(Lat. Collecta, from colligeare, to collect), a short form of prayer in the liturgies of the Roman Catholic and the Anglican churches. In a wider sense, the word collecta was used by ancient writers of the Latin Church, like the Greek σύναξις, to designate a meeting of Christians for public worship. But soon it came to be restricted to several portions of the liturgy. The origin of this signification of the word is doubtful. According to some ritualists, the name indicates the comprehensive brevity of such prayers, the matter of the epistle and gospel, e.g. being gathered up, or collected, into the collect for the day Others derive the name from an ancient practice of the chief minister collecting into a single brief and public prayer at the end of some part of the service the previous (private) devotions of the people; accordingly, one of the service-books of the ancient Catholic Church was called Collectarium, as containing such prayers. Liturgical writers trace some of the collects to the Leonian Sacramentary used in the Roman Church about 483 A.D.; others to the Sacramentary of Bishop Gelasius of Rome (494); and the majority to the Sacramentary of Gregory I (590).
The collects in the Roman Missal begin with Oremus (Let us pray), and conclude with the invocation, "Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum, filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus per omnia scecula sceculorum. Amen." They occur before the Epistle, before the Preface and after the Communion, and consist sometimes of one, sometimes of several petitions; but if consisting of more than two, the introductory Oremus and the concluding "Per Dominum," etc., are used only twice, all the intermediate petitions being joined to the last. In solemn masses, the collects before the epistle and after the communion are sung. Similar collects as in the Missal occur in the Breviary.
On the collects retained in the Anglican Prayerbook, Dr. Comber remarks: "Our reformers observed, first, that some of those collects were corrupted by superstitious alterations and additions, made by some later hand. Secondly, that the modern Roman Missals had left some of the primitive collects quite out, and put in their stead collects containing some of their false opinions, or relating to their innovations in practice. When the mass had struck out an old and put in a new collect, agreeable to their new and false doctrines or practices, there the Reformers restored the old collect, being pure and orthodox. At the restoration of king Charles II, even those collects made or allowed at the Reformation were strictly reviewed, and what was deficient was supplied and all that was but incongruously expressed was rectified, so that now they are complete and unexceptionable, and may be ranked into three several classes. First, the ancient primitive collects, containing nothing but true doctrine, void of all modern corruptions, and having a strain of the primitive devotion, being short but regular, and very expressive. The second order of collects are also ancient as to the main; but where there were any passages that had been corrupted, they were struck out, and the old form restored, or that passage rectified; and where there was any defect it was supplied. The third order are such as had been corrupted in the Roman Missals and Breviaries, and contained something of false doctrine, or at least of superstition, in them; and new collects were made instead of these at the Reformation, under king Edward VI; and some few which were added anno 1662." The following tables of the Collects for Sundays and other holidays used in the English Liturgy were partly formed by bishop Cosins, and were published by Comber:
See Wetzer u.Welte, Kirchenz-Lex. 2:665; Eadie, Eccl. Dict. 157; Hook, Church Dictionary, s.v.; Bingham, Orig. Eccl. bk. 15, ch. 1; Palmer, Orig. Liturg. 1:319 sq.; Comber, Companion to the Temple (London, 1841, 7 vols.); Despense, Traite des Collectes; Lebrun, Explication des Ceremonies, 1:192. SEE LITURGY.