Yesterday was “Proper 10” – the Sunday between July 10th and 16th.  The Collect of the Day (which continues in the Daily Office throughout this week) is drawn from the traditional Prayer Book’s Collect for the 10th Sunday after Trinity.  This is the prayer as found in the 1662 Prayer Book:

Let thy merciful ears, O Lord, be open to the prayers of thy humble servants;
and that they may obtain their petitions make them to ask such things as shall please thee;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

When the modern calendar was adopted for the American 1979 Prayer Book, this collect was one of several that simply disappeared.  But in 2016’s Texts for Common Prayer, where the new ACNA Prayer Book was in development, this collect returned, along with almost all of the classical Trinitytide collects, under a simple transition from “Trinity 10” to “Proper 10”.  Its wording, however, was significantly changed.  Here is the 2016 version:

Hear us, O Lord, when we cry out to you;
and that we might receive what we ask, enable us by your Holy Spirit to ask only what accords with your will;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the same Spirit lives and reigns for ever and ever.  Amen.

The same three-part structure remains, but the force of each phrase is almost entirely flipped.  Instead of “let thy merciful ears be open,” we found “hear us when we cry out to you“, replacing God’s disposition of openness with God’s condescension of hearing, and replacing our humility with our cry.  The old prayer sought for us to pray for things that would please God, and the new version sought for us to pray for what accords with [his] will.  So it’s kind of the same prayer over all, but it is framed with subtle-but-significant differences.

Apparently this revision didn’t stick.  The 2019 Prayer Book instead has this for yesterday’s collect:

Let your merciful ears, O Lord, be open to the prayers of your humble servants;
and, that we may receive what we ask, teach us by your Holy Spirit to ask only those things that are pleasing to you;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the same Spirit lives and reigns for ever and ever.  Amen.

The key differences between the first two versions have largely been rolled back to the 1662’s wording: let God’s ears be open to his humble servants, let our prayers be pleasing to God.

But three aspects of the 2016 revision have been retained in the 2019 final form.

  1. This collect prays that we may receive what we ask instead of “that they may obtain their petitions.  This shift from 3rd person to 1st person is part of the overall preference for congregational involvement in the liturgy.  Not that the congregation is invited to pray the Collect of the Day during the Communion service, but the language of prayer on the whole favors “we” over “they”.  Our clergymen don’t pray for the people from a separated distance, but pray as a part of God’s people.  Plus there is the hope that more lay people will pray the Daily Office, and the language of “we” probably supports that mentality.
  2. The modern versions of this prayer cite the Holy Spirit as the one who enables or teaches us to pray rightly.  The classical version simply said make them pray, so this is a theological clarification.
  3. The long ending of the collect has been largely standardized in modern Prayer Books, where many of the classical forms of the collects have shorter endings.

The Collects are an important part of a Prayer Book, and I didn’t watch them very closely, myself, during the formation of Texts for Common Prayer and the 2019 Prayer Book, so little things like that are fun to discover.  I hope this “evolution of a collect” is insightful for you, too.

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