October 23, 2016
What is a collect? How many collects are there?
Collects are prayers which are offered by the Presider at the celebration of the Eucharist or by the Officiant (so named because the officiant does not have to be ordained) at a Daily Office (i.e. Morning or Evening Prayer).
The background for Collects is that they are group prayers, which for good order (i.e. crowds have a hard time reciting things together at the same time), which speak to group needs, thanksgivings, or adorations of God. The congregation may or may not affirm the prayer by saying "amen," or by withholding the same, respectively.
An example of a seasonal collect is:
Second Sunday of Advent (Upon us sooner than we think): Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer, who lives and reigns with you and Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
BCP Page 211
Collects, especially in the traditional Anglican form, first name the property of God which they are calling on, in this case mercy, and then go on to say something about how God either demonstrates this property or carries it out, in this case in the warnings of the prophets to repent. Then there is the optional ending of the people, Amen, which is their special privilege to say or not.
There are over a hundred collects in the Book of Common Prayer including the Collect for Purity said in most services every Sunday, right at the beginning of the Eucharist, and the Prayer of Humble access once a mainstay of every Eucharist done in the BCP 1928, and still an option in the BCP 1979 for the Rite I Eucharist. The BCP includes Collects of the D for every Sunday, every Major Feast Day, every Day in Holy Week, every Day in Easter Week, and Various Occasions throughout the year. Then there are collects contained in other approved worship books for Lesser Feasts and Fasts and for other services like Lessons and Carols.
The rich tradition of these "collected" prayers covers a wide range of theological issues from death to life, sin to redemption, judgement to mercy, and more. A complete study of this Episcopal Resource would profoundly enrich any community's prayer and spiritual life. I commend these jewels to your personal care and exercise.
The Rev. David Lucey