The Collect for the Tenth Sunday After Trinity

Let thy merciful ears, O Lord,
be open to the prayers of thy humble servants;
and that they may obtain their petitions
make them to ask such things as shall please thee;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, our Lord.  Amen

In the days before universal literacy, linguistic style was most chiefly influenced by that which was heard being read aloud.  The place where everyone was subject to this was in church at worship using Archbishop Thomas Cranmer’s (1489–1556) literary masterpiece the Book of Common Prayer. The collects provide a rich source of the Archbishop’s literary skill in adapting ancient Latin prayers for Sundays and Saint’s Days. The word collect is derived from the Latin ad collectam which literally means ‘assembly’.  It therefore refers to a prayer which is spoken when the congregation is assembled.

Cranmer’s Prayer Book Collects usually ask for one thing and one thing only, and with the greatest economy of language. This is certainly true of the collect for the tenth Sunday after Trinity.  For this reason, they are generally considered to be gems of English prose. Literary historians place him alongside William Tyndale and William Shakespeare as the founding influences of the English language as we know it now to be.  There is a beautiful musical setting of this collect by the Tudor composer Thomas Mudd.   W. Jardine Grisbrook (my old tutor) writing in A Dictionary of Liturgy and Worship says, “The attempts of modern liturgical revisers to translate Collects into a more informal style have been markedly less successful.”

Christopher Jobson

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