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Universalist (and occasionally Unitarian) Christian collects, litanies, and other prayers, and the thought behind them

June 17, 2004

Beginning a daily practice with the red hymnal

Perhaps you want to start a daily prayer, or at least regular prayer discipline and you don't know where to start. (This also applys to small groups, say UUCF chapters.) The available Anglican and Catholic books are written with a certain amount of in-knowledge that is difficult to acquire. And perhaps, if you are a Universalist or Unitarian (or Unitarian Universalist) want to start with something homegrown and handy. I can help. Go to a certain hymnal.

OK, the old red hymnal, Hymns of the Spirit is neither perfect nor in print, but if you are in a town with a Unitarian or Universalist church founded before (say) 1950, you might be able to beg or borrow one if you ask nicely. (Don't steal.) Or perhaps you have one. Or you can go to Ebay. (Don't pay more than $10 in any case. They're not that rare.)

"Ideally" daily prayer for non-monastics runs morning and evening. And ideally I would be making a lot more money. In both cases: start with what you have and can manage. For the sake of arguement, try evening prayer. (Which will be more likely for a group.)

The "second order of service" is a good evening prayer service: its themes are lightness in the dark, here, the literal darkness of the (coming) night.

If you're reading your prayers along, start with a couple of sentences, then the exhortation (in which case the "we" is the Church Universal) , the invocation, skipping to the Lord's Prayer, and then skipping to the prayers, using at least the first and last one.

If this is an act of pure praise, Bible lessons that make you think and reflect are out of place. (Ain't ya' tired by evening?) If you want to study scripture, alone or in a group, do that after your prayers. If you want a small portion of scripture to meditate on, that's another matter and can be re-inserted at "first lesson."

Likewise, at "responsive reading" there really should be a psalm or Bible song, which also is a vehicle for praise, prayer, and meditation. I'm not thilled with the responsive reading selection in this hymnal, but selections 5, 23, and 69 include traditional fragments appropriate for evenings. Don't read them too fast.

You might want some extra prayers after those mentioned above see pp. 136-147 and the "communion prayer" (p. 151) from the shorter Communion service.

As for the matter of gender and language. Yeah, it isn't gender-inclusive, and I've come to the point htat sometimes I want to change something, and other times I'll let it stand. If you're praying alone, do what you will, and be generous to feelings about tradition as well as sex equity.

But try the service as-is a few times before makeing any changes. Trust me. After a few times you'll have a better sence of why things belong where they do, and you'll make better choices in your alterations, if you make any.

June 14, 2004

"New Patterns for Worship"

The Church of England related book New Patters for Worship is normally the kind of thing I would recommend you flip through at a library, if you had the chance. It would be hard to justify the cost of an imported book to worship leaders (lay or ordained), except perhaps for Episcopalians for whom the work is best suited on these shores.

Its helpful worship-planning process, including training tips, and the way it occasionally stumbles into a latter-day Puritan "directory of public worship" mode (for the "Service of the Word") might make it useful for Unitarian Universalists, or at least the Christian ones. Also, few Protestants but the Episcopalians and Lutherans put much effort into explaining the mechanics of worship, so you have to take what you get, and sift, sift, sift.

If I sound cool on this work -- first published in 1995 -- it is matched with a certain warmth when I say it can be downloaded as three PDF files free of charge from the Church of England Common Worship site.

And free makes it worth a second look.

Scroll down to New Patterns for Worship

June 11, 2004

The Reagan funeral

I have mildly negative feelings about the Reagan presidency, and in contrast to the current administration, they get milder all the time. Following my mother's "if you don't have anything nice" dictum, I'll stick to the funeral service, which was gently touching.

I wouldn't have been my choice, but it isn't my funeral! (Didn't the pallbearers move fast?)

Well, in case you missed it and want to analyze it (or need to dupliate it for a family member or pariishoner) the Episcopal Cathedral (I can't bear its self-described "national" status) has the order of the service online for download.

The Service

June 07, 2004

Exhortation from the Gloria Patri

Dearly beloved brethren, I pray you, as many as are here present, to accompany me now, with a pure heart and humble voice unto the throne of heavenly grace.

  • From the order of service for the first Sunday in each month, in the Gloria Patri (1866), p. 10

June 03, 2004

Invocation for June

Almighty and most merciful God; all thy works praise thee, and all thy saints bless thee; O wilt thou vouchsafe thine aid, that we may praise and bless thee, now and forevermore. We would praise thee for the beauty and promise of this first month of summer; we would bless thee for all the agencies which are filling the earth with gladness.

