Non Solum: The Eucharistic Prayer as a Whole

A faithful Pray Tell reader writes in what a rather different but most interesting question:

I’m just wondering what the Eucharistic Prayer would look like if we truly wanted to shift the focus from the Institution Narrative to the whole EP.

Let’s brainstorm about this, folks. Within the present rubrics, what all can be done with posture, gesture, movement, music, etc. to tie the entire EP together? And let’s dream too a bit about what future rubrical developments might be desirable.

I look forward to your creative ideas.




  1. “To shift the focus from the Institution Narrative to the whole EP” may be difficult if we take the EP from the Preface dialog to the Great Amen, especially in the longer EPs, due to the variety of elements which comprise the EP. Perhaps we might begin by taking the EP from the Epiclesis, the invocation of the Spirit over the gifts, to the invocation of the Spirit on the assembly, and by having musical settings for that enlarged section. EP1 would need special treatment. It would be difficult to sing the whole EP, except perhaps EP2.
    Within the sung section, appropriate acclamations of the people would help to maintain an active assembly and avoid it becoming a performance piece.
    Could a piece of music like Domenico Zipoli’s reflective “Elevazione” ( form a basis for a suitable setting?

  2. One trend (I think it is/was encouraged in some document or the other) has been to ‘match’ the melodies of the Sanctus, the Memorial acclamations and the Great Amen.

    Sing the whole Eucharistic Prayer or speak the whole Eucharistic Prayer, but don’t mix e.g. chanting only the opening dialogue and/or the Preface and/or the Institution Narrative and/or the doxology.

    In places which still preserve things like the incense and torches (yes, I know some people don’t like these medieval-Baroque accouterments), these could be brought in before the dialogue rather than after the Sanctus .

    In terms of rubrical reform:I suspect the thing that comes to many immediately would be the abolition of the elevations. This would allow a smooth ‘flow’ without interruptions. It would also allow for a uniform posture (i.e. standing) by the assembly from the beginning to the end of the Prayer, uniform gestures by the celebrant after the dialogue to the the doxology, etc. I can see the plausibility of this, but my personal opinion is that it would be unwise and difficult, outside of trained groups, to jettison something that has been a long part of the Latin tradition.

  3. I hope I would not be steering things too off track if I question whether we can really completely “shift the focus off” the Narrative.

    To be sure, the medieval Latin tradition has given it a particular emphasis via the elevation, etc. But so have many of the other liturgical traditions, even if not in the exact same way. Some of the Oriental liturgies also have elevations that are connected to the Institution Narrative. Similarly, going further back, part of the reason, it would seem, for the anaphoral intercessions was the idea that they were made in the ‘presence’ or proximity of the consecrated elements, which is again inevitably often tied up with the Institution (allowing for the different emphases of the different traditions). It would seem that the Institution therefore has inevitably struck people across the diverse traditions in different ways. This is not to dismiss that this is a later development, but simply that it would seem to be a little more fundamental. Now one could radically rework the whole thing, as some proposed at the time of the reform – removing intercessions, changing the structure – but that would be to remove entire aspects of the liturgical tradition.

    Another thought that struck me is that the emphasis on the whole Prayer is often (though not completely and exclusively) linked with the idea that there is one, seamless text, as it were. But given that more and more scholarship is showing the Eucharistic Prayer was fragmentary, as opposed to the old hypothesis with a classical, unitary structure, might this lead to some modification in the need to necessarily ‘tie the whole prayer together’?

  4. There’s nothing needing creating here. We already have the normative ideal ready to use:

    Sing the whole thing. With *no soundtrack or accompaniment* for the presidential portions (incipit pitches are ok). That’s the silken thread* to unify this.

    The risk of gimmickry in being overly “creative” is high.

    * LIsten to Borodin’s tone poem, In The Steppes of Central Asia, to grasp the metaphor….

  5. I was meditating on this topic recently. I do not mind if the canon missae or any of the new eucharistic prayers are sung. Indeed chant settings were written for the eucharistic prayers after the Council. I have never heard the Canon chanted. Even so, the priests of my high school, when concelebrating Mass for the student body, were fond of chanting (Sacramentary) EP III in a spectacular unison. I suppose daily practice helps. 🙂

    Here I must part ways with Joshua Vas (#2). One way to create a bridge from the extraordinary form to the ordinary form might be the permission for a priest to say the Canon sotto voce in Latin except for the qui pridie and simili modo, which would be said or sung in the vernacular in a clear voice (i.e. with full vocal volume or some amplification.) This is actually the opposite of an idea Pope Benedict floated. He had suggested that eucharistic prayers be in the vernacular save for the institution narrative which would be in Latin.

    I take this idea from a Greek church which I used to frequent. There, the priests recite the anaphora in koine (liturgical Greek) quietly save for the parts analogous to the institution narrative, which are recited in English and at full volume.

