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Prayer Book Collects

May 16, 2009

Not everyone likes everything in the Prayer Book. Now there’s a truism, if ever you saw one!

But I believe one of the glories of the Prayer Book (and by this I mean every English Prayer Book from 1549 to 1929, not the ones in modern English) is the collection of prayers for Sundays and Feast Days, called collectively the Collects. They are almost all of the same structure, namely an invocation of God, emphasizing one of his attributes; then a request; then the “routing code” through Jesus Christ, joining our little prayer for anything with his constant intercession for us.

My favourite Collect is the one for the Sixth Sunday after Trinity:

“O God, who hast prepared for them that love thee such good things as pass man’s understanding: Pour into our hearts such love toward thee, that we, loving thee above all things, may obtain thy promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

In a few dozen words, we have in this prayer 

1) God’s careful preparation for us; 2) our inability to comprehend it all; 3)a request for the one thing needful, love of God above any material thing; 4) the result of that in his gifts to us; and 5) the infinitely better gifts prepared for us than we could have asked.

I am sure many of you have different favourites. The Collects are a treasure chest of good stuff.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Stephen permalink
    May 18, 2009 8:13 am

    As a Roman Catholic who regularly attends a Traditional Latin Mass, I will be delighted to see the relatively small changes that are slated to be made within our Novus Ordo Missae fairly soon come into regular usage.When our priest says “The Lord be with you.” The faithful will soon respond with “and with your Spirit. There is certainly nothing wrong with “and also with you” per se, but to me it is just a symptom of the exceedingly patronizing tendency to “dumb things down” that we have all witnessed within the last forty years or so.

    I love the traditional collects found in the Book of Common Prayer, and the bidding prayers for the whole state of Christ’s Church, as well as many other prayers found in that great volume.

    This all makes me wonder whatever happened to the seemingly simple idea of helping someone who is having difficulty understanding liturgical texts to overcome their impediments? When I was in high school, i was failing Geometry, and i must admit, my teacher never once offered to change Geometry to accomodate my lack of skills in that area of Mathematics. Is it too much to ask that time-honoured sacred texts be given similar consideration?

  2. May 18, 2009 2:01 pm

    I quite agree: children love exotic language and can learn things off by heart far more easily than adults. Thanks for your comment.

  3. ambly permalink
    May 20, 2009 5:20 pm

    Few can better the Collect for Purity.

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