O lift upon us the light of thy countenance, and give to us the summer of the soul. Let the dews of heavenly grace descend upon us; let the light of thy love shine within us; and may our hearts blossom, in purity, unto a day in the beauty of holiness, and in thine own good time call us to the enjoyment of a diviner worship in thy kingdom above, which we ask in the name of thy Son Jesus Christ. Amen.

  • invocation for the Morning Service "for all the Sundays in June, except the first" in Gloria Patri, p. 71

June 01, 2004

Prayer after Sermon (4)

Gracious and Merciful Father: Thy thoughts toward us have ever been thoughts of peace and good-will, and all Thy ways are faithfulness and truth. Every day brings to us renewed testimonials of Thy goodness, and every new opening of Thy counsel unfolds fresh tokens of Thine infinite love.

Father of All, grant us the guidance of Thy heavenly wisdon, that we may set our heart on no object, and put our hand to no work, upon which we cannot invoke Thy blessing. So shall the light of the morning be celebrated in the joy of the day, and our hearts and our hands be lifted up in the evening sacrifice of praise, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

  • Fourth of "Prayers after Sermon" in Gospel Liturgy, p. 61

May 30, 2004

Prayer after Semon (3)

Prayer after Sermon (3)
God of Truth, let Thy blessing for ever rest upon us, in the assurance of Thy perpetual presence. Thou goes by, and we see Thee not: Thou passest on alos, and we perceive Thee not: yet art Thou very nigh to every one of us. The darknes hideth not from Thee, but the night shineth as the day, and all thins are open unto Him with whom we have to do.

Make us sensible, we beseech Thee, that Thy glory id in the goodnes Thou art ever making to pass before us; and may our sense of Thy loving-kindness, and our trust in Thine oyerruling [sic] purpose, constrain us to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly before Thee.

And at last, when the shadows of the long night shall have fallen on our path, may our souls dwell together in the blessed land, where there is no forgetfulness of Thy presence, any more death. An
d to Thy holy name, throught the Way, and the Truth, and the Life, shall be everlasting praise. Amen

  • Third of "Prayers after Sermon" in Gospel Liturgy, p. 60-61

May 29, 2004

Prayer after Sermon (2)

We beseech Thee, O Lord, to follow with thy richest blessing the religious meditations of this hour. May Thy holy word sink deep into our minds, that our souls may take hold of it as the hope over everlasting life. May we feel its transforming power, and be doers of its heavnly lessons, lest the living sense of Thy favor die away from our affections and our thoughts.

Grant us Thy continual grace, that we may walk as children of light and of the day, adorning the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things; and of Thy great mercy preserve our going out, and our coming in, from this time forth, and forever more. Amen

  • Second of "Prayers after Sermon" in Gospel Liturgy, p. 60

May 28, 2004

Prayer after Sermon (1)

Those morning prayers last week called on a prayer from pages 60 to 52 in the Gospel Liturgy. Time to add those.

O Lord our Salvation, whose goodness and mercy have continually followed us: Grant us Thy helpful grace, that our souls may continually follow Thee. Enable us to make religion the daily experience of our lives. May the morning be ordered in prayer, that the noon may be passed in praise, and the evening in peace.

And when the evening of life shall fade away into the night of death, may we trustfully look for the morning of Thy glory, in a day without night, and a life without end, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

  • First of "Prayers after Sermon" in Gospel Liturgy, p. 60

May 27, 2004

Collect for the Evening (Gloria Patri Revised)

O Blessed God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest, take us into thy gracious keeping for this night; and make us mindful of that night when the noise of this busy world shall be heard by us no more. O Lord in whom we trust, help us by thy grace so to live that we may never be afraid to die; and grant that at the last, as now, our vesper song may be: I will lay me down in peace and sleep, for thou, Lord, makest me to dwell in safety. Amen.

  • From "Second Order for Vespers" in Gloria Patri Revised (1903), p. 131

May 26, 2004

Remembrance of the Departed (Gloria Patri Revised)

Eternal God, in whom the spirits of just men do rest in peace from their labors, we bless and praise thy holy name for all thy servants who have departed this life in thy faith and fear; and especially those most dear to us who have fallen asleep; and we beseech thee to give us grace so to follow their good examples, that here we may be united to them in fellowship of spirit, and finally be gathred together with them into the bosom of thine infinite love. Amen.

