Liturgical Renewal – two new Eucharistic Prayers

The Orthodox Church has experienced a limited liturgical renewal. This renewal has some clear and fairly well-known examples. Many of the prayers that were once read silently are now recited aloud. Liturgies that had fallen into obscurity have been revived. The sacred arts of iconography and liturgical music have adorned the Church’s prayer. In many places, the people are encouraged to sing along during the Liturgy. Holy Communion is once again the center of Church life. 

Many things have not changed. The one main constant is the Divine Liturgy itself. The Church offers the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom on most Sundays and feast days. St. Basil’s Liturgy retains its privileged position during solemn seasons. The Church rarely prayers the Liturgy of St. James. The prayers remain the same; the hymns and readings vary by season.

In the spirit of the Church as a body living in both the present and the future, one can compose new prayers. The rule used to writing icons and composing music applies to liturgical offices and prayers. The author offers them in fidelity to tradition, for the glory of God. The following anaphora is the first of two to appear here, on Pray, Tell. It is a product of study, but especially of prayer and reflection, a process that was and remains a struggle for the author. 

An Anaphora for Advent, Christmas, Theophany, and Hypapante     

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From Advent (November 15) through the leavetaking of the Hypapante (February 9)

Deacon: Let us stand aright! Let us stand in fear! Let us attend, that we may offer the holy oblation in peace.

People: A Mercy of peace, a sacrifice of praise.

Priest: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

People: And with your spirit!

Priest: Let us lift up our hearts!

People: We lift them up unto the Lord.

Priest: Let us give thanks to the Lord.

People: It is meet and right to worship the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: Trinity one in essence, and undivided!

Priest: It is meet and right to give thanks to you, O God, who in days of old revealed yourself to the holy prophet Moses, and made a covenant with your chosen people Israel, a royal priesthood and holy nation. Delivering them from slavery to a cruel tyrant, you gave them their own land and nourished them with springs of water. You anointed David as king; he was from the house of Ephratha. After Israel and Judah became captives again, you promised to renew them by sending forth your prince of peace from the root of Jesse, to rule over your holy people for eternity. He was born in Bethlehem, and your heralds announced his coming in the flesh to the shepherds in the fields with song, ‘glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men’. Together with your angels, we sing your thrice-holy hymn, shouting, proclaiming, and saying:

People: Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord of Sabaoth! Heaven and earth are full of Your glory! Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the Highest!

Priest: O Holy God, we joyfully proclaim: glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men’. In your love and compassion for humankind, you sent your only-begotten son, the divine word, true God of true God, to take on flesh and dwell among us, taking on the form of a servant. You sent your archangel Gabriel to announce your good news to Mary, the Mother of God who responded to you with joyful praise. You gave your son refuge in Egypt from his pursuers, foreshadowing his lifegiving death on the cross and resurrection from the dead. He received baptism in the Jordan by the hand of the Forerunner and Baptist John, revealing to us the renewal of Baptism of water and Spirit for the forgiveness of sins to be given to us. The elder Simeon and Prophetess Anna rejoiced at meeting our Lord and Savior, prefiguring his second and glorious coming. With awe and boldness, we gather at your holy altar in remembrance of his supper, when he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to his holy disciples, saying,

Take, eat, this is my body, which is broken for you and for many, for the remission of sins.

People: Amen.

Priest: And likewise after supper, he took the cup, saying, Drink of it, all of you, this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for you and for many, for the remission of sins.

People: Amen.

Priest: Giving thanks for his immaculate incarnation, his baptism in the Jordan, the encounter at the temple, his saving passion, death, burial, descent into Hades, resurrection, ascension into heaven, session at your right hand, and his second and glorious coming, in the flesh, like the wise men who brought him gifts in the manger of a cave, we offer you your own of your own, in behalf of all and for all.

People: We praise you, we bless you, we give thanks to you, o our God.

Father, you sanctified the virgin’s womb and revealed Jesus as Your Son and anointed One at the Jordan, by the descent of the Holy Spirit. Master, now as then, sanctify us, and bless these gifts here offered [+] to be the body and blood of your Son and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Grant to those who partake of them the communion of the Holy Spirit, fellowship with all of your saints, remission of sins, healing of soul and body, that we would become servants of all humankind, your witnesses who announce your good news to the ends of the earth: glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Remember, Lord, all of those who have fallen asleep and await resurrection to eternal life: fathers, mothers, patriarchs, prophets, apostles, preachers, evangelists, martyrs, confessors, ascetics, and all the righteous perfected in faith.

