The Service of Holy Communion Annotated
A Commentary upon the Order for the Administration of
Holy Communion from The Book of Common Prayer of 1928
Annotations by the Rev. Dr. Peter Toon
The Prayer Book Society of the U.S.A., 2004
The Order for
The Administration of the Lord’s Supper
¶ At the Communion-time the Holy Table shall have upon it a fair white linen cloth. And the Priest, standing reverently before the Holy Table, shall say the Lord’s Prayer and the Collect following, the People kneeling; but the Lord’s Prayer may be omitted at the discretion of the Priest.
OUR Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. Amen.
ALMIGHTY God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid; Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
¶ Then shall the Priest, turning to the People, rehearse distinctly The Ten Commandments; and the People, still kneeling, shall, after every Commandment, ask God mercy for their transgressions for the time past, and grace to keep the law for the time to come.
¶ And NOTE, That in rehearsing The Ten Commandments, the Priest may omit that part of the Commandment which is inset.
¶ The Decalogue may be omitted, provided it be said at least one Sunday in each month. But NOTE, That whenever it is omitted, the Priest shall say the Summary of the Law, beginning, Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ saith.
Title. “Order” points to a service whose contents follow on, one from another, in an orderly manner. “Lord’s Supper” is derived from St Paul’s statement about “the Lord’s Supper” in 1 Corinthians 11:20, and “Holy Communion” is probably based upon St Paul’s reference to “the communion of the blood of Christ/body of Christ” in 1 Corinthians 10:16. The word “Mass” was used in the title in the first English Prayer Book of 1549 but has not been used since.
This Service has three parts — The Ante-Communion, to the end of the Prayer for the Church; the Communion Service Proper to the Words of Administration; and the Post Communion.
Rubric. While a white linen cloth is absolutely required, this does not prohibit the addition of further covering in the color of the Church season. The position of the Celebrant is assumed to be that of facing toward the Holy Table, that is Eastwards. In “An Office of Institution of Ministers” (p.573) the Holy Table is also called “the Altar.” The general posture for prayer for the congregation is normally that of kneeling.
Lord’s Prayer. This may be omitted because it will be used after the Prayer of Consecration (p. 82) where it is even more appropriate & meaningful, as will be noted.
Collect for Purity. This ancient prayer is addressed to the Father, the Almighty God, who knows the secrets of all our hearts, and it seeks the presence and help of the Holy Ghost, so that what is offered to the Father through the Son and with the Holy Ghost will be genuine worship, praise and thanksgiving.
The presentation of this Service may be compared to music, and a concert in which the Father is the royal audience, the “conductor” is Jesus Christ, the priest is the “concert master,” and the people of the church are the “orchestra.” The Holy Ghost is rather like “the Muse.” In fact, the Holy Ghost indwelling the priest and congregation is the Living Divine Person within them who gives them the ability to play their parts in turn. He is also, by virtue of inspiration, the “composer” who spoke through the Prophets, Apostles, and Saints in the construction of the Liturgy.
Rubrics. When the Priest addresses the people he turns to them so that he is facing Westwards. They are to remain kneeling as they hear and respond to the Commandments of God in humility and submission. It is important to note that God’s people are always to hear every Lord’s Day the Commandments, be it in their full form or their summary form; and that at least once a month this hearing must be in their full form. By the use of the Commandments opportunity is provided for self- examination, repentance and amendment of life.
GOD spake these words, and said: I am the LORD thy God; Thou shalt have none other gods but me.
Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.
Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven image, nor the likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, or in the water under the earth; thou shalt not bow down to them, nor worship them;
for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, and visit the sins of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and show mercy unto thousands in them that love me and keep my commandments.
Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.
Thou shalt not take the Name of the LORD thy God in vain;
for the LORD will not hold him guiltless, that taketh his Name in vain.
Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.
Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath-day.
Six days shalt thou labour, and do all that thou hast to do; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God. In it thou shalt do no manner of work; thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, thy man-servant, and thy maid-servant, thy cattle, and the stranger that is within thy gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it.
Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.
The Decalogue — first table. The Ten Commandments are presented here in the form of a Litany. In the ancient Mass, there was a nine-fold “Lord have mercy,” the Kyrie, and here that form of supplication is united to the rehearsal and response to the revealed will of the Lord our God.
It is usual to speak of two tables of the Law, the first dealing with the true worship of the Lord our God and the second with a right relation with fellow human beings. On this page are the four commandments of the first table. Though, in origin, they were given by God through Moses to the people of Israel, they became through Jesus Christ the possession of the Church of God, to be obeyed in and for him. The “thou” addressed here is both the Church as the Bridegroom of Christ and also each individual baptized member of the Household of God.
1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. There is one and only one true and living Lord God, the Blessed, Holy and Undivided Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. However, it is so easy in a secular world, full of temptation, to give more authority unto, and to pay more attention to, other beings or forms of human government than the Creator and Judge of all.
2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image. This forbids any representation of God, who is eternal & infinite Spirit. It is forbidden whether in matter or in the mind, as an image or likeness which is worshipped as “God” or in the place of God. Such representation corrupts the true worship of God by filling the mind with superstition.
3. Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain. The name YHWH, the LORD (Exodus 3), is to be pronounced with reverence, awe and devotion for It contains and conveys God’s nature and character. In the New Testament we learn that this Name is the equivalent of “the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.” “O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy Name in all the earth” (Psalm 8:9).
4. Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. For Christians, the Day of the Resurrection, the first day of the week, replaces Saturday to be kept holy to God. It is to be a day of rest, reminiscent of the divine rest of Genesis 1, when we are to read and meditate upon his Word, and take delight in his presence and blessings in services of worship. It requires abstention from every activity that would distract from the main purpose of this Day and its observance.
Honour thy father and thy mother;
that thy days may be long in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.
Thou shalt do no murder.
Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.
Thou shalt not steal.
Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his servant, nor his maid, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is his.
Lord, have mercy upon us, and write all these thy laws in our hearts, we beseech thee.
¶ Then may the Priest say,
Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ saith.
THOU shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.
¶ Here, if the Decalogue hath been omitted, shall be said,
The Decalogue, second table. Arising from our duty to God emerges our duty to one another. In the six commandments of the second table we learn the basics of the moral law of God for human relations. Here each of us is addressed individually.
Honour thy father and thy mother. The human family is the basic unit of the human race and its stability requires that the ties of blood be strengthened with the ties of honour, respect, care, loyalty and, where appropriate, obedience.
Thou shalt do no murder. To kill another person (except when acting by lawful authority) is wrong, for God alone is in charge of our conception and death. Jesus taught that to hate a person and be angry with him is in principle to break this commandment (Matthew 5:21–22).
Thou shalt not commit adultery. Since by marriage a man and woman become one flesh, any adultery by either party is sinful for it breaks apart what God has joined. Jesus taught that to lust after another person is in principle to break this commandment (Matthew 5:27–28).
Thou shalt not steal. To take what belongs to another person without his permission, or wronging him in any way with respect to his goods, is forbidden by God (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:10). Also God requires justice and charity in the care of earthly goods and in the fruits of human labour.
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. It is wrong before God to misrepresent the truth in our relations with other people. To tell lies is sinful. The Lord Jesus is “the Truth” and so his people are to be truthful (Matthew 5:37).
Thou shalt not covet. Natural desires for good things — possession of goods, friendship, food and drink etc. — can so easily turn through temptation into desire and lusting for what belongs to others. Thus covetousness can be the root of the breaking of commandments of the second table.
The Summary of the Law. It is by the authority of Jesus (Matthew 22:37–40 & Luke 10:25–28) that we know that the command to love God perfectly summarises the duties of the first table, and the command to love the neighbour summarises the duties of the second table. Genuine Love is primarily an act of the human will, not the will alone but the will as informed by the mind and energised by the affections.
Rubrics. On each and every Sunday one or both forms of the Law of God is to be read, for we need to hear what the Lord our God requires of his covenant people.
Lord, have mercy upon us.
Christ, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.
¶ Then the Priest may say,
O ALMIGHTY Lord, and everlasting God, vouchsafe, we beseech thee, to direct, sanctify, and govern, both our hearts and bodies, in the ways of thy laws, and in the works of thy commandments; that, through thy most mighty protection, both here and ever, we may be preserved in body and soul; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
¶ Here shall be said,
The Lord be with you.
Answer: And with thy spirit.
Minister: Let us pray.
¶ Then shall the Priest say the Collect of the Day. And after the Collect the Minister appointed shall read the Epistle, first saying, The Epistle is written in the—Chapter of—, beginning at the—Verse. The Epistle ended, he shall say, Here endeth the Epistle.
¶ Here may be sung a Hymn or an Anthem.
¶Then, all the People standing, the Minister appointed shall read the Gospel, first saying, The Holy Gospel is written in the—Chapter of—, beginning at the—Verse.
¶ Here shall be said,
Glory be to thee, O Lord.
¶ And after the Gospel may be said,
Praise be to thee, O Christ.
¶ Then shall be said the Creed commonly called the Nicene, or else the Apostles’ Creed but the Creed may be omitted, if it hath been said immediately before in Morning Prayer; Provided, That the Nicene Creed shall be said on Christmas Day, Easter Day, Ascension Day, Whitsunday, and Trinity Sunday.
