Alcuin (c. 730-804) was born into a noble family near York. He was educated at the cathedral school in York under Archbishop Egbert, a pupil of Bede. After ordination as a deacon in 770, he became head of the York school.
Over a decade later, the king sent Alcuin on a mission to Charlemagne. At that time, Britain and Ireland were culturally ahead of France, and Charlemagne begged Alcuin to remain. Alcuin founded the palace school and educated the royal family.
Eight years later, Alcuin was made Abbot of Tours. There he spurred the monks to make fairer and more accurate copies of the Vulgate of Jerome, the Latin Fathers, and the Latin classics; and other monasteries imitated the example. Many of our best classical texts have come down to us from these monastic scriptoria of the ninth century.
Under the authority of Charlemagne, the liturgy was reformed, and service books gathered from Rome were edited. To this work we owe the preservation of many of the Collects that have come down to us, including the Collect for Purity at the beginning of the Holy Eucharist.
Almighty God, to Whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from Whom no secrets are hidden: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of Your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love You, and worthily magnify Your holy name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Dear Heavenly Father,
We thank You for the life and ministry of Alcuin. We cry out for other scholars and church leaders to preserve those parts of our heritage that magnify Your name and establish Your kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.