  • From "Second Order for Vespers" in Gloria Patri Revised (1903), p. 131

For All Conditions of Men (Gloria Patri Revised)

Infinitely wise and gracious God, we offer our supplication for all sorts and conditions of men; for the pastors of Christ's flock, that they may constantly speak the truth and boldly rebuke and oppose sin. Bless our kindred according to the flesh; and unite us to one another by mutual love, and to thyself in holiness. Be thou a shield to the young, and a staff to the aged. Comfort and bless all those who are in want, in sickness, or in sorrow. Enlighten those who are in darkness, sustain the weak, guide the erring, and lead thy people in the way of life everlasting. We pray for the prosperity of thy church on earth. In the unity of spirit, and in the bonds of peace, may the followers of thy dear Son show forth the excellences of his religion, to thy praise and glory forever. Amen.

  • From "Second Order for Vespers" in Gloria Patri Revised (1903), p. 130-1

May 25, 2004

For the Civil Authorities

O Almighty God, who from thy throne in heaven beholdest all the inhabitants of the earth, we beseech thee for thy blessing upon thy servant, the President of the United States, and upon all others in authority, that they may so rule in thy fear that we, thy people, may lead quiet and peaceable lives, in all godliness and honesty. Amen.

  • From "Second Order for Vespers" in Gloria Patri Revised (1903), p. 130

For Guidance amid the Cares and Temptations of Business

Father of mercies, who art always more ready to hear than we are to pray, when, beset with the temptations and oppressed with the cares of business, we look to thee for help and guidance of thy Holy Spirit, give us, we beseech thee, that assistance which we need, and grant that by a life of justice, mercy, and holiness, we may glorify thy name; graft in our hearts the love of thy law, increase in us true religion, nourish us with all goodness, and of thy great mercy keep us in the same, world without end. Amen.

  • From "Second Order for Vespers" in Gloria Patri Revised (1903), p. 130

Allen Fuller exhorts

When I was woking on a master's program in church history in the early 90s, I planned to write my thesis on Universalism in the old South. Didn't finish the degree - God stepped in with ministerial plans - but I did find a number of interesting tidbits, including this small exhortation by the Rev. Allen Fuller, who served churches in Rhode Island and North Carolina.

Trust in the infinite goodness of our Father in heaven, and love him because he first loved us. Receive the Gospel of Christ, through which life and immortality are brought to light, by that faith that works by love and purifies the heart, that you may have the hope which is as an anchor to the soul, both sure and steadfast; and let not your light be hid under a bushel. And may the grace of God lead us into all truth and bless us evermore.

  • In Trumpet and Universalist Magazine, January 26, 1833, page 2.

Gospel Liturgy's Tuesday morning

With the light of another morning, we lift our souls unto Thee, O Lord, in grateful acknowledgement of that mercy which is Israel's keeper, and which never slumbers nor sleeps. We rejoice in the renewal or the day, and desire to consecrate ourselves anew to Thy service, that we may show forth the praises of him who hath called us out of darkness into marvellous light.

Help us to feel the need to watchfulness and prayer, in the sitting scenes of a busy world. Suffer us not to slumber at the post of duty, lest we sleep in sin. May our virtue be the courage of our faith, our cheerfulness the patience of hope, our example the life of charity.

So shall the day testify a conscience void of offence toward man, and toward Thee; and when we lie down in the evening, we shall not be afraid - and our sleep shal be sweet.

All unite in the Lord's Prayer. Scripture lesson. One of the Prayers on pages 60-62.

  • Gospel Liturgy, p. 143.

May 24, 2004

Gospel Liturgy's Monday morning

God over all, blessed for ever: We praise Thee for the refreshment of repose, and forthe morning list which calls us anew into the activities of the world. We bless Thee also for the joy of hope; yet we would soberly consider the appointed means of happiness, and be fitted for the enjoyment of life by preparation for its duties.

Enable us, O Lord, in all things to exemplify the principles of our holy religion. Save us from being cast down by evil reports of erring men, or elated by the flattery of human applause, or misled by the fashion of the world, or in any way ensnared to follow the multitude in doing evil.

May we continually be found in the path of righteousness: our lips without guilde, our mouth filled with Thy praise, our hands diligent in business, our feet ready to run on errands of mercy.

Thy going forth, O Lord, is prepared as the morning. May Nem>we go forth unto our work and to our labor until the evening, following on to know Thee. And as Thou takes pleasure in the prosperity of Thy people, may we be prospered in taking pleasure in Thee.