Threefold Kyrie. The invocation, “Kyrie eleison” & “Christe eleison,” is found in both Greek and Latin liturgies from the fourth century. It is possible to understand one petition being addressed to the Father and the other to the Son, who is the Christ.
Collect concerning God’s Law. This prayer in its Latin original form is found in the medieval English Sarum Psalter, where it is the concluding Collect for the service of Prime. Here, though it is optional, it does connect perfectly with the earlier recital of the Commandments. The same Collect is also the last prayer in the Service of Confirmation.
Salutation. This is more than a Christian greeting. It is an exchange wherein the Priest/Celebrant expresses the conviction that the Lord is present with his people as they meet to worship him in spirit and in truth. In turn, the response of the congregation is to pray specifically that the same Lord will be with the Celebrant’s “spirit” — that is, the gift of the Spirit to his spirit given in ordination will be quickened by the Holy Ghost so that he rightly and spiritually celebrates this Sacrament for the glory of God and for the salvation and edification of the people.
Rubric concerning the Collect of the Day, Epistle & Gospel. In the Prayer Book there is provided for each Sunday as well as for the major Festivals & Holy Days, a Collect together with a reading called the Epistle (usually from one of the Letters of the New Testament) and one called the Gospel (always from one of the four Gospels). This Lectionary of the Prayer Book is very ancient, going back to the late patristic period of the Latin Church. The Gospel is always to be read by an ordained Minister, Bishop, Priest or Deacon, as the congregation stands. There is no Old Testament lesson as it is assumed that Morning Prayer with an O.T. reading has preceded this Service.
Rubric concerning the Creed. The two Creeds are the Apostles’ Creed, which is used in the Daily Office and in the Baptismal Service, and the Nicene Creed, which is used in the Order for Holy Communion both in the East and West. However, an exception may be made to the rule of using the Nicene Creed and it is expressed here.
The Breathing Capitals. It will be observed that there are capitals used in the Creed and the General Confession where they seem not to be needed. Their purpose is the maintaining corporate unity in public recitation. Further, the existence of many-more commas than most people are used to in the portions read by the priest are a thought-out detail intended to increase the clarity of expression, and before public address systems to increase audibility by indicating to the priest the best way to maintain breath control and volume.
I BELIEVE in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, And of all things visible and invisible:
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God; Begotten of his Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of very God; Begotten, not made; Being of one substance with the Father; By whom all things were made: Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, And was made man: And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried: And the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures: And ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of the Father: And he shall come again, with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end.
And I believe in the Holy Ghost, The Lord, and Giver of Life, Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; Who spake by the Prophets: And I believe one Catholic and Apostolic Church: I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins: And I look for the Resurrection of the dead: And the Life of the world to come. Amen.
¶ Then shall be declared unto the People what Holy Days, or Fasting Days, are in the week following to be observed; and (if occasion be) shall Notice be given of the Communion, and of the Banns of Matrimony, and of other matters to be published.
¶ Here, or immediately after the Creed, may be said the Bidding Prayer, or other authorized prayers and intercessions.
¶ Then followeth the Sermon. After which, the Priest, when there is a Communion, shall return to the Holy Table, and begin the Offertory, saying one or more of these Sentences following, as he thinketh most convenient.
The Creed. The full title of this Creed is the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, because its origins were at the Ecumenical Councils of Nicea (325) and Constantinople (381). It was composed especially to declare the biblical & orthodox doctrine of the relation of Jesus Christ to the Father and also of the relation of the Holy Ghost to the Father and to the Son.
I believe. As used in the Communion Services the Creed is both the profession of faith of the whole Church as the Bridegroom of Christ and also of each member of the same Household of God and the Body of Christ. Thus the Church speaks as one person and each member speaks for himself in the “I believe...” At the Councils where the Creed was agreed by the assembled bishops, they actually said together, “We believe...;” but when the Creed was taken back to the churches it was changed to first person singular so as to be used (in the East especially) as a baptismal creed.
The Church confesses belief in the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost and in that order, which is the internal Order of the Trinity and of the self- revelation of God to mankind. The Father is revealed through and in the Son by the Holy Ghost; and we worship the Father through the Son and with the Holy Ghost. The LORD God is not one Person with Three Names, but he is One God/Divinity/Deity who is Three Persons.
The Almighty Father created and maintains the whole universe and the whole heaven, the visible and invisible worlds, through the Son. The same Father sends his only-begotten Son into the world to become man, born of the Virgin Mary. In becoming man, however, he does not cease to be God. He possesses wholly the one and the same divine nature as does the Father. So he is said to be consubstantial with the Father — of one substance (homoousios) with the Father.
The Holy Ghost is not declared to be of the same identical substance, homoousios, with the Father and with the Son in this Creed but such a declaration was made by later councils. However, he is said to be worshipped (and only God truly deserves to be worshipped) together with both the Father and the Son. Further, the Holy Ghost is said to proceed [in eternity & infinity within God as God] from the Father and the Son. The words “and the Son” [Latin filioque] were added in the Middle Ages in the West and are not found in the original wording of the Creed from the fourth century.
Rubrics. See the next page
REMEMBER the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. Acts xx. 35.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. St. Matt. v. 16.
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. St. Matt. vi. 19, 20.
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. St. Matt. vii. 21.
He that soweth little shall reap little; and he that soweth plenteously shall reap plenteously. Let every man do according as he is disposed in his heart, not grudgingly, or of necessity; for God loveth a cheerful giver. 2 Cor. ix. 6, 7.
While we have time, let us do good unto all men; and especially unto them that are of the household of faith. Gal. vi. 10.
God is not unrighteous, that he will forget your works, and labour that proceedeth of love; which love ye have showed for his Name’s sake, who have ministered unto the saints, and yet do minister. Heb. vi. 10.
To do good, and to distribute, forget not; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. Heb. xiii. 16.
Whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? 1 St. John iii. 17.
Be merciful after thy power. If thou hast much, give plenteously; if thou hast little, do thy diligence gladly to give of that little: for so gatherest thou thyself a good reward in the day of necessity. Tobit iv. 8, 9.
Rubrics (p.71). Following the Creed, the Priest gives out the Notices and reads any Banns of Marriage. Then, if there is not going to be the second part of the Service, known as the Communion, or if there is felt need for extra prayers, he will lead the people in prayer using the Bidding Prayer (page 47) or other appropriate prayers from the Prayer Book. The 55th Canon of the Church of England from 1604 directed that the preacher shall before all sermons move the people to join with him in prayer and this is the origin of what is said here. After such prayer, comes the Sermon, and then the Offertory. The Order for Holy Communion is the only Service in the Prayer Book at which the preaching of a sermon is actually mentioned and required.
Ante-Communion. It is worth remembering that until relatively recent times it was common in parishes to have as the Morning Service in “Low Church” parishes the following — Morning Prayer, Litany and Ante- Communion. The latter usually ended with the Blessing after the Notices and Sermon. The full Communion Service would then only be offered once a month or once a quarter. However, when a deacon takes the first part of the Order for Holy Communion then there are special rules for him — see the rubrics on page 84 concerning a deacon’s responsibilities and duties.
The Offertory — Scripture sentences. For centuries there had been anthems or psalms sung while the oblations and offering of the people were received. The system recommended by the rubrics on pages 71 & 73 is that the priest reads (or chants) one or more Scripture sentences from those provided on pages 72-73 and then, where it is appropriate or possible, allows the singing of an anthem by the choir as the alms and oblations of the congregation are gathered and brought forward. There is a sufficient supply of Scripture sentences, with a variety of themes, provided here so as to allow for the use of different ones for different seasons of the year and for special occasions.
The Scripture sentences are not identical with those originally provided in the First Prayer Book of 1549. Only nine survive from there. Further, the sentences in this 1928 edition are not exactly the same as in the earlier American edition of 1892. The eleventh to the thirteenth are new to this Book (i.e., Matt. 25:40; Rom.10:14-15; & Luke 10:2). The last sentence from I Chronicles 29:14 is probably used most often for it is so comprehensive in its brevity.
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. St. Matt. xxv. 40.
How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach, except they be sent? Rom. x. 14, 15.
Jesus said unto them, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he send forth labourers into his harvest. St. Luke x. 2.
Ye shall not appear before the LORD empty; every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee. Deut. xvi. 16, 17.
Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all. 1 Chron. xxix. 11.
All things come of thee, O LORD, and of thine own have we given thee. 1 Chron. xxix. 14.
¶ And NOTE, That these Sentences may be used on any other occasion of Public Worship when the Offerings of the People are to be received.
¶ The Deacons, Church-wardens, or other fit persons appointed for that purpose, shall receive the Alms for the Poor, and other Offerings of the People, in a decent Basin to be provided by the Parish; and reverently bring it to the Priest, who shall humbly present and place it upon the Holy Table.
¶ And the Priest shall then offer, and shall place upon the Holy Table, the Bread and the Wine.
¶ And when the Alms and Oblations are being received and presented, there may be sung a Hymn, or an Offertory Anthem in the words of Holy Scripture or of the Book of Common Prayer, under the direction of the Priest.
