Easter is a long season of feasting, lasting a full 50 days. And the celebration is especially pronounced in the first week after Easter, often called Easter Week or Bright Week. For more on the season of Easter, check out our Rookie Anglican Guide to Eastertide.
In this post we outline the history of the Easter Week Collects, which are found on pages 610-611 of the Book of Common Prayer 2019. In researching this topic, we drew especially from commentaries by Massey Hamilton Shepherd, Jr., Marion J. Hatchett, and C. Frederick Barbee and Paul F. M. Zahl.
What is a collect? A collect is a short, formal prayer, written in “collect form,” typically appointed for a particular occasion. The Book of Common Prayer is full of collects, and here at Anglican Compass we do love them! Previously we have published reflections on many individual collects, and an article on the history of the Holy Week collects.
Collects for Easter Day
Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of the Lord’s resurrection, may, by your life-giving Spirit, be delivered from sin and raised from death; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
O God, who for our redemption gave your only begotten Son to die upon the Cross, and by his glorious resurrection delivered us from the devil and the power of death: Grant us grace to die daily to sin, that we may live with him in the joy of his resurrection; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.
Both of these collects are of ancient origin, and Cranmer adopted them from their extensive medieval use. The second collect, with its greater focus on death, was intended for inclusion in a procession before the Easter liturgy, or in an early service, so as to fit the transition from the somber focus of Holy Week to the joy of Easter. The first collect triumphantly proclaims our Lord’s overcoming of death and the opening of the gate of everlasting life, and is fittingly read in the high celebration of the eucharist on Easter morning. Cranmer’s version focused more on how Jesus’ resurrection empowers right living, but in 1979 the collect was revised to focus more on our own hope of resurrection. Thus on Easter morning, as we “celebrate the joy the day of the Lord’s resurrection,” we also eagerly anticipate our own deliverance and resurrection by the Holy Spirit.
Collect for Easter Monday
Grant, we pray, Almighty God, that we who celebrate with reverence the Paschal feast may be made worthy to attain to everlasting joys; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
This collect is a medieval text first introduced to the Prayer Book in 1928. The most notable detail here is the use of the word Paschal, a term related to the Jewish celebration of Passover but used by many Christians to refer to Easter. A theology is implied in the use of the term, that Jesus is our passover lamb, whose sacrifice delivers us from death. Because the resurrection of Christ demonstrates the defeat of death, we may fittingly call Easter our Paschal feast. Moreover, this feast is a foretaste of the heavenly banquet, one part of those “everlasting joys” to which the collect refers.
Collect for Easter Tuesday
O God, who by the glorious resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light: Grant that we, who have been raised with him, may abide in his presence and rejoice in the hope of eternal glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.
This collect first entered the prayer book in 1979, drawn from a book of prayers by Church of England Vicar Frank Colquhoun, a 20th century priest in the Church of England. 2 Timothy 1:10 supplies the joyful opening note, that Christ Jesus “destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light.” This makes for especially welcome news, not only on Easter Tuesday, but also at a Burial service, for which this collect is also appointed (p.250, BCP 2019). Thus we pray that we may abide in his presence and look forward with the hope we have of eternal glory in Christ.
Collect for Easter Wednesday
O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of the bread: Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in the fullness of his redeeming work; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
The 1662 Prayer Book only included collects for Easter Monday and Tuesday; the 1979 Prayer Book was the first to appoint collects for Easter Wednesday through Saturday. This collect, however, did appear in the 1928 Prayer Book, where it was appointed for Easter Monday. Originally composed by Episcopal priest John W Suter, Sr., it was revised for the 1979 Prayer Book and again for the 2019, changing the aspiration to the third person and adding the modern word “fullness” (“fullness” does not appear in the KJV or the RSV, but 18 times in the ESV). The text refers to Jesus’ resurrection appearance on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24, in which he walked with two disciples and taught them about himself, yet they did not recognize him until he broke bread.
Collect for Easter Thursday
Almighty God, you show those in error the light of your truth so that they may turn to the path of righteousness: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship Christ’s Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
This collect began as a medieval text, which was translated by William Bright and first included in the 1979 Prayer Book. In his commentary on the 1979 Prayer Book, Marion Hatchett compares it with the 1549 collect for the third Sunday after Easter. Evidently the editors of the 2019 Prayer Book liked the comparison, since they combined the two collects into a new form we see here. The idea seems to be that, as God “shows” the light of his truth, so we pray that Christians may “show forth” this same truth in their lives. In the 1979 Prayer Book, this collect was also appointed for the second Sunday in Easter and after the reading of Ezekiel 36 during the Easter Vigil. In the 2019 Book, the collect does not appear in the Easter Vigil, but it does remain for the second Sunday in Easter, albeit with the different opening of its unrevised form. So if on the second Sunday in Easter you feel like you’ve heard this before, you have!
Collect for Easter Friday
Almighty Father, who gave your only Son to die for our sins and to rise for our justification: Give us grace so to put away the leaven of malice and wickedness, that we may always serve you in purity of life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
This collect was originally written by Thomas Cranmer for the 1549 Prayer Book. It bears resemblance to the Pascha Nostrum, also by Cranmer, in their mutual reference to the old leaven from 1 Corinthians 5:7-8. Though appointed for the Second Sunday of Easter in the 1662 Prayer Book, in the 1979 and 2019 it appears only on Easter Friday. The most notable Easter theme is the citation of Romans 4:25 which asserts that Christ was raised for our justification.
Collect for Easter Saturday
Heavenly Father, you have delivered us from the dominion of sin and death, and brought us into the kingdom of your beloved Son: Grant that, as by his death he has called us to life, so by his love he may raise us to eternal joys; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Another medieval text in translation by William Bright, this collect was new to the 1979 Prayer Book and lightly revised for the 2019. Poetically, it is the most elegant of the Easter Week collects, as it combines the literary devices of both parallelism and inclusio. We see parallelism is the invocation of death and resurrection in both the attribution and the petition. And the whole collect is structured as an inclusio, that is, bracketed by similar material at the beginning and the end. The key phrases here are “Heavenly Father” and “eternal joys”: the collect begins with an invocation of the eternal Father in heaven, proceeds to a double consideration of God’s work of death and resurrection, and then concludes with the hope that, in Christ, we will be raised to the eternal joys of heaven.