O LORD, raise up (we pray thee) thy power, and come among us, and with great might succour us; that whereas, through our sins and wickedness, we are sore let and hindered in running the race that is set before us, thy bountiful grace and mercy may speedily help and deliver us; through the satisfaction of thy Son our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be honour and glory, world without end. Amen.
This Collect for the fourth Sunday of Advent has a very ancient history, appearing first in the Gelasian Sacramentary, and later in the Sarum Missal from which Archbishop Cranmer took it for the Book of Common Prayer. What we have today is the result of translation and slight re-working through the years. The primary theme of the Collect is recognizing the coming of Christ, and rejoicing at His coming. The Scripture lessons for this Sunday are Philippians 4:4-7 and St. John 1:19-28.
It has been suggested that the opening words are drawn from Psalms 80:2 Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh stir up thy strength, and come and save us, although similar invocations for help from God are certainly found many places throughout the Bible. This particular Psalm is appointed in the Lectionary for Morning Prayer on this Sunday morning. The Collect weaves together the ideas of both the First and Second Comings of our Lord. In His First Coming, He came in humility, hence our prayer that He let His power be raised up and expanded. In the First Coming, He came to save us from our sins, to bring salvation to us. In His Second Coming, even while He comes to judge us, He also comes to succour and relieve us, bringing an end to our troubles in this world.
The point of the whole Collect is that we must recognize the coming of Jesus within the world, this is the ground of our hope and the reason we can go forth every day with joy in a world that is falling apart. We are called upon to do so, bearing witness to the Lamb of God, and with every confidence in Him.
+ In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.