The Offertory — Alms and Oblations. The Rubrics after the Scripture-sentences assume that after several of them have been read and (perhaps) during the singing of a hymn by all, or an anthem by the choir, there will be an orderly means used to collect the alms intended for the poor together with other offerings of the people (money for church projects as well as such other causes and needs). These alms and oblations are then to be taken to the Priest who offers them to the Lord by placing the basin containing them on the Holy Table/Altar. Once offered they belong to God for they have been set aside to the work of the kingdom of God and of his church.
The Offering of the Bread and the Wine. Since there is no mention of the bread and wine for communion being brought to the Priest from the congregation with the alms and the offerings, it is to be assumed that he takes them from what is usually called “the credence table,” situated on the south side of the chancel, where they were placed before the beginning of the service. The fact that the Priest is said to “offer and then place upon the Holy Table” implies that the bread and wine are being offered to the Lord to be used by him for his purposes in this Sacrament. Once offered, they are set aside and considered holy, even though they are not yet consecrated to their real use of being the sacramental body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
There is no mention here either of the adding of water to the wine (cf. John 19:34, water and blood) to create “the mixed chalice” or the ceremonial washing of the hands (lavabo) of the Celebrant (cf. Psalm 26:6). They are neither forbidden nor required, and it is left to the Priest and local custom to add or not to do so. It is also assumed that at least there will be adequate vessels for the administration of the Holy Communion — a paten for the bread and a chalice for the wine, or their equivalents.
Under the Direction of the Priest. The last of the rubrics ends with the words “under the direction of the Priest” and refers to the music used in the service. It is the Priest who has the final say over the hymns and anthems, not the organist or the choirmaster. This is because he is ultimately responsible for maintaining sound doctrine and good order in worship.
¶ Here the Priest may ask the secret intercessions of the Congregation for any who have desired the prayers of the Church.
¶ Then shall the Priest say,
Let us pray for the whole state of Christ’s Church.
ALMIGHTY and everliving God, who by thy holy Apostle hast taught us to make prayers, and supplications, and to give thanks for all men; We humbly beseech thee most mercifully to accept our [alms and] oblations, and to receive these our prayers, which we offer unto thy Divine Majesty; beseeching thee to inspire continually the Universal Church with the spirit of truth, unity, and concord: And grant that all those who do confess thy holy Name may agree in the truth of thy holy Word, and live in unity and godly love.
We beseech thee also, so to direct and dispose the hearts of all Christian Rulers, that they may truly and impartially administer justice, to the punishment of wickedness and vice, and to the maintenance of thy true religion, and virtue.
Give grace, O heavenly Father, to all Bishops and other Ministers, that they may, both by their life and doctrine, set forth thy true and lively Word, and rightly and duly administer thy holy Sacraments.
And to all thy People give thy heavenly grace; and especially to this congregation here present; that, with meek heart and due reverence, they may hear, and receive thy holy Word; truly serving thee in holiness and righteousness all the days of their life.
And we most humbly beseech thee, of thy goodness, 0 Lord, to comfort and succour all those who, in this transitory life, are in trouble, sorrow, need, sickness, or any other adversity.
And we also bless thy holy Name for all thy servants departed this life in thy faith and fear; beseeching thee to
Rubrics. Instead of inserting into this Prayer for the Church specific petitions and intercessions, and thereby making it imbalanced and lengthy, the Priest may invite people to offer their “secret intercession” from their hearts for those in need known to them, at the appropriate point in the public prayer.
The Prayer for the Church. The apostle Paul taught “that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men...” (1 Timothy 2:1), and this duty is remembered in the opening of this Prayer. As the Offertory has just occurred, the Father Almighty is asked both to accept the alms and oblations and also to receive the prayers being offered unto him through Jesus Christ the Lord, who at the end is specifically named as “our only Mediator and Advocate.”
The first intercession is for the Catholic, Universal Church, that she will possess the spirit of truth, unity and concord, and further that all her members, who pronounce the Name of the Holy Trinity, will agree in the truth of Holy Scripture and live together in unity and godly love.
The second intercession is for Christian rulers — not all rulers but specifically Christian for this is a prayer for the whole Church — that their administration of justice, the punishment of evil and the support of true religion and virtue will be pleasing to God.
The third intercession is for the clergy, for Bishops, Priests and Deacons. Since their leadership is so critical for the good of the churches, the prayer for them is that their lives will adorn the Gospel they preach and that they will administer Baptism and the Holy Communion for the true edification of the faithful.
The fourth intercession is for all God’s people — the baptized (and confirmed) — and especially for the assembled congregation. The prayer is that they will be given the right internal and spiritual graces so as both to hear and then to obey the Word of the Lord. And, for those who are going through especially difficult or troubling times, God’s comfort and help is invoked that they may remain faithful in adversity.
The final intercession is in the context of the commemoration of the faithful departed and has two parts. One is for those who have died in Christ that they will experience continual growth in the life of love and service in heaven, and the other is for those who remain on earth, the church militant, that they will be encouraged by the example of their departed brethren to live on earth as citizens of the heavenly kingdom.
grant them continual growth in thy love and service, and to give us grace so to follow their good examples, that with them we may be partakers of thy heavenly kingdom. Grant this, O Father, for Jesus Christ’s sake, our only Mediator and Advocate. Amen.
¶ Then shall the Priest say to those who come to receive the Holy Communion,
YE who do truly and earnestly repent you of your sins, and are in love and charity with your neighbours, and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God, and walking from henceforth in his holy ways; Draw near with faith, and take this holy Sacrament to your comfort; and make your humble confession to Almighty God, devoutly kneeling.
¶ Then shall this General Confession be made, by the Priest and all those who are minded to receive the Holy Communion, humbly kneeling.
ALMIGHTY God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Maker of all things, Judge of all men; We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, Which we, from time to time, most grievously have committed, By thought, word, and deed, Against thy Divine Majesty, Provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against us. We do earnestly repent, And are heartily sorry for these our misdoings; The remembrance of them is grievous unto us; The burden of them is intolerable. Have mercy upon us, Have mercy upon us, most merciful Father; For thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, Forgive us all that is past; And grant that we may ever hereafter Serve and please thee In newness of life, To the honour and glory of thy Name; Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
¶ Then shall the Priest (the Bishop if he be present) stand up, and turning to the People, say,
Prayer for the departed. The 1928 BCP is the first of the editions of the BCP in the USA to contain this general but real petition, at the end of the Prayer for the Church, for those who have departed this life as baptized believers. It is something that Protestants have generally been hesitant to include and so is not found in the BCP of 1662.
(Note that on the First Sunday in Advent, the First Sunday in Lent, and on Trinity Sunday the Exhortation on pages 85–86 is to be read at this point in the Service.)
The Invitation. To receive the sacramental Body and Blood of the once crucified and now exalted Lord Jesus is a unique privilege and as such requires special moral and spiritual preparation and the right internal attitude. Those who are to receive the Sacrament are to be those who believe and trust in the Lord Jesus, are repentant for their sins, and are seeking to love God and their neighbour by following God’s commandments and walking in his ways. This inward piety is to be expressed in outward piety through kneeling, which expresses humility before God.
The Rubric. Each person, including the Celebrant, kneels before God in humility to confess his sin and to implore the divine mercy.
The Confession. All sin is against God. To confess sin to God, the Father, who is the Creator and Judge of all, is to begin to worship him because in confession Christians recognize Who he is and they praise his righteousness and justice, as well as his mercy, when they pour out before him their “manifold sins and wickedness.” Confessing sin is not a preparation for worship as such. It is rather the beginnings of true worship in spirit and in truth for our true status before God and our need of his grace are fully acknowledged when we confess our sin. In and of ourselves, we deserve only his “wrath and indignation” for we sin habitually and often delight in the same. It is in God’s presence that we feel most keenly the weight and the pain of our sins and recognize that only he can take away this burden of guilt and sorrow. In fact, forgiveness and cleansing come through the merit of the Lord Jesus Christ and thus it is in his Name alone that we beg for mercy and grace.
The use of a general confession of sin in divine worship does not prevent a Christian who so desires from making personal confession to the Lord in the presence of a priest before the service.
ALMIGHTY God, our heavenly Father, who of his great mercy hath promised forgiveness of sins to all those who with hearty repentance and true faith turn unto him; Have mercy upon you; pardon and deliver you from all your sins; confirm and strengthen you in all goodness; and bring you to everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
¶ Then shall the Priest say,
Hear what comfortable words our Saviour Christ saith unto all who truly turn to him.
COME unto me, all ye that travail and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you. St. Matt. xi. 28.
So God loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, to the end that all that believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. St. John iii. 16.
Hear also what Saint Paul saith.
This is a true saying, and worthy of all men to be received, That Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. 1 Tim. i. 15.
Hear also what Saint John saith.
If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the Propitiation for our sins. 1 St. John ii. 1, 2.
¶ After which the Priest shall proceed, saying,
Lift up your hearts.
Answer. We lift them up unto the Lord.
Priest. Let us give thanks unto our Lord God.
Answer. It is meet and right so to do.
¶ Then shall the Priest turn to the Holy Table, and say,
IT is very meet, right, and our bounden duty, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto thee, O Lord, Holy Father, Almighty, Everlasting God.
