[This post is an expansion and revision of an earlier post.]

Introduction and termination of collects

If more than one collect is used the following rules apply:

‘The Lord be with you,’ is said before the first collect only.  After the people respond to the salutation, the celebrant says, ‘Let us pray’ before the first and second collect only.  Any additional collects said after the second collect are said without repeating ‘Let us pray’;

The Prayer Book and missal both often abbreviate the collect terminations.  In Mass, however, when Missal rubrics are followed, the termination is always expanded to a full Trinitarian form.  When the collect is addressed to the Father, as is usually the case, the full termination is – ‘through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.’  The celebrant should memorize this full termination.  This termination is said after the first collect and the final collect only so that it is never said more than twice.  

In other words, in the collects the introduction (‘Let us pray’) and the full Trinitarian doxology are only said twice no matter how many collects are read.  The introduction is said before the first and second collects; the full termination is said after the first and the final collects. 

There can be small variations in the collect termination if the collect is not addressed to the Father or if the Son or the Holy Spirit is mentioned in the collect before the full termination.     

If the collect is addressed to the Son, as for example in the collect for Advent III, then the verb endings in the doxology are in the second person singular:  the termination, then, is  ‘who livest and reignest with the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.  Amen.’ 

If Jesus is referred to in the course of the collect then ‘the same’ is added before he is referred to in the termination:  ‘…through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.  Amen.’  

Likewise, if the Holy Spirit is referred to in the course of the collect, then ‘the same’ is added before he is mentioned again in the termination:  ‘…through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.  Amen.’  

In the unlikely case that both Jesus and the Holy Spirit are referred to in the body of the collect addressed to the Father then ‘the same’ would be added before mention of both of them in the termination.

Failure to distinguish second person singular and third person singular verb endings is an error in grammar and will be noticed by better educated persons.  Modern English, of course, unlike Prayer Book English and unlike many modern European languages, does not distinguish second person singular and second person plural pronouns:  ‘you’ is used for both’.  Older English distinguishes ‘thou’ (singular and familiar) from ‘you’ (plural and formal) and also has distinguishing verb endings for second person singular pronouns.  For many modern people ‘-est’ and ‘-eth’ both sound antique and interchangeable.  But they are not, and to use a mistaken verb ending is as grating to the knowledgeable as if the priest were to say, ‘I is going to come’ or ‘He are happy’.

In addition to the collects, this matter of verb endings also arises in every liturgy at the Agnus Dei and the Ecce, Agnus Dei.  The Agnus Dei is a hymn is addressed to Our Lord present on the altar before communion:  he is being addressed directly, so the second person singular verb ending is used:  ‘O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world [i.e., Thou, O Lamb, who art present here before me on the altar…]:  have mercy upon us.’  But when the priest turns with the Host to the people at communion, he is no longer addressing Jesus or speaking to Jesus (second person), but rather is speaking about Jesus (third person) to the people, so he uses the appropriate third person singular verb ending:  ‘Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world.’  ‘Takest’ is addressing Jesus in the sacrament; ‘taketh’ is speaking about Jesus.  

In the Anglican Missal the proper verb ending is very easily determined:  whenever the collect ending is abbreviated as ‘Through.’, the ending verbs are in the third person.  As an aid to memory, the ‘th’ in ‘Through’ should remind the celebrant that the verbs also must end in ‘th’:  ‘liveth and reigneth’.  Whenever the verbs in the collect’s doxology are in the second person, the Missal writes out either the full termination or at least the verbs, ‘livest and reignest’.  Consider, for example, the collect for Advent III or for Lent I.  Since the Missal provides this clear direction, even those vague about Tudor English verb endings should be able to get this matter right. 

The Number and Order of the Collects

For Anglican priests – or for that matter for all Western priests – the selection, number, order, and reading of the collects at Mass depend on the liturgical authority governing the celebration.  In the Roman Novus Ordo the matter is simple:  one collect only is read.

