New Words for Worship Part 16: Ascension Texts Present and Future Column #600

Ascension Texts Present and Future

The feast of the Ascension of the Lord is celebrated in Australia on the seventh Sunday of the Easter Season, 5th June this year. Readers may find it interesting to compare the texts for the feast that we will hear for the last time this year with those in the revised English language Missal which will be used in future.

Current Opening Prayer:
God our Father, make us joyful
in the ascension of your Son Jesus Christ.
May we follow him into the new creation,
for his ascension is our glory and our hope.

Revised Collect:
Gladden us with holy joys, almighty God,
and make us rejoice with devout thanksgiving,
for the Ascension of Christ your Son is our exaltation,
and, where the Head has gone before in glory,
the Body is called to follow in hope.

This is a typical example of a common change to the opening prayer, or collect, in that the current version is divided into two sentences to assist proclamation and comprehension while the revised text follows the Latin construct and is a single sentence.

Current Prayer over the Gifts:
Lord, receive our offering
as we celebrate the ascension of Christ your Son.
May his gifts help us rise with him to the joys of heaven,
where he lives and reigns for ever and ever.

Revised Prayer over the Offerings:
We offer sacrifice now in supplication, O Lord,
to honour the wondrous Ascension of your Son:
grant, we pray,that through this most holy exchange
we, too, may rise up to the heavenly realms.
Through Christ our Lord.

A common feature of the revised translation is the more deferential language used towards God in the collects, illustrated here in the “grant, we pray”, which is in many of the new prayers.

Current Preface of the Ascension I:
(Today) the Lord Jesus, the king of glory,
the conqueror of sin and death,
ascended to heaven while the angels sang his praises.
Christ, the mediator between God and man,
judge of the world and Lord of all,
has passed beyond our sight,
not to abandon us but to be our hope.
Christ is the beginning, the head of the Church;
where he has gone, we hope to follow.

Revised Preface of the Ascension I:
For the Lord Jesus, the King of glory,
conqueror of sin and death,
ascended (today) to the highest heavens,
as the Angels gazed in wonder.
Mediator between God and man,
judge of the world and Lord of hosts,
he ascended not to distance himself from our lowly state
but that we, his members, might be confident of following
where he, our Head and Founder, has gone before.

Whereas the current version has “Christ” twice in the latter part of the prayer to make it clear to whom the text refers throughout, the revised version uses “he” twice to carry the “Lord Jesus” of the opening line through the entire Preface.

Another typical feature of the revised Missal is the capitalisation of many nouns, seen here in Ascension, King, Angels, Head and Founder.


Elizabeth Harrington