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Commentary from 

Rivingtons, London, 1884

In St. Jerome’s Lectionary twenty-five Sundays after Pentecost are provided with Epistles and Gospels. In the Sacramentary of St. Gregory there are Collects for twenty-seven Sundays. In the Salisbury Missal twenty-four Sundays were reckoned as after Trinity, and one as the next before Advent: and there was a Rubric directing that if there were snore than twenty-five Sundays between Trinity Sunday and Advent Sunday, the Office for the Twenty-fourth Sunday was to be repeated on each Sunday until the last, when that for the Sunday before Advent was to be said. In the Prayer Book of 1549 no Rubric of this kind was provided, but the old usage would, doubtless, be adopted. in 1552, however, a Rubric was inserted to this effect: “If there be any more Sundays before Advent Sunday, to supply the same shall be taken the Service of some of those Sundays that were omitted between the Epiphany and Septuagesima.” This Rubric was altered into its present form in the Durham book of Bishop Cosin, having already appeared in a similar but more cumbrous form in 1637.

If there are two of these Dominicae Vagantes (as they were anciently called), the Services for the fifth and sixth Sundays after Epiphany should be used; if only one, that for the sixth Sunday, which has evidently been appointed with a view to its fitness for use on the Sunday next but one to Advent. The rule expressed in this Rubric is a very ancient one, being found in Micrologus, c. lxii.

The Office of this day represents that for the fifth Sunday before the Nativity of our Lord in the Comes of St. Jerome, which appoints the same Epistle and Gospel, and in the Sacramentary of St. Gregory, though a different Collect is appointed for that day in the latter. Its tone is that of Advent rather than Trinity, commemorating as it does the first coming of the King Whose Name is “The Lord our Righteousness,” and looking forward to that second coming when the true restoration of Israel ‘will be effected. The Gospel is the same as that for Mid-Lent Sunday, where some notes upon it will be found. The rationale of its appointment for to-day is to be found in the last words of it, “This is of a truth that Prophet that should come into the world.”

The alteration of the Collect from its old form, “That they more readily following the fruit of the Divine work” in the heart, to its present form, “plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works,” is very strange.