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A Rationale upon the Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England
By Anthony Sparrow, D.D.
first printed in London, 1655.
With thanks to the Project Canterbury Website for this contribution.

Of ADVENT Sunday.
THe Principal Holy-days as Christmas, Easter, and Whitsunday, have some days appointed to attend upon them: some to go before, some to come after: as it were to wait upon them for their greater solemnity.

Before Christmas are appointed four Advent-Sundays, so called because they are to prepare us for Christ his Advent or coming in the flesh. These are to Christmas-day, as S. John Baptist to Christ forerunners to prepare for it, and point it out.

First Sunday Adv.
The Gospel S. Matth. 21. 1. seems at first more proper to Christs Passion than his Birth; yet is it read now principally for those words in it, Blessed is he that cometh in the Name of the Lord. That is, Blessed is he for coming in the Flesh, the cause of all our joy, for which we can never say enough, Hosanna in the Highest.

The Epistle labours to prepare us to behold with joy this rising Sun, bidding us awake from sleep, according to the Prophet Esay 60. 1. Arise, and shine, for thy light is come.

The Collect is taken out of both, and relates to both, the first part of it is clearly the words of the Epistle, That we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, That which follows, In the time of this mortal life, in the which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us, in effect is the same with that in the Epistle: Let us put off the works of darkness, &c. because the night is spent, the day is at hand, and our salvation is near; that is, our Saviour Christ, the light of the world is coming into the world to visit us in great humility, according to the Prophet, Zach. 9. 9. which the Gospel records, Tell ye the daughter of Sion (to her great joy) that behold Her King comes unto her, meek, (or in great humility) sitting upon an Asse.

2. Sunday Adv.
The Gospel treats of Christs second coming to judgment, an excellent meditation to prepare us for the welcome and joyful entertainment of Christs first coming. A Saviour must needs be welcome to him that is afraid of damnation.

The Epistle mentions the first coming of our Lord for the Salvation even of the Gentiles, that is of us, for which all praise is by us, to be given to him. Praise the Lord all ye Gentiles, and laud him all ye nations together.

The Collect is taken out of the Epistle; and though it seems not to relate to the day, yet is it an excellent prayer for all times, and so not unseasonable for this.

3. Sunday Adv.
The Epistle mentions the second coming of Christ; the Gospel, the first. The Collect prayes for the benefit of this light.

This week is one of the four Ember weeks, concerning which see after the first Sunday in Lent.

4. Sunday Adv.
The Epistle and Gospel set Christ, as it were, before us, not prophesied of, but being even at hand, yea standing among us; pointing him out as S. John Baptist did to the people; Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.

The Collect Prayes most earnestly and passionately to him, to succour us miserable sinners.