Anglican Church in America
ANGLICAN CHURCH IN AMERICA
THE ORDER FOR THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE LORD’S SUPPER or HOLY COMMUNION

This is the Supreme Service of the Church and from the earliest times has been the chief Service of the day, certainly the chief Sunday Service. (Acts 2:46–47; 20:7.)

That it is intended by our Church to be the chief Service, on Sundays and Holy Days, if not every day, is evidenced by the fact that this is the only regular Service in the Prayer Book in which provision is made for a Sermon and an Offering.

And fitting indeed it is that this should be the Chief Service of the Christian Church, from the beginning until now. This Sacrament was instituted by our Blessed Lord Himself on the last night of His life – the same night in which He was betrayed . He was eating the last Passover Supper with the twelve Apostles and he said to them, "With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer" (St. Luke 22:15).

This Scripture seems to indicate that it was our Lord’ s purpose to emphasize the connection between that Passover and His Passion. Israel’s deliverance from the bondage of Egypt, under their God-given leader Moses, was the type of man’s Redemption from the bondage of sin and death, through a Saviour’s Sacrifice. It was at this Paschal Supper that our Lord Jesus Christ instituted His own Memorial Supper, and He thus marked the two as type and antitype. Whatever else the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper may be,

It is certainly the commemoration of our Redemption.

It is the perpetual observance of a scene witnessed once in Jerusalem; it is the perpetual commemoration of an event which lies at the foundation of the Christian Religion. It is the perpetual carrying out of a command given by the living voice of the Christ-Man who declared Himself about to die for the sins of humanity, "to give his life a ransom for many" (St. Matt. 20:28; St. Mark 10:45).

 

THE PARTS OF THE SERVICE OF HOLY COMMUNION

1. TITLE.

In the headlines at the beginning of this Service, the words "The Order for the Administration of" refer to the Service as printed in the Prayer Book.

The primitive name for this Service was The Liturgy , a term derived from the Greek word Leitourgia, which in classic Greek signified any public ceremonial.

In the Greek Septuagint Version of the Old Testament its use was restricted to the public Service of the Sanctuary (Num. 4:12, 26) and in the Christian Era it passed on to the Worship of the Christian Church, which at first consisted chiefly of the Holy Communion. This was the most sacred if not the first of all Christian Services, and naturally became the most distinctive Service of the Church. In it the public worship of Christians took a fixed traditional form. The word Liturgy soon came to be associated with the Communion Service and it is still so used, though sometimes it is loosely used of the Prayer Book as a whole.

The words "Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion" in the title of the Services are different names for the Sacrament itself. The earliest name given this Sacrament is "The Breaking of Bread" (Acts 2:42, 46 and 20:7) or"The Eucharist" or "The Holy Eucharist,"

The word Holy being reverently prefixed as it is in the name The Holy Bible. This name is from a Greek word Eucharistia, meaning the giving of thanks, and is used by St. Paul of the eucharistic prayer to which the people respond "Amen" in 1 Cor. 14:16, and again in 1 Tim. 2:1, but it had not as yet a technical or exclusive significance. It occurs often as a title in the writings of St. Ignatius, and after that constantly. The ancient name Holy Eucharist is still used frequently. Though it does not appear expressly in our Prayer Book (except once in a rubric on page 574), it is represented there in paraphrase by the, words "the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving" in the Oblation (p. 80–81); also in the great Eucharistic Thanksgiving that follows the "Comfortable Words" (p. 76). The Proper Prefaces coming between the Sursum Corda and the Ter Sanctus (see first rubric, p. 77) are in a sense a part of this burst of praise, being thanksgivings for, as well as commemorations of, each advancing stage in the unfolding Life of Our Incarnate Lord – "the Manifestation of Godhead in Humanity."

 

2. DIVISIONS OF THE SERVICE.

The Service divides naturally into three parts:

(a) The Ante-Communion, to the end of the prayer "for the whole state of Christ’s Church";

(b) The Communion Service Proper, to the end of the Administration;

(c) The Post Communion.