    I endorse the idea that the entire eucharistic prayer is consecratory. Even so, there is room in western Catholicism for the aforementioned view and also a devotional view of eucharistic prayer centered on the consecration. It’s important to remember that the institution narrative and the elevations are particularly important to a conservative/traditionalist sensibility, even if this sensibility counters the original question.

    I also respect that not a few PTB readers will be displeased with my proposal. Still, this proposal offers a different celebration which might in a subtle way move traditionalism beyond 1962.

  6. PS: There’s something lurking that I suspect people may not realize. If you want liturgical forms that have a very unified feel to the congregation, the sacred pantomime of the Low EF Mass and the wall-to-wall soundtrack of the Solemn High EF Mass are reference points.

    I wonder if the the sense that the anaphora “needs” to have a unified feel in order to actually be a unity is a residue of EF praxis.

    1. @Karl Liam Saur:

      I wonder if the the sense that the anaphora “needs” to have a unified feel in order to actually be a unity is a residue of EF praxis.

      I’m not entirely sure of this, Karl. I’ve heard many solemn EF Masses, and in almost all cases even the bifurcated singing of the Sanctus over the Canon fails to completely obscure the gravity of the anaphora. I have noticed over the years that a palpable still falls over the nave when the “warning” hanc igitur bell rings, the choir stops, and the celebrant prepares to consecrate. The gap of time until the choir resumes the Sanctus is analogous to a temporary suspension of time.

      The bell at the hanc igitur is less noticeable at low Mass. Nevertheless a teleological/chronological suspension is also implied here.

  7. I’m thinking of a new EP completely out of sight of the people until the recitation or singing of the great doxolgy, but like the liturgy of St. James with ample opportunities for the laity to participate with their responses. From the start of the preface extra candles or lamps are lit on or around the altar.

    The prayer is an extension of the Sanctus rich in carefully selected Old Testament allusions to sacrifice. Different scriptural passages referring to sacrifices under the old dispensation would be options from time to time. Including references to New Testament salvation history and containing a more developed anamnesis than the Roman. The epiclesis immediately follows the consecration of the cup.

    The text from the preface to the sanctus is sung by the principle celebrant, as are the words of consecration. The curtain is briefly opened and closed following the consecration of the cup.
    The rest of the prayer to the great doxology is sung as a sextet on sundays and feasts. The sextet from “Lucia de lammermour” immeditely came to mind.

    Ideally, this EP in larger churches with a capacious sanctuary would be sung from an altar closed off with curtains between the pillars of the ciborium, or a chancel curtain. The curtained area enveloped in billowing clouds of incense from fixed braziers, or acolytes and deacons swinging censers. The curtains are opened at the elevation accompanying the great doxology to reveal the altar area ablaze with lights, ringing bells, and,of course, the smells.

    1. @Brian Palmer:
      I envision the enrichment of the Roman canon by eliminating many of the fussy rubrics which suggest it is strictly the celebrant’s private devotion,. Short of radically revising the canon by making it less of a private act of the priest’s piety–a sanctuary which he alone enters–I’d try to dramatizing the salient features of this EP to make them stand out more clearly with greater clarity.

      So, no altar cards, or a private altar cross for the celebrant’s use. The entire canon from a single missal/sacramentary in the center of the altar. The gifts collected by deacons from a station set up in the church or a side chapel. Eliminate all silent offertory prayers unless the celebrant wishes to quietly recite apologias, or a devotion of his own, as presumably the people may be doing.

      The celebrant goes straight to the singing of the secret prayer at which time a veil could be closed. Perhaps, having the choir continue after the Sanctus with a psalm (selected from the traditional Jewish seder, the Hillel 113 to 118) during which the celebrant(s) recite everything from Te gitur up to, but excluding the quam oblationem.

      Extra lights may be lit and a continuous incensation of the area, (or the priest adding incense to a brazier on the altar) before chanting or reciting in a loud voice the quam oblationem. No elevation of the gifts at the institution narrative . However the host and cup rare aised to eye level for all to see through the parted veil. Here an Amen at each consecration or other response from the people would seem to be appropriate. The veil closes.

      The rest of the Roman EP in silence up to the sung Doxology during which another Hillel psalm could be sung by the choir. The veil is thrown open at the beginning of the Doxology revealing the only elevation during the per ipsum . . If the liturgy is celebrated ad orientem, the celebrant may turn and show the gifts to the people following the major elevation.

      1. @Brian Palmer:

        Brian: Extra lights may be lit and a continuous incensation of the area, (or the priest adding incense to a brazier on the altar) before chanting or reciting in a loud voice the quam oblationem.

        Do you consider the quam oblationem to be the “descending” epiclesis in the Roman Canon? Arguably, it is. Others, however, would say that supplices te rogamus is the “ascending” epiclesis. Would there be a modification of the action at this prayer? No bowing perhaps?

