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Eucharistic Prayers in Common (Part 1)

Orans on Roman Mural

I was delighted to receive an enthusiastic response from Bishop Patrick Dunn to my hope that Anglicans and Roman Catholics (and others interested) work together to produce English language translations that can, as much as possible, be used by anyone in those denominations. Let us pray that this gets some real traction.

In this post, I want to respond to one comment:

I think such a proposal would require Anglicans to simply adopt Roman Eucharistic prayers. I can’t see Roman bishops doing otherwise.

Firstly, my proposal is not to have a shared full missal. That would be great. But having the same texts for the Gloria, Creed, Sanctus, etc. would be a very positive step forward (or back to what we had earlier!). This also means being able to share musical resources.

And, secondly, this hope of mine is not at all connected to rumours of an “Ecumenical Mass” text being worked on secretly.

But, even though a fully shared ecumenical Eucharistic rite is not at all what I had in mind, I still want to say that it is not as beyond the realm of possibility as some might think because many Eucharistic Prayers are not created de novo (ex nihilo). So phrases from (and almost whole) Eucharistic Prayers are shared by Roman Catholics and Anglicans (Episcopalians).

Possibly the most popular shared Eucharistic Prayer is RC number II. It is based in part on the third-century liturgy of Hippolytus of Rome. An Anglican Prayer Book of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa has the exact same wording in its Third Eucharistic Prayer as the Roman Catholic one (the 1970s English translation). Canada’s Book of Alternative Services Prayer 2 and the Church of England’s Common Worship Prayer B have much akin to this.

A Prayer Book for Australia Thanksgiving 3 is clearly an Anglican version of the Roman Catholic Eucharistic Prayer III.

The Roman Catholic Eucharistic Prayer IV draws from the Apostolic Constitutions of Antioch and St. Basil’s Eucharistic Prayer. Once again, this shared heritage means it is found in Canada’s BAS Eucharistic Prayer 6 and The Episcopal Church’s Book of Common Prayer Eucharistic Prayer D.

As to Roman Catholic Eucharistic Prayer I (the ‘Roman Canon’), used for at least a millennium and a half – I’m not aware of a formal Anglican version of it. Some Anglican priests (and communities) use this prayer as is (I’m not aware of anyone in NZ doing this). I did encounter, once (again not in NZ), I knew of a parish where the priest used the Novus Ordo Eucharistic Prayer I translated into Elizabethan English and used sotto voce (in a “quiet” voice) facing East (ie. with the priest with his back to the congregation)! No; I am not making this up.

In order to use the Roman Catholic Eucharistic Prayer I licitly (unless someone tells me there is an authorised version in the Anglican Communion), you would insert the parts into one of the authorised Eucharistic Prayer frameworks [TEC has two; NZ has one]. Furthermore, NZ has just altered its Anglican Constitution to allow individual bishops to authorise stuff.

In my book Celebrating Eucharist, I have used the NZ authorised framework giving my Eucharistic Prayer 3 modeled on the one found in the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus (ie. the basis of RC Eucharistic Prayer II). And, using the same framework, I produced my Eucharistic Prayer 4 based on an ecumenical prayer with its source in the liturgy of St. Basil (so, akin to RC Eucharistic Prayer IV).

In the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, any of the above Eucharistic Prayers (from around the Anglican Communion or from my book) may be used at any time.

Do you know of any other Anglican Eucharistic Prayers that are very similar to the Roman Catholic ones?

To be continued…

Book of Common Prayer TEC
Book of Alternative Services (Canada) here and here
Common Worship (CofE)
A Prayer Book for Australia

Image: Orans on a Roman Mural

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3 Responses to Eucharistic Prayers in Common (Part 1)

  1. Maybe I am wrong, but I think that in NZ, you are allowed to use any Eucharistic prayer of a Church wherewith you are in full communion. The Roman Canon is there in the Utrecht missals (both old and new).

    Before there were bibles in French, the RC publishers had published lots of Bible-based books. One of the reproaches of the protestant reformers were that the RC avoided the Bible per se. Bible-based or text-chopped bibles were not real bibles, even if, let’s say, some different Churches could agree to publish the same.

    The liturgy is not different. Churches should stop using tradition-based “eucharistic prayers”. There are more than 80 traditional anaphoræ throughout the rites. Basil-based “euch.prayer” is in no wise Saint Basil’s Coptic anaphora. The traditional rites have exchanged anaphoras over the centuries, without alterations. Copts and Ethiopians use also Antiochian anaphoras; Syrians use Alexandrine anaphoras too. Anti-Nikon Byzantines used to use also the Roman Canon. In the regions of contact between Byzantines and Syrians, the former use also Saint Jambes’ anaphora (and the use thereof is spreading); in the regions where the Byzantines lived with Copts, the former have adopted Saint Mark’s anaphora. This is the only traditional way of doing the things. Organic liturgy.

    • Thanks, George. I’d love you to expand on this a bit more. I think you are saying – use an historic Eucharistic Prayer as received. Don’t cut, paste, and alter it. Don’t use phrases from it in new constructs. Is that what you mean? Or are you saying the opposite – that using phrases is the organic way new prayers grow?

      I’m delighted with your reference to the Old Catholic missal (which I have). The rule doesn’t extend to churches with which we are in communion – simply Eucharistic Prayers in the Anglican Communion. But people (all the way to bishops) use Eucharistic Prayers (and things that you and I would not even recognise as being eucharistic prayers) without any issues here. [To be clear, I’m not advocating for that].

      Blessings.

      • Dear Fr Bosco, you are right in the first sentence. «Use an historic Eucharistic Prayer as received. Don’t cut, paste, and alter it.»

        When I re-read for mine own delight the traditional collects of the Easter vigil, they seem to me so Lutheran, and I say: this could be shared stuff, upon which there is already agreement. When I read the collects of 8 December and 15 August, as they were before Vatican I, I say: this could be shared with both the East, Orient, and the Lutherans, with no need to create ambiguous texts.

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