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Liturgical Customary

A Synopsis of the Ceremonies at a Plain Celebration of the Eucharist

This Customary was compiled for the Anglican Society by the Rev. William D. Loring, M.Div., M.S.A., in collaboration with the Executive Committee and published in an earlier form in THE ANGLICAN 24:2 (Spring 1995). It is dedicated to the memory of the Rev. Francis F. E. Blake, former vice-president of the society, whose earlier customary based on the 1928 Prayer Book served as a guide for many and provided the basis for the present work.

Preliminary Notes: What follows is a summary of carefully considered suggestions, not an absolute formulary in an era when flexibility is a virtue. Even at the simplest celebration it is desirable that lay persons read the Lessons, and lead the Psalm and Prayers of the People. A lay or ordained assistant may lead the Decalogue if it is used. A Deacon or Assisting Priest should read the Gospel, the bidding to Confession, and the Dismissal; otherwise the Celebrant says these. Most prayers are said by the Celebrant in the orans position with hands at shoulder height and extended to about the width of the shoulders. Larger breads, broken into pieces at communion-time, and a red wine are symbolically effective. Bread may be leavened or unleavened. A basket lined with a corporal may be more convenient than a traditional Paten in some situations.

The Entrance: Celebrant reverences the Altar, then goes either to its center or to the chair.

Acclamation: (optional in Rite I, required in II), facing people. The acclamation may be accompanied by the sign of the cross.

Collect for Purity: (optional in Rite II, required in I), facing Altar, orans position. If at Altar, Celebrant may remain at the center or go to one side.

Decalogue or Summary: May follow in Rite I, facing the people.

Kyrie or Trisagion and/or Gloria: Facing the Altar, in Rite I either or both, in Rite II either. When beginning Gloria, Celebrant may extend, raise, and then join hands. In Gloria, a slight pause at end of each line, and a very slight pause after each comma, is suggested.

Salutation and Collect: Salutation is said facing people, hands extended then joined. Collect (one only) is said facing Altar (at the Epistle end if at the Altar), hands in orans position then joined for concluding Doxology.

Lesson(s): All except the reader sit and listen attentively. Lessons are read from a lectern or other prominent place. If a Psalm, hymn, or anthem follows, all may sit or stand.

The Gospel: All stand and face Deacon (or Celebrant or Assisting Priest) who goes to the lectern or pulpit or into the midst of the congregation. At the beginning, the reader may sign the book with a cross as others sign themselves. Nouns should be substituted for pronouns when the reference is not clear (BCP p. 888).

The Sermon: All sit and listen attentively.

The Nicene Creed (required on Sundays and other major feasts): All stand and face the Altar, Celebrant at the Chair or at the center of the Altar. Celebrant may extend, raise, and join hands at the beginning. To coordinate breath and voice, a slight pause at end of each line, and a very slight pause after each comma, is suggested. Reverences are customary at "Jesus," at "by the power . . . buried" / "and was incarnate . . . buried," and at "worshiped and glorified." Sign of the cross may be made at the conclusion.

Announcements and biddings to prayer may conveniently be made here; other appropriate places are given on BCP p. 407.

Prayers of the People: Leader faces people for initial bidding (none in Form III), then faces Altar (except in Form II where all the biddings are addressed to the people). People may stand or kneel. Celebrant in orans position adds a final Collect from BCP pp. 394-395 or elsewhere. If the Confession is used in Form VI, all kneel and Celebrant substitutes an Absolution for the Collect.

Confession of Sin: Deacon or Celebrant or Assisting Priest faces people for the bidding; all kneel for the Confession; Celebrant alone stands and faces people, hands joined, for the Absolution, and may make a sign of the cross over the people at "pardon"/"forgive." All stand after the Absolution. If Comfortable Words are used, they are read by Celebrant or Deacon or Assisting Priest facing the people, and for variety their use may be restricted to Advent and Lent.

The Peace: Celebrant comes to the center and towards people for the greeting, extending then joining hands. Individual greetings may follow, but not for too long. Necessary announcements may also be made here. Other locations for the Peace are suggested in BCