Liturgy: Salutation and Collect
The Salutation (“The Lord be with you. And with your spirit,” on page 66 in our Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary) marks a new division of the divine service—the instructional segment where God meets us in his life-giving Word. It is not addressed to God but to the people and is a reciprocal prayer of the pastor for the people and of the congregation for its pastor before they together offer their prayers to God. It serves as a constant reminder of the pastoral relationship. This phrase and its response has sometimes been called “the little ordination.”
“The Lord be with you” is a familiar greeting in both the Old and New Testaments. For example, when Boaz came from Bethlehem he said to the harvesters, “The Lord be with you,” and they answered, “The Lord bless you” (Ruth 2:4). The angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon and said, “The Lord is with you” (Judges 6:12). When the angel Gabriel appeared to the virgin Mary, he said, “The Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28). St. Paul used the phrase in his benedictions, “The Lord be with you all” (2 Thessalonians 3:16) and, “May the Lord be with your spirit” (2 Timothy 4:22).
The congregation’s response, “And with your spirit,” is a request that the Holy Spirit be with the pastor as he proclaims the Word as the mouthpiece of Christ. And so, particularly before sacramental acts such as the reading of the Word or the administration of Holy Communion, we have the Salutation and response. The phrase finally became embedded in the early Christian liturgies as a significant responsive introduction to new and different parts of the divine service.
The Collect (pronounced usually with the emphasis on the first syllable instead of the second) is a brief but significant prayer related in thought to the Gospel or the theme of the day, and its chief function is to prepare the mind for hearing the Scripture lessons. With an unbroken use of nearly fifteen centuries by multitudes of believers in all lands, the Collects constitute an important part of the liturgical inheritance of the church.
The term for this prayer is literal—it means to collect or gather the prayers of God’s people based on the assigned readings for the day. In the Collect we come to our Lord in prayer to ask of him one special, significant blessing for this day’s service.
The traditional Collects follow a classical pattern:
- Address—names the person of the Trinity to whom the prayer is particularly addressed,
- Rationale—notes the particular characteristic of God upon which this prayer is dependent,
- Petition—states the blessing being asked,
- Benefit— gives the goal toward which the petition is directed,
- Doxology—“who lives and reigns . . .”
Here is an example of the parts using the Collect for Palm Sunday:
- [Address]—We praise you, O God,
- [Rationale]—for the great acts of love by which you redeemed us through your Son, Jesus Christ. As he was acclaimed by those who scattered their garments and palm branches in his path,
- [Petition]—so may we always hail him as our King
- [Benefit]—and follow him with perfect confidence;
- [Doxology]—who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.