The Collects of Thomas Cranmer

The Collects of Thomas Cranmer

The Collects of Thomas Cranmer

The Collects of Thomas Cranmer


Thomas Cranmer's Prayer Book of 1549 is a foundational document of the Anglican Church and a priceless part of English-speaking Christianity. Cranmer's unique gift of blending theological substance with simple, humble, and moving clarity has made the Collects (prayers) essential not only to the English liturgy but also to the pastoral tradition of the church: these prayers still remain a deep source of inspiration for Christians enmeshed in the everyday trials and testings of life.

Published on the occasion of the 450th anniversary of the Book of Common Prayer, The Collects of Thomas Cranmer presents this spiritually rich material in its original form and order. Compiled and presented for devotional use by C. Frederick Barbee and Paul F. M. Zahl, Cranmer's Collects are each followed by succinct commentary on their historical context and an insightful meditation crafted with contemporary Christians in mind.

Including a significant introduction to Cranmer and his work by C. FitzSimons Allison, this beautifully produced volume opens afresh Cranmer's classic devotional treasure to modern believers from all communions.


Episcopalians who are adults today have lived through a period of extraordinary liturgical change. in the brief span of thirty years, the four-hundred-year-old Prayer Book tradition has been largely swept away.

But what seems to us a turbulent time pales before what our English ecclesiastical ancestors experienced in the tumultuous years of the Reformation. From the medieval Latin Mass retained by Henry viii, to the first Book of Common Prayer of 1549, to the second Prayer Book of Edward vi only three years later, to the return of the Roman liturgy under Queen Mary, to the restoration of the Book of Common Prayer by Queen Elizabeth — all of this transpired in ten years’ time.

One constant that remained throughout, and still is with us in the contemporary liturgies of our day, is the Collect. Imagine being transported in a time machine to fifth-century Rome on a particular Sunday of the church year and knowing enough Latin to recognize with delight and surprise the very same prayer to be found for that day in the Book of Common Prayer!

That is entirely probable, for the vast majority of the Prayer Book Collects are in fact pre-Reformation. Most are taken from the Sacramentaries of three famous Bishops of Rome: Leo I (440-461), Gelasius (492-496), and Gregory the Great (590-604). a Sacramentary was a book that contained the fixed prayers of the Eucharist and the variable Collects of the day.

What is a Collect? the origin of the term collecta, while rather obscure, refers to the “gathering of the people together” as well as . . .

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