The Absolution. Here is a sure word from our heavenly Father addressed to the gathered congregation of Christ’s flock. The remission, forgiveness and pardon of sins are based upon God’s mercy and the promises of the Gospel (which offer pardon to the repentant and believing); the consequences of receiving this mercy and forgiveness are commitment to a life of faithfulness, righteousness and goodness with the gift and the hope of eternal life. The Absolution is in the form of a prayer and thus is different from that in Morning and Evening Prayer where it is in the form of a Declaration.
Only the ordained Minister, the priest or bishop, is to pronounce this Absolution, for at his ordination he was given this authority to speak in God’s name.
The Comfortable Words. These scriptural sentences have the purpose of strengthening the message received from the Absolution for God’s penitent and believing people. In the first, the Lord Jesus speaks to all, whatever their condition of soul, and calls them to himself, to be refreshed by himself through union with him and through sacramental feeding upon him. The second proclaims the fact of the Incarnation of the only-begotten Son of God, who came, as Jesus Christ, that we may have life abundant. The third proclaims the Atonement of the same Lord Jesus Christ, by which salvation is provided for sinners. And the fourth proclaims the Exaltation of Jesus Christ, and that in heaven he is our Prophet, Priest and King, the One Mediator between God and man.
The Anaphora or Canon. After the Comfortable Words there begins the Prayer of Consecration, the “Lifting up” (anaphora), or the Canon of the Mass.
Sursum Corda. The two versicles are usually known by the Latin of the first exhortation of the priest: “Lift up your hearts.” They are found in virtually all ancient, traditional and modern liturgies. The Celebrant invites all present to abandon all worldly concerns and household cares and to have their hearts in heaven where the Lord is enthroned and where his heavenly banquet is prepared. The heart cannot be lifted up to join the heavenly choir unless it has first been relieved of its burden of guilt and this has already been achieved by the Absolution and the Comfortable Words.
This is the part of the service where, if it is not already turned towards the East, that the congregation turns in that direction. The rising sun in the East is a symbol of the appearance of the Lord Jesus, who rose from the dead on the first day of the week, and who shall return in bright light and heavenly glory to judge the living and the dead.
¶ Here shall follow the Proper Preface, according to the time, if there be any specially appointed; or else immediately shall be said or sung by the Priest,
THEREFORE with Angels and Archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify thy glorious Name; evermore praising thee, and saying,
¶ Priest and People.
HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, Lord God of hosts, Heaven and earth are full of thy glory: Glory be to thee, O Lord Most High. Amen.
¶ Upon Christmas Day, and seven days after.
BECAUSE thou didst give Jesus Christ, thine only Son, to be born as at this time for us; who, by the operation of the Holy Ghost, was made very man, of the substance of the Virgin Mary his mother; and that without spot of sin, to make us clean from all sin.
Therefore with Angels, etc.
¶ Upon the Epiphany, and seven days after.
THROUGH Jesus Christ our Lord; who, in substance of our mortal flesh, manifested forth his glory; that he might bring us out of darkness into his own glorious light.
Therefore with Angels, etc.
PURIFICATION, ANNUNCIATION, AND TRANSFIGURATION.
¶ Upon the Feasts of the Purification, Annunciation, and Transfiguration.
BECAUSE in the Mystery of the Word made flesh, thou hast caused a new light to shine in our hearts,
The Common Preface [Proclamation]. The Celebrant turns to the East in order to offer to the Father in the name of the Incarnate Son the praise and thanksgiving of the Church on earth and in heaven, and to join it through Christ to that of the angels in heaven. Note that it is called the Preface not because it is prefatory but because of the original Latin word used, praefatio, which has the meaning of proclamation.
The Sanctus. Priest and people join together in this hymn first heard by Isaiah as he worshipped the LORD in the Temple (Isaiah 6:3 & Revelation 4:8). It is first and foremost the song of heaven and so it is a high privilege for the Church on earth to make it her own. Each use of the word “Holy” (Sanctus) may be seen as addressed to One Person of the Blessed, Holy & Undivided Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. [To the Sanctus it is common to add Benedictus qui venit, the Acclaim of Jesus by the crowds: “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 21:9) and the thought is of the Presence of the Lord Jesus in his Sacrament.]
The Proper Preface [Proclamation]. Since the Christian Year contains major Festivals and Seasons, it has been the custom for centuries to use on certain days and in certain periods a specific Preface by which the Gospel revealed in the Event commemorated by the Festival is proclaimed. There is provision here for eight Days/seasons, and of these, one Day, Trinity Sunday, has an alternative.
Christmas. This was composed for the first Book of Common Prayer (1549) by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. Addressed to the Father, it celebrates the sending of the only-begotten Son to be incarnate of the Virgin Mary by the unique operation of the Holy Ghost. Thus Jesus, the Incarnate Son, is One Person with two natures, divine and human. And his human nature, unlike ours, is without original or actual sin. So he is perfectly prepared as the One Person, who possesses wholly both Deity and humanity, to be the Saviour of the world. This Preface is repeated whenever there is a Holy Communion in the next seven days after Christmas Day itself.
Epiphany. This was added to the Prayer Book for this 1928 edition. Addressed to the Father, it celebrates the manifestation of the glory of the Incarnation, that the Son is the eternal Word made flesh, our flesh, and also that he is truly the Lord of glory, whose divine nature radiates with ineffable Light. Epiphany means “manifestation” and is associated with both the Revelation to the Magi and the Revelation of the Trinity at his Baptism. The Preface is repeated whenever there is a Holy Communion in the next seven days.
to give the knowledge of thy glory in the face of thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
Therefore with Angels, etc.
¶ Upon Easter Day, and seven days after.
BUT chiefly are we bound to praise thee for the glorious Resurrection of thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord: for he is the very Paschal Lamb, which was offered for us, and hath taken away the sin of the world; who by his death hath destroyed death, and by his rising to life again hath restored to us everlasting life.
Therefore with Angels, etc.
¶ Upon Ascension Day, and seven days after.
THROUGH thy most dearly beloved Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who, after his most glorious Resurrection, manifestly appeared to all his Apostles, and in their sight ascended up into heaven, to prepare a place for us; that where he is, thither we might also ascend, and reign with him in glory.
Therefore with Angels, etc.
¶ Upon Whitsunday, and six days after.
THROUGH Jesus Christ our Lord; according to I whose most true promise, the Holy Ghost came down as at this time from heaven, lighting upon the disciples, to teach them, and to lead them into all truth; giving them boldness with fervent zeal constantly to preach the Gospel unto all nations; whereby we have been brought out of darkness and error into the clear
Purification, Annunciation and Transfiguration. This was also added in 1928 and is addressed to the Father concerning his Son. The expression “Mystery of the Word made flesh,” pointing to the Personhood of the Incarnate Son, is found in traditional liturgies and the rest of the contents are based on St. Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 4:6, “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” The Purification is also known as Candlemas Day and celebrates on February 2 the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, forty days after his birth from Mary (Luke 2:22ff.). The Annunciation is the celebration of the message from the angel Gabriel to Mary (Luke l:26ff.) on March 25 when there is “the annunciation of our Lord’s coming.” The Transfiguration is the commemoration on August 6 of what happened on the mountain when the divine nature of the Lord Jesus shone in brilliance through his humanity (Luke 9:28ff.).
Easter. Addressed to the Father and based upon John 1:29 & 2 Timothy 1:10, this proclaims on the Feast of Feasts the Lord Jesus as the Passover Lamb by whose sacrificial death the wrath of God against sin is removed and death is defeated. Also by his glorious Resurrection the gift of eternal life is provided for the people of God. The Preface is repeated if there is a Celebration of Holy Communion in the next seven days.
Ascension. Addressed to the Father and recalling John 14:3, this proclaims the bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus, who definitely appeared to all his apostles, and before their eyes ascended into the heavenly cloud (Acts 1:9). It asserts that he has gone ahead to prepare a place for his disciples so that, in resurrection bodies like his, they may join him in his everlasting kingdom and holy rule. This Preface is used on Ascension Day (always a Thursday) and for seven days after at any Celebration of Holy Communion.
Whitsuntide. Addressed to the Father, and dependent upon Acts 2:1ff., this proclaims both the arrival of the gift of the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, on the Jewish Feast of Pentecost, after the Ascension of the Lord Jesus, and also the manifestations of the presence of this Divine Spirit. This Day is often considered to be the birth of the Church because it received the power from on high to begin its work of evangelisation. Because the next Sunday after Whitsunday is Trinity Sunday, the Preface is used only during the next six days at any Celebration of Holy Communion.
light and true knowledge of thee, and of thy Son Jesus Christ.
Therefore with Angels, etc.
¶ Upon the Feast of Trinity only.
WHO, with thine only-begotten Son, and the Holy Ghost, art one God, one Lord, in Trinity of Persons and in Unity of Substance. For that which we believe of thy glory, O Father, the same we believe of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, without any difference of inequality.
Therefore with Angels, etc.
¶ Or this.
FOR the precious death and merits of thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, and for the sending to us of the Holy Ghost, the Comforter; who are one with thee in thy Eternal Godhead.
Therefore with Angels, etc.
¶ Upon All Saints’ Day, and seven days after.
WHO, in the multitude of thy Saints, hast compassed us about with so great a cloud of witnesses that we, rejoicing in their fellowship, may run with patience the race that is set before us, and, together with them, may receive the crown of glory that fadeth not away.