        (Interestingly, the verbal repetitions in the quam oblationem are very similar to the repetitions in Cicero’s legal treatises. I’ll put that in The Novella.)

      2. @Jordan Zarembo:
        Jordan, I hadn’t given much thought to the epiclesis. I’m accustomed to thinking a Roman canon contains the suggestion of one, since the prayer is addrssed to God without making any distinction,. Given the antiquity of the Roman EP, it predates any concern, especially in the Greek church, for having to have a direct reference to the operation of the Holy Spirit.

        To give added emphasis to the operation of the Holy Spirit, the Veni sanctificator etc, which is already a part a much too developed offertory rite , could eventually be transferred to the canon. Serving as an epiclesis preceding the words of institution rather than in the manner of the Byzatine and some Anglican EPs.

        I’m assuming here that in time there will be some encouragement to create a freshly composed Roman canon. To meet some objections to structural issues Fr. Cyprian Vagnozzi OSB and other liturgists had. A Roman canon more suitable for recitation out loud or one to be sung. I’d very much like to see that happen.

      3. @Brian Palmer:

        I would not advise changing the Canon. If a celebrant has an academic issue with the Canon, EP III is a precis of the concepts in the venerable anaphora. EP III also satisfies certain core academic concepts of eucharistic prayer as per the liturgical movement.

        Emphases in the Canon can be changed by using the vernacular at certain parts, or changing certain aspects of the candidate’s posture. I am a strong proponent of restoring all the blessings and the conjoined digits to the Roman Canon, even when Mass is celebrated versus populum. Each blessing is strategically placed to emphasize the Dual Nature and the Trinity. The removal of the blessings from the Canon was a catastrophic omission of dubious reason (probably to streamline the celebration of Mass versus populum).


        I’ve gotten in trouble for this point earlier, but I must stay true to my convictions: ideally, the Roman Canon should not be translated or celebrated in a vernacular rendition unless when it is relatively easy to make this transition without undue paraphrase. A concessional vernacularization of the qui pridie, simili modo, and maybe the per ipsum would aid the devotion of the congregation without excessive stress on the Canon text. I would not stray farther than this. The Canon is full of strange aspects such as archaic vocabulary peculiar to Roman religio (ie. in the te igitur, antistite rather than episcopo). Indeed even the te igitur itself, with its syntactical flourish of the long space between te and the first set of finite verbs, has not been rendered satisfactorily in paraphrase (1967) or in a so-called “literal” translation (2010).

        I somehow sense that FCAP, for many, requires the vernacularization of every last aspect of the Roman rite. Perhaps this is not a feasible project, and should be abandoned. Priestly catechesis on the Canon from the pulpit or in lecture outside Mass would probably engender more FCAP than a contorted translation.

      4. @Jordan Zarembo:
        I think the unchanged version and slight revisions of the RC we have today will likely continue to have their place because of the appeal of sixteen centuries of tradition. I can see retaining the present version of the RC for special groups and for private masses.
        However, nothing is untouchable and beyond improvement. The Roman canon is no exception. It would be interesting to see what could be done in the way of an entirely new text using the the key elements. As an option to be used for masses with the people on sundays and solemnities.

      5. @Brian Palmer:

        Brian, I do not mind the composition of new eucharistic prayers iff the prayers are, as are yours, grounded in the ancient anaphora. Also, your ideas about veils are intriguing. Some academics propose that veiling occurred at certain points during early liturgies in the basilicas of Rome. Also, veiling of the sanctuary might have been the medieval Lenten practice in some parts of Europe. The innovations you propose, Brian, are not innovations for their own sake.

        However, my academic specialty is Latin linguistics. It is difficult for me to even partially separate the Canon from the Roman tradition. Indeed, I view the ancient anaphora as the backbone, the spinal cord, from which radiates every nerve of Roman worship. To relegate the prayer of the Canon (indeed, in Latin) to the private Mass would obscure what should truly be given as the great heritage to all Catholics assembled for worship. If I were to be a priest, I would gladly say the Canon in Latin whenever time permits, and EP III in the vernacular when time is at a premium. This is the 1,439,233rd reason why I will be never be ordained.

        There are two loyalties: loyalty to heritage, and loyalty to academic constructs. The two need not be mutually exclusive, but often they are. I think back to the philosophical seminars I endured as a master’s student. Invariably two students would dominate the discussion by spinning cotton candy Foucauldian castles of what-if. This reverie is enjoyable, but must be grounded in tradition. We are both grounded, but I am much more tightly bound to what has gone before.

      6. @Jordan Zarembo:
        “This reverie is enjoyable, but must be grounded in tradition. We are both grounded, but I am much more tightly bound to what has gone before.”