Especially for our all-holy, immaculate, blessed Lady, the Mother of God and ever-virgin Mary.

The people sing the appointed Theotokion.

Priest: For St. John, Forerunner and Baptist, the holy, glorious and honored apostles; for saint N. whose memory we celebrate today, and for all your saints.

Remember, Lord, all of those who have departed this life before us, who here and in all the world lie asleep in the Lord: [the priest recites the names of those remembered here; completing the censing of the table, the deacon also recites the names of living and the dead for the duration of the prayer]

Remember all Orthodox bishops, presbyters, deacons and laity;

Remember those suffering from sickness, depression, and addiction; remember slaves, those who are exploited, those who have been abused, those who suffer persecution, and all prisoners;

Remember all widows, widowers, orphans, refugees, homeless, immigrants, strangers, and the poor, and grant them safe haven, refuge, stability, and peace;

Remember all travelers and those who are absent for a worthy cause. Remember our armed forces and all our civil authorities.

Remember, Lord, all of those for whom we offer our silent prayer:

All observe a moment of silence.

Priest: Among the first, remember, o Lord, our Archbishop (Metropolitan) N. and our Bishop N.. Grant them for your holy churches in peace, safety, honor, health, and length of days, rightly to divide the word of your truth.

People: And all humankind!

Priest: And grant that with one mouth and one heart we may praise your all-honorable and majestic name, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages.

People: Amen.




  1. My impression is that altering the anaphora to reflect the season or the feast is more a Western thing than an Eastern one (i.e. the prefaces). I know that the Byzantine churches use Chrysostom or Basil at different times, but it doesn’t seem that the content of the prayers is particularly reflective of the occasions on which they are used.

    I guess my question is whether this is a kind of “westernization” of the Byzantine liturgy. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. The West borrowed from the East in introducing a pneumatological epiclesis after the Council, so such borrowing obviously happens and can be a good thing. But would Eastern Christians see the inclusion of season themes as somehow a radical departure from the ethos of Eastern liturgy?

    1. Great questions. There are some in the Byzantine tradition who see anything new as latinization or westernization of the Eastern Liturgy. As I developed the anaphoras, I thought about liturgical history. Chrysostom himself introduced the anaphora he knew from his days as a presbyter in Antioch to Constantinople, and it did not become the primary anaphora until the eleventh century. Each week, the Church commemorates someone and/or some event taken from the Menaion – the services tend to be amalgamations of such commemorations, and new offices are composed for each new saint, wonderworking icon, finding of a relic, or even events like the Great Patriotic War. New icons are painted and new music composed. Why not new prayers? Maybe no one will notice them, or the Church won’t receive them. But to refuse to write anything new is akin to denying the Holy Spirit – even if some complain (loudly) that new prayers are Western innovations. To me, that may be just what the Eastern Church needs these days – too many Easterners are also trying to breathe with one lung. In other words, I make this public knowing that some or even many might view it as dubious. So be it.

      1. And maybe the fact that the bulk of the Eucharistic Prayer was inaudible for centuries contributed to that stasis. The same thing could be said about the Roman Canon. Although there are those “restorationists” who still advocate for using only that text, I can speak for myself in saying that the richer euchology that has evolved in the Roman Rite in the last fifty years is life-giving.

  2. “Many things have not changed. The one main constant is the Divine Liturgy itself. The Church offers the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom on most Sundays and feast days. St. Basil’s Liturgy retains its privileged position during solemn seasons. The Church rarely prayers the Liturgy of St. James. The prayers remain the same; the hymns and readings vary by season.”

    This is a strength, not a weakness.

    1. Somewhere, Robert Taft wrote that the Byzantine Churches experienced much more liturgical reform than those of the West, at least up until the sixteenth century or so. If Liturgy shouldn’t change, the Church should be gathering in house churches, or perhaps urban basilicas with chancel barriers, minimal iconography, and no hymnography, since this was considered a radical innovation when it was introduced and began to circulate beyond Palestine. The constant renewal of non-textual liturgical reforms contrasts the East’s fidelity to the texts of two liturgies. Numerous factors contributed to resistance to change: centralization, the printing press, and synodal governance of local liturgy – a phenomenon alien to the Eastern tradition. I treated this in my monograph on Orthodox liturgical reform.

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