This short essay attempts to explain, what is a Collect in the Anglican tradition
The word Collect comes from Latin
The word Collect in Anglican usage derives from the ordinary use of the word, meaning to gather together (Latin, colligere, “to gather”). The related word collecta meant the gathering of the people together. In medieval times, the Collect was probably a prayer that the priest said before the procession into the church to celebrate the Mass.
Thus, the Collect is a gathering prayer. English-speaking Roman Catholics now use the term ‘opening prayer’ rather than Collect, and Lutherans call it the ‘prayer of the day’.
The Collect(s) form part of the introduction (The Gathering of the Community) in our Eucharist (Holy Communion) liturgy. See specifically our brochure What happens at an Anglican service?
A Collect is a stylized, formal prayer
However, a Collect is not just any old prayer. It has a very stylized format, which usually has five parts.
1. Invocation: to whom is the prayer addressed?
2. Acknowledgement: why are you asking?
3. Petition: what are you asking for?
4. Pleading: what result do you wish for?
5. Conclusion, indicating the mediation of Jesus Christ, and ending with the response, Amen.
The Collect for Purity as an example
The Collect for Purity, which dates back a thousand years is an excellent example.
Almighty God, To you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you 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.
We break it down as follows.
1. Almighty God,
2. to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden.
3. cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
4. that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name;
5. through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Thomas Cranmer compiled the first Book of Common Prayer (1549). He contributed many of its Collects. Here is his Collect for the Second Sunday of Advent. It emphasizes the increased role of reading Scripture at the time of the Reformation.
1. Blessed Lord,
2. Who has caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning,
3. grant that we may hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them;
4. that by patience and comfort of thy holy word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life
5. which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
Anther use of the word Collect
A secondary use of the word Collect is a prayer that “collects into one” the prayers of the individual members of the congregation. We see this usage in the Offices of Morning and Evening Prayer in the Book of Common Prayer. In each case, after the Collect of the Day, there follow unchanging Collects. For example, at Evening Prayer:
1. O God,
2. from whom all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed:
3. give unto thy servants that peace which the world cannot give;
4. that our hearts may be set to obey they commandments, and also that by thee we being defended from the fear of our enemies may pass our time in rest and quietness,
5. through the merits of Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.