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repeating the Ash Wednesday collect?

Ash CrossThe early English-language Books of Common Prayer did not have this, but, in 1662, a rubric was added after the collect for Ash Wednesday:

This Collect is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.

I argue strongly against having two (or more) collects in a row at the start of the Eucharist.

If you value the repetition of the Ash Wednesday collect at the Eucharist throughout Lent, you may like the Church of England Common Worship suggestion:

This [Ash Wednesday] Collect may be used as the Post Communion on any day from the First Sunday of Lent until the Saturday after the Fourth Sunday of Lent instead of the Post Communion provided.

I am considering adding a similar suggestion to my Book of Prayers in Common.

I recently led a 1662/1928 service of Evening Prayer (Evensong) and was told I had broken the rubric by a member of a community which has four collects in a row at Evensong during Lent: of the Day; the Ash Wednesday collect; for Peace; and for Aid against all Perils. Until that person’s comment, I think I had been unaware of the four-collects-at-Lenten-Evensong tradition, and would be interested in anyone who knows of it, or comments from people for whom, like me, this is news.

I am not interested in a rubrical fundamentalism debate, but I would point out that the 1662/1928 rubrics only speak of “Then shall follow three [my emphasis] Collects; the first of the Day; the second for Peace…” and go on to title the last two collects as “The Second Collect at Evening Prayer“, and “The Third Collect…

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18 Responses to repeating the Ash Wednesday collect?

  1. Except in Lent and Advent, when the Ash Wednesday collect and the Advent collect, are repeated….

    Thank goodness I’m a Methodist and can do as I like about such things (but I usually do have them!).

  2. BCP Rubric below Collect for Ash Wednesday “This collect to be read every day in lent after the collect for the Day.” (p84 in my BCP) Likewise the same rubric appears under the collect for the 1st Sunday of advent- except for it to be repeated during advent!

  3. There is a certain big chapel in Cambridge, UK, where four collects are used daily at Mattins/Evensong in Lent (and the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Sundays of Advent). Likewise on red letter days from the Sanctorale coinciding with lesser Sundays. It is a practice I have continued in my own daily Office.

    I used to wonder a fair bit, as a purely intellectual question, about how to reconcile, in the 1662 book, the clear “three collects” rubric of Mattins and Evensong with the rubric following the Advent I and Ash Wednesday proper collects. I never noticed an explanation of what to do in the traditional commentators (e.g. Wheatly, Blunt), who are usually quick to spot problems like this. Maybe that was because they didn’t see a problem. In the Holy Communion, the rubric likewise says “Then shall be said the Collect of the day” (singular), which in Advent and Lent must be understood to refer to two collects. Presumably the singular rubric in Mattins/Evensong was read in the same way (i.e. the “Collect of the Day” might in fact be two collects).

    But I quite agree that the rubrics seem contradictory. There was an attempt to remove the apparent contradiction in the Church of England’s proposed 1928 revision. That book explicitly envisages more than three collects on certain occasions:

    “Then shall follow three Collects; the first of the Day, which shall be the same that is appointed at the Communion; the second for Peace; the third for Grace to live well. But after the Collect of the Day, other Collects are, on occasion, directed to be said before the Collect for Peace. And the two last Collects shall never alter, but daily be said at Morning Prayer throughout all the year, the people kneeling.”

    Your interlocutor could therefore reasonably claim support for the position that the 1662/1928 tradition expects four collects during most of Lent.

    That Cranmer was the author, de novo, of both of the collects in question is probably significant: they say something about how he meant for the Church to reflect on and experience the whole of these seasons. I have found myself paying special attention to the Ash Wednesday collect every day this Lent, with its insistence that repentance itself is a gift from God, the fruit of a new and contrite heart that God himself creates in us.

    Read against Psalm 51, there are obvious sacrificial overtones: “Make [create in] me a clean heart, O God” … “The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit : a broken and contrite heart, O God, shalt thou not despise.” We prepare for the Paschal Feast by asking for newly created hearts, and these hearts, like Christ’s, must be broken if they are to be offered as an acceptable sacrifice, as our reasonable service.

    • I should have been clearer that, of course, the repetition of these collects is not Cranmer’s innovation. As you point out, Bosco, this appears for the first time in the 1662 book. It would appear that it originates in the suggestions made by John Cosin to the revision committee. (He made a great many, most of which were rejected.)