 

A. THE ANTE-COMMUNION SERVICE. –PART 1

This part of the Service follows the line of the threefold preparation (required in the Catechism) of Repentance, Faith, and Love

  • of Repentance, judging ourselves by the standard of the Ten Commandments read in our hearing, with our penitential responses of prayer for forgiveness and grace to amend;
  • of Faith, by the Special Lessons from God’s Word (the Epistle and Gospel) and our answer to them in the Creed;
  • of Love, by the charitable contributions at the Offertory, and the Prayer for the whole state of Christ’s Church.* [*Barry, The Teacher’s Prayer Book, 221.]

(From the text)This general and full rounded preparation, fine as it is for congregational use, does not in any sense do away with the need for special individual preparation, especially if conscience stricken by wrong-doing or by malice and hatred in our hearts. If we believe Christ to be really present in the Blessed Sacrament, and we are to come into real communion and fellowship with Him there, we must in some very definite way get out of our lives and minds and hearts anything and everything that would stand between us and Him either now or at the Day of Judgment, and get into our minds and hearts and lives what would please Him and draw Him close to us in that communion and fellowship we heartily desire.

 

1. THE LORD’S PRAYER .

Often used only in the private preparation of the priest .

This prayer, as always, opens the Service; but it and the Collect following were originally used in the private preparation of the Priest. Of this there is still a trace in the all too common practice of its recital by the Priest alone.

ALSO COMMON IS THE INVOCATION “IN THE NAME OF….”

 

2. THE 1 ST COLLECT. WE START HUMBLY KNEELING-LET US PRAY

THE WORD COLLECT MEANS PRAYER . This Collect is an exceedingly beautiful one.

It seems to stand us up before God spiritually naked, with hearts open, desires known, and no secrets hid; and, thus open before God, we pray Him to cleanse us from all that may defile, and to fill us with all that will purify and ennoble, not outwardly and superficially, but in the secret recesses of our minds and hearts, from which all conduct springs . It would be difficult to put deeper meaning in so few words.

 

3. THE DECALOGUE. MEANING THE TEN COMMANDMENTS

Read carefully the rubrics on page 67 and note the mention of kneeling again, though the Priest remains standing while he reads the Commandments. The second rubric gives the meaning of the response after each of the Commandments, while the third and fourth rubrics (p. 67) indicate when and to what extent the Decalogue may be omitted.

The purpose of this "Litany of the Decalogue" as a penitential preparation for the Service and the Communion is important.

 

4. COLLECT, EPISTLE AND GOSPEL for the day.

Often referred to as the Liturgy of the Word, the Collect, Epistle and Gospel are interrelated.

At this point in the Service are read two portions of Scripture, preceded by an appropriate Collect. Collects, Epistles and Gospels "to be used throughout the Year" are printed on pages 90–269. We need to note three things: first, how precise are the directions for announcing both Epistle and Gospel, to make sure that all is done "decently and in order," and compare the last rubric on page 9; second, that a hymn or Anthem may (not shall) be sung between the Epistle and the Gospel; third, that the doxology "Glory be to Thee, O Lord" shall (not may) be said when the Minister announces the Gospel. After the Gospel may (not shall) be said "Praise be to thee, O Christ".

 

5. THE CREED.

The Creed in the Communion Office is the Nicene Creed. The rubric immediately preceding it (bottom of page 70) provides that the Apostle’s Creed may be said instead, except on the five great Festivals named in the rubric, when the Nicene Creed shall (not may) be said.

The Apostles’ Creed grew naturally and gradually out of the Baptismal Formula given by our Lord Himself (St. Matt. 28:19). When converts were made, whether Jew or Gentile, they were taught, as our Lord commanded (St. Matt. 28:20), and in the course of time the fundamental elements of that teaching assumed the convenient and easily remembered form in which it now appears in the Apostles’ Creed.