        Jordan, I agree. We see the preservation of that tradition differently. I think the Roman tradition will be and should be maintained and expanded upon. While being open to finding ways to meeting the glaring deficiencies of the Roman anaphora.

      7. @Brian Palmer:

        Brian: “While being open to finding ways to meeting the glaring deficiencies of the Roman anaphora.

        What are the deficiencies of the Canon?

        Let me give you an example of a so-called “deficiency” which actually is standard classical-age Latin epistolary convention. Indeed, this is the second word of the anaphora, igitur (I don’t know why I’m discussing te igitur this often.)

        igitur is a postpositive, as it follows directly after te. Postpositives in Latin are words which often signal a change in the textual direction. I side with Myles Coverdale, whose English interpretation of the Canon omits any interpretation of igitur. Perhaps igitur is not a reference to any other prayer, but rather an implied verbal emphasis along the lines of, “what follows is very important”. cf. huc enim pertinet, Cicero, De Leg. 1.22 for a classical example of the optionality of postpositive enim without a dependence on a preceding text. The postpositivity of enim in Cicero’s text, I am convinced, is the same type of postpositivity found in the Canon’s igitur. Put another way, neither igitur or enim require explicit and standalone semantic meaning for the overall semantics of either text to remain intact.

        It’s fun, albeit a bit exhausting, to go word-for-word through the Canon. This attention to linguistic detail is necessary for any academic argument for the modification of the Canon. If the Latin is not understood down to the slightest detail, then any modification of the Canon will arbitrarily tear at the linguistic mechanics of the anaphora.

      8. @Jordan Zarembo:

        Surely igitur refers back to the Preface that has just been proclaimed? All that thanks and praise, and “therefore” we make prayer and petition. The connective link between “tu qui” and “nunc fac” in the structure of all EPs.

      9. @Paul Inwood:

        Yes Paul, yours is the most common interpretation. I agree with your interpretation as well. It is certainly plausible. I am simply aiming for a more difficult interpretation.

  8. Insert frequent acclamations like the EPs for Children have; why should the kids have all the fun?

    The Last Supper story should be introduced with a relative clause: “you Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who on the night before he suffered . . . .”

    1. @Lee Baccchi:

      The Last Supper story should be introduced with a relative clause: “you Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who on the night before he suffered . . . .”

      In the Latin of the Roman Canon, the institution narrative begins with the nominative singular masculine relative pronoun qui. For this reason the consecration of the bread is colloquially referred to as the qui pridie. The paragraph is actually one huge relative clause. “[He] who, on the day [night] before …” In Latin, the relative pronoun can stand in for the English personal pronoun.

      Literally, pridie means “the day before”. However, iff the Last Supper is interpreted as taking place on the Seder night, then pridie is best translated as “the night before”. cf. English translation of EP III.

  9. Some suggestions, within the present confines of our prose EP’s:
    1. Allow or encourage standing, as a return to the ancient tradition explicitly mentioned without interruption up to 2011 (“omnium circumstantium,” “stand in your presence”).
    2. Require standing for the great doxology.
    Each of the first two suggestions may encourage a greater participation in sung responses from the assembly, thus involvement in the central mystery rather than in peripheral devotion.
    3. Eliminate bell ringing and instrumental accompaniment from the end of the Sanctus to the Great Amen. So we chant the EP and responses.
    4. Introduce from the Byzantine rite the response Amen to the words of consecration over the bread and the cup.

    1. @Paul Schlachter:

      Re (2), I have seen this in another country, where kneeling is the posture from the Sanctus; however, the congregation stood for the doxology concluding the Eucharistic Prayer. That seemed rather awkward since there was a long pause while people shifted posture, and the change seemed to link the doxology more with the prayers following.

      Re: (4) Given the almost exclusive use of “Amen” in the Roman liturgy to conclude prayers, would not the “Amen”s seem to fracture the Eucharistic Prayer even more?

  10. One ‘small variant’ in the Narrative of Institution could be introduced simply – that is, a pause between ….”which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.” and the phrase which in fact applies to both parts of the consecration “Do this in memory of me”. The bells could be rung in this pause and the phrase would be followed by the reverence/genuflection — but it would certainly be more inclusive theologically and be a ‘reflection’ of 1 Cor. 11:23-25. It would make it clear to the assembly before the “Mystery of Faith” what ‘Do this in memory of me’ includes (and perhaps enrich the general understanding of “Mystery of Faith”.)

  11. One could add that it would be also important that the ‘gesture’ of holding the ‘gifts’ at the narrative of the Institution (following the present rubric) be one of ‘showing’ concentrating/focusing the attention of the priest and the assembly on the words for each gift holding them up perhaps before the ‘eye level’ of the priest only. And then having the ‘triumphal elevation’ during the Doxology at the end of the EP — holding the ‘gifts’ up for the “Amen” of the assembly. [confer Justin Martyr.]