Therefore with Angels and Archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify thy glorious Name; evermore praising thee, and saying,
¶ Priest and People.
HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, Lord God of hosts, Heaven and earth are full of thy glory: Glory be to thee, O Lord Most High. Amen.
Trinity Sunday. On this day, the Sunday after Whitsuntide, the Church adores the Lord God as a Unity in Trinity and a Trinity in Unity. That is, she adores God as the LORD — of God as he is in himself as Trinity of Persons, and of God as he is towards us in revelation and redemption, also as a Trinity of Persons. There are two Prefaces provided and both are addressed to the Father, the First Person of the Holy Trinity. The first is traditional and is in the language of classic, historic dogma, and the other attempts to be simpler avoiding the technical terms of “Person” and “Substance.”
Jesus told his apostles to make converts and to baptize them “in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19). The relation of the Three Divine Persons to each other was much considered in the Early Church; and in the Ecumenical Councils of Nicea & Constantinople the definitive teaching was produced, to be confirmed by later Councils.
The first Preface, drawing on this dogma, declares the Order of the Holy Trinity — the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost — and also the Unity of the same. Each Person, while in a definite relation to the other Two, possesses in entirety the whole divine nature or substance and thus all Persons are equal in Godhead. It elicits adoration and praise.
The second Preface was produced for the American 1789 Prayer Book and has remained as an option in the editions of 1892 & 1928. It hardly does justice to the Festival Day for it does not say enough about the Holy Trinity.
These Prefaces are only to be used on the Festival Day itself. However, the importance of this Feast is such that all Sundays following it carry its name, e.g. “The First Sunday after Trinity.”
All Saints. Addressed to the Father, this draws upon Hebrews 12:1–2 and has the church of today rejoicing that she belongs to the Church of God that has a history in space and time and which counts in her membership a multitude of faithful, holy people, whose names are not known and who have gone ahead, providing an example and encouragement. This multitude of Saints is commemorated on November 1 and the Preface is used at celebrations of Holy Communion for the next seven days.
¶ When the Priest, standing before the Holy Table, hath so ordered the Bread and Wine, that he may with the more readiness and decency break the Bread before the People, and take the Cup into his hands, he shall say the Prayer of Consecration, as followeth.
ALL glory be to thee, Almighty God, our heavenly Father, for that thou, of thy tender mercy, didst give thine only Son Jesus Christ to suffer death upon the Cross for our redemption; who made there (by his one oblation of himself once offered) a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world; and did institute, and in his holy Gospel command us to continue, a perpetual memory of that his precious death and sacrifice, until his coming again: For in the night in which he was betrayed, (a) he took Bread; and when he had given thanks, (b) he brake it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, Take, eat, (c) this is my Body, which is given for you; Do this in remembrance of me. Likewise, after supper, he took the Cup; (d) and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of this; for (e) this is my Blood of the New Testament, which is shed for you, and for many, for the remission of sins; Do this, as oft as ye shall drink it, in remembrance of me.
WHEREFORE, O Lord and heavenly Father, according to the institution of thy dearly beloved Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, we, thy humble servants, do celebrate and make here before thy Divine Majesty, with these thy holy gifts, which we now offer unto thee, the memorial thy Son hath commanded
(a) Here the Priest is to take the Paten into his hands.
(b) And here to break the Bread.
(c) And here to lay his hand upon all the Bread.
(d) Here he is to take the Cup into his hands
(e) And here he is to lay his hand upon every vessel in which there is any Wine to be consecrated.
Rubric. Since the bread and wine are already on the Holy Table, the Priest arranges them on the paten and in the chalice/flagon so that they are ready for him to hold at the required moments in the Prayer of Consecration.
The Prayer of Consecration — The Thanksgiving. The theme of glory is again prominent as Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is praised and thanked for the Incarnation and the sacrificial Death of his Son for the sins of the whole world. The nature and character of that Sacrifice are emphasised and underlined by the use of adjectives — full, perfect and sufficient, and of nouns — redemption, sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction. Then within the Thanksgiving the narrative of the Institution (see 1 Corinthians 11:23-25) is woven so that it is an integral part of the Prayer.
As he prays the words of the Institution, the Priest engages in manual acts, which are clearly described in the margin. He takes the paten into his hands; he breaks the bread; he lays his hand upon all the bread; he takes the cup/chalice into his hand; he lays his hand upon every vessel containing wine. The purpose of these actions is (a) to follow and imitate the action of the Lord Jesus at the Last Supper, and (b) to prepare the elements for reception later in the Service. It is to be noted that no elevation of the elements is required as there was in the medieval Mass. However, the atoning death of our Lord is commemorated here, not by bare words but by sacred symbols and signs, which are a sort of visible words.
The Oblation. In this part of the Prayer, in obedience to the command of the Lord Jesus Christ to keep & celebrate this Sacrament, the Celebrant offers to the Father “thy holy gifts” — the bread and the wine — so as to receive them back again from him as the sacramental body and blood of the once crucified and now exalted Lord Jesus Christ. The bread and the wine come originally from God as the Creator and Preserver of mankind. In the Thanksgiving specific bread and wine have been set aside for the purpose of the Memorial, the remembrance of the words and actions at the Last Supper. Here in the Oblation, in the context of further thanksgiving, what has been received from God and duly set aside for this holy meal, through the words of Institution, is offered back to him, so that from henceforth the bread and the wine become his sacred gifts of grace, conveying the sacramental body and blood of the once-crucified Christ, to those who receive worthily.
us to make; having in remembrance his blessed passion and precious death, his mighty resurrection and glorious ascension; rendering unto thee most hearty thanks for the innumerable benefits procured unto us by the same.
AND we most humbly beseech thee, O merciful Father, to hear us; and, of thy almighty goodness, vouchsafe to bless and sanctify, with thy Word and Holy Spirit, these thy gifts and creatures of bread and wine; that we, receiving them according to thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ’s holy institution, in remembrance of his death and passion, may be partakers of his most blessed Body and Blood.
AND we earnestly desire thy fatherly goodness, mercifully to accept this our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving; most humbly beseeching thee to grant that, by the merits and death of thy Son Jesus Christ, and through faith in his blood, we, and all thy whole Church, may obtain remission of our sins, and all other benefits of his passion. And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, our selves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee; humbly beseeching thee, that we, and all others who shall be partakers of this Holy Communion, may worthily receive the most precious Body and Blood of thy Son Jesus Christ, be filled with thy grace and heavenly benediction, and made one body with him, that he may dwell in us, and we in him. And although we are unworthy, through our manifold sins, to offer unto thee any sacrifice; yet we beseech thee to accept this our bounden duty and service; not weighing our merits, but pardoning our offences, through Jesus Christ our Lord; by whom, and with whom, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, all honour and glory be unto thee, O Father Almighty, world without end. Amen.
The Invocation. Having offered the bread and wine, the holy gifts, to the Father in obedience to the command of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Celebrant asks the Father to bless and to sanctify them. The Father is petitioned specifically to bless and sanctify them “with thy Word and Spirit” so that they truly become in the sight of heaven and for the salvation of God’s people on earth the body and blood of Jesus Christ. The “Word” is the Logos, the Word who became flesh as the Son of God Incarnate (John 1:14), who is at the right hand of the Father; and the “Spirit” is the “Spirit of the Father and of the Son” by whom the fruit of redemption is applied to the human soul. The ordinary bread and wine, dedicated to God in this Prayer, do not change their chemical make up by their being sanctified by the Holy Trinity; but, they become, by divine appointment and power, unto the faithful in this Eucharist the unique, holy means by which they partake of Christ’s “most blessed Body and Blood”, which is the food and drink of eternal life.
In the second paragraph of the Invocation, and following the teaching in Hebrews 13:15, the Celebrant asks the Father to receive the sacrifice of thanks and praise of the assembled people of God and to grant that, through the merits of Jesus Christ, they will receive the forgiveness of sins and all other benefits of his redeeming and reconciling sacrificial death, offered upon the Cross at Calvary. Further, on behalf of all, he offers to the Father their total lives as a sacrifice (cf. Romans 12:1), and prays that in partaking of the Holy Communion they will truly receive not only bread and wine but the “most precious body and blood of thy Son, Jesus Christ”, and also be united to the same living Lord Jesus Christ as members of his Body, so that they dwell in him and he in them. Finally, the Priest asks that the self-offering of the people of God be united to the once-for-all Offering of Christ himself, and this thought naturally leads on to the Doxology, where the Trinity — the Father through the Son and with the Holy Ghost — is celebrated, worshipped & glorified.
What is especially to be noted and savoured in the language of this Prayer are the richness in the nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs and how through these a profound sense is conveyed of what the Sacrament is all about. (See, for example, “his blessed passion” and “precious death” and “mighty resurrection” and “glorious ascension”; also “the most precious body and blood”; and “our bounden duty and service.”)
And now, as our Saviour Christ hath taught us, we are bold to say,
OUR Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
¶ Then shall the Priest, kneeling down at the Lord’s Table, say, in the name of all those who shall receive the Communion, this Prayer following.
WE do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy: Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body, and our souls washed through his most precious blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen.
¶ Here may be sung a Hymn.
