The Collects for the Day of the Week

In the 2019 Prayer Book’s Daily Office, we have a collect for each day of the week. This is an adaptation of the collects offered in the 1979 Prayer Book, but before then in the Prayer Book there were fixed collects: the Collect of the Day, followed by two in the morning and two in the evening. Additional (optional) collects were usually offered in most Prayer Books, too, but those lists eventually grew longer and became the “appendix” of occasional prayers in the modern books.

Here is a quick handy guide to previous posts about the various collects in the 2019 Book.

Collect of the Day: why?

Morning Prayer

Evening Prayer

The Prayers for Mission

Finishing Compline

Although in the classical Anglican Prayer Books the Nunc Dimittis is resident in Evening Prayer, its place in the spirituality of liturgical time most fully comes into its own here in Compline.  The language of “let your servant depart in peace” is an integral part of this office’s devotional emphases on sleep as an image of death, and the light of Christ transforming both the worshiper and the world.  For further notes, see Evening Prayer.

This Canticle has been a part of the service of Compline since at least the Rule of Saint Benedict, and the antiphon is also of ancient use in the Church.  The positioning has shifted in different breviaries – some before the Prayers (such as the Sarum) and some after the Prayers (such as in modern Prayer Books and the Roman Rite).  Precise translation of the antiphon into English varies among different sources; ours retains the wording of the 1979 Prayer Book.

The addition of three Alleluias during Eastertide is also a pre-Reformation tradition, marking one of the heightened features of praise during that festal season.


The call and response, Benedicamus in Latin, is a common closure for many offices.

Retained from the 1979 Prayer Book, the final benediction said by the officiant is drawn from the Roman Rite.

The almighty and merciful Lord, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
bless us and keep us, this night and evermore. Amen.

In the monastic setting where most of the daily office tradition was developed, these prayers would be the worshipers’ last words before going (back) to sleep. The benediction is not a formal blessing in the sense of a priest’s role, and thus is proper for an officiant of any order to say.  It draws from part of the Aaronic blessing (Numbers 6:24) but is made explicitly Trinitarian and occasioned for Compline in the adding of “this night and evermore.”  Although it is a traditional benediction for this office, it is an appropriate final bedtime prayer to use in family settings and other late-evening occasions.

Prayers for Mission in the Evening

The prayers for mission in Evening Prayer are less directly concerned with evangelism or outreach compared to the Morning Prayer collects.  With the day drawing to a close, and its work ending, these prayers appropriately reflect on the results and signs of the missio Dei (God’s mission) in our lives and churches.


The first prayer looks to the end-goal of missions work: the universal worship of God.  The worship of the “whole heavens” sets the paradigm for the whole earth, all nations, all tongues – men, women, and children.  This prayer also reminds us that worship entails peaceful love and service.

O God and Father of all, whom the whole heavens adore:
Let the whole earth also worship you, all nations obey you, all tongues confess and bless you, and men, women, and children everywhere love you and serve you in peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

This prayer was first published in 1933 and entered the Prayer Book in 1979.  The original phrase “men and women everywhere” has been changed to include children in this edition.


The second collect has been attributed to Saint Augustine of Hippo though its origins remain unclear.  A form of it was included in the evening intercessions printed in a 1919 service book, The order of divine service for public worship.

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night,
and give your angels charge over those who sleep.
Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering,
pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.

This beloved collect, also used in Compline, prays for the “works of mercy” angle of mission, with the evening and nighttime as the specific focus.  Rather than drawing upon the usual night-dark-sin-death line of imagery, this prayer draws the worshiper to a posture of compassion toward others “who work, or watch, or weep” while others sleep.  And then, rather than directing us to minister to such persons, the prayer instead implores Jesus to tend, give rest, bless, soothe, pity, and shield others.  It is a sobering and touching reminder that Christian acts of mercy are the work of Christ himself.  And all that because of his love for a working, watching, and weeping world.


As if it’s building off of the previous prayer for mission, the third collect reminds us up front that the signs of his presence are made manifest in his servants, that is, people who carry out acts of love and service toward others.  Rather than a prayer about mission directly, thus, this prayer deals with the in-house benefits of a mission-minded life.  As Christians serve as Christ’s presence in the world, his “abounding grace” increases in our own midst.  The “Spirit of love” and “companionship with one another” together create a healthful community – a church – that makes Jesus present both to us and to the whole world.

O God, you manifest in your servants the signs of your presence:
Send forth upon us the Spirit of love,
that in companionship with one another your abounding grace may increase among us;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

This collect is a 1979 revision of a prayer written by William Bright in his 1864 book Ancient Collects.  Its original form dates back to the 8th century.

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 Nunc Dimittis in the Prayer Book

The use of the Song of Simeon as a daily canticle is as ancient as the other two Gospel Canticles, but its placement in the Anglican tradition is different.  Before the Reformation, the Nunc Dimittis was the canticle for Compline, and when Archbishop Cranmer reduced the several monastic hours to two offices, this canticle found a new home in Evening Prayer, just as various morning offices were combined into Morning Prayer.

Psalm 67 was soon added as an alternative to the Nunc Dimittis, provided it was not the twelfth day of the month (when that Psalm was one of the Psalms Appointed).  The first American Prayer Book replaced the Nunc with either Psalm 67 or 103:1-4,20-22.  The 1892 Prayer Book restored the Nunc Dimittis alongside those psalms, which was maintained in the 1928.  The 1979 and 2019 Prayer Books both present the Nunc Dimittis, with the Magnificat, as the default canticles of Evening Prayer, though other canticles and psalms are permitted in their place.

Like the other two Gospel Canticles, the Nunc Dimittis is from early in St. Luke’s Gospel and looks at the birth of Christ.  This one stands out, however, as it takes place after the birth of Jesus, and beholds the child.  The use of the present tense is no longer prophetic but narrative: God’s promises have been fulfilled, Jesus has been seen.  While the Nunc Dimittis shares the Benedictus’ focus on the Gospel of salvation, it is here applied to the Gentiles, the nations or peoples beyond Israel.  Jesus is Israel’s glory, and the light for the Gentiles.

The wording of this canticle has been substantially edited since its previous modernization in 1979, such that it now more closely resembles the classical Prayer Book language.  God is letting his servant “depart in peace” (correcting the unfortunate connotations of “have set your servant free” ) according to his word. Simeon’s eyes have seen “your salvation” – an important distinction as Jesus is not only “the Savior” but salvation incarnate.  The distinction between “to enlighten” (1979) and “lighten” (classical and 2019) is subtle yet still significant: the light Christ brings is not only the internal wisdom and knowledge of enlightenment but also an external source of light that lightens us from without.  Thus the work and Spirit of God is proclaimed more clearly as a divine work and can not be reduced to a merely human spiritual breakthrough.