  12. One could add that it would be also important that the ‘gesture’ of holding the ‘gifts’ at the narrative of the Institution (following the present rubric) be one of ‘showing’ — concentrating/focusing the attention of the priest and the assembly on the words for each gift holding them up perhaps before the ‘eye level’ only of the priest and so also for the assembly. And then having the ‘triumphal elevation’ during the Doxology at the end of the EP — holding the ‘gifts’ up for the “Amen” of the assembly. [again strictly following the direction of the rubric — confer Justin Martyr.]

  13. A suggestion would be:

    Regular gestures during the dialogue
    Orans for the preface
    Either joined hands or people join priest in orans for the Sanctus
    Orans until the epiclesis over the gifts
    A simple joined hands, palms down, over the gifts at the epiclesis. No crossing
    A functional elevation during the Institution narrative, and no genuflections
    Either joined hands or people join priest in the orans position for the Memorial Acclamation
    Orans until the invocation of the Spirit upon he communicants
    A simple hands extended over the people during the invocation of the Spirit over the communicants
    Orans position until doxology
    Genuflect, take up the consecrated gifts, and sing doxology
    People, if they have upraised hands at the Sanctus and Memorial Acclamation, then do likewise for the great Amen which accompanies the devotional elevation.
    Priest genuflections when returning the Sacrament to the Altar.

    If it is desired to retain a signing with the cross at the epiclesis over the gifts, I would consider doing the same at the invocation of the Spirit upon the people.

    You asked for creativity with the rubrics…


  14. I would simply suggest the optional use of the Eucharistic Prayer from the Didache. Over time, with continual use, the whole Todah (Thanksgiving) sacrifice will be better understood according to its Jewish roots.

  15. This is the most un-appealing discussion I’ve seen on PrayTell.

    I don’t think we will ever be able to shift the focus completely from the words of institution to the entire Eucharistic Prayer.

    Ringing the bells which seems to be being done in more and more parishes certainly emphasizes the “magic moment ” theology. Why should we do this when Mass is in the venacular and the priest is facing the people. The assembled congregation should no longer need to be joulted from their novena prayers, rosaries or whatever.

    Pray the Eucharist Prayer with faith, remembering that “what the Church prays is what the Church believes.”

    Simple eye movements and hand gestures as well as making the singular plural (when appropriate) can draw the congregation into the entire Eucharistic Prayer.

    Father Dave Riley

    1. @Fr. Dave Riley:
      Much before the 3rd century what evidence we have for the EP’s content, there were EPs with no words of institution,or containing an epiclesis. In some instances, there wasn’t an anamnesis either.

      What was the “magic moment” for them? Applying the principle of “lex orandi lex credendi”, what was that for Christians then?

  16. Change the elevations how you will; add as much chanting as you like; just get all Latin Rite congregations ON THEIR FEET while they are taking their active (though silent) part in the offering that follows the Memorial Acclamation.

  17. A simple thing would be for the celebrant to not handle or show the elements at the institution narrative but to continue with arms extended in the same voice etc.

  18. Speaking of the Roman Canon, I know two revisions were prepared after V2, but both rejected. Does anyone know where proposed texts can be found?

    1. @Father Robert Lyons:
      The textual changes (only, there were rubrical changes also) were as follows:

      The first option had the regular sequence as in the Roman Canon with the following changes:
      Memento for the living (abbreviated, ends at se suisque omnibus)
      Communicantes (abbreviated list of apostles, Joseph, John the Baptist, Stephen)
      Hanc igitur (only on special occasions as a proper insertion)
      Memento of the Dead (ends at “in somno pacis”)
      Nobis Quoque (minus saints)

      The other one had the same changed passages, and followed the structure of the Canon, except that the Memento of the living was moved to before the Memento of the dead.

      1. @Brian Palmer:

        I’ve read Mazza (have it next to me right now), but have been hoping to find the actual texts proposed. I find Mazza’s descriptions interesting, but hard to actually assemble in my mind on the fly.

      2. @Father Robert Lyons (#38):

        A PDF scan of Vagaggini’s book The Canon of the Mass and Liturgical Reform can be found in the sidebar of my blog Lectionary Study Aids. You (and others) may also enjoy some of the other scans, documents and resources available there.

        With regard to the various texts and schemas of the Order of Mass (which includes, obviously, the Canon) drafted and proposed by the Consilium between 1964 and 1968, keep an eye out at New Liturgical Movement over the next couple of weeks!

      3. @Matthew Hazell:


        Your website is a valuable treasure trove of items, and everyone should bookmark it.

        And, while I really appreciate having Vagaggini’s book available electronically, I find myself wondering if you obtained permission from Continuum (now Bloomsbury) for this usage of a text which is still in copyright.

