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Orans on Roman Mural

New Collects

Orans on Roman Mural

[Updated 25 September 2014: Thank you to so very many of you who publicly and privately sent me extensive, varied, and detailed feedback on the draft collect collection I had produced. I now offer my final draft of New Collects which has incorporated your suggestions. This collection has been forwarded to the Common Life Liturgical Commission of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia which requested this work be done.]

Regulars here will know of my love of the collect as type of prayer. And of the convoluted history of collects to go with the Revised Common Lectionary in the Anglican Church in NZ; and of my part, and the part of this website, in that history. In our church, six people have now been asked to prepare new collects to go with the Revised Common Lectionary.

I am one of those six, and I am preparing collects to go with the non-feast Sundays in Ordinary Time Year C. I have a first draft of those and would now seek your comments to improve them before I send them off to the Common Life Liturgical Commission who asked me to do this task.

My first love in collects is reworking, for our contemporary context, the ancient collects that we share in common. I have written a (free) booklet Book of Prayers in Common (you can read this online, or download this). Because I have been working on the new collects, I have not done further work on this. But I will.

Here is my final version of New Collects. [You can read my first draft of new collects here (PDF). Please send any comments for improving them to liturgy DOT co DOT nz@gmail DOT com preferably with the subject line, “new collects”.]

Here are some questions you might bear in mind as you look at these collects:

  • Do the prayers “pray well” whether led by a single voice or recited by the entire community, do the prayers have clarity and good cadence?
  • How well do the prayers draw out a biblical theme within the day’s Proper?
  • Do you note any stumbling blocks? What are they?
  • Do the prayers invite you to pray for what you and your community need?
  • Do you want to pray for what they invite you to pray for?
  • Do the prayers bear the weight of repeated use? Unless replaced for a particular feast, Anglicans pray the same collect throughout the week, at Morning and Evening Prayer and daily Eucharist. Does the prayer wear thin by about Wednesday?
  • Is the prayer general enough? Part of the purpose of the prayer is to “collect” us all. We need to all feel embraced by its intention. Generally, then, the prayer should not immediately point back to a single gospel reading, constricting that reading and the service into some tight-fitting theme.

Here are a few examples of my new collects just to whet your appetite. [The attribution requirements are with the full collection]. You can, hopefully, use any of these collects at any time. [Some of these collects have now been improved in the revised New Collects]

God of justice and compassion,
you anoint Jesus to bring good news to the poor,
freedom from bondage,
and new vision to the blind;
send your Spirit upon us
so we proclaim and live your new life;
through Jesus Christ, our Saviour
who is alive with you and the Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Consoling God,
you bring life from death,
and hope from despair;
may those who suffer trials,
be united with Christ’s passion,
and enter the power of the resurrection;
through Jesus, the Christ,
who is alive with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

God of nations,
your boundless compassion for all
is like a mother’s care for her children;
empower us to be heralds of your reign of peace and justice
that we bring your transforming power
to all you have created in your love;
through Jesus, the Saviour,
who is alive with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Generous God,
you give us many things
to help us grow into the fullness of life;
assist us not to cling to all that is impermanent
but to hold firm to what is lasting;
through Jesus, the Way,
who is alive with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Orans image from Roman mural about 350AD

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7 thoughts on “New Collects”

  1. Father Robert Lyons

    Dear Bosco+,

    I haven’t had the chance to fully review the collection with any depth, but I did scan through them. I realize that you may be under specific project constraints, but there is a major issue I have with these collects. The term ‘Father’ is used but once as a form of address… at least not that I noticed.

    As a result, we get phrases such as “Feasting God”, “Surprising God”, and “Banqueting God” which, perhaps, could sustain a single service… but such verbiage is very difficult to sustain over an entire week.

    This leads to a deeper question concerning how we phrase and structure Collects… at least, most of them.

    There is along history of addressing collects to the Lord, Lord God, or Father. (Yes, I know there are exceptions.) We then summarize them through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with the Spirit, and we close by confessing the Trinity – at least, that’s the ‘long form structure’ of the collect.

    When we address the Father, the Trinitiarian nature of the collect shines through in its fullest, and it makes the most logical sense in this form.

    We loose that nature when we address with terms such as “Lord” or “Lord God” because our structure implies that we are addressing the first person of the Trinity if we mention ‘your Son’. We then wind up stating one God again… but our text has become disjointed.

    Worse is “Lord God, who is such and such; do such and such, for such and such is your nature and gift. We ask this through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.”

    In this very thin example, we run the risk of confusion in contemporary English. If we are to be minded on proper formation, which I believe liturgy plays a key role in, such collects need to be reexamined.

    I also dislike using the same word twice in a collect without necessity, especially as a descriptor or title.

    We also, as Christians, seem to have an allergic reaction to any of the names used for God in the Old Testament, specifically Yahweh. Contemporary Collects, in my opinion, that are seeking expanded sacral language, should touch on some of those terms, or at least their vernacular equivalents.

    I will share that I am not a fan of the UK/Aussie/NZ “who is alive with you”… “lives and reigns” is just too engrained in me at this point in my life. I won’t hold that against you.

    A few adaptations I’d make:

    SUNDAY 11 – How about “God of abundance”?

