So you’ve heard about the Daily Office, specifically the Anglican tradition of daily prayer and scripture reading, and you want to enter into this beautiful and formative tradition? Great, grab a prayer book and go! Except, maybe someone already said that and you don’t know where to start… or worse, you did try it and it was just too much? The length of the Office was overwhelming and the contents too complicated to navigate when you’ve got no experience with liturgy. We understand, we’ve all been at that place before! Some just don’t remember it as well as others.
Diving into the full Prayer Book life of worship doesn’t work for everyone; sometimes you have to work your way up toward that discipline, adding one piece at a time as you grow comfortable with each feature and learn how to “do” them all. This post series is basically a twelve-step program to help you advance in the life of disciplined prayer from zero to super-Anglican. The pace is up to you – the goal of this sort of spiritual discipline is consistency, not “how much” you do.
Step One: Pray a Psalm followed by the Lord’s Prayer.
Step Two: Add a Scripture Reading
Step Three: Add more Psalms and Lessons
Step Four: Add the Apostles’ Creed
Step Five: Add Canticles
Step Six: Add the Confession
Step Seven: Add some Prayers
Step Eight: Add the Invitatory
Step Nine: Add the Collect of the Day
You’ll be aware that, in the Prayers, we’ve been skipping the Collect of the Day. Now it’s time to add that in. Under where it says “The Collect of the Day” it notes that you can find them in “The Collects of the Christian Year” section of the Prayer Book. In the rubrics above (in italics) you’ll see it names pages 598-640 for that section.
Functionally, this is a very simple addition: look up the Collect of the Day that applies, and pray it at this point in the service. Most of the time, the Collect of the Day is the same all week, based upon the most recent Sunday. But there are also holy days that come with their own Collect of the Day. The Prayer Book’s calendar also directs that the Collects for Sundays and Holy Days are normally to be used starting at Evening Prayer before the day in question begins. The experiential challenge here is that you need to understand the basics of the Church Calendar in order to find the correct Collect of the Day. Presumably, you’ve been going to an Anglican church for a while, if you’ve put this much effort into learning to pray the Anglican Daily Office, so that experience should be enough to give you a sense of where you are in the year. You’ll hear the Collect of the Day for each Sunday at the communion service, right before the readings, so that’ll tell you if you grabbed the right one the evening before and earlier that morning, and it’ll set you straight for the rest of the week (again, except for other holy days that might come up).
It may be helpful to buy a special calendar, or use your prayer book to mark one up yourself ahead of time, so you can easily see what the Collect of the Day every day. This can be a fun activity to do with kids, too, inviting them to color each day’s box the traditional liturgical color… my four-year-old loves it!
The main point of this piece of the Daily Office is to provide a tie-in to the liturgical rounds of prayer that are more fully emphasized in the Service of Holy Communion. For the most part, the Daily Office is meant to be a stable liturgy, changing little from day to day and season to season, the Collect being one of its only links to the ebb and flow of our liturgical year. And so, learning to identify the Collect of the Day is a milestone in your education of the liturgy, connecting your regular daily prayers to the life of the greater Church beyond your home.
That being said, don’t worry overmuch about this. Most of the time, the Collect of the Day is just an extra bookmark in your Prayer Book where it simply moves from Sunday to Sunday. If you miss a holy day or grab the wrong week from time to time, you’ll survive. Liturgy is meant to be formative, not stressful. Checking in at church each Sunday will usually provide you with everything you “need to know” about this piece of it.
Your Morning & Evening Offices are now looking like this:
- (Opening Sentence)
- The Confession of Sin
- The Invitatory
- Invitatory Psalm or Phos Hilaron
- The Psalm(s) Appointed
- Old Testament Lesson (occasionally the first lesson is from the NT instead)
- First Canticle
- New Testament Lesson
- Second Canticle
- The Apostles’ Creed (consider standing up for this!)
- The Prayers
- Lord have mercy…
- The Lord’s Prayer
- The Collect of the Day
- A Collect for (the day of the week)
- A Prayer for Mission
This covers almost the entire Prayer Book liturgy for daily Morning and Evening Prayer. Two more steps remain to complete it, and then two extra steps to expand it further if you are so inclined.