The Collect for Friday of the 2nd Week of Advent.
This is an ancient prayer, found in the Gelasian Sacramentary among the prayers for Advent.
Concede, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus, plebi tuae
adventum Unigeniti tui cum summa vigilantia exspectare,
ut, sicut ipse docuit auctor nostrae salutis,
accensis lampadibus in eius occursum
Exspecto means, basically, “await”. But our fully-stocked Lewis & Short Dictionary shows that it means also “to look for with hope, fear, desire, expectation, to hope for, long for, expect, desire; to fear, dread, anticipate, apprehend.”
Grant, Almighty God, to Your people
to look with the greatest vigilance for the Coming of your Only-Begotten,
so that, just as He, the author of our salvation himself, taught,
we wakeful may hasten, lamps alight,
toward His meeting.
help us to look forward in hope
to the coming of our Savior.
May we live as he has taught,
ready to welcome him with burning love and faith.
Hmmm… a prayer a Pelagian would be pleased to say.
2008 CORRECTED VERSION:
Grant your people, we pray, almighty God,
to keep wide awake for the coming of your Only Begotten Son,
that as he himself, the author of our salvation, has taught,
we may be alert, with lamps alight,
and hurry out to greet him as he comes.
The image is that of the wise virgins in Matthew 25, which has a long association with Advent and Christmas. During the Middle Ages the parable of the wise and foolish virgins was sometimes enacted as a mystery play in church before the celebration of the 1st Mass of Christmas.
And rightfully so. We must be wakeful. If we are not, knowing the stakes, we are criminally stupid.