¶ Then shall the Priest first receive the Holy Communion in both kinds himself and proceed to deliver the same to the Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, in like manner, (if any be present,) and, after that, to the People also in order, into their hands, all devoutly kneeling. And sufficient opportunity shall be given to those present to communicate. And when he delivereth the Bread, he shall say,
THE Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life. Take and eat this in remembrance that Christ died for thee, and feed on him in thy heart by faith, with thanksgiving.
The Lord’s Prayer. While the use of this unique Prayer is optional at the beginning of the Service, it is required here for it serves as the completion and climax of the Prayer of Consecration. Said by all, it is the Prayer of the adopted children of God, united by the Holy Ghost to the Only-Begotten, true Son of God. Thus the words in the rubric, “we are bold to say.” Bold, that is, through grace. In this Prayer of prayers there is the praise of God both in doxology and in the hallowing of his Name; and there is petition for the coming of his kingdom, the doing of his will, daily bread, forgiveness, guidance and deliverance from evil. And, this praise and petition is intimately associated with the receiving of the “bread of life” which becomes the unique “daily bread” soon to be received in this Sacrament.
The Prayer of Humble Access. This is said by the Priest kneeling, for this posture symbolically conveys the abasement and contrition before God that is required in us before receiving the sacramental body and blood of Christ. The Prayer contains (a) a declaration of our own unworthiness to approach the Lord’s Table and of our exclusive trust in coming to that Table in God’s great mercy; and (b) a petition that we may so eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ that we may derive the full benefits of Holy Communion (forgiveness, nourishment and union with Christ). In the first half of the Prayer there are two allusions to events recorded in the Gospels — the healing of the Centurion’s servant (Matthew 8:5–13) and of the daughter of the Caananite woman (Matthew 15:21–18). In the second half there is a recalling of the teaching of Jesus that we must eat his flesh and drink his blood in order to receive eternal life from the Father (John 6:53–56).
It is possible to take the Prayer to state that the bread/body is for our bodies and the wine/blood is for our souls. However, the meaning is “that our sinful souls and bodies may be cleansed through his precious body and blood” in hope of the resurrection of the dead and the life immortal. This is made clear by the words of administration that are to follow. In the total scheme of redemption there is full salvation for us as whole beings, with cleansed souls and resurrected bodies, and to this end the whole Christ is the true Food of the Sacrament.
A Hymn. It is common for the Agnus Dei (“O Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world...”) to be sung here but it is not required.
¶ And the Minister who delivereth the Cup shall say,
THE Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was shed for thee, preserve thy body and soul unto everlasting life. Drink this in remembrance that Christ’s Blood was shed for thee, and be thankful.
¶ If the consecrated Bread or Wine be spent before all have communicated, the Priest is to consecrate more, according to the Form before prescribed; beginning at, All glory be to thee, Almighty God, and ending with these words, partakers of his most blessed Body and Blood.
¶ When all have communicated, the Priest shall return to the Lord’s Table, and reverently place upon it what remaineth of the consecrated Elements, covering the same with a fair linen cloth.
¶ Then shall the Priest say,
Let us pray.
ALMIGHTY and everliving God, we most heartily thank thee, for that thou dost vouchsafe to feed us who have duly received these holy mysteries, with the spiritual food of the most precious Body and Blood of thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ; and dost assure us thereby of thy favour and goodness towards us; and that we are very members incorporate in the mystical body of thy Son, which is the blessed company of all faithful people; and are also heirs through hope of thy everlasting kingdom, by the merits of his most precious death and passion. And we humbly beseech thee, O heavenly Father, so to assist us with thy grace, that we may continue in that holy fellowship, and do all such good works as thou hast prepared for us to walk in; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen.
¶ Then shall be said the Gloria in excelsis, all standing, or some proper Hymn.
Words of Administration. These are prefaced by a Rubric which requires that the Celebrant and then clergy receive both kinds first and then that all communicants, as they kneel, also receive both kinds. There is no specific requirement that the whole of the sentences for the giving of the bread and likewise for the wine be said to each and every person. However, the use of the singular (“given for thee”) suggests that the Words are to be addressed to an individual person.
The sentences for the bread declare that what the communicant receives is “the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ” and that the reception of the Same is spiritual, a feeding on Christ in the heart by faith with thanksgiving. Thus the divine gift and the human reception are both emphasized.
The sentences for the wine declare that what the communicant receives is “the Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ” and that the reception of the Same is spiritual, “in remembrance that Christ’s blood was shed for thee.” Again the divine gift and the human reception are both emphasized.
In these sentences the whole action is personalized — “given for thee” & “shed for thee.” There is no immediate identification of the elements as such with the actual glorified body and blood of Christ; but, there is a deep conviction that what the communicant spiritually receives is that life-giving body and blood.
The Rubrics. These instructions are for the Priest and concern what to do (a) if he finds that he does not have sufficient consecrated bread and/or wine, and (b) when he has finished communicating the people. Note that in many churches the Priest actually does here what the rubrics on page 84 require be done at the close of the Service — that is, to consume the remaining elements and to clean the chalice & paten.
Post Communion Thanksgiving. This is an excellent Prayer which gathers together all the basic and varied meanings of Holy Communion (e.g., thanksgiving, mystery, grace, incorporation into Christ, fellowship, anticipation of the kingdom of God) as the gift of the Father through the Son and by the Holy Ghost. We thank God the Father for “the spiritual food” conveyed to the soul, and we also thank him for the assurance given unto us of his favour, our incorporation into Christ’s mystical body (John 6:56) and our eternal inheritance (John 6:47). We also petition the Father for grace that we may actually continue in that holy fellowship of the Church into which we have been admitted. Finally, we prepare for going out into the world by asking that we shall also continue in good works in Christian lives that glorify the Father.
GLORY be to God on high, and on earth peace, good will towards men. We praise thee, we bless thee, we worship thee, we glorify thee, we give thanks to thee for thy great glory, O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty.
O Lord, the only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ; O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us. Thou that takest away the sins of the world, receive our prayer. Thou that sittest at the right hand of God the Father, have mercy upon us.
For thou only art holy; thou only art the Lord; thou only, O Christ, with the Holy Ghost, art most high in the glory of God the Father. Amen.
¶ Then, the People kneeling, the Priest (the Bishop if he be present) shall let them depart with this Blessing.
THE Peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord: And the Blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, be amongst you, and remain with you always. Amen.
¶ In the absence of a Priest, a Deacon may say all that is before appointed unto the end of the Gospel.
¶ Upon the Sundays and other Holy Days, (though there be no Sermon or Communion,) may be said all that is appointed at the Communion, unto the end of the Gospel, concluding with the Blessing.
¶ And if any of the consecrated Bread and Wine remain after the Communion, it shall not be carried out of the Church; but the Minister and other Communicants shall, immediately after the Blessing, reverently eat and drink the same.
¶ If among those who come to be partakers of the Holy Communion, the Minister shall know any to be an open and notorious evil liver,
Gloria in excelsis. This title comes from the Latin version of this hymn, whose opening lines are themselves based on Luke 2:14, the song of the multitude of the heavenly host. It is known in the West as “the great[er] doxology” (in contrast to the Gloria Patri) and is of ancient origin. Like the Te Deum, it may be considered to be a hymn, a creed and a prayer.
It begins with the praise of Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Nowhere is the unselfishness of praise more clearly expressed than in the words, “we give thanks to thee for thy great glory,” as the congregation praises God for who he really is — that is, unto and in himself as the LORD, a Trinity of Persons. Then prayer is addressed — for the first time in the Service — to the Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of the Almighty Father. What he is unto, what he has done and what he does for, his people as Redeemer & High Priest is recalled. Finally there is an ascription of holiness, majesty and glory to the Holy Trinity through the Incarnate Son, the only Mediator between God and man.
The rubric requires standing for this hymn and this serves as a symbolic acknowledgement of the Resurrection of Christ.
In modern liturgies (following the custom of the R.C. Church) this hymn is found at the beginning rather than the ending of the Service; further, it is not used during Advent & Lent in some parishes, again following ancient custom.
The Blessing. This long Blessing is peculiar to the English Liturgy. In the Sacrament, the “Peace of God” has been given to communicants and here that fact is confirmed in words adapted from Philippians 4:7,which make up the first part. It may be recalled that after the Institution of the Lord’s Supper, the Lord Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you”(John 14:27); further, on departing from the disciples, he blessed them (Luke 24:50). The words beginning, “And the Blessing...,” are a translation of the ancient Episcopal Benediction which has been in use since the sixth century in the Ecclesia Anglicana.
General Rubrics, 1, 2 & 3. Here there are instructions concerning what a Deacon is permitted to do and also what constitutes “Ante-Communion.” The rule concerning the reverent consumption of the sacramental bread and wine left over seems rarely to be followed in the twenty-first century, because usually the elements are consumed after the Communion and before the Gloria. There is no rubric concerning the Ablutions — the cleansing of the paten and chalice — but in most churches this is done either at the end of the Service or after the Communion.
or to have done any wrong to his neighbours by word or deed, so that the Congregation be thereby offended; he shall advertise him, that he presume not to come to the Lord’s Table, until he have openly declared himself to have truly repented and amended his former evil life, that the Congregation may thereby be satisfied; and that he hath recompensed the parties to whom he hath done wrong; or at least declare himself to be in full purpose so to do, as soon as he conveniently may.