        Likewise Nathan Mitchell’s splendid Eucharistic Prayer A (on your site as An Original Eucharistic Prayer: Text 1). Did ICEL allow you to present this and other ICEL texts on your site?

        I don’t want to be a curmudgeon at all, because it is in the interests of everyone that these texts and many of the other texts you present be available for study and research; but at the same time there are moral and legal dimensions.

        I hope you can reassure me!

    2. Father Robert Lyons : @Brian Palmer: I’ve read Mazza (have it next to me right now), but have been hoping to find the actual texts proposed. I find Mazza’s descriptions interesting, but hard to actually assemble in my mind on the fly.

      I don’t know if the moderators can/will provide you with my email address, but if they do and you email me, I can send you the schemas from the Concilium proposals (which are different from Vagaggini’s book, which feature proposals by Kung and Amon).

  19. In the 2010 book, Issues in Eucharistic Praying in East and West: Essays in Liturgical and Theological Analysis, there is an essay by Nicholas V. Russo entitled “The Validity of the Anaphora of Addai and Mari: Critique of the Critiques.” It discusses the Vatican’s recognition that this Eucharistic Prayer is valid (as used by the Assyrian Church of the East) even though it does not include an institution narrative. The conclusion reached by the Vatican was that:

    “Though Addai and Mari may lack the Institution ad litteram, it contains it virtually, in explicit, if oblique, references to the eucharistic Institution, to the Last Supper, to the Body and Blood and sacrifice of Christ, and to the oblation of the Church, thereby clearly demonstrating the intention of repeating what Jesus did in obedience to His command: ‘Do this in memory of me.’” (Robert F Taft, SJ. “Mass Without the Consecration? The Historic Agreement on the Eucharist Between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East: Promulgated 26 October 2001,” Worship 77:6 (2003).

    Some of the insights I found in Taft and Russo were the idea that the words of Jesus at the Last Supper were eternally consecratory, and that our entire act of thanksgiving/remembrance is what matters. Although our Tradition has found great value in remembering Jesus’ words of institution, the early Church celebrated the Eucharist without using these words.

    In response to the non solum question, I would observe that priests often treat the Institution Narrative as the climax of the Eucharistic Prayer and pray as though the remainder of it is anti-climactic. I wonder what insights priests might gain by taking time to pray the Eucharistic Prayer outside of Mass, and by leaving out the Institution Narrative, seek to discover ways in which the rest of the prayer echo and extend that particular element.

  20. Get rid of the accretion of the “memorial acclamation.” Nothing breaks the continuity of the Canon more than stopping to announce and then sing that, then returning to the prayer. It becomes in essence, two prayers instead of one. While in the Eastern Churches there is precedent for such “acclamations,” there is no such precedent in the Roman Church.

  21. Vagaggini’s The Canon of the Mass and Liturgical Reform has, I believe, the two proposals (one by Hans Küng).

    I’m not all that sure how important it is to get people to focus on the whole EP. People speak disparagingly of “magic moments,” but I don’t myself see that as such a problem. Certainly we don’t want to convey the impression that God is at our beck and call, but I don’t think that a recognition of the centrality of the institution narrative or a sense of enchantment is doing anybody any harm.

    1. @Fritz Bauerschmidt:
      I largely agree with Fritz. The Eucharistic Prayer should be improved (I think) not by downplaying the “magic moment,” which is what it is, but by increasing understanding of the importance of the other moments. For example, get people in the pews ON THEIR FEET when they are joining in the offering of the elements (the “Unde et memores”). Or did I mention that before?

  22. I can’t help but think that part of addressing this valid concern is getting the priest’s nose out of the book… which doesn’t mean that he doesn’t use the book. There must be familiarity with all of the prayer texts which are used, or they simply come across as very poorly read, uninspiring words. When a priest has read, studied and prayed the prayers in preparation, then there’s a far better chance that he will be able to lead the assembly in that prayer. When it’s only coming across as “the right words in the right order,” straight out of the book, the prayer is greatly minimized, and certainly isn’t experienced as something with which the people are involved. Years ago, I lived with a priest who, among his many gripes against me, with great passion accused, “You don’t read the Eucharistic Prayer. You pray it.” Thank you. Guilty as charged.