All unite in the Lord's Prayer. Scripture lesson. One of the Prayers on pages 60-62.

  • Gospel Liturgy, p. 142-3.

May 23, 2004

Gospel Liturgy's Sunday morning

Since we've come "back around" to tbe beginning of the section entitled "Morning Family Worship" we get a rubric . . .

The formulas for "Sunday-Schools and Families," pages 128-135, may be substituted for the following

Thou, Lord, seest us in the silent darkness, and art with us in the deathlike solemnity of sleep. When we awake we are still with Thee; and now that the light of day is all around us, may the light of Thy countenance shine shine so vividly within us, that nothing we behold, or think of, may cloud the glory of Thy presence.

Thou hast hallowed a day of rest from labor, that man, coming away from the din and hurry of life, might sanctify the hours in the quiet of meditation, and be listed into communion with heaven. Mercifully incline us to the appointed blessing, and enable us to say into all worldly cares and anxieties, Be still, and know that this day is the day of the Lord.

We give Thee heary thanks for the continued protection and bounty of Thy providence; for all our personal and domestic comforts; for all temporal favors; and for all our religious aspirations.

Especially do we praise Thee for the guidance and hope of divine revelation. Thou hast given us Thy holy word, as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night; and though we walk in a world of mystery, we are assured that there is no element at work in it, which is unknown to Thee, or beyond Thy control.

Lord, give unto us the believing mind and the prayerful heart. Enable us truly to revere Thee, that we may fully walk in the way of Thy heavenly law: enable us fully to trust Thee, that our souls may enter into the promised rest.

All unite in the Lord's Prayer. Scripture lesson. One of the Prayers on pages 60-62.

  • Gospel Liturgy, p. 141.

May 22, 2004

Gospel Liturgy's Saturday morning

Note: this would be a good prayer for a funeral, perhaps matching the Saturday when Jesus was in the grave.

Evermore, O Lord, hast thou made the outgoings of the morning to rejoice; yet day follows day into darkness, and night after night passes away for ever. Friend after friend departs into Thine invisible presence, and we are left among the living and visible things of the earth, for a purpose to be fully satisfied hereafter.

Merciful Father, prepare us by Thy grace for the fulfilment of Thy wise design. And grant that in the fleeting show of tiem and sense, we may so number our days as to apply our hearts unto wisdom.

Enable us, O Lord, to set Thee always before our eyes, and to discern Thee in all Thy wonderful ways. In the midst of our busiest pursuits and of our best enjoyments, we may remember that we are strangers and pilgrims in the earth; and while we look for the better country, may we so use the world as not abusing either it or ourselves. Walking trustfully, may we devote the strength and length of our days to the highest service, and peacefully pass into the heavenly rest.

All unite in the Lord's Prayer. Scripture lesson. One of the Prayers on pages 60-62.

  • Gospel Liturgy, p. 145.

May 21, 2004

Gospel Liturgy's Friday Morning

Blessed Father, in whom is the well-spring of all our joys: Day unto day uttereth speech of Thine; night unto night showeth knowledge of Thee. We close our eyes under Thy protection: we open them to behold Thy goodness. O let us never forget from whom all blessings flow; and may gratitude for Thy favors be exalted in devotional trust.

Thou art the Father of Mercies, and only in Thee can we find what we need, to awaken our best powers, and to satisfy our spiritual longings. Thou art the Fountain of living waters, and apart from Thee there is no life nor refreshment to the soul.

Enable us, O Lord, to grow daily in knowledge of Thy truth and grace, that we may press on to higher victories over the world, and over ourselves. Direct us, we beseech Thee, in all our endeavors, and mercifully bring us to Thyself, through the paths of pleasantness and peace.

All unite in the Lord's Prayer. Scripture lesson. One of the Prayers on pages 60-62.

  • Gospel Liturgy, p. 144.

May 19, 2004

Gospel Liturgy's Thursday morning

With glory to Thee, O Lord, very morning should begin, and every evening should close. What have we that is not Thine! Alas that a world so full of Thy mercies, should be so empty of Thy praise!

Lord, increase our faith, strengthen our hope, and enlarge our charity.

Teach us to watch over our ways, that temptation may never be able to suprise us; and do Thou so keep us in Thy fear and love, that sin may never obtain the dominion over us.

May no prospect of worldly advantage, not any dread of worldly loss, ever lead us to swerve from Thy commandments; and whatever be Thy will, with respect to the good things of this life, be pleased to put gladness in our hearts, through a living trust in Thy holy word.