¶ The same order shall the Minister use with those, betwixt whom he perceiveth malice and hatred to reign; not suffering them to be partakers of the Lord’s Table, until he know them to be reconciled. And if one of the parties, so at variance, be content to forgive from the bottom of his heart all that the other hath trespassed against him, and to make amends for that wherein he himself hath offended; and the other party will not be persuaded to a godly unity, but remain still in his frowardness and malice; the Minister in that case ought to admit the penitent person to the Holy Communion, and not him that is obstinate. Provided, That every Minister so repelling any, as is herein specified, shall be obliged to give an account of the same to the Ordinary, within fourteen days after, at the farthest.
¶ At the time of the Celebration of the Communion, after the prayer for the whole state of Christ’s Church, the Priest may say this Exhortation. And NOTE, That the Exhortation shall be said on the First Sunday in Advent, the First Sunday in Lent, and Trinity Sunday.
DEARLY beloved in the Lord, ye who mind to come to the holy Communion of the Body and Blood of our Saviour Christ, must consider how Saint Paul exhorteth all persons diligently to try and examine themselves, before they presume to eat of that Bread, and drink of that Cup. For as the benefit is great, if with a true penitent heart and lively faith we receive that holy Sacrament; so is the danger great, if we receive the same unworthily. Judge therefore yourselves, brethren, that ye be not judged of the Lord; repent you truly for your sins past; have a lively and stedfast faith
General Rubrics, 4 & 5. These two rules relate to discipline in God’s Church and may be traced back to the first Book of Common Prayer of 1549, when they stood at the beginning of the Service. As the content of the Order for Holy Communion has made very clear, those who come to the Lord’s Table are to be repentant for their sins and trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ unto salvation. Thus here the Priest is instructed to keep from the Lord’s Table those who obviously have committed known sins, are not penitent and have not made amends. Also he is to keep from the same Table those who are openly in conflict one with another until they are reconciled. Since keeping the baptized from the Lord’s Table is such a serious matter the Priest is to advise the Diocesan Bishop, the Ordinary, of any such occurrences.
The Exhortations. There are three different Exhortations, which are to be traced back to the first Prayer Books of 1549 & 1552. What they have in common is a high doctrine of the Sacrament and its provisions and a demanding doctrine of the human preparation for and attitude to this Mystery of grace. Informed by biblical theology, these Exhortations exist to prepare believing sinners for the high privilege of receiving the body and blood of Christ, the food of eternal life.
The First Exhortation. The rubric here explains that it may be used each time there is a Celebration of Holy Communion after the Prayer for the Church, but that it shall be used on the First Sunday in Advent, the First Sunday in Lent and on Trinity Sunday. The reason for use in Advent & Lent is that they are seasons of self-examination and penitence. Trinity Sunday is a unique Festival and thus special preparation is to be encouraged in order to approach not only the Mystery which is the Sacrament, but also the greater Mystery which is God, the Holy Trinity.
The message here may be seen as a short homily based upon the teaching of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:27–32: “Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread and drink this cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and then let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.”
in Christ our Saviour; amend your lives, and be in perfect charity with all men; so shall ye be meet partakers of those holy mysteries. And above all things ye must give most humble and hearty thanks to God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, for the redemption of the world by the death and passion of our Saviour Christ, both God and man; who did humble himself, even to the death upon the Cross, for us, miserable sinners, who lay in darkness and the shadow of death; that he might make us the children of God, and exalt us to everlasting life. And to the end that we should always remember the exceeding great love of our Master, and only Saviour, Jesus Christ, thus dying for us, and the innumerable benefits which by his precious blood-shedding he hath obtained for us; he hath instituted and ordained holy mysteries, as pledges of his love, and for a continual remembrance of his death, to our great and endless comfort. To him therefore, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, let us give, as we are most bounden, continual thanks; submitting ourselves wholly to his holy will and pleasure, and studying to serve him in true holiness and righteousness all the days of our life. Amen.
¶ When the Minister giveth warning for the Celebration of the Holy Communion, (which he shall always do upon the Sunday, or some Holy Day, immediately preceding,) he shall read this Exhortation following; or so much thereof as, in his discretion, he may think convenient.
DEARLY beloved, on——day next I purpose, through God’s assistance, to administer to all such as shall be religiously and devoutly disposed the most comfortable Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ; to be by them received in remembrance of his meritorious Cross and Passion; whereby alone we obtain remission of our sins, and are made partakers of the Kingdom of heaven. Wherefore it is our duty to render most humble and hearty thanks to Al-
The First Exhortation (continued). Together with the emphasis upon self-examination before such a holy Reality, there is also a tremendous emphasis — “and above all things” — on thankfulness of heart to the Holy Trinity for salvation and eternal life, and especially for the atoning and redeeming Death of the Lord Jesus Christ, by whose merits believers become children of the heavenly Father and inheritors of eternal life. (The theme of thankfulness is also picked up in the Words of Administration —“with thanksgiving” and “be thankful.”) Christians should never forget but always remember “the exceeding great love of the Lord Jesus Christ and the “innumerable benefits” he has obtained for them. Amongst these is pre-eminently the Gospel Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, which is a pledge of his love and exists for the continuing and continual strengthening of his disciples.
To hear this basic Exhortation read movingly and clearly or to read it slowly and carefully is truly to be deeply touched in heart and mind. For it makes absolutely clear what coming to the Table of the Lord is all about.
The Second Exhortation. The rubric appears to presume that the full Order for Holy Communion is not necessarily celebrated each Sunday in every parish. So when it is planned to be celebrated on the following Lord’s Day there shall be a timely reminder by way of an Exhortation to the congregation on the nature of this Sacrament, and what is right preparation both for attendance at it, and for receiving of it. Where, for example, a parish has Litany with Ante-Communion one Sunday and the Holy Communion the next, then this Exhortation is to be used on the Litany Sunday. Presumably it is read at the time of the Notices or after the Prayer for the Church just before the Service ends.
The Priest begins by acknowledging that he is in the hands of God and his providence and thus he purposes with God’s assistance to administer to those who are desirous and appropriately prepared the comfortable (= spiritually strengthening) Sacrament of the Body and Blood of the crucified and now exalted Lord Jesus. This is to be received dutifully and devoutly, in remembrance of the sacrificial Death of Jesus upon the Cross. It provides the gift of forgiveness and the precious benefit of eternal life and union with God. Further, and very importantly, it is to be received with a thankful, grateful heart, in thanksgiving to the Father for the Incarnation, saving work and holy provision of his Son our Lord Jesus Christ.
mighty God, our heavenly Father, for that he hath given his Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, not only to die for us, but also to be our spiritual food and sustenance in that holy Sacrament. Which being so divine and comfortable a thing to them who receive it worthily, and so dangerous to those who will presume to receive it unworthily; my duty is to exhort you, in the mean season to consider the dignity of that holy mystery, and the great peril of the unworthy receiving thereof; and so to search and examine your own consciences, and that not lightly, and after the manner of dissemblers with God; but so that ye may come holy and clean to such a heavenly Feast, in the marriage-garment required by God in holy Scripture, and be received as worthy partakers of that holy Table.
The way and means thereto is: First, to examine your lives and conversations by the rule of God’s commandments; and whereinsoever ye shall perceive yourselves to have offended, either by will, word, or deed, there to bewail your own sinfulness, and to confess yourselves to Almighty God, with full purpose of amendment of life. And if ye shall perceive your offences to be such as are not only against God, but also against your neighbours; then ye shall reconcile yourselves unto them; being ready to make restitution and satisfaction, according to the uttermost of your powers, for all injuries and wrongs done by you to any other; and being likewise ready to forgive others who have offended you, as ye would have forgiveness of your offences at God’s hand: for otherwise the receiving of the holy Communion doth nothing else but increase your condemnation. Therefore, if any of you be a blasphemer of God, an hinderer or slanderer of his Word, an adulterer, or be in malice, or envy, or in any other grievous crime; repent you of your sins, or else come not to that holy Table.
And because it is requisite that no man should come to
The Second Exhortation (Continued). To receive the Sacrament worthily, that is with a humble, penitent, believing and thankful heart, is presented and emphasized as the only way into being seated at the Table of the Lord to be fed with the food of eternal life. The parable of Jesus (Matthew 22:11–12) is recalled to underline the need to attend the holy Feast wearing the wedding garment — the garment of humility and faith. To receive the body and blood of Christ Jesus unworthily is to risk the great peril of judgment as the Apostle Paul explained (1 Corinthians 11:27ff.), and as noted in the First Exhortation.
With painstaking detail the way to be prepared to receive the Sacrament and thus to be clothed with the garment for the heavenly banquet is set forth. Each person ought to engage in self-examination placing his whole life — thought, word, will and deed — against the Commandments of God, in order to see where and how he has sinned, in order to confess the same to the Lord in penitence, and with the intention of amending his life so that it conforms to God’s law. Where the known sins of omission or commission have been not only against God but against a human being, then every effort is to be made to be reconciled to this person and to make full and complete restitution and satisfaction for the wrong done. Further, there is to be readiness in the heart of the penitent to forgive those who have wronged him, even as we pray in the Lord’s Prayer — “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” Not to make total restitution and not to be ready to forgive others is to increase one’s own guilt and condemnation before God.
