A recent project gave me the chance to look over the collects from LSB and compare them to TLH/ELHB. I hadn’t realized how much they had changed. I thought the changes were mostly “Thee” to “You”. But subtle changes here and there, in an attempt to clarify the archaic language, end up with collects that are ironically less clear.
As I go through the church year, I may comment on a few. Or I may get bored and move to other things. (SQUIRREL!)
This week’s collect is not much changed. But, as usual, I prefer the older one. Here is the old one:
O God, who seest that of ourselves we have no strength, keep us both outwardly and inwardly that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to body and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
The new one is very similar, but also significantly different:
O God, You see that of ourselves we have no strength. By Your mighty power defend us from all adversities that may happen to the body and from all evil thoughts that may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
I will save my annoyance of discarding the church’s tradition of using one-sentence collects for another day. Today I want to focus on the rather obvious deletion.
We no longer pray to be kept outwardly and inwardly. Maybe they felt it wasn’t necessary because we talk about body and soul in the next phrase. Maybe they felt there was some subtle misdirection of theology in “outwardly and inwardly”, although I can’t see it.
But in deleting that phrase, we also delete the prayer that we be kept. Oh, we still pray that we be defended. But scripture and the Large Catechism invest a lot of meaning in God “keeping” us. For example, in Psalm 17, we pray, “Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings.” Or Psalm 121, “The Lord will keep you from all harm…” True, God defends us. But he does more. He keeps us. It is, to some extent the difference between father and mother. The father provides for and defends. It is necessary. But the mother nurtures. This is also necessary. Psalm 23 has both of the these aspects. God defends from all danger (valley of the shadow of death) but he also provides, he gives grass and provides still waters. In him we have complete comfort, and are without need.
The loss of “keep”, it seems to me, makes that less clear in the new prayer.