WE USE THE NICENE CREED THE MOST OFTEN

The Nicene Creed, an expansion or fuller form of the Apostles’ Creed, was formally adopted at the Council of Nicea for the distinct purpose of meeting the Arian heresy and other heresies that grew out of the Arian heresy. It was in part drawn up at that First General Council at Nicea, A.D. 325, hence its name; but it was not a wholly original composition .

In the East or Eastern Churches, the Creed had grown gradually and naturally, as it had done in the West, but had grown into a fuller form. The Nicene Creed was based upon the already existing but fuller forms of the Creed as used in the Eastern Churches and produced at the Council, particularly the form known as the Creed of Caesarea; but with the addition of the phrase "being of one substance with the Father," to bring out unequivocally the true Godhead of the Lord Jesus Christ, on which the whole controversy turned. So drawn up, it was substantially – though not literally – our present Creed, down t! o the words "I believe in the Holy Ghost."

The latter portion of our Creed was added to meet further heresies which arose in that speculative age. Not till after the council of Chalcedon (A.D. 451) did the present form supersede it absolutely. Subsequently, in the Latin version of the Creed, the words "and from the Son," Filioque, were added, and they are what is known as "the Filioque clause." This clause brought forth strong protest, and out of its insertion arose an unhappy division between the Eastern (Greek) and Western (Latin) Churches. With this exception it had been the Creed of the whole Catholic (Universal) Church for more than 1,500 years.* [*Barry, The Teacher’s Prayer Book, 224a, 224b]

The heresies of the time made this or a similar form of the Creed absolutely necessary for the preservation of the essentials of the Christian Faith, and it has proved its priceless value as a standard of theological and Scriptural truth. It asserts, without endeavoring to explain, the great mystery of the Gospel – the true Manhood and Godhead of our Lord Jesus Christ – and subsequently the true Nature and Personality of the Holy Ghost, the two points which this heresy had brought into question.

Rev. John Henry Blunt makes the following comment on this Creed: "The Nicene Creed, from the solemn sanction thus given to it by the great Ecumenical Councils, stands in a position of greater authority than any other; and amid their long-standing divisions is a blessed bond of union between the three great branches of the One Catholic Church – the Eastern (Greek), the Roman, and the Anglican, of all whose Communion Offices it forms a part. It is very seriously to be regretted that the American portion of the Anglican Communion has made its use in the Communion Office optional, giving the Apostles’ Creed as an alternative."* [*Blunt, The Annotated Book of Common Prayer, 170]

6. THE OFFERTORY.

HERE IS THE POINT IN THE SERVICE WHERE WE PREPARE THE TABLE, COLLECT THE OFFERING AND PREPARE FOR THE ACTUALLY CELEBRATION OF THE LORD’S SUPPER.

THE PRIEST UNCOVERS ALL OF THE IMPLEMENTS OF THE LORDS SUPPER AND SAYS HIS PREPARATORY DEVOTIONS. THE DEACON OR WHOEVER IS ASSISTING, HANDS HIM THE BREAD, THE WINE AND THE WATER WHICH HE BLESSES. HE POURS THE WINE AND SOME WATER INTO THE CUP AND THEN WASHES HIS HANDS AFTER THE OFFERING HAS COME FORWARD IN PREPARATION FOR ADMINISTRATION OF THE LORD’S SUPPER.

The collection of Alms at the Holy Communion is described by Justin Martyr (A.D. 139) as an invariable part of the Service. Such collection is alluded to by St. Paul in 1 Cor. 16:2. It represents to us the regular duty and privilege of religious almsgiving for the relief of the poor and for the maintenance of the service of God. It is the expression of practical Christianity, and many Christians tithe on the principle that if the Jews could give a tenth for the maintenance of their religion, Christians surely should do as much. It is an interesting record of fact that people who do tithe, prosper even more than when they give less. This record of fact seems to be a literal fulfillment of that Scripture which says: "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it" (Malachi 3:10).

