An evening prayer for Saturday

This prayer was translated from the Sarum Breviary in Selina F. Fox’s A Chain of Prayer Across the Ages, published in 1913, and adopted as a collect for Saturday in Evening Prayer in the 1979 Prayer Book.

Collect for the Eve of Worship

O God, the source of eternal light: Shed forth your unending day upon us who watch for you, that our lips may praise you, our lives may bless you, and our worship on the morrow give you glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Like most of the other weekend prayers in the Daily Office, this collect draws upon both night-day imagery and Cross-Eternity theological references. God is the source of eternal light who brings unending day, thus our response of praise is found in our lips and lives, with “our worship on the morrow” as a specific example thereof.  Thus, once again, the life of salvation is marked by worship both now and forever.

An evening prayer for Friday

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.

An evening prayer for Thursday

This prayer draws upon the experience of the disciples who did not recognize Jesus until after he had opened the Scriptures to them and broken bread with them (Luke 24:13-35).  The worshiper invites a similar degree of fellowship with Jesus, beseeching his continued presence that our hearts would burn with zeal and hope, and that we would grow to recognize him in Word and Sacrament alike.  In the cycle of the week, where Sunday is the day of resurrection and Friday is the day of the crucifixion, it makes sense that this prayer should land on Thursday as a memorial of Maundy Thursday, when our Lord first instituted the Sacrament of Holy Communion at that Supper.

Collect for the Presence of Christ

Lord Jesus, stay with us, for evening is at hand and the day is past;
be our companion in the way, kindle our hearts, and awaken hope,
that we may know you as you are revealed in Scripture and the breaking of bread.
Grant this for the sake of your love. Amen.

This collect originates in The Liturgy of the Hours, promulgated for the Roman Church by Pope Paul VI in 1974.  It was, and remains, the concluding Collect in Vespers for Monday of Week IV in that cycle of daily prayers.  The American Prayer Book of 1979 pulled this collect into a similar position in Evening Prayer, though common usage (now endorsed in the present Prayer Book) landed it on Thursday instead of Monday.  The Liturgy of the Hours has since revised the wording of this collect, but it remains here in its 1979 form.

An evening prayer for Wednesday

This collect was written by Bishop William Reed Huntington, compiled from pieces of several ancient collects, and proposed for the 1892 Prayer Book, but was not adopted until 1928, where it serves as one of the additional collects for Family Prayer on page 595.  Some minor edits to the wording were implemented in 1979 – “the life of mortal men” became “the life of all who live”, “the timely blessings of the day” became “the blessings of the day that is past” – all of which were retained here.

A Collect for Protection

O God, the life of all who live, the light of the faithful,
the strength of those who labor, and the repose of the dead:
We thank you for the blessings of the day that is past,
and humbly ask for your protection through the coming night.
Bring us in safety to the morning hours;
through him who died and rose again for us, your Son our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

As this prayer was compiled from several ancient collects, so are its devotional references numerous.  God is our life, our light, our strength, our repose; we thank him for all the blessings we receive and seek his special protection in our times of weakness, looking toward the safety of a future “morning” which is just as much a spiritual as it is a chronological dawn.  The death and resurrection of Jesus is the basis through which we pray, which is a fairly common appeal at the end of a collect but is particularly appropriate as these central Gospel realities are the basis on which we can turn to God for any of the things in this prayer.

An evening prayer for Monday

Since the Early Church, this prayer has found several functions: the Collect for a votive mass for Peace, a prayer after the Rogation litany, until Archbishop Cranmer placed it as one of the Evening Prayer collects.  The wording has undergone some slight changes in recent times; it is substantially different in the 1979 Prayer Book but rolled back closer to the original wording here.

O God, the source of all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works: Give to your servants that peace which the world cannot give, that our hearts may be set to obey your commandments, and that we, being defended from the fear of our enemies, may pass our time in rest and quietness; through the merits of Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

The world, the flesh, and the devil are forces that turn us away from God; those are the real threats against whom we need protection, and against whom we must fight.  For, as the Daily Office prayers for Peace express, Peace is not found in avoidance of conflict, but in steadfastness despite conflict; God will defend us from fear so that we can “pass our time in rest and quietness.”  With our trust placed in God’s defense and our hearts set to obey his commandments, we find ourselves on the solid ground of God’s Word, in the footsteps of Jesus, in cooperation with the Spirit.  There, we can withstand the wiles of the world, the flesh, and the devil; there can be found peace that cannot be found anywhere else.

An evening prayer on Sunday

This collect is a 1979 revision of a prayer written by William Bright in his 1864 book Ancient Collects.  Its primary biblical allusion is to Revelation 21.

