned only five Sundays after
Epiphany, and if a sixth occurred before Septuagesima, the Collect, Epistle,
and Gospel of the Fifth were repeated. The old Rubric was, "The sixth
Sunday (if there be so many) shall have the Collect, Epistle and Gospel
that was upon the Fifth Sunday." To this it was at first proposed
to add, "And if there be fewer Sundays than six, yet this Collect, Epistle,
and Gospel of the Fifth Sunday shall be last:" but this new Rubric (inserted
in the Durham book) was erased, and a sixth Sunday added without it.
The Collect is written in the margin of the Durham book, and appears
to be an original composition of Bishop Cousin's; though there is some
similarity of expression between it and the above Easter Collect of St.
Gregory's Sacramentary [see the Latin Collect in Blunt's Annotated BCP],
which seems to indicate that the one was in part suggested by the other.
The Epistle is most aptly chosen as a link between the Epiphany Sundays
and those near Advent, the whole Service of this day being often required
for the Twenty-fifth or Twenty-sixth Sunday after Trinity. The Collect
is founded on the Epistle, and the Gospel displays the final Manifestation
of the glory of Christ in the triumph of His Second Coming. Thus
this day falls in with the old system of Epiphany Sundays, and forms an
admirable climax to the whole series; while, at the same time, it is strikingly
adapted for transfer to the end of the Trinity season (if required), according
to the anciently received practice of our own and other branches of the