The conclusion to the opening of our worship is known as the Prayer of the Day or, Collect [if you’re into old English titles for things]. There are three prayers on Sunday morning that follow the same form, the Prayer of the Day, the prayer over the gifts and offerings before Communion and the Post-Communion Prayer. The Prayer of the Day begins with a greeting or salutation, which is intended to call us to order after the all of the opening action. The leader says, “The Lord be with you.” The response is, “And also with you.” If you’re old enough, you might remember the time when the response was, “And with thy spirit.” [Fun fact: if you happen to go to a church that follows an old-style liturgy, or an Episcopal church that uses the old Book of Common Prayer, or a proper English church, you will still hear, “And with thy spirit.” It’s sort of funky, but both phrases mean the same thing.]
The Prayer of the Day was originally a “free-form” prayer offered up by the worship leader. Over time [maybe the prayer prayed too long too many times??] these prayers became a “set” prayer that is intended to reflect the theme of the day, be that the lessons or the festival nature of that particular worship. Most of the Prayers of the Day date back nearly 1,500 years and were originally in Latin. Thomas Cranmer famously translated these prayers into English for his Book of Common Prayer first published in 1549. These prayers would form some of the most beautiful and memorable phrases in the English language. [Thomas Cranmer, a somewhat mediocre theologian, was a genius with words.] Echoes of those prayers are still found in the prayers we say on Sunday.