Instructed Eucharist #5; Lent 5 2019
Lent Instructed Eucharist
Used During Sermon Time
Session 5: The Lord's Prayer to the Dismissal
The Lord's Prayer (336; 364)
This prayer began to be formally inserted into the Eucharist around 400, most likely as a devotion in preparation to receiving the Sacrament. It also may have been used privately before people received the elements they had brought home from the Eucharist. Pope Gregory the Great placed it immediately after the Great AMEN.
The prayer has had many forms and locations over the years. In many rites the prayer was said by all; but in the Roman rite the priest said everything up to “deliver us from evil,” which was said by the people. The 1552 BCP indicated the complete prayer should be said by all.
In 1637, the Scots added the concluding doxology which was incorporated in the 1662 BCP.
Rite 1 utilizes only the traditional language prayer. Rite 2 has both traditional and contemporary versions. There is no indication as to what form is used when, but I use the contemporary version in both Advent and Lent because 1) Advent is a season of paying attention, and you have to pay attention to the different languages, and 2) Lent is a season of penitence, and it's good to hear the word “sin” every so often.
The Breaking of the Bread (337; 364)
The breaking of the bread immediately follows the Lord's Prayer.
Practically speaking, the bread is broken to divide it among the people.
Symbolically we use only one loaf to indicate that all participate/partake of the one body of Christ that has been broken for us . . . “We who are many are one body, because we all share one bread, one cup.”
In some areas, the bishop would send pieces of the one body to outlying parishes to symbolize their unity with the bishop and diocese.
Eventually parishes began using wafers simply for expediency and theological cleanliness (What exactly do you do with all those crumbs?).
Earlier Prayer Books placed the fraction much earlier in the service, primarily during the Institution Narrative (“he gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to his disciples”).
This Prayer Book moves the fraction to this point in the service, making it a primary action of Communion and adding importance to the body of Christ being broken and shared for all.
It is rubrically mandated that a period of silence follows the breaking of the bread.
A classmate in seminary said that this was probably the most ignored rubric in the Prayer Book.
The Fraction Anthem (337; 364)
This is, “Christ our Passover has been sacrificed for us . . .” It is a recognition and celebration of Christ's Passion. It may be preceded and followed by an Alleluia, but Alleluia is not said during, and it may be omitted at other times except for Easter.
The fraction anthem may be sung or said.
The Agnus Dei (337; 364)
In Rite 1, the Agnus Dei (O Lamb of God . . .), or some other suitable anthem may be sung or said. This originated in the East and slowly spread throughout the West.
The Agnus Dei was not included in the 1928 BCP, but was included in the service music of The Hymnal 1940.
It is restored as an explicit option in Rite 1 of the 1979 BCP.
Rite 2 only has a rubric stating, “In place of, or in addition to, the preceding, some other suitable anthem may be used.”
The Prayer of Humble Access (337)
I will just that this prayer has a long and convoluted history, but has been used in some official capacity since 1548. Before 1979, this prayer was said only by the priest on behalf of the people. The current book allows the congregation to recite it with the priest.
It is not found in Rite 2.
The Sancta sanctis (338; 364-365)
This is translated as, “the holy for the holy,” or, “holy things for holy people.” It is associated with showing the people the holy food which they were about to receive.
Rite 1: Rubrically speaking, this is an optional sentence, with an optional following sentence.
Rite 2: This is a mandatory sentence with an optional following sentence.
A word about the second sentence:
As the Church in England was forming, it found itself sharing some things Catholic and some things Protestant. We were developing the via media, or middle way.
You can see that middle way here:
“Take them in REMEMBRANCE . . .” is a Protestant theology which sees Communion as nothing more than a remembrance of the events of the Passion;
“and FEED ON HIM . . .” is a Catholic theology which sees the bread and wine as being the body and blood of Christ.
The Ministration of Communion (338; 365)
The only rubric dictating how Communion is to be administered is, “The ministers receive the Sacrament in both kinds, and then immediately deliver it to the people.” There is no dictate about place or posture. Standing has been the traditional posture, symbolizing our being raised by Christ. In some places, sitting was the preferred posture. The 1552 BCP mandated kneeling as a humble and grateful acknowledgment of the benefits of Christ given to us. In the early centuries, Communion was distributed as the ministers moved amongst the people.
Around the time of Augustine of Hippo, a chest-high rail was built around the altar to keep the people from pressing in too closely upon the ministers.
In the 17th Century, Anglican churches began to install latticed altar rails to prevent dogs from desecrating the altar. Gradually this altar rail evolved into the Communion rail we are familiar with.
