Let us pray (in silence) [for grace to keep Lent faithfully.]
Almighty and everlasting God,
you hate nothing that you have made
and forgive the sins of all who are penitent:
create and make in us new and contrite hearts,
that we, worthily lamenting our sins
and acknowledging our wretchedness,
may receive from you, the God of all mercy,
perfect remission and forgiveness;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Ash Wednesday is a solemn focusing on sin, repentance, and our need for forgiveness. Most tend to underplay sin nowadays (and, yes, that’s in reaction to its over-stressing in the past), but Ash Wednesday is a reminder of its dreadful reality. The tone of the collect is, hence, appropriate. Obviously we cease using the collect that we used daily from Sunday, and use this one from Ash Wednesday until first evening prayer of Sunday Lent 1. After that, if you want to use it throughout Lent, don’t have two collects following each other – this collect can be used to conclude the Prayers of the People (or even as the Prayer after Communion).
Here is my commentary for this collect for Ash Wednesday.