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  • Writer's pictureGrace Episcopal Church

What is a Collect? It's pronounced how?!?

Updated: Mar 4

By Deacon Mary Delancey

A collect is simply a prayer meant to gather the intentions of the people and the focus of worship into a succinct prayer. Every Sunday the priest leading the service (the Celebrant in Episcopal Church language) leads us in praying the Collect of the Day. As it says in the Liturgical Notes in the bulletin, "This prayer is a moment to catch the theme of the service today."


A collect (pronounced KAHL-lekt) is an ancient prayer form that has a certain structure. All of the collects roughly fit a pattern that Archbishop Thomas Cranmer developed, and some would say, perfected in the first Book of Common Prayer in 1549. One author said about the Collects, “(T)hese prayers still remain a deep source of inspiration for Christians enmeshed in the everyday trials and testings of life.


Cranmer's collects consist of 5 parts:

  1. A name of God

  2. A truth about God's nature that is the basis for the prayer

  3. What is being asked for

  4. What good result will come if the request is granted

  5. That we are praying in Jesus' name, as our mediator


The structure of the collect is used by many as a way to help in public and private prayer. The late Timothy Keller wrote about the collects as a useful structure to help him pray out loud, either in prepared prayers or when praying spontaneously. He also found them helpful as devotions in his private prayer time. When we use them in our worship in church, listen for the parts of the Collect: If you grasp it, your participation in worship will be enhanced, and you'll see God connecting the pieces of the gospel with your life.


You can find the Collects in the Book of Common Prayer, pages 159-261, in Traditional (Rite I) and Contemporary (Rite II).

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