WDTPRS 3rd Sunday of Advent – Collect (200MR):

We are coming to the 3rd Sunday of Advent, also nicknamed Gaudete…. the plural imperative of gaudeo, “Rejoice!”.  This Sunday there is a relaxation of the penitential aspect of Advent.  Yes, Advent is a penitential time, though not so much as Lent.

Remember: Real priests wear rosacea.

In the first week of Advent we begged God for the grace of the proper approach and will for our preparation.  In the second week, we ask God for help and protection in facing the obstacles the world raises against us.  This Sunday we have a glimpse of the joy that is coming in our rose colored (rosacea) vestments, some use of the organ, flowers.  Christmas is near at hand.

COLLECT – (2002MR)
Deus, qui conspicis populum tuum nativitatis dominicae
festivitatem fideliter exspectare,
praesta, quaesumus,
ut valeamus ad tantae salutis gaudia pervenire,
et ea votis sollemnibus alacri laetitia celebrare

The infinitives in our Collect (expectare… pervenire… celebrare) give it a grand sound and alo sum up what we are doing in Advent.  L&S informs us that conspicio means, “to look at attentively, to get sight of, to descry, perceive, observe.” Alacer is, “lively, brisk, quick, eager, active; glad, happy, cheerful” and it is put in an unlikely combination with laetitia, “joy, especially unrestrained joyfulness”.  At the same time we also have votis sollemnibus. Votum signifies first of all, “a solemn promise made to some deity” (we have all made baptismal vows!) and also “wish, desire, longing, prayer”.  There is a powerful sentiment of longing in this prayer, God’s as well as ours.  Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that expecto is from ex- + pecto (pecto, “to comb”). You won’t find exspecto “look forward to”, in your L&S, but the etymological dictionary of Latin by Ernout and Meillet says it is from ex– + *specio, spexi, spectum or ex- +  spicio.  Therefore, it is a cousin of conspicio:  God “watches” over us and we “look” back at… er um… forward to Him.  This word play is clever.

O God, who attentively do watch Your people
look forward faithfully to the feast of the Lord’s birth,
grant, we entreat,
that we may be able to attain the to joys of so great a salvation
and celebrate them with eager jubilation in solemn festive rites.

LAME-DUCK ICEL (1973 translation of the 1970MR):
Lord God,
may we, your people,
who look forward to the birthday of Christ
experience the joy of salvation
and celebrate that feast with love and thanksgiving.

You decide.

With the last two week’s of “rushing” in our prayers and doing good works, we have now the added image of eager and unrestrained joy, an almost childlike dash towards a long-desired thing.

Have earthly fathers watched this scene all of a Christmas morning?

Even so should we be in our eager joy to perform good works under the gaze of a Father who watches us, a Father with a plan.

The lame duck ICEL version captures little of the impact of the Latin prayer, that is, God the Father is patiently watching his people as we go about the Advent business of doing penance and just works in joyful anticipation Christ’s coming.

O God, who see how your people
faithfully await the feast of the Lord’s Nativity,
enable us, we pray,
to attain the joys of so great a salvation,
and to celebrate them always
solemn worship and glad rejoicing

O God, who look upon your people
as they faithfully await the feast day  of the Lord’s birth,
strengthen us, we pray,
to reach the joys of so great a salvation,
and to celebrate them always
with solemn worship and glad rejoicing

Which of these last two is the better effort?  A or B?


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in ADVENT, WDTPRS and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. B is better. More muscular and vigorous, and appears to conform more closely to the original Latin. The first line in A seems to suggest that God is more of a passive observer (just happens to notice what His people do), while that in B suggests more of a God who actively watches and pays attention.

  2. Frank H says:

    Agree with Anita on B.

  3. Agree B is better, I like the use of Nativity in A though

  4. Belinda says:

    I think both A and B have their points. B is slightly closer to the original, but A is perhaps slightly better English (‘strengthen us…to reach the joys…’ is just a little clumsy, to my ear).

    But I can’t believe they let ‘glad rejoicing’ pass. What next, ‘sad sorrow’? ‘Eager jubilation’ would have been far better. Also, I don’t see the point of inserting ‘always’. It makes the prayer sound as if it referred to the Church’s constant, year-round celebration of the joys of salvation rather than specifically to the feast of Christmas.

  5. Choirmaster says:

    I have to agree with Anita that the language of B suggests an “active” observance by God.

    My only reason to give an honorable mention to A is that uses “Nativity.” I recently went on a spittle-flecking rant—responding to the tired admonishment that December 25 couldn’t possibly be the day that Jesus was born—that Christmas is not “Jesus’ birthday party” and how much it irks me when people sing Happy Birthday to him like there’s some kind of heavenly sheet-cake with 2000 novelty candles on it!

    Hence my propensity towards the term “Nativity”.

  6. Rich says:

    I like A better. Though I like B’s “Lord’s birth” better than A’s “Lord’s Nativity”, as it communicates basically the same meaning while keeping the prayer more fluid, B’s term “strengthen us…to reach” is a heck of a lot clunkier than A’s “enable us…to attain”.

  7. Sam Schmitt says:

    Version B seems to be the better one, but unfortunately it looks as though Version A will be the one you will hear a year from now. No one knows why it was changed.

  8. Sliwka says:

    Maybe it is just my browser, but does A seem to be missing a word between “always” and “solemn”?

    For that reason, I like B for the reasons mentioned above (although Nativity trumps birth).

  9. frjim4321 says:

    ICEL 1998 Abandoned

    Gracious God,
    your people look forward in hope
    to the festival of our Saviour’s birth.
    Give us the strength to reach that happy day of salvation
    and to celebrate it with hearts full of joy.

    In this case the abandoned version is clearly superior to “A” or “B,” I particulary like the use of the word “festival,” which seem much stronger (read: sacral) then the weak “feast.” With respect to which of the two we are likely to be stuck with, I would prefer “B.” Is there a word missing in “A?” Is “A” ICEL 2008 and “B” ICEL 2o10?

  10. Mary G says:

    I Like Version “B” the better of the two. A more robust translation.

  11. Dr. Eric says:

    I like A but I don’t know Latin, the B version might be closer to the original.

  12. Sam Schmitt says:


    The 1998 version has the “telling God what he already knows” prayer style of the old ICEL (“your people look forward in hope to the festival of our Saviour’s birth.”) Thus the subject of the first part of the prayer is us, not God, which is a complete reversal of the Latin original. For this reason alone it should be rejected.

  13. Robertus Pittsburghensis says:

    I prefer B, except that I think A’s “enable us” is somewhat better than “strengthen us” as a translation of “praesta ut valeamus”: “Grant that we may succeed”.

    So which ICEL is A and which is B? Is B the bishops’ version and A the CDW’s?

Comments are closed.