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About Metrical Collects from the Book of Common Prayer

Martin Luther famously said that music is the handmaiden of theology. In 1523, he wrote to Georg Spalatin that his decision to focus on hymnody as a major part of his evangelisation was that so “the Word of God may be among the people in the form of music.” Indeed, as any Christian in a pew can tell you, this has come to pass, and not only in traditions descending from Wittenburg, but also in those descending from Canterbury. From “Abide with me” and “Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah” becoming civic hymns in the United Kingdom, to the American people’s love of “Amazing grace”, to Canadian hymnographers’ retrieval and English translation of the first North American Christmas carol “‘Twas in the moon of wintertime”, hymnody, and the Word of God as found in these beloved texts, is truly among the people in Anglican churches worldwide.

The Prayer Book collects, too, are part of the Word of God as we continue to receive it. In his preface to the first Book of Common Prayer in 1549, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer wrote that the service must be said in the local vernacular – “to the end that the congregation may be thereby edified.” One of his successors in the episcopal ministry, Bishop Daniel Martins of the Episcopal Diocese of Springfield, noted that the Collects have much to teach us and may be appropriate “grist for the homiletical mill.” We could not agree more.

Eliza Humphreys’ Metrical Collects from the Book of Common Prayer set the Prayer Book collects to poetic verse. We build upon her artistic foundation, hoping to bring this facet of God’s word into a most beloved form of transmission, hymnody. In this book of the same name, each collect for the liturgical year, as paraphrased by Ms. Humphreys and adapted as necessary, is set to a hymn tune. We supplement these classical collects with some additional prayers, canticles, and anthems suitable for use in the Daily Office by Anglicans of diverse churchmanship.

Some selected tunes will be familiar and instantly recognizable, some will be older and obscure, and some will be by a more modern composer. All who use this resource are invited to dig into Ms. Humphreys’ expoundations of Cranmer’s original texts and to learn and love the associated hymn tunes, whether they be new to all or merely new to the listener. God is calling us to sing a new, old song. Won’t you join in?

Soli Deo Gloria
September 14, 2022
The Feast of the Holy Cross
Dallas, TX; Cleveland, OH; and Valley Forge, PA

To the extent possible under law, the editors of this work have waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to this work. This work is published from: United States.

The editors of Metrical Collects from the Book of Common Prayer intend to place everything novel about the book (adaptations and edits to texts, particular hymn/tune pairings, new canticle paraphrases, etc.) into the public domain. To the best of the editors’ knowledge, all text and music comprising the hymns in this book are in the public domain in the United States, unless otherwise noted. Every effort has been made to trace the owner or holder of each copyright when dating relevant to the public domain status is ambiguous or unclear. If any rights have been inadvertently infringed upon, the editors ask that the omission be excused and agree to make the necessary corrections in subsequent editions.

Metrical Collects from the Book of Common Prayer may be freely distributed and reproduced for any purpose. The editors request, but do not require, that attribution to this website or to the print edition of Metrical Collects from the Book of Common Prayer be made upon reproduction where possible or convenient, so that other interested parties may discover the work.

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