The sentences of Scripture to be read during the collection are a fine summary of Scripture teaching on the subject, and should be studied by all. The religious significance of this Offering is indicated by the direction in the rubric that "the Priest . . . shall humbly present and place it upon the Holy Table."

In the Prayer "for the whole state of Christ’s Church" (p. 74) the words "and oblations" following the word "alms," are variously interpreted. Some understand them to refer to the other devotions of the people, which are called oblations in the old Scotch Liturgy. Others think they refer to the bread and wine just solemnly placed upon the Altar before God. The words may fairly bear either interpretation, and may have been intended to admit both.

 

7. THE PRAYER FOR THE WHOLE STATE OF CHRIST’S CHURCH.

THIS IS THE POINT WHERE THE TABLE HAS NOW BEEN PREPARED AND WE ARE READY TO BRING OUR PETITIONS BEFORE GOD. THE PRIEST WILL BRING FORWARD ANY SPECIAL ATTENTIONS, OFFER PRAYERS FOR THE SICK OR THE DECEASED, AS WELL AS ANY SPECIAL PRAYERS FOR THE BISHOP, THE DIOCESE, THE PARISH, OR ANY OTHER SPECIAL REMEMBRANCES.

This prayer shows the breadth and comprehensiveness of the Church as she speaks for herself in her Book of Common Prayer. This Prayer embraces the Church Militant here on earth in its petitions for the Universal Church including "all those who do confess thy holy Name;" also all Christian Rulers as well as all Bishops and other Ministers, and all thy People especially all those who are in trouble, sorrow, need, sickness, or any other adversity. From the Church Militant here on earth, this Prayer goes on and touches also the Church Expectant in Paradise, with a petition "for all thy servants departed this life in thy faith and fear," ‘that God may grant them continual growth in thy (God’s) love and service. It then reaches out toward the Church Triumphant with a petition that we may have grace so to follow the good examples of the Faithful who have gone on before, "that with them we may be partakers of thy ‘heavenly kingdom." The wide reaches of this prayer a! nd the particular quality of each petition in it are worthy of careful study.

With the prayer "for the whole state of Christ’s Church," the Ante-Communion Service, i. e. the Introductory and Preparatory portion of the Liturgy, ends. It was at this point that the Church in former times dismissed with the Latin words Ite, missa est those who were not admissible to the Communion, and it is at this point now that those who wish to leave are given opportunity to do so. From this point on the Service addresses itself directly to those who desire to communicate, and there is a corresponding deepening of fervor in the tone of the Service.

NOW BEGINS THE SECOND PART OF THE SERVICE

 

B. THE COMMUNION SERVICE PROPER. PART 2.

1. THE INVITATION,

THE INVITATION IS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR US TO EXAMINE OURSELVES AND OUR LIVES, TO BRING OUR SINS TO MIND AND TO REMIND US THAT WE SHOULD BE IN LOVE AND CHARITY WITH OUR NEIGHBOR. IT ALSO REMINDS US THAT THIS IS AN ACT OF FAITH AS WE DRAW NEAR TO CHRIST’S TABLE.

"Ye who do truly and earnestly . . draw near with faith," with which this part of the Service begins, takes it for granted that those present have made the proper spiritual preparation of repentance, love, and the purpose to lead a new life of obedience to God, "walking from henceforth in his holy ways," as outlined in the last Question and Answer in the Catechism (p. 582). Notice that it does not invite those who are sinless, but sinners who are sorry and repent of their sins, intending to lead a new life, following God’s Commandments, and who are in love and charity with their neighbors. The difference is exactly the difference between the Pharisee and the Publican who went up into the temple to pray ( St. Luke 18:10–14). The Pharisee thanked God that he was quite worthy and fit, enumerating his virtues; while the Publican smote upon his breast, saying, "God be merciful to me a sinner." St. Luke tells us which of the two our dear Lord com! mended.

2. THE GENERAL CONFESSION.

WE CONFESS OUR SINS HERE EARNESTLY AND WITH FULL DESIRE TO REPENT.