All unite in the Lord's Prayer. Scripture lesson. One of the prayers on pages 60-62.

  • Gospel Liturgy, p. 144.


Just and true are Thy ways, Thou King of Saints! No sacrifice of personal ease, no work of charity, no word of the heart, no answer to the plea of sorrow, no a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, shall fail of its reward.

Blessed be Thou, O righteous Father, for the nerciful mission of the Redeemer; and blessed be the Redeemer who came to do Thy will, through lowliness to exalt humanity, through poverty to enrich the world.

Deeper than words was the joy set before him, and higher than the dominion of the earth is the honor of his name. They valley of humility was consecrated by hs shining footsteps; and the path he trod, though solemn and lonely, led upward through the gates of day, from the cross to the crown.

O God the King of Glory, who hast exalted the Lord of Life to the right hand of power: Grant us the indwelling of his spirit, that we may faithfully follow him in the regeneration, be more than conquerers through him who loved us, and gain the empire of souls.

Inspire our thoughts of a higher life, that we may feel how divine a thing it is to rise above ourselves, by outgrowing selfish aims and how we may be lifted into peace through sharpest suffering and how the kingdom of heaven comes down into the heart, when the affections are set on things above.

Thou art continually exalting the Saviour in all willing minds, and art ever calling upon Thy redeemed one to honor him as they honor Thee. Make us entirely Thine, we beseech Thee, that in all our thoughts and ways, in life, and in death, and in the life beyond, we may truth acknowledge the Lord of All, to the glory of Thy holy name, world without end. Amen.

  • "Ascension - Exaltation" in Gospel Liturgy, p, 68-69. The liturgy suggests using [psalm] selection 5, "The earth is the Lord's and the fulness there of" (from Psalm 24) and Ephesians i. 3-23, or iv. 1-16 as the scripture lesson.

Gospel Liturgy's Wednesday morning

In his 1871 manifesto Our New Departure E. G. Brooks dourfully noted that the Universalists were not "a praying people" (more about that later) so I doubt this 1861 service or its week of companions were often used as intended. Still, after I type in all the mornings and evening, I hope to see a pattern and how this cycle of morning and evening family prayer does or does not tie into the general scheme of worship

The day, O Lord, is Thine: the night also is Thine. Unto whom shall we come, but unto Thee? And where shall we begin, or where shall we end, if we attempt to number the praises of the Lord? Thy mercies are new every morning, and fresh every evening; and whoso most gracefully enjoys them, the best obeys Thy will.

Lord, sanctify to us Thy perpetual loving-kindness. Help us to estimate it justly, to feel it constantly, and to acknowledge it continually.

Enable us to glorify Thee in all our thoughts and way, knowing that we are not our own. May our bodies be kept in honor and purity, our souls be in fellowship with all that is lovely and of good report, and our whole being acceptably hymn Thy Praise.

All united in the Lord's Prayer. Scripture Lesson. One of the Prayers on pages 60-62.

  • From Gospel Liturgy (1861), p. 143-44.

When you need God's number

Collect Call is a gathering place for historical collects (pronounced CALL-eckts) from the Universalist tradition, and to a lesser degree, the Unitarian tradition. My goal is to encourage their use and thoughtful modification, and the new composition of collects. Litanies and other prayer forms will be added if they have particular merit. On occasion, a small essay on the use of collects, their history, and biographies of known Universalist collect authors will be posted.

While, to my knowledge, these collects come from Universalist (or Unitarian) sources, earlier Universalists may have borrowed freely, so the original provenance may be lost. Also, many of the collects are embedded in longer, occasional prayers, and did not originally appear as constructed here.

Otherwise, all prayers are presented as originally printed, and their sources are cited.

The collects are arranged by its position, the week, the associated psalm, or by its occasion.

Some collects have a particular position, such as the first collect (conventionally "for purity") and the concluding prayer. These will be recognized as such.

Many Christians have found a weekly lectionary to be of great use, with collects for the week to match. Former Universalists did not follow this practice, but when I identify I collect that would be fairly applied to a particular week in the Revised Common Lectionary, I will identify it as such.

Likewise, some Christians conclude psalms and canticles (Bible songs) with a collect, rather than an acclamation like the Gloria). (Some Universalists have and do use the Gloria, incidentally.) Collects appropriate to a psalm or canticale will be listed as such.

Universalists were keen to identify collects and other prayers that would be appropriate to a particular occasion, and these are so identified.

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