Lord God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ triumphed over the powers of death
and prepared for us our place in the new Jerusalem:
Grant that we, who have this day given thanks for his resurrection,
may praise you in that City of which he is the light,
and where he lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

An excellent blend of biblical theology and liturgical devotion, this prayer gives the worshiper a summary of the significance of Sunday as the Lord’s Day and directs our hearts accordingly.  This is the day Jesus “triumphed over the powers of death” on the Cross, simultaneously preparing a place for us “in the new Jerusalem” – both the past and the future are bound together in this observation.  Our devotion is the same: our praises in the morning now-past are to be consummated in our eternal praises “in that City.”  Thus we find our place firmly between the Cross and the Eschaton.

The Midday Collects

Of the four collects provided on page 38 of the Book of Common Prayer, 2019, the first three are drawn from the Canadian Prayer Book of 1962, where they are appointed as Prayers at Mid-Day for Missions. They were written by various ministers in the late 19th century. The fourth collect is the collect for The Annunciation, and is derived from the Angelus, a traditional Western devotion concerning the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Blessed Savior, at this hour you hung upon the Cross, stretching out your loving arms:
Grant that all the peoples of the earth may look to you and be saved;
for your tender mercies’ sake. Amen.

This brief prayer holds together the traditional midday devotional focus on the Cross with a modern-tradition devotional focus on the mission of the Church. Our Savior’s will to “draw all people unto myself” becomes the object of our prayer.

Almighty Savior, who at mid-day called your servant Saint Paul to be an apostle to the Gentiles:
We pray you to illume the world with the radiance of your glory,
that all nations may come and worship you;
for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

This prayer reflects upon the conversion of St. Paul, which took place at this time of day, and asks God to provide similar enlightenment to the whole world. Although the Cross is the primary traditional devotional object at midday, this and the following collect bring us to other important biblical events that took place at or near this hour.

Father of all mercies, you revealed your boundless compassion
to your apostle Saint Peter in a three-fold vision:
Forgive our unbelief, we pray,
and so strengthen our hearts and enkindle our zeal,
that we may fervently desire the salvation of all people,
and diligently labor in the extension of your kingdom;
through him who gave himself for the life of the world, your Son our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Recounting the story in Acts 10, we pray for the same zeal and vigor that St. Peter received for the Gentiles about midday (“the sixth hour”). Like many good prayers, this collect leads us to ask for a change of heart before a change of action – we ought to “fervently desire” the mission of Christ to advance if we are to “diligently labor” to see it carried out.

Pour your grace into our hearts, O Lord,
that we who have known the incarnation of your Son Jesus Christ,
announced by an angel to the Virgin Mary,
may by his Cross and passion be brought to the glory of his resurrection;
who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Although not specifically labeled as such, this collect is especially appropriate for Saturdays. Much like how Sundays commemorate the resurrection and Fridays the crucifixion, Saturdays are traditionally a day of Marian devotion in historic Western piety. This prayer, in particular, plays well into that rhythm of spirituality because it appeals to Christ’s “Cross and passion” (Friday) to lead us to “the glory of his resurrection” (Sunday), assuming we pray this in between those days, on Saturday.

Prayers at the end of the week

Modern Prayer Books have given us some pretty neat prayers related to the passage and sanctity of time, and how we the liturgical tradition helps us encompass time into our very spirituality. I’ve written about a few of them already, and now we’re looking at two more from the Office of Daily Morning Prayer in the 2019 Prayer Book.

Collect for Endurance (Friday Morning)

Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain,
and entered not into glory before he was crucified:
Mercifully grant that we,
walking in the way of the Cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. Amen.

This prayer was written by Bishop Huntington and proposed for the 1892 Prayer Book, but not adopted until 1928 where it became the Collect for Monday in Holy Week. (Before 1928, Monday through Wednesday in Holy Week did not have unique collects.) This prayer continues in that role in the 1979 and the present Prayer Books, but was adopted in 1979 for Fridays in Morning Prayer, as continues to be the recommendation here.

The theology of the cross is the major biblical background for this prayer, drawing especially from the language of Romans 8. That our Lord had to suffer before he was glorified is a major theme in the Gospel according to Saint John and famous Holy Week texts such as Philippians 2, and the application of that “way of the cross” has been an enduring element in Christian spirituality ever since. Although there are victories to celebrate, as the Collect for Strength to Await Christ’s Return indicates, we still must also take up our cross and follow him. Though we have much to endure, we can find following Christ to be “the way of life and peace.”