Notice that the rubric directs that this be said "by the Priest and all those who are minded to receive the Holy Communion, humbly kneeling."

In this Confession emphasis is put on the various phases of sin.

Here greater and more emphatic stress is put on sorrow for sin, the grievousness of its remembrance, and the sense of its intolerable burden, which may be expected to be felt by communicants more intensely than by an ordinary congregation.

3. THE ABSOLUTION.

HERE THE PRIEST PRONOUNCES OUR FORGIVENESS WITH THE AUTHORITY GIVEN HIM BY CHRIST HIMSELF-“WHOSE SINS YE RETAIN…WHOSE SINS YOU FORGIVE…”.

THE ABSOLUTION IS BASED ON THE LOVE OF GOD AND HIS PROMISES THROUGH OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST AND OUR REAL REPENTANCE AND FAITH.

As in the case of the Confession, this Absolution should be compared with that in Morning Prayer for both their likeness and their unlikeness. They are alike in two important respects: (1) both base all Absolution on the Love of God and His promises in and through our Lord Jesus Christ; (2) both make all real reception of Absolution conditional on real repentance and faith. They are unlike in three particulars: (1) this Absolution, like the most ancient forms, has the tone and quality of a Blessing or Benediction, not simply Declaratory; (2) this is addressed to the congregation as a whole, not to "all who truly repent and unfeignedly believe," presumably on the assumption that all who remain for the Holy Communion meet the required condition of repentance and faith; (3) this brings out with great clearness the various elements of God’s blessing – pardon of the guilt and deliverance from the bondage of sin – the strengthening by His grace of all positive goodness – and the consummation of all in the gift of "everlasting life."* [*Barry, The Teacher’s Prayer Book, 231.]

4. THE COMFORTABLE WORDS.

A REMINDER TO US OF WHAT GOD TELLS US THROUGH SCRIPTURE REGARDING REPENTANCE AND FORGIVENESS.

The scripture sentences on page 76 are so called because they are comforting words of strengthening and refreshment from the lips of Our Lord Himself and from His great Apostles St. Paul and St. John, to all those who do feel the burden of their sins and mourn over them. More than that, they also confirm the words of Absolution with the words of Christ and His Apostles.

5. THE GREAT EUCHARISTIC THANKSGIVING.

WITH THE LORD’S FORGIVENESS IN OUR HEARTS WE OFFER HERE OUR OUTWARD PRAISE AND THANKSGIVING FOR HIS LOVE AND MERCY.

Here, as in Morning Prayer, Confession and Absolution are followed by a burst of Praise and Thanksgiving. The three parts of this Eucharistic Thanksgiving – The Sursum Corda ("Lift up your hearts"), the thanksgiving ("It is very meet, right. . . to give thanks"), and the Ter Sanctus ("Holy, Holy, Holy"), sometimes called the Trisagion, are found in all extant Liturgies of the Churches of both the East and the West.

6. PROPER PREFACES. (See rubric, top of page 77.)

Inserted here on the great Festivals, these Prefaces mark the chief acts of the Manifestation of the Godhead in Humanity – the Incarnation, the Resurrection, the Ascension, the Descent of the Holy Ghost – and then sum up all in the adoration of the Godhead itself in the Holy Trinity.*   [*Barry, The Teacher’s Prayer Book, 232.]

7. THE PRAYER OF CONSECRATION.

HERE IS THE POINT WHERE THE PRIEST BEGINS THE CONSECRATION OF THE LORD’S SUPPER. HE IS AN UNWORTHY SERVANT YET HE STANDS THERE IN GOD’S PRESENCE, HIS UNDER SHEPARD, AND RECALLS FOR US THAT NIGHT LONG AGO AS CHRIST STTOD WITH HIS DISCIPLES BEFORE HIS DEATH.