  23. The biggest issue, in my view, is the contorted notion of adoration surrounding the narrative. Do we suppose the disciples present at the Lord’s supper or at Emmaus were adoring Jesus as he gave himself to them in the breaking of the bread? Or that they had even begun to contemplate the meaninf of real presence. The structure of the Mass dates to a time when it centered on the words and gestures of the priest exclusive of the words and gestures of his priestly people. This is why it is so important for the transformation of sinners into a holy people that the EP be experienced as the work of the risen Christ in those purchased by his precious blood and those who lead the thanksgiving. Standing would be a more active posture than kneeling. The latter makes it appear that the job of the people is to adore while the priest is offering thanks on their behalf. Ringing bells serves only to interrupt the prayer by supposing that greater attention is required for the narrative which will mystically bring Christ down from heaven at the priest’s bidding. A profound bow after the words do this in memory of me might take us away from medieval arguments that resulted in twin genuflections. The prayerful manner in which the priest recalls the words of Jesus without staring at the missal obviates the need for elevations so lofty that some priests seem in danger of tipping over. We have been blessing, adoring, and glorifying the Lord in his holy of holys since the Mass began. Should we make it appear that the ony presence that really counts is the one associated with the consecrated elements. This is not to deny or challenge that each real presence has its own particular characteristics. But what would it mean to infer that his presence in the word, the priest, and the assembly is not “substantial”? Let the assembly at least stand for the memorial acclamation and at the conclusion of the EP allow them to raise their hands as the priest holds the Body and Blood of Christ aloft as all offer glory and honor to the triune God.

  24. I think that a unified sense of the whole prayer really relies upon an assembly that understands itself as OFFERING the whole prayer “in persona Christi” with the priest as “in persona Christi capitis” – – the EP understood by the assembly, in other words, they way they understand that they, all together, are offering the entire Lord’s Prayer.
    Having worked in a parish where, for a number of years, standing was the normative posture – I can tell you that the posture does not by itself assure increased engagement in the prayer.

  25. “Having worked in a parish where, for a number of years, standing was the normative posture – I can tell you that the posture does not by itself assure increased engagement in the prayer.”

    Ditto. I can safely say, having experienced it in multiple communities, it has no correlation.

  26. Instead of the priest reciting the “mystery of faith” post consecration, he could pray the Orthodox prayer:

    “Your own from Your own we offer You, in all and for all.”

    and the people would respond with the memorial acclamation. Or the above prayer could be prayed from lips of the faithful as the memorial acclamation.

    1. @Devin Rice:
      Perhaps we could take a cue from our own tradition and somehow use the Benedictus as a memorial acclimation (i.e. break it away from the Sanctus and put it after the consecration, as was common – but not required – before the council).

      I agree with those who said singing the EP would do a lot to “unify” it.

  27. Alan (#39) and Karl (#42): True, appropriate posture does not by itself bring about full, conscious, and active participation. But inappropriate posture impedes it. And I’m not sure how a person could be confident, without encephalography, that engagement in the Eucharistic Prayer is NOT increased by standing when the universal rubrics call for it.

    1. @Paul R. Schwankl:
      Well, you might imagine that, but I don’t see credible evidence for it. Again, this strikes me as a precious desideratum that promises more than it delivers. And I am therefore not sure why it would be worth waging a battle for. Because it would be a battle: telling people they either (i) can’t kneel when they are accustomed to kneeling, and (ii) that kneeling is [insert phrase of choice designed to belittle it], will provoke a battle. I believe progressives (hint: I am one) would be foolish to even propose to wage it (all the more if they don’t think they would be “waging” it). It would be a self-inflicted wound for progressives in the US (where kneeling has become deeply established – however much of an outlier it is),

      1. @Karl Liam Saur:
        I’m not sure we understand each other. I wasn’t imagining palpable evidence that standing increases engagement. I was wondering what evidence there could be that it doesn’t.
        I was calling for it because it’s theologically the right thing to do. Restoring the universality of standing after the Institution Narrative (it was the rule for the choir at High Mass before Vatican II) wouldn’t require saying that kneeling is demeaning or outmoded, just that it’s inappropriate at that time.
        Perhaps that would be, as you say, too much of a change for ordinary congregants to swallow, and would turn into a counterproductive battle. But people have made bigger adjustments in the past.
        The editor invited imaginative suggestions here. I thought asking for standing at the Anamnesis was pretty pedestrian compared to some of the ambitious proposals that have been made so far.

  28. At the NPM 1994 Regional Convention in San Jose, Bill Cieslak and I co-presented a session entitled “The Challenge of the Eucharistic Prayer”.

    We started off by looking at What is a Eucharistic Prayer? (and its structure) and Who does the Eucharistic Prayer?

    We gave some presuppositions:
    (a) EP Acclamations need to be stylistically consistent.
    [Sidenote: in England and Wales since 2010, they all have to make use of the same musical material in order to unify the Prayer. Settings which do not do this are not given approval. This does not seem to be true of many settings published elsewhere in the English-speaking world.]
    (b) The entire assembly needs to be drawn into the EP through song, posture and gesture [sic].

    We then presented a strategy for discussion, which consisted of three different “performances” of EP III.


    (1) The then-current USA model: the presider singing a lot of difficult music; standard people’s acclamations. The example we used was Marty Haugen’s Mass of Creation with the presider’s sung parts. For posture, we had all standing throughout.