      I wonder if his suggestion should be linked to his (rejected) proposal for a new collect for Advent III — a collect that, like Cranmer’s “Bible Sunday” collect for Advent II, has no reference to the Second Coming. Repetition of Cranmer’s Advent I collect would ensure an eschatological dimension for the euchology of all the Sundays in Advent. (And then the practice would be mirrored in Lent for symmetry?) I’ve never studied Cosin’s work (liturgical or otherwise) in any depth. But I know that others have looked minutely at his influence on the 1662 book. It would be worth chasing up the question in Cuming’s edition of The Durham Book.

      I should also have added that the four-collect practice is followed here in Canada too. Our 1959 BCP has the following rubric in Mattins/Evensong:

      “Then shall follow The Collect of the Day, together with any other Collects appointed to be said, and these two prayers in order.”

      But the invariable MP/EP collects are then still referred to as “Second” and “Third”.

      • Jesse, can you expand please on what you are referring to as Cosin’s “rejected proposal for a new collect for Advent III – a collect that…has no reference to the Second Coming”. The 1662 collect for Advent III does refer to the Second Coming.

        Gareth attributes the repetition suggestion to Matthew Wren rather than John Cosin.

        Blessings.

        • Sorry, I meant that Cosin’s proposed Advent III collect lacks a Second Coming reference. I can’t lay hands on Cosin’s replacement text just at the moment. If memory serves, it has to do generally with light and darkness.

          Cosin v. Wren = carelessness on my part: the Durham Book is Cosin (and Sancroft’s) compilation of suggestions from various authorities, including Matthew Wren. (I wonder, would this idea date from during Wren’s 19-year holiday in the Tower?)

          There was a hand signal to warn everyone to repeat one of the Amens when I was in my college choir. The signal for the second Amen was a Churchillian gesture that was open to various interpretations…

          • Concerning the collect for Advent 3, the lengthy 1662 revision ‘O Lord Jesus Christ, who at thy first coming…’ is by Cosin. It is much like his collect for Epiphany 6, being a biblical exposition. It replaced the translation of the short Sarum collect that had been in use from 1549: ‘Lord, we beseech thee give ear to our prayers, and by thy gracious visitation lighten the darkness of our hearts, by our Lord Jesus Christ’.

          • Thanks, Gareth. I’m home with a sick baby today, away from my books. My memory obviously had it completely backwards.

  4. The main act of worship in my college chapel on a Sunday is choral evensong from BCP 1662 (students and fellows are expected to worship with local churches in the morning). I think the rubric of the additional collect in Lent, and, indeed, in Advent, is well known among those who officiate at evensong regularly. I know of some who choose to ignore the rubric, and, having monotoned four collects in a row, can understand why. At choral evensong, musical settings for the preces only have three Amens, so one has to sing the first Amen twice. This is not surprising from composers who wrote their setting before 1662, but is now standard. Cranmer’s Ash Wednesday collect is based on the blessing of ashes. Matthew Wren first suggested that it and the collect for Advent Sunday function as supplementary seasonal collects. Cousin’s Durham Book adopted the idea, which then influenced 1662. I can’t say that I look forward to chanting four collects in a row, and I do wonder if congregations might find it wearisome, but it is a way of underlining the spirit of both seasons of preparation.

      • Matthew Wren’s prison notes of improvements to the BCP, titled ‘Advices’, was the first to suggest the daily recitation of the two seasonal collects. I think that a similar situation may have existed in the Sarum liturgy, but obviously not with these texts. John Cosin’s revision to the BCP, which was first made as marginal notes in the book, is known as the Durham Book. That perpetuated many of Wren’s revisions, including these two seasonal collects, and became the basis for the 1662 revision.

  5. I think Janet was repeating, rather than part of your post, part of the rubric (and, yes, part that you too quoted) which she, like many of us, feels is self-explanatory. “This collect to be read every day in lent after the collect for the Day.” That means that, regardless of mentions of “three” or “second” or “third” elsewhere in the general rubric, the specific rubric for Ash Wednesday calls for a fourth collect throughout Lent. If you continue to have just three collects (for the day, for peace, and for grace) then you are not following the rubric of 1662 BCP. In my experience it is common, if not universal, in Anglican churches (or, at least, in those with a choral foundation) to have four collects at Mattins and Evensong throughout Lent, and also throughout Advent. Some places cease using the extra collect at Palm Sunday.

    The question of the collect at communion is a little different. I would suggest that a BCP communion should indeed use the Ash Wednesday collect after the collect for the day in communion services too, as required by the rubric. However, true BCP communion services are rare these days, and most observance follows alternative patterns to which different rules and rubrics apply.

    • Thanks, Dave. It is part of what makes the culture of the community around this site – where, even when we disagree with each other, we seem to manage to do so knowing there is a real person at the other end of the screen/keyboard. Blessings.

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