Dr. Blunt says: "This is the most solemn part of the whole ministration of the Liturgy. Standing before the flock of Christ in the Presence of Almighty God, the Priest stands there as the vicarious earthly representative of the invisible but one true and only Priest of the Heavenly Sanctuary: acting in His Name and by His commission and authority (see Article XXVI, p. 608 of the Prayer Book), he brings into remembrance before the Eternal Father the one only and everlasting Sacrifice which was once for all made and finished upon the Cross (Article XXXI, p. 608) but is perpetually pleaded, offered, and presented, by the One Everlasting Priest and Intercessor in Heaven. . . And this He does in two ways. (1) In Heaven, openly, as one may say, and by His own immediate action. (2) On Earth, mystically, but as really, acting mediately by the Earthly Priest as His visible instrument. . . Where two or three are gathered together in His name. (and where so truly are w! e thus gathered as when we meet to celebrate the great Memorial Sacrifice specially appointed by Himself?) there is He in the midst of us ( St. Matt. 18:20) . . . The great and only Sacrifice once made (on the cross) can never be repeated. But it is continually offered, i. e., brought into remembrance and pleaded, before God. They who are called Priests because, and only because they visibly represent to the successive generations of mankind the one immortal but invisible Priest, are through God’s unspeakable mercy privileged to bring it into remembrance before Him; by His order Who said, Do this for a Memorial, a Commemoration of Me."* [*Blunt, The Annotated Book of Common Prayer, 188.]

Look at the Prayer Book and notice that the Prayer of Consecration (p. 80–81) falls naturally into four main parts, indicated by separate paragraphs.

 

(1 ) THE FIRST PART

begins with a striking preamble commemorating the one oblation of Christ , (OBLATION IS DEFINED AS AN OFFERING OF A SACRIFICE OR ACT OF GIVING)

once for all offered, through the tender mercy of God ,

so that its propitiating sacrifice can never be repeated, and

expressing with great clearness and completeness the whole doctrine of the Atonement as being a full sacrifice, a perfect oblation and a sufficient satisfaction;

next, it recites our Lord’s command to His Church (on which alone the Sacrament depends for its efficacy) to continue a perpetual memory or remembrance of His precious death and sacrifice,

pleading that Atoning Sacrifice until His coming again; and

lastly, it recites the Institution itself in a form corresponding closely to the records of St. Paul and St. Luke (1 Cor. 11:23–26; St. Luke 22:19, 20) –

MANY PEOPLE ARE CONFUSED BY THIS PART. HERE IS WHERE WE SEE THE PRIEST KNEEL AND THEN LIFT THE BREAD AND THE WINE AS HE RECITES OUR LORD’S WORDS AT HIS LAST SUPPER. WE HEAR THE SOUNDING OF THE BELLS FROM THE OLD TRADITION OF THE CHURCH, CALLING US TO THE ATTENTION OF THE WORDS SPOKEN FROM SCRIPTURE.

THIS HOWEVER ONLY BEGINS THE ACT OF CONSECRATION. THIS IS NOT THE MOMENT OF THE ACTUAL MYSTERY OF ITS TRANSFORMATION.

The text continues with rubrical directions to the Priest for the performance of the manual acts, which represent the acts of our Lord Himself at the Institution.* [*Barry, The Teacher’s Prayer Book, 235]

(2) THE SECOND PART , following the ancient models, proceeds with THE OBLATION, which means an act of giving, with special reference to an offering to God, as of the Eucharistic Elements and the Alms for the support of the clergy, the relief of the poor, and other offerings.

HERE WE OFFER BEFORE GOD THE HOLY GIFTS OF BREAD AND WINE FOR GOD’S PURPOSE.

The consecration of the elements of Bread and Wine is not complete till after the Priest has said the Invocation.

(3) THE INVOCATION. THIRD PART

THIS IS NOW THE FINAL ACT IN THE CONSECRATION.

This is an earnest prayer to God the Father to bless and sanctify, with His word and Holy Spirit these His gifts of bread and wine so that to us receiving them according to the institution of His Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, we may be partakers (1 Cor. 10:16) of His most blessed Body and Blood.