Opportunity is made for people to receive Communion in both kinds, but receiving in only one kind does not negate the validity of the Communion.
The Episcopal church recognizes one baptism, as long as it was done with water in the Trinitarian formula. Therefore all baptized Christians, regardless of denomination, are invited to receive. There is no age requirement.
When coming to receive Holy Communion, you may either stand or kneel. I encourage small children to stand at the rail. To receive the host, place your right over your left at chin height, arms roughly extended a forearms' distance.
You may also receive the bread directly on your tongue if you desire.
When receiving the Cup, take the base of the chalice and direct/guide it to your mouth.
If you choose not to receive, cross your arms over your chest. If they are crossed at the administration of the host, I will give you a blessing. If they are crossed at the administration of the cup, the chalicist will simply pass by.
Rubrics allow for the bread and wine to be received at the same time, ie intinction.
The preferred method is to leave the bread in your hand and the chalicist will intinct the wafer and place it on your tongue.
An optional method is for you to hold the wafer in your fingers. This indicates you want to intinct it yourself. The chalicist will lower the chalice to a level where you can see the wine, and you will slightly intinct the host.
Although it may seem counter-intuitive, intinction is more apt to spread germs than the traditional form of drinking from the cup. The combination of wine, silver, and wiping will eliminate germs (and we've been doing this for a couple of thousand years). During intinction, people's fingers can get into the wine, which causes problems. This is why allowing the chalicist to intinct is the preferred method (which is a polite way of saying, “Don't go knuckle-deep into the wine”).
The Words of Administration (338; 365)
Again, there is more history to this than we have time for. So for today just know that the wording came from ancient times (8th Century and earlier), and a combination of various form that were rubricated in the 1559 BCP.
Rite 1 has a long form that goes back to 1559, as well as two shorter forms going back to the ancient Church. Note that the long form has no response from those receiving. The two shorter forms, however, allow for an “Amen” upon reception of the elements.
Rite 2 only has the two shorter versions.
The Amen of the people acts as both an assent that they are receiving the body and blood of Christ, as well as a declaration of faith that this is, indeed, the body and blood of Christ.
Communion Hymns, Psalms, or Anthems (338; 365)
Since the 4th Century music of some sort has been sung and/or played during the congregational reception of Communion. Psalms were traditionally used, but as Christianity grew, other Communion hymns were written and incorporated into the service. A rubric on page 409 allows for a hymn to be sung “before or after” the postcommunion prayer. This hymn can serve to cover the “clean up” action in and around the altar.
The Consecration of Additional Bread and Wine (338; 365)
Consecrating additional elements if there is not enough is a uniquely Anglican practice. There is a whole theology and debate about this practice and its validity. In this prayer book, additional elements may be consecrated by the priest reciting the epiclesis and the relevant sentence (bread or wine) of the Words of Institution. Let's just say I try not to ever have to do this and, to my knowledge, have done so only once.
The Postcommunion Prayer (339; 365, 366)
Endings tend to be complicated and abrupt. But in the 4th Century a more formal ending developed. There is one postcommunion prayer in Rite 1, and two in Rite 2. There is too much in these prayers to delve into, but they have been described as, “A remarkable summary of doctrine,” as they are an almost complete summary of the faith as found in the act of Holy Communion, moving us from participating in the Holy Mysteries to participating in Christian service.
Rite 1 hearkens back to forms found in 1549 and forward.
Rite 2 utilizes a shorter version of the Rite 1 prayer, as well as one written for 1979.
I use the second prayer in Rite 2 during Advent, Easter, and baptisms because we are being explicitly sent out to do the work of Christ and serve as witnesses to Christ. I use the first prayer at all other times.
The Blessing and Dismissal (339; 366)
After the postcommunion prayer the Bishop or Celebrant blesses the people. A final blessing has been part of Christian services since the 4th Century. Rite 1 contains both a long and short version of a blessing. Rite 2 apparently leaves the wording up to the imagination of the Bishop or Priest.
Following the blessing, the Deacon, or Celebrant if no Deacon, dismisses the people. Note that, by rubric, there is to be no hymn between the blessing and dismissal. This is, again, another place for a rubrical cat fight. It might be the one place where every clergy person intentionally breaks the rubrics. There are four dismissal variations in each rite, and I rotate through those depending on the season.
Note that there are no alleluias for any of the dismissals, but a double Alleluia may be said during the Easter season. Pro-Tip: mimic the form that the Deacon/Celebrant uses.
This concludes the Instructed Eucharist
I hope you learned something. I hope you gained a new understanding for why we do what we do. And I hope you have a new appreciation for how our service ties together both ancient and modern aspects of worship.