Book of Prayers in CommonDon’t read the collect aloud together.

There is a trend in NZ Anglicanism to read the collect at the Eucharist aloud together as a community. Don’t do it.

I would love to know the history of this development.

I would be interested if this is popular and/or growing in other denominations? In other countries?

Although I would not want the glue between them to show, the Eucharist consists of two acts: The Ministry of Word and Prayer and The Ministry of the Sacrament. Each of these has a central prayer. The former has the collect; the latter has the Great Thanksgiving (Eucharistic Prayer). The community is bidden to pray, the prayer is proclaimed aloud by the presider in the name of the congregation, as the prayer is proclaimed aloud by the presider the assembly prays the prayer in their hearts, making it their own, and affirm this by strongly declaring “Amen!” aloud at the end.

We have been discussing, on this site, the community not experiencing the Great Thanksgiving (Eucharistic Prayer) as their prayer, rather experiencing it as the presider’s prayer alone, or worse – some sort of priestly incantation.

Rather than forming communities to experience the prayer led by another as the community’s prayer, rather than forming the leader to proclaim prayer in such a way that the community experiences it as the community’s prayer, reciting together seems to be one attempt in communities to fix the problem.

And the presider’s proclaiming of the collect is a casualty of this.

So, members of a congregation are directed to pick up a pew sheet, or they are told to turn to page 631 “we will say together the second collect on that page”, or they are reading off a projector screen.

Collects have a complex rhetorical style. Like scripture readings, they have not been fashioned to be read aloud by a chorus of voices. Some communities print off the scripture readings, project them onto the screen, or provide pew bibles. I have yet to see communities that have abandoned the proclamation of the scriptures by one voice in favour of the community reading the biblical texts aloud together. Furthermore, generally the collect texts provided in NZPB have had the conclusion removed in order to save space, on the assumption that the presider knows to add the conclusion when proclaiming it.

Most of the community has not seen this collect; there has been no rehearsal. The collect, a text designed to be proclaimed by one voice, is read aloud in a bland, grey manner, with some stumbling over words and concepts, and all because they do not experience the presider proclaiming it alone as real prayer. Is this now real prayer for them?

Compare this with the presider saying something akin to, “Let us pray (in silence) to follow God’s will”, and then the gathering community having a moment of genuine silent prayer, concluded by the presider prayerfully proclaiming the collect that has been well rehearsed beforehand, while the community makes this prayer their own, many in the gathering with their eyes closed, and all affirming the prayer with a resounding “Amen!” May it be so.

My free Book of Prayers in Common

As well as comments below, this post is also being discussed on the Facebook liturgy page.

Similar Posts: