Dear St. Paul’s family,
On Sunday October 21 I am leading a conversation about the anatomy of the Eucharistic Prayer.
The Eucharistic Prayer, also known as the Great Thanksgiving, is the long prayer which starts after the Peace with “The Lord be with you!” and ends with the Great Amen before the Lord’s Prayer. Regardless of the specific words that we use, each Eucharistic Prayer in our tradition contains certain elements that you can always find, sometimes in different sequences, sometimes expressed in different ways, but always present. Think of a Eucharistic Prayer like a house design. Houses vary enormously in their appearance, size and construction, but you will almost always find a roof, walls, windows, doors, a foundation, and a floor somewhere in the design.
Here are the names for the different parts of the prayer. See if you can spot each part when you open your service leaflet.
Sursum Corda (from the Latin for “lift up your hearts”): a dialogue between celebrant and people that announces what we are doing and gives the priest permission to give thanks on the people’s behalf; sometimes chanted.
Proper Preface: a preamble describing why we are celebrating on this particular occasion, often varied seasonally; sometimes chanted
Sanctus and Benedictus (from the first words of each phrase, Holy and Blessed): a congregational hymn of praise; often set to music.
Summary of the Salvation History – the great deeds God has done for us and our response to those deeds.
Institution Narrative: an account of the first Communion and Christ’s words instituting the Eucharist.
Anamnesis (the opposite of amnesia): the acknowledgment that we remember what Christ did for us.
Oblation (offering): our offering of our gifts and ourselves to God.
Epiclesis (invocation): the calling down of the Holy Spirit upon the bread and wine.
Intercession (a prayer request): asking that we may be included with the Communion of Saints in the promise of eternal life.
Doxology: the offering of praise and glory to the Holy Trinity.
Great AMEN: the seal of approval upon the prayer, pronounced by the celebrant and people together.
Your sister in Christ,