    SUNDAY 28 – Why not simply “Giver of Life”?

    Also, why not look at using Yahweh? It’s a pretty well accepted term among most contemporary Christians.

    Perhaps the collect conclusion could be: “We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, Yahweh, for ever and ever.”

    I know, as a liturgist, what my Lord, God, Father, Son, Spirit, etc. are… but do the people in the pews need a scorecard?

    Anyway, some disjointed ramblings at the end of my day.


    1. Thanks, Fr Robert, for the concrete examples that will certainly be taken into account in the draft I send off to the Commission. There, too, of course, they will come under scrutiny. Just one point – traditionally, most collects are addressed to “Deus”, simply “God”. Blessings.

      1. Father Robert Lyons

        Very true, Bosco+, about “Deus” as the lead to most latin collects. That said, my concern becomes that some of the more poorly written collects I have seen written over the past 15-20 years seem to imply that God is separate from the Son and Spirit.

        Jesus Christ is the Son of God. From an ardently theological point of view, saying “God… through JEsus CHrist, your Son” is perfectly acceptable, but I feel it fails to truly embrace the relationship that exists between the first and second persons of the Trinity.

        I don’t know that there is a way to address it, any more than I think I know best how to address working Yahweh into more prayers… but I do find for the less theologically oriented in our communities, the collect could do a better job of reflecting the interrelation between the persons of the Trinity.

  2. Hi Bosco

    I appreciated your collects and share your love for that form of prayer. Especially valuable were your many biblical images appropriate to the day. Since most of what you have presented is good and meaningful, it is an overwhelming task to name all that is right with your collects. Therefore, you’re probably going to read mostly what people think can be improved upon in your work. Take it as an expression of how people want to be engaged in this important process.

    And having said that, I’ll go ahead and present an example of how I think the collect for the Sunday between June 19 & 25 could work better. In the opening “God of liberation, you free the chains and shackles that bind us,” I believe it would make more sense to say “you free us from…” or “you loose the chains…”

    Thanks for your faithfulness to the gospel and to the worship of the church.


  3. Father Robert Lyons

    Now, for some complimentary stuff:

    I find your prayer for Sunday 8 to be particularly effective. To avoid repeating Christ you might substitute “Jesus, your Anointed,” in the doxology, but I really enjoy the content of this prayer. I could see this as a daily prayer throughout the week, and perhaps being one of those collects that people really came back to when they were feeling disconnected or were struggling with their faith or place in the life of the Church.

    Following that, Sunday 9 is quite powerful. Its brevity is compelling, its request is simple, and yet it is, at its core, a heart-cry. My only suggestion for improvement is to further streamline lines 3 through 5 thus:
    “may it flourish to fullness of life;
    in Jesus, the source of all goodness,”

    Sunday 14 pulls off a real coup in my book. It is very difficult for me, not being a fan of inclusive language for God, to find texts which mention the maternal aspects of God but do so in a way that do not do harm to the historical mode of addressing God in prayer. This collect overwhelmingly succeeds. I’d say God of the nations”, but that’s probably a concession to American English. Aside from my general comments about the use of ‘alive’ in the doxologies (see previous comment) would change NOTHING about this prayer. I would go so far as to call its a profound prayer.

    Sunday 15 would make an outstanding prayer for regular use. I definitely can see it sustaining a congregation or individual pray-er for a week.

    Sunday 18 makes for an outstanding prayer, though I would change ‘things’ to say ‘gifts’. Things seem so trivial; gifts are causes for rejoicing.

    Sunday 22 is powerful, easy to proclaim, and very incisive (in a good way) to the soul.

    I find Sunday 23 to be deeply moving and profound, worded with great beauty and clarity. At the same time, I somehow don’t feel like it would be suitable for daily use. I am not sure why. For a Sunday Liturgy it would be outstanding. For occasional personal use, it would be very good. For some reason, though, I don’t think I’d make it a week without getting a bit overwhelmed by it.

    Sunday 24 is deeply encouraging. It also vocalizes very well, even to this native American English speaker.

    I love the sentiments of Sunday 26, but lines 4 and 5 don’t seem to harmonize. In particular, line 5 needs to be rewritten. To my ear, it just doesn’t sound right.

    Sunday 27 is powerful. I might quibble over the all that leads line 6, as I feel you are already communicating that through the preceding lines. I actually stopped to chant this one several times as I have prepared these comments. This one is stellar.

    Sunday 30 is very intriguing, but I feel like ‘Jesus, our Way’ is lacking something. I would consider adding, “our Truth, and our Life,’ to the line. I love its brevity, but likewise the punch I feel it packs.

    Sunday 31 has a deep resonance with me, but I don’t care for the opening two lines. I can’t pin down why. For some reason, I feel line 2 in your work should actually open the prayer, followed by addressing God, though I don’t care for the Banqueting God mode. The remainder of the prayer is quite sustainable for me, anyway, given my deeply Eucharistic spirituality.

    Sunday 33 has both a power and a tenderness that is moving and encouraging. One of the best in the collection, if you ask me.

    I hope these comments are helpful.


    1. These comments are extremely helpful, Fr Rob, and I appreciate your detail. Thanks! One point: “God of nations” are the first words of our national anthem – the allusion would be immediately recognised here. Blessings.

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