    Our critique of this ran along these lines:
    (i) It emphasizes the presider’s role more than the rest of the assembly.
    (ii) It requires true musical ability.
    (iii) This setting (as well as others, e.g. Joncas) emphasizes the institution narrative, but not the other essential parts of the prayer.
    (iv) Can be adapted to have the presider’s parts entirely or mostly spoken, with the same sung acclamations.
    (v) Can be adapted as to the number of acclamations sung.
    (vi) Has a very prayerful sound.


    (2) The then-current UK model, used there since the 1970s: the presider (or all the concelebrants) use(s) a simple psalm tone chant. The example we used was Paul Inwood’s Eucharistic Liturgy which has call-response acclamations throughout. For posture, we had all standing throughout, but asked them to imitate the Presider’s gestures throughout the Prayer. Since their acclamations were completely call-response, they did not need to hold any music.

    Our critique of this was as follows:
    (i) Easy music line for the presider, requiring minimal musical ability once the tone is learned
    (ii) Is rather shorter in performance time.
    (iii) Enables the presider to “pray” the text.
    (iv) Doesn’t differentiate between different elements in the structure (this is both a good thing and a bad thing).
    (v) Involves the rest of the assembly in the usual way, but with the addition of gestures uniting them to the preside.
    (vi) Has a very prayerful sound.


    (3) Another model that could be coming into use [in fact it has not, so far]: simple presider’s parts that respect the nature of the prayer (two-line chant: the second element is always the same, while the first one uses one of three formulae according to the nature of the text). The example we used was Paul Inwood’s Gathering Mass with EP chant and many additional acclamations in the course of the Prayer. For posture, we invited the assembly to stand and hold hands throughout the Prayer, and to bow deeply (still holding hands) after each section of the institution narrative. Since all the acclamations were once again call-response, no one needed to hold any paper in their hands.

    Our critique of this:
    (i) The music line for the presider requires a little bit more musical ability than in (2).
    (ii) The inclusion of many more acclamations as part of the structure results in continuous engagement of the assembly.
    (iii) Additionally, in this setting the acclamations define the major structural elements in the Prayer.
    (iv) Requires rehearsal for presider and musicians together in order to make the dialogical “intent” work.
    (v) The uniting of the assembly as one body by all holding hands can be seen as a positive and a negative function (because of the time taken), depending on your background and openness.


    We then asked the several hundred participants to talk to us about what they felt about their engagement in the different models. They were broadly in favor of Model 3, mostly because of the additional acclamations, but not all were sure about holding hands with their neighbours during this so Model 2 also got some support.

    Finally, we had a brief debate (the session was only 60 minutes in length!) on multicultural dimensions to EPs.

    In my opinion we need now to revisit this kind of discussion, since (i) the advent of the revised translation has made engagement of the assembly more problematical in these Prayers than previously and (ii) the intercultural environment is now going to make a greater difference (and cf. our previous discussion on this forum about how the EP is done at Taizé).

    1. @Paul Inwood @1:55pm:

      A serious limitation of “this kind of discussion” is that it was an NPM Regional Convention. It’s a rather narrow audience.

      The really hard discussion is a broad and deep parish-wide conversation over a period of time, which is revisited periodically, and that is openly curious rather than heavily moderated by ministers trying to herd people with preselected choices. It’s not “efficient” because it’s trying to be a real conversation. It doesn’t assume that there *is* a problem to be solved in the first place. It relies on epistemic and spiritual humility by open curiosity where leaders are have cultivated detachment from having their own biases rudder an agenda.

      1. @Karl Liam Saur:

        If you don’t think there’s a problem with the EP, you never heard Gelineau lecture about it. The object of the NPM session was to get the juices flowing and encourage people to think about, as stated, what the EP is, who does it, and how. Anything which moves people away from perceiving the EP as “that long boring bit which the priest does while the rest of us doze off” has to be helpful.

      2. @Paul Inwood:
        The problem is…what you or I or Gelineau think the problem is with eucharistic prayers is not necessarily what divers people in the pews may think, even if there is some *overlap*. I’ve just learned parish conversations often go in very unexpected directions if you don’t assume that people are necessarily in agreeement when they use similar words but are instead patient and curious to go beyond the initial levels of conversation, which one is less likely to do if one has already decided what the problem is and are vulnerable to confirmation and selection biases.

      3. @Karl Liam Saur:


        I don’t think we’re going to further the discussion here.

        In my work as a liturgical formator and in furtherance of my semiological interests, I have discussed, in depth, over the past 45 years, with thousands of ordinary parishioners, how they perceive what is going on during the liturgy, including during the Eucharistic Prayer. Not what you or I think is wrong with it, but how they perceive it. I have not imposed an agenda on anyone, and have been amazed at the depth and wisdom of the responses and conversations I have had — all down to the people, who have much more to say than some might suspect. I think you would be surprised. Much of my thinking has been turned around by what people in the pews say.

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