In Die Omnium Sanctorum

Happy All Saints’ Day! I translate below two Latin Collects for All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day as found in Georg Major’s Psalmi seu cantica ex Sacris Literis, in Ecclesia cantari solita, cum Hymnis et Collectis seu orationibus Ecclesiasticis, in usum Pastorum, Diaconorum et iuventutis Scholasticae (Wittenberg: Schwenck, 1558). Later Lutherans combined the two festivals into one falling on November 1, i.e., All Saints’; but Major’s book has prayers for both.

So, first, for All Saints’:

IN DIE OMNIUM Sanctorum.

Vers. Exultent iusti in conspectu Dei.

R. Et delectentur in laeticia.

OMnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui nos omnes Sanctos tuos sub una tribuisti celebritate venerari, quaesumus, ut desideratam nobis tuae propitiationis abundantiam multiplicatis fidei et virtutum exemplis largiaris, Per Dominum nostrum &c.

On All Saints’ Day

Versicle: Let the righteous exult in the sight of God.

Response: And let them rejoice in gladness.

Almighty and eternal God, who have granted us to venerate all Your Saints in one celebration, we beseech You to bestow upon us an abundance of your mercy, having multiplied for us examples of faith and the virtues; through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

It is instructive to compare this with the corresponding Roman Catholic prayer that is currently in use, which reads as follows:

Almighty ever-living God, by whose gift we venerate in one celebration the merits of all the Saints, bestow on us, we pray, through the prayers of so many intercessors, an abundance of the reconciliation with you for which we earnestly long. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.

One can easily see the commonalities; this is because Major’s prayer is based on the Latin Collect of which the second example is a translation. You can see the Latin text here in an illuminated text from 1480. Though the notion of “veneration” (which can mean simply “to honor” rather than “to worship religiously”) is still present, notice what Major omits: any mention of merit and intercession. Instead, it is the example of the saints that we are to follow as we honor our forebears. The Reformation is doing its work. And there is a further lesson here: there is much in the history of the church that can be cleansed without being killed.

Second, for All Souls’:


Vers. Iustorum animae in manu Dei sunt.

R. Et non tanget illos tormentum maliciae.

Deus, qui nos per os sancti Pauli Apostoli tui de obdormientibus in Christo non contristandos docuisti, praesta quaesumus, ut cum omnibus fidelibus defunctis adveniente filio tuo Domino nostro Iesu Christo, ad aeterna gaudia foeliciter perducamur, Per eundem Dominum &c.

On All Souls’ Day

Versicle: The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God.

Response: And the torment of evil will not touch them.

O God, who through the mouth of St. Paul, Your Apostle, have taught us not to mourn for those who sleep in Christ, grant us, we beseech You, to be led to eternal joys together with all the faithful dead at the coming of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ; through the same Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.


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