Collect for Purity

There’s a prayer that is used in liturgical worship, called the Collect For Purity.

Almighty God
Unto whom all hearts are open
All desires known
And from whom no secrets are hid
Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by
The inspiration of thy Holy Spirit
That we may perfectly love thee
And worthily magnify thy holy name
Through Christ our Lord
Amen

Its’ composition is attributed to St. Gregory, and was most likely passed down to us by the English scholar named Alcuin, who is known to have served in Charlemagne’s court in the 8th century. I’ve put this text to music, and we often sing it in our services at Vernon Alliance church. It’s amazing to me that the text is at least 1200 years old, possibly more, and is still widely used today. The Collect For Purity was originally part of the Sarum rite, used in the private devotions of priests in their preparations to lead. Eventually it became part of the common liturgical worship service.

I’m not a historian, but I recall reading that Alcuin’s inclusion of this prayer in public worship was in large part to serve as a reminder to the king, that there was a greater King; a larger spiritual reality and ultimately a higher authority than the king himself. In a sense it was to remind the king, and everyone else, that they were human.

I often think I’m willing to admit my humanity…but then again, when it comes to getting things done, to accomplishing, to being successful, to making sure something comes off the way it’s supposed to, do I acknowledge Gods part in that? Or actually more accurately do I acknowledge that God allowed me to take part in that. It’s all His, beginning to end, and everything in between.

Kings, and common folk – all of us, no matter what age, stage or rank in society – we all get to participate in what God is doing. We just show up and give our best, like Alcuin did for the king and THE King over a thousand years ago, ‘worthily magnifying His holy name’ in whatever it is we do.