A Mozarabic prayer in the Hymns of the Spirit

So, why is there a prayer from medieval Spain in the “old red hymnal” (Hymns of the Spirit) ? See page 139, under the heading “Prayers for Righteousness of Life”:

Grant us, O Lord, to pass this day in gladness and peace, without stumbling
and without stain; that, reaching the eventide victorious over all temptation, we may praise thee, the eternal God, who art blessed for evermore, and dost govern all things. Amen.

The index identifies it from the Mozarabic Rite — the dominant form of worship in Muslim Spain, as distinguished by the now-dominant Latin Rite — is a darling interest of students of liturgy, preserved in a single chapel among the Catholics, but revived by the Anglicans in Spain. A trial prayerbook in Mexico strongly commended by the United States Episcopalians also revived the Mozarabic rite. It didn’t take.

But this prayer in particular was widely antologized, found in ecumenical hymnals for youth and the armed forces, plus Episcopalian, Lutheran and Congregationalist formulations, from the Progressive Age to the Second World War — the era Hymns of the Spirit (1937) was composed. An Episcopal prayerbook for solders and saliors puts the prayer under a heading that typifies the time: “For victory over temptation.” Likewise one for scouts: “For purity”. (PDF)

So where does this bit of liturgical saltpeter appear in English translation?  Hard to say. I cannot yet find a reference earlier than 1913, and nothing quite like it appears in the studies the Episcopalians made for the Mexican church, this Collect for Grace being the closest (and perhaps the source) in Charles R. Hale’s Mozarabic Collects Translated and Arranged from the Ancient Liturgy of the Spanish Church (1881):

O Lord Jesus Christ, Who didst take upon Thee the weakness of our mortal nature; Grant that we may pass this day in safety, and without sin, resisting all the temptations of the enemy, and that at eventide we may joyfully praise Thee, O King Eternal; Through Thy mercy, O our God, Who art blessed, and dost live, and govern all things, world without end. Amen.

A good place to leave it.

About Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 44, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.

2 thoughts on “A Mozarabic prayer in the Hymns of the Spirit

  1. What I always find fascinating about stuff like this, is that it points to a world of Unitarianism and Universalism that was far more liturgical. A world most contemporary UU’s often don’t know exists, or that we perhaps willfully deny the existence of. Perhaps because such a world does not fit inside our own internal narrative of who we have been (liberals with a shared prayer practice).

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