What is very clear is that notorious sinners who commit grievous crimes (blasphemy, adultery etc.) must not approach the Lord’s Table unless they have repented of their sins. For them to go to the Lord’s Table is not only to offend Almighty God but also to give offence to the parishioners and bring damnation upon themselves. While the Food at this Table is free, it is free only to those who are able to eat it and benefit from so doing. Since it is Food that is from heaven, the Body and Blood of the Exalted Saviour, and is therefore precious beyond value, it is only to be received by those who have some deep appreciation of the high privilege and vocation that is theirs to be invited to this heavenly Banquet.
the holy Communion, but with a full trust in God’s mercy, and with a quiet conscience; therefore, if there be any of you, who by this means cannot quiet his own conscience herein, but requireth further comfort or counsel, let him come to me, or to some other Minister of God’s Word, and open his grief; that he may receive such godly counsel and advice, as may tend to the quieting of his conscience, and the removing of all scruple and doubtfulness.
¶ Or, in case he shall see the People negligent to come to the Holy Communion, instead of the former, he may use this Exhortation.
DEARLY beloved brethren, on——I intend, by God’s grace, to celebrate the Lord’s Supper: unto which, in God’s behalf, I bid you all who are here present; and beseech you, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, that ye will not refuse to come thereto, being so lovingly called and bidden by God himself. Ye know how grievous and unkind a thing it is, when a man hath prepared a rich feast, decked his table with all kind of provision, so that there lacketh nothing but the guests to sit down; and yet they who are called, without any cause, most unthankfully refuse to come. Which of you in such a case would not be moved? Who would not think a great injury and wrong done unto him? Wherefore, most dearly beloved in Christ, take ye good heed, lest ye, withdrawing yourselves from this holy Supper, provoke God’s indignation against you. It is an easy matter for a man to say, I will not communicate, because I am otherwise hindered with worldly business. But such excuses are not so easily accepted and allowed before God. If any man say, I am a grievous sinner, and therefore am afraid to come: wherefore then do ye not repent and amend? When God calleth you, are ye not ashamed to say ye will not come? When ye should return to God, will ye excuse yourselves, and say ye are not ready? Consider earnestly with
The Second Exhortation (continued). The last paragraph contains one of the two references in the Prayer Book (the other is in the Visitation of the Sick, p.313) to the receiving of godly advice and direction from a Priest by a person who finds that he needs such direct, personal help. However, it would be going too far to describe what is offered here as “auricular confession.” It is interesting to compare the words used here with the words as they were in the Book of Common Prayer of 1662, which was used in the Colonies before the production of the first American Prayer Book in 1789. “Let him come to me, or to some other discreet and learned Minister of God’s Word and open his grief; that by the ministry of God’s holy Word he may receive the benefit of absolution, together with ghostly [=spiritual] counsel and advice, to the quieting of his conscience and avoiding all scruple and doubtfulness.” The words from the Ordination Service for Priests may also be recalled, “Whose sins thou dost forgive, they are forgiven” (BCP, 1928, p.546).
The Third Exhortation. This is provided for use when the Priest judges that some of his people are hesitant to come to the Table of the Lord and thus are not rightly esteeming and receiving this Sacrament of grace. Much of the content is comment upon the Parable of the Supper taught by Jesus (Luke 14: 16–24). When the Feast is ready the guests are bidden but they provide a series of excuses not to attend — e.g., concerning land, oxen & marriage. This makes the Master, who had issued the invitations angry, and so he sends his servant into the streets and lanes of the city to bring in to the already prepared Feast the poor, the maimed, the halt and the blind. And as there is still room when these are in, he then goes into the highways and hedges to bring in from there more strangers to partake of the prepared food. The Exhortation takes the Feast to point to the Messianic Banquet of the Lord Christ and then dwells particularly on the excuses listed in the Parable for not attending the Feast by those invited (the baptized). It attempts to persuade any, who offer excuses for staying away from the receiving of the food of the Sacrament, of their fault in having such an attitude and behaviour and of the punishment they face from the Lord if they neglect such heavenly food provided graciously and freely for their souls.
yourselves how little such feigned excuses will avail before God. Those who refused the feast in the Gospel, because they had bought a farm, or would try their yokes of oxen, or because they were married, were not so excused, but counted unworthy of the heavenly feast. Wherefore, according to mine office, I bid you in the Name of God, I call you in Christ’s behalf, I exhort you, as ye love your own salvation, that ye will be partakers of this holy Communion. And as the Son of God did vouchsafe to yield up his soul by death upon the Cross for your salvation; so it is your duty to receive the Communion in remembrance of the sacrifice of his death, as he himself hath commanded: which if ye shall neglect to do, consider with yourselves how great is your ingratitude to God, and how sore punishment hangeth over your heads for the same; when ye wilfully abstain from the Lord’s Table, and separate from your brethren, who come to feed on the banquet of that most heavenly food. These things if ye earnestly consider, ye will by God’s grace return to a better mind: for the obtaining whereof we shall not cease to make our humble petitions unto Almighty God, our heavenly Father.
General Comment on the Three Exhortations. All three begin in the most Christian manner calling those addressed, “Dearly beloved in the Lord,” and “Dearly Beloved,” and “Dearly beloved brethren.” Even backsliders and the openly notorious are included in these terms because they are baptized and they are loved by God.
The Exhortations presume that in this Sacrament God the Father, through his Son’s sacrificial death and subsequent exaltation into heaven, has provided that which is absolutely necessary to the salvation and sanctification of the people of God. Christian people ought, therefore, to be desirous and ready to receive what is prepared for them. Yet what God freely provides and offers in the Sacrament is so holy and precious that it can only be beneficially received in a way that is appropriate to the unique nature of the heavenly gift. Therefore, anyone who comes to the Table of the Lord is to come prepared in heart, mind and will. This means in full recognition of his sinfulness, in penitence and faith, reconciled to his fellows, and trusting in the merits of Jesus Christ who shed his blood for us and bore our sins on the Cross of Calvary. When there is such reception then God pledges his love, his grace, his peace, forgiveness of sins, and union with Christ unto eternal life and in sure and certain hope of the resurrection of the body.
The emphasis upon right reception and the spiritual benefits that accrue from partaking of the Lord’s Supper is one that the English Reformers believed was necessary to make at the time of the composition of the Prayer Book. The laity of England were used to regular attendance at Mass but were not in the habit of weekly or even monthly communion. So these Exhortations were part of a general strategy to persuade the laity that on the Table of the Lord on each Lord’s Day there was the food of eternal life and this food was for them, for they needed it to mature as Christian believers.
It is important to note that the call for self-examination, penitence and repentance with warnings of receiving the Sacrament unworthily are matched by a tremendous underlining of the spirit and attitude of thankfulness and gratitude, along with a joyous heart. But, it must never be forgotten that this Meal is a gracious provision for sinners, for creatures who have failed to love God and serve him aright, and that it is such because it is the Memorial of the Atoning, Sacrificial, Death of Jesus for the sins of the whole world. Any kind of celebration or activity, any kind of attitude or spirituality that removes the focus from Jesus Christ, once crucified and now exalted, is not appropriate to this Sacrament.
The Book of Common Prayer (1928)
Episcopal Prayer Book (1979)
There is a certain likeness between the traditional Communion Service reproduced in this booklet and that Service which is called Eucharistic Rite 1 in the official Prayer Book (1979) of the Episcopal Church. First of all, it is clear that the Rite of 1979 is obviously based on that of 1928. This is seen in its use of the second person singular (thou, thee, thine & thy) and in the style and content of some of the central parts of the Service (e.g., the primary Prayer of Consecration, the Words of Administration and the Prayer after Communion).
Yet there are major differences. The most obvious is that the structure of the Service is different in the 1979, for there is inserted between the Ministry of the Word and the Ministry of the Sacrament what is called “The Peace” where Ministers and People may greet one another. Then options are offered within the 1979 Service for the traditional Creed, General Confession and Prayer of Consecration [= the Great Thanksgiving]. Further, the Service begins in a different way with Acclamations, there is no provision to recite the Ten Commandments, the Gloria is at the beginning not at the end, there is an added O. T. lesson and the Eucharistic Lectionary is not the traditional one, the Prayer for the Church is called “The Prayers of the People” and is only similar to the original, and the Prayer of Humble Access has been edited and shortened. Where changes have been made it is to make Rite 1 conform to the structure and content of Rite 2 (which is the modern language service). Further, the Collects for use with Rite 1 are not identical with those for the traditional Service.
The Service in the 1928 Book of Common Prayer is an edited version of the Service in the editions of 1892, 1789, 1662 and 1549. In other words, it is in a long line of Prayer Books which belong to the same family and which have been gently and minimally edited as the years have passed by and as differing needs have arisen. Yet all these Books have within them common prayer, services wherein there are only a few minimal options, so that all present pray in the same words and style.
In contrast, the Service in the 1979 Prayer Book is part of a provision which may be called “A Book of Alternative Services and Prayers.” That is, there is not one basic Service for Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer & Holy Communion; rather there are various options so that there can be local choice. So a church can have, say, two Services on a Sunday morning, each called “The Eucharist” and each one very different to the other. Such a thing is not possible where there is genuine common prayer.
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