Early Christian Prayer

Where does the following prayer ending orginate? "..., through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever." It was apparently included at the end of a letter from the Church at Rome, accredited by some theologians to Clement of Rome, to the Church at Corinth, and is also used in our hymnal.

Answer: 

While Clement of Rome might have used this doxological formula, others likely did as well. Most sources say that the Collects (at least in comprehensive form) date from the fourth century and later – no doubt compiling prayers that had been in use for some time and following a pattern in wide use. It is probably difficult to determine a precise date or source for the origin of the familiar closing pattern that you quote.

The New Dictionary of Sacramental Worship (Peter Fink, ed) states:

Doxology generally terminates prayer…. Particular forms of doxology include … the conclusion of the collect…. This doxology expresses, in highly compressed and simple fashion, the theology of Christian liturgical prayer, namely, that it is directed to the first person of the Trinity, through the mediation of Christ, in the power of his abundant and life-giving Spirit.

One author writes:

The concluding statement of mediation, "through Jesus Christ our Lord" (or its longer trinitarian version "through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever"), is particularly significant as a source of trinitarian piety and formation. This statement offers explicit acknowledgment of a trinitarian theology of worship as a graced event, much discussed in the recent renaissance of trinitarian theology. Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are active agents in our prayer and worship, prompting and perfecting our prayers, and making prayer less an act of heroic self-confidence and more an act of gracious participation in God's own action. (John Witvliet)


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