The collect is a prayer composed according to a particular structure. It is framed according to a basic plan, though in some collects the plan is imperfectly worked out:
- Invocation. This is associated with an understanding of some quality of God upon which the prayer is built. Because God is a certain kind of God, we are bold to pray for this or that thing.
- Petition. This constitutes the body of the prayer, and is its central point.
- Aspiration. This is what we hope to receive from the petition.
- Ascription. Ordinariliy this is "through Jesus Christ our Lord," though this may be modified for the sake of rhythm and variation. The full form is Trinitarian.
For example, here is the collect for the feast of the Epiphany (BAS p.280):
- Eternal God, who by a star led wise men to the worship of your Son,
- guide by your light the nations of the earth,
- that the whole world may know your glory;
- through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Chanting the Collect
At the office, the collect is recited on one note.
At the Eucharist, the sections of the collect are distinguished by changes in pitch. The reciting note is varied in two ways, by metrum and by flex. The metrum ends the invocation, the flex ends the petition and the aspiration (either one flex at the end of each, or one at the end of the two sections combined), and the metrum ends the ascription.
So the collect for Epiphany, above, is sung as follows:
Want to hear the whole collect as it is sung? Click here.