Four things should be noted here:

(a) the Invocation is of the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit;

(b) the words "creatures of bread and wine" repudiate the theory of Transubstantiation and kindred theories;

(c) there is a marked stress on the idea of this Sacrament as a Communion, emphasized by the words "that we receiving . . . may be partakers of His most blessed Body and Blood"; and

(d) at the end of the Invocation the Consecration of the Bread and Wine is complete, and it is not complete till then.

(4) THE FOURTH PART - The last division of the Prayer of Consecration beginning "And we earnestly desire," brings out the whole idea of sacrifice, closely connecting the Memorial of the One great Sacrifice ,

which pleads it before God, with the Eucharistic Sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving and the Dedicatory Sacrifice of ourselves. Note especially the sentence –

"And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee" – and see Hebrews 13:15, 16.* [*Barry, The Teacher’s Prayer Book, 235]

HERE IS OUR RECOGNITION OF THE UNDERSTANDING OF OUR OWN UNWORTHINESS BUT PRESENTING BEFORE GOD ALL WE HAVE TO OFFER.

 

8. THE LORD’S PRAYER

is introduced by a sentence read by the officiating Priest which says: "And now, as our Saviour Christ hath taught us, we are bold to say, Our Father," etc.  We do this in the spirit of a devoted child’s approach to a loving father – a loving Heavenly Father.

There are many ways to devotionally say this-singing, holding hands, lifting our hands upward, but always with great sincerity and devotion.

9. THE PRAYER OF HUMBLE ACCESS.

THIS IS A HUMBLING AND POTENT REMINDER OF WHO WE ARE IN RELATION TO GOD.

This beautiful prayer (BCP 82), and The Lord’s Prayer, which it follows, form a fitting and feeling transition from the solemn Prayer of Consecration to the Administration of the Communion. Bishop Barry says it is a Prayer of spiritual preparation, of singular fervor and beauty, and expresses our trust that God is always the same God in that attribute of perpetual mercy, which is of the essence of Him who is love.

10. THE ADMINISTRATION.

THE BISHOP, PRIEST OR DEACON NOW DISTRIBUTES THE HOLY COMMUNION. THOSE AT THE ALTAR RECEIVE IT FIRST THEN THE CONGREGATION COMES FORWARD.

The history of the words of Administration is both interesting and instructive. The First Prayer Book of Edward VI (1549) had the first sentence only, "The Body (or Blood) . . . life," which brings out clearly the gift in the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ; and praying that, according to Our Lord’s promise, it may preserve both body and soul to eternal life. In the Revision of 1552, as a concession to Puritan arguments, these words were omitted and in their place was put the second sentence, "Take and eat . . . thanksgiving;" "Drink . . . thankful," which simply bids us receive the Sacrament in remembrance of His death with thanksgiving. In a subsequent revision the two sentences were combined, and since then have continued as they now appear in our Prayer Book. The two Sentences thus combined serve to bring out, in perfect clearness and harmony, both the reality of God’s gift in the Sacrament and the need of man’s conscious reception of it throug! h faith. God’s part and man’s part are both vital, and we may well be thankful that both are so clearly presented in these Sentences.

The rubric just before the Sentences directs that the officiating Priest shall first receive the Holy Communion in both kinds himself, and then proceed to deliver same "to the Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, in like manner, and, after that, to the People."

THE PRAYER BOOK ALSO SAYS HOW WE ARE TO PARTAKE

And note that it is to be given "into their hands, all devoutly kneeling." Also that "sufficient opportunity shall be given to those present to communicate."

The idea of partaking is inherent in the Service itself, and at no time, for any reason, can the officiating Priest make a mere gesture of participation to the people, then turn back to the Altar and conclude the Service before the people do in fact have sufficient opportunity to communicate, without violating the fundamental law of the Church embodied in this rubric.

 

 

11. THE RECEPTION.

HOW ARE WE TO TAKE COMMUNION?

INTO THEIR HANDS -The officiating Priest is directed by the rubric to deliver the Bread and Wine "into their hands."