In general, if the rubrics and text of the Book of Common Prayer are the sole authority followed, then one collect only also is read.  That collect will on Sundays be the collect for the Sunday occurring.  On weekdays the collect will usually be that for the Sunday that has most recently occurred.  On some other days, such as major feasts and Ember Days, and on a few other occasions such as weddings or funerals, the Prayer Book provides propers that supplant the collect of the Sunday.  But usually the Prayer Book provides that the collect used will be that of the most recent Sunday.

The Prayer Book, in addition, makes provision for two seasonal collects (Advent and Lent).  Likewise, the Prayer Book rubric provides for the observance of octaves for several major feasts (Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, Ascension, Whitsunday, and All Saints’).  In Advent (after Advent I) and Lent (beginning with Lent I) there are usually two collects used:  that of the Sunday or feast, followed by that of the season.  In octaves there usually will be two collects on Sundays (that of the Sunday and of the octave) and one collect on weekdays (that of the octave).

The modern Roman and the classical Prayer Book systems, then, are relatively simple.  Usually one collect is used.  In the Prayer Book system two are called for in a few, easily understood cases.

The Tridentine Roman Missal and the Anglican, American, and English Missals are more complex.  Priests who use these missals should master their rubrics governing the collects, which here will now be explained. 

According to missal rubrics the number of collects to be read depends on the rank of the day.  The missal has a hierarchy of ranks:  simple, semidouble, double, greater double, and greater doubles of various higher ranks.  These names, with their reference to ‘doubling’, refer not to something in the Mass but rather to the treatment of antiphons or invitatories in the old Offices books.  In general, for purposes relating to the collects at Mass, it is sufficient to know this general rule:   days of simple or semidouble rank normally have three collects, whereas days of double or higher rank normally have one collect.  The rank of each day is given in the missal:  if no rank is explicitly stated, the day is of simple rank.  The rank of other days (that is, semidouble and higher) is always indicated. 

So, for example, on a summer Sunday on which no octave or feast days occurs which requires a commemoration, there are three collects, as such Sundays are of semidouble rank.  In that case the first collect is the collect for the Sunday, the second collect is ‘Of the saints’ and third collect is chosen ad libitum, at the liberty of the celebrant.  

During the week on a feast of a doctor of the Church, such as Saint Augustine or Saint Ambrose, or a feast of our Lord or our Lady, or a feast of an apostle (all double or greater rank), and many other feast days, normally only one collect is read – that of the feast – because such days are of double or higher rank.

To this normal number, one might need to add a commemoration, when a feast day occurs on a Sunday or other day that requires observance.  Normally if the commemorated feast is of simple or semidouble rank, a third collect is added, while if it is of double or higher rank only two collects are said.  Many Churches follow an Ordo calendar that notes commemorations for the year, though not whether the commemorated day calls for a third collect or not. 

For example, if Trinity VI falls on a day that is normally a double feast (say a feast of a doctor of the Church), then there are two collects:  that for Trinity VI and that for the feast.  If, however, the feast is of simple or semidouble rank, then three collects are read:  the collects for Trinity VI and for the feast, then Of the saints. 

In general the rules for the number of collects to be said flow from these brief rules, from the Ordo calendar for the year, and from particular rubrics in the missal.  As an example of a particular rubric:  no feasts are commemorated during Holy Week, and on each day in Holy Week only one collect is said.

Major feasts with octaves involve some complex rules which are often helpfully decided in the missal rubrics.  In general, the feast day itself (e.g., the Assumption) will have the highest rank.  The regular days in the octave of the feast will have a lower rank, but the octave day of the feast will have a higher rank than the preceding days in the octave.  For example, the Assumption will have one collect only; the days in the octave (August 16th to 21st) will have three collects; the octave day (August 22nd), will have one collect only. 

Because of its unique seasonal collects for Advent and Lent, the Prayer Book rules for collects in those seasons differ from those of the Tridentine rite.  Most missals used in traditional Anglo-Catholic parishes will note both sets of rules.  Since the Prayer Book collects for these two seasons are works of literary and spiritual genius, it probably is best to use them rather than to follow Tridentine Roman rules. 

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