Dating back to at least the Didache, if not the apostolic age itself, Fridays have been a day of special devotion and discipline in Christian tradition. This is linked to why we worship together on Sundays: as we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord on the Lord’s Day, so we also observe the death of our Lord with a fast on Friday. It is the part of the weekly rhythm of the Christian spiritual life: fasting and penitence upon our Lord’s death, sabbath rest on the day of his repose, and gathering with joy to worship the risen Lord on his resurrection day. Along those lines, this prayer directs us right to the death of Christ, celebrating the victory Jesus wrought thereby, referencing texts such as 1 Corinthians 15:56 and Romans 6:5. We then turn to the reality of our own death – we pray that we would die a “peaceful” (that is, prepared-for and accepting) death, faithfully following Jesus through death toward our own resurrection unto glory. It is an eschatological prayer, looking ahead to the end of all things, through and beyond even death itself.
A Collect for Faith
Lord Jesus Christ, by your death you took away the sting of death:
Grant to us your servants so to follow in faith where you have led the way,
that we may at length fall asleep peacefully in you and wake up in your likeness;
for your tender mercies’ sake. Amen.
This collect seems to have originated in a supplemental liturgical volume called The Priest’s Prayer Book, by R. F. Littledale and J. E. Vaux, which went through several edition throughout the 19th century. It first entered the Prayer Book tradition in 1892 as one of the Additional Prayers supplied at the end of the Burial service. There it remained in the 1928 Prayer Book, in the Rite II Burial Office in 1979, and in 2019. In 1979, however, it was also introduced as a “Collect for Fridays” in Evening Prayer, where it remains in the present book.