INTO THEIR PALMS -Here is a helpful comment from Fr. Blunt: "Communicants ought, instead of taking it with their fingers, to receive the consecrated Bread in the palm of the right hand, according to St. Cyril’s direction in his fifth Catechetical Lecture, ‘Making the left hand a throne for the right which is about to receive a king, hollow thy palm, and so receive the Body of Christ, saying thereafter the Amen.’"

WITHOUT GLOVES OR VEILS -Women should take care never to go to the altar rail with gloved hand, nor with veil down over the mouth. Remove gloves, and remove or push up securely the veil before going to the Lord’s Table.

ON THE TONGUE -ACCEPTABLE BUT NOT REQUIRED.

HOW ABOUT THE WINE? Now a word about the consecrated Wine.

YOU CAN TAKE A LITTLE - Tilt the cup so that the Wine just moistens your lips; one drop is as efficacious as a spoonful, and to take more than a drop or two is irreverent to say the least. Men with a mustache should be careful not to let it dip into the consecrated Wine.

WHAT ABOUT GERMS? The modern germ theory, and the fear some have of the common cup, has led to the Administration by Intinction in some parishes. That is done usually by dipping the edge of the consecrated Bread into the consecrated Wine, sometimes by the Priest, sometimes by the communicant to whom the Bread has been delivered.  It is sufficient here to observe that when the administration is by Intinction some liberties must necessarily be taken with the rubrics as they now stand, and also with the Sentences at delivery of the consecrated Elements.

SOME CHURCHES USE LITTLE INDIVIDUAL CUPS AND A POURING CHALICE.

WHEN YOU RETURN TO YOUR SEAT, REFLECT ON GOD, HIS WILL FOR US, HIS BLESSINGS. TAKE TIME TO PRAY AND TO BE THANKFUL-IT NOT ALWAYS ABOUT ASKING.

C. THE POST COMMUNION SERVICE.

This consists of a Thanksgiving Prayer, the Gloria in excelsis, and the Blessing.

1. THE THANKSGIVING PRAYER. THANK GOD

This Prayer was composed in 1549. A prayer of thanksgiving formed a prominent part of the primitive Liturgies, but had dropped out of the medieval services, except in the form of a private prayer of the Celebrant. The compilers of our Prayer Book restored it. It is a thanksgiving dwelling on the Sacrament just received and its meaning to us, with the prayer that since we are "members incorporate" in "the blessed company of faithful people" God will give us grace to "continue in that holy fellowship," and by God’s help and grace to show the fruits of it in the "good works" God expects us "to walk in." How fitting! What a high mark to reach for!

 

 

2. THE GLORIA IN EXCELSIS. PRAISE GOD

This glorious hymn as a climax to the Communion Service has a striking appropriateness and beauty. It is of great antiquity, apparently of Greek origin. Like the Te Deum it is at once a hymn, a creed, and a prayer; and, like the Te Deum it is offered explicitly to the Holy Trinity. The Communion Service comes to its climax and its close on the note of prayer and praise to the Blessed Trinity.

3. THE BLESSING. GO WITH GOD

Notice the rubric before this: the People kneeling. How often throughout the Prayer Book the emphasis on kneeling occurs! It reflects an attitude toward God that no other posture does. The Blessing is a quotation of Philippians 4:7, with an added blessing in the Name of the Holy Trinity – to be amongst us as a Power for peace, wisdom and love, and to remain with us to eternal Salvation.

THERE IS OFTEN A DISMISSAL GIVEN BY THE PRIEST.

WE OFTEN KNEEL WHILE THE CANDLES ARE EXTINGUISHED SIGNIFYING THE END OF THE MASS, AND WE OFTEN SAY A PRAYER FOR GOD’S PROTECTION AND STRENGTH AS WE GO FORTH INTO THE WORLD.

Afterwards, share your Christian joy with those around you, known and unknown!!!

(Adapted from The Heart of The Prayer Book by Rev. William E. Cox, D.D.)