SQL Server 2008 adds support for the 'let' clause in FLWOR expressions. The for and let clauses have a similar purpose, to bind content (tuples) to variables.  Either one can begin a FLWOR expression:

declare @x xml = '';
select @x.query('
for $i in (1,2,3)
return $i
');
> returns 1 2 3

declare @x xml = '';
select @x.query('
let $i := (1,2,3)
return $i
');
> returns 1 2 3

The distinction is that let is an assignment clause, in the simple statement using 'let' above, $i refers to the entire sequence (1,2,3). The for clause sets up an iterator. The simple statement above using 'for' loops 3 times and each time through the loop $i refers to a single member of the sequence. So, if I add an 'order by' clause, the results are quite different.

declare @x xml = '';
select @x.query('
for $i in (1,2,3)
order by $i descending
return $i
');
> returns 3 2 1

declare @x xml = '';
select @x.query('
let $i := (1,2,3)
order by $i descending
return $i
');
> error:
> XQuery [query()]: 'order by' requires a singleton (or empty sequence), found operand of type 'xs:integer +'

One limitation on the XQuery let clause is that it does not support constructed elements. So this statement works fine:

declare @x xml = '';
select @x.query('
let $x := 1
return $x
');
> returns 1

but this statement does not:

declare @x xml = '';
select @x.query('
let $x := ( <foo>2</foo>, <bar>2</bar> )
return $x
');
> error:
XQuery [query()]: 'let' is not supported with constructed XML

So Let the use of the let clause begin…no longer do I have to explain what a "FWOR" expression is, hooray. However, nota bene. When 'let' is used inside a loop, it's evaluated each time around the loop:

declare @x xml = '';
select @x.query('
for $i in (1,2,3)
let $j := 42
return ($i, $j)
');
> returns 1 42 2 42 3 42
> $j is evaluated three times