Collect for Sabbath Rest (Saturday Morning)

Almighty God, who after the creation of the world rested from all your works
and sanctified a day of rest for all your creatures:
Grant that we,
putting away all earthly anxieties, may be duly prepared for the service of your sanctuary,
and that our rest here on earth may be a preparation for the eternal rest
promised to your people in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

This is another 19th century prayer, written by Edward Benson, the 94th Archbishop of Canterbury. His original used the word “sabbath” instead of “rest” in the body of the text. Its first entry into the Prayer Book tradition seems to be in 1979, labelled a “Collect for Saturdays”, where it remains here.

This prayer reads as a brief summary of a theology of rest, drawing primarily from Hebrews 4:1-9. The rest that God appointed for all his creatures on the Sabbath day is both an acknowledgement of God’s sovereignty in the old creation, and an anticipation of his completion of the new creation yet to be revealed. Our day of rest is to be a time to “put away earthly anxieties” and prepare for the divine work of worship.

Two Morning Collects: for the Renewal of Life & for Guidance

After the Collect of the Day in Morning Prayer the 2019 Prayer Book gives us a list of seven prayers, each recommended for the seven days of the week. Here are two more of them.

A COLLECT FOR THE RENEWAL OF LIFE

O God, the King eternal, whose light divides the day from the night
and turns the shadow of death into the morning:
Drive far from us all wrong desires,
incline our hearts to keep your law,
and guide our feet into the way of peace;
that, having done your will with cheerfulness during the day,
we may, when night comes, rejoice to give you thanks;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

This collect was written by Bishop William Reed Huntington and proposed for the 1892 Prayer Book, but was not adopted until 1928, where it serves as one of the additional collects for Family Prayer on page 594. In 1979 it moved to its current position in the Morning Prayer Office. It references several Old and New Testament verses, perhaps most obviously the Benedictus (Luke 1:79).

If there a single prayer that summarizes a “theology of Mornings” it is this collect. The primary liturgical use of night and day is as a picture of death and resurrection, and this prayer explores several variations on that theme. It’s almost a list, carrying at least five verses of Scripture in mind and alluding to others also. Ultimately, in this prayer we acknowledge the works and victories of God, and look ahead to our own participation in that (by giving thanks) at the end of the day.

A COLLECT FOR GUIDANCE

Heavenly Father, in you we live and move and have our being:
We humbly pray you so to guide and govern us by your Holy Spirit,
that in all the cares and occupations of our life we may not forget you,
but may remember that we are ever walking in your sight;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The exact age of this collet is difficult to identify. This version is identical in content and position to that of the 1979 Prayer Book, which in turn was adopted from the Canadian 1922 Prayer Book where it was among the Family Prayer devotions. It was drawn from the 1913 book A Chain of Prayer Across the Ages, which has since gone through subsequent revisions, and is labeled as ancient.

This prayer is particularly appropriate for the morning as it implies a day ahead in which we need to remember God amidst all the busy distractions. Indeed, part of the purpose of the Daily Office (and other hours-based offices like Midday and Compline) is to help us remember God throughout the day. Drawing primarily from Acts 17:28, in which St. Paul quotes from known Greek philosophers to affirm the truth that all of reality is grounded upon the existence and will of God, this collect contrasts the doctrine of God with the sort of experience found in the story of Mary and Martha of Bethany in Luke 10, such that we pray for continual awareness of that reality: may the ever-present Spirit guide and govern us in such a way that we don’t succumb to the world’s distractions and end up living as practical atheists.

A Collect for Strength to Await Christ’s Return

If there is a single prayer that summarizes a “theology of Sundays” it is this collect.  The Lord’s Day is associated with many things – God’s reign over all creation, the resurrection of Jesus, and the many spoils and great redemption wrought through that victory.  It is from that resurrection power that Christian derive courage, boldness, and obedience to live for him both today and in anticipation of the last great Day.  The worship on this day therefore leads to the works throughout the week, and in so doing we sanctify time itself (cf. Question 298 in the Catechism, To Be A Christian).

Among this list of collects, this one is the only one that is not the same in the 1979 Prayer Book.  That prayer for Sundays in Morning Prayer was short both in length and in theological and devotional content.  Ironically, the prayer we have appointed instead was written originally for the 1979 Prayer Book, where it was found as Occasional Prayer #69.

O God our King,
by the resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ on the first day of the week,
you conquered sin, put death to flight, and gave us the hope of everlasting life:
Redeem all our days by this victory;
forgive our sins, banish our fears, make us bold to praise you and to do your will;
and steel us to wait for the consummation of your kingdom on the last great Day;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.