The Collect for the First Sunday after Pentecost:  Trinity Sunday

Almighty and everlasting God,
you have given to us your servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity,
and in the power of your divine Majesty to worship the Unity:
Keep us steadfast in this faith and worship,
and bring us at last to see you in your one and eternal glory,
O Father; who with the Son and the Holy Spirit live and reign,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(BCP 228)

This Collect is for the Feast of the Holy Trinity, celebrated on the Sunday after Pentecost.  Like the Collect for Pentecost, this Collect is not used as the Collect of the Day during the Daily Office in the week that follows (BCP 228), but is used only on the feast day itself. 

Since 1334, the observance of Trinity Sunday has been widely used in the Western Church “to mark the conclusion of the liturgical commemorations of the life of Christ and the descent of the Holy Spirit by a celebration embracing God in all three Persons” (Cross and Livingston, eds, “Trinity Sunday,” The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 3rd ed., p. 1654.) 

According to Marion Hatchett, the foundation for this Collect comes from a votive Mass of the Holy Trinity (a votive mass is a celebration of the Eucharist with a special intention that is not connected to the Church calendar).  The prayer has undergone several revisions since its earliest recorded instances. Thomas Cranmer added “grace” and our current use restores the original petition for steadfastness in our faith and worship, omitting the added petition for protection from adversity (Hatchett, 184-5).

The Preamble, “Almighty and everlasting God,” is the same Preamble used in the Collect for the Second Sunday of Easter.  When a Collect begins with this Preamble we are invited to consider how God’s mighty deeds for our salvation and God’s eternality are important to the doctrinal basis of the Acknowledgement and what we ask for in the Petition.

The Acknowledgement, “you have given to us your servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of your divine Majesty to worship the Unity,” can be broken into three parts.

In the first part of the Acknowledgement, “you have given to us your servants grace, by the confession of a true faith,” the tradition of the Church is the means by which God gives us grace to confess a true faith.  Every Sunday we confess the Church’s faith when we pray together the Nicene Creed (BCP 358), which has been handed down since the fourth century as the agreed-upon common statement of the faith of the Church.  When we pray Morning and Evening Prayer or on Sundays when we renew our Baptismal Covenant (BCP 53-4, 66, 96, 120, and 304-5) we confess the Church’s faith using the Apostles’ Creed, the baptismal creed of the Church of Rome since at least the fifth century. 

The Amen we say at the end of these Creeds, as well as our Collects and other prayers, is the transliteration of a Hebrew word meaning “verily” or “truly,” in the sense of agreement.  When we say Amen at the end of the Creed, we are agreeing with the tradition of the Church that the content of the Creed is a faithful expression of our common trust in who God is and how our Triune God has acted on our behalf.

The second part of the Acknowledgement provides us with the content of this confession:  “to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity.”  One of the great mysteries of the Christian faith is that we experience God as one God in three Persons.  Our acknowledgement of the eternality of the Trinity is a reminder to us that God has always been one God in three Persons, and always will be.  Through God revealing God’s self to us as Trinity, God reveals some of the glory of this divine mystery.  As we discovered in our meditation of the Collect for the Seventh Sunday of Easter, God’s glory can be understood as either God’s honor or God’s beauty and magnificence.  Because the next part of the Acknowledgement refers to God’s majesty, it seems that in this Collect, it is the beauty and wonder of who God is that we are called to contemplate.

The third part of the Acknowledgement gives us the Church’s response to this confession of the Oneness and Threeness of God: “and in the power of your divine Majesty to worship the Unity.”  The revelation of God’s self as the Unity of the Holy Trinity is not so that we can understand God as God is, but so that we can respond to this unveiling of God’s glorious nature in delight, awe, and wonder—to worship God.  We don’t merely worship in our own strength, but we have the honor and delight of being caught up into the power of God’s majesty so that we can worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).

The Petition, “Keep us steadfast in this faith and worship, and bring us at last to see you in your one and eternal glory,” has two parts, one that is for this age and the other for the age to come. 

The first part of the Petition, “Keep us steadfast in this faith and worship,” is our request that God keep the Church constant in the teaching and fellowship of the apostles, the breaking of bread, and the prayers (“The Baptismal Covenant,” BCP 304).  Living into the mystery of the Trinity is hard work and not something that we can do by ourselves; the propensity of the human mind is to simplify mysterious things so that they are more easily understood.  We ask for grace to hold fast to the faith as we have received it, to trust in its veracity, and to worship—not to comprehend the mystery and majesty of the God who is simultaneously Unity and Trinity.

The second part of the Petition moves us from what we need in this age to what we desire in the next age.  Just as keeping us steadfast in this faith and worship is a gift that is part of God’s mighty work of salvation that we receive in this present time, we also ask for grace in the age to come:  “and bring us at last to see you in your one and eternal glory.”  During the week of the Third Sunday of Easter we asked to have our eyes opened to see Jesus in his redeeming work in this age (BCP 224-5).  Now we ask to be given the grace to see the glory of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit as God in God’s glorious and majestic Oneness and Threeness in the age to come. 

The Pleading, “O Father; who with the Son and the Holy Spirit live and reign, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen,” provides us with confidence that our God who reigns in Unity forever is able to answer both parts of the Petition.

Note:  This Collect is not used as the Collect of the Day during the Daily Office in the week that follows (BCP 228), but is used only on the feast day itself.  The Collect that is used for the Daily Office this week is the one for Proper 6.  A meditation on The Collect for Proper 6 will be available on the website on Monday morning.

Homework:  It’s easy to read through the Creed in the Daily Office or in the Sunday Eucharist as part of what we do without pondering the mystery and glory of our Triune God.  Take time to read through the Creed slowly, listening for the Oneness and the Threeness of God.  Where in the Creed do you most easily sense the mystery, majesty, and glory of God? 

How do you experience God’s power helping you remain steadfast in worshiping God?  How have we experienced God keeping us, as a parish, steadfast in our worship of God? 

Almighty and everlasting God,
you have given to us your servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity,
and in the power of your divine Majesty to worship the Unity:
Keep us steadfast in this faith and worship,
and bring us at last to see you in your one and eternal glory,
O Father; who with the Son and the Holy Spirit live and reign,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(BCP 228)

© 2022 Donna Hawk-Reinhard, edited by Kate McCormick
The citations from Marion Hatchett are from his Commentary on the American Prayer Book, HarperOne, 1995
Quotations and page references to The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) are from the 1979 standard edition.
Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide

Scroll to Top