Trinity VII

LORD of all power and might, who art the author and giver of all good things:  Graft in our hearts the love of thy Name, increase in us true religion, nourish us with all goodness, and of thy great mercy, keep us in the same.  Through etc.

The address begins with a double statement of God’s omnipotence, his ‘power and might’, but shifts in its second part to his beneficence:  God’s power and might are coordinated with the fact that he is ‘the author and giver of all good things’.  God’s power and his goodness are parallel, entirely coexistent and interpenetrating, and, in fact, are essentially identical.  In the human world power and goodness are often discontinuous:  powerful people are often not good people, and the good often seem powerless.  The Christian faith holds that the first and ultimate reality is that God is good as well as almighty.

The petition begins with the use of the biblical and Pauline figure of a graft and the equally biblical emphasis on the divine Name.  The petition asks the divine Gardener to graft into ‘our hearts the love of thy Name’.  The human plant is stunted and twisted by sin, but God is able to improve us, first by attaching to us a new principle of fruit or strength, a new branch or limb, which is sounder than what we have become.  Or, rather, God grafts onto us that which in fact is truer to what we originally were meant to be.  God’s new creation is in fact a restoration; grace is a gift that renews and renovates.  A graft cannot take if the stock and graft are entirely incompatible.  The gardening, or at any rate organic, image continues with the subsequent mention of ‘nourish’:  the restored plant needs tending, watering, feeding.

Each of the two parts of the address has a pleonastic double:  ‘power and might’ and ‘author and giver’.  The parallelism of the two parts of the address then extends into the internal parallelisms of the pleonasms within each part.  The result is a kind of literary square:  two parts and two parts times two parts.

The petition shifts to a more extended triple request, which is then further extended by a fourth request that God’s attribute of ‘great mercy’ would ‘keep us in the same’.  That is, the final petition of the collect is that God’s mercy would cause us to persevere in enjoyment of the three things previously requested.  The petition restated, then, is that by grace we might remain in love of God’s Name, in true religion, and in all goodness.  Love of God is love of the Gardener; true religion is the garden; goodness is the fruit of the garden.

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