What is a Collect?
A collect (emphasis on the first syllable) is a collective prayer, gathering the thoughts and prayers of the congregation. A collect in the Book of Common Prayer is often a part of the propers of the Day (the prayer and lessons of the day), which, together, highlight a particular theme on a given day. There are two collects in the service of Holy Communion: the Collect for Purity, and the Collect for the Day.
The Collect for Purity
Almighty God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid; Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love Thee, and worthily magnify thy holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Compare the thoughts of this collect with Luke 8:17; Romans 2:16; 1 John 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 4:7–8.
The Collect for the Day
The Collect for the Day is a prayer from the ancient and historic Church that precedes the readings from holy Scripture. There is a unique Collect for each Sunday of the year as well as feast days. Collects can usually be divided into five parts:
- an address to God;
- a relative or participle clause referring to some attribute of God, or to one of his saving acts;
- the petition;
- the reason for which we ask;
- the conclusion.
Sometimes, these parts are interchanged or one or more are omitted. The Collect for the Twelfth Sunday after Trinity would be divided accordingly as follows:
- Almighty and everlasting God,
- who art always more ready to hear than we to pray, and art wont to give more than either we desire or deserve;
- Pour down upon us the abundance of thy mercy; forgiving us those things whereof our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things
- which we are not worthy to ask, but through the merits and mediation of
- Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord. Amen.
Note also that in the example quoted above only the “Amen” is italicized. This reflects the traditional practice of the priest alone speaking the words of the collect, at the end of which the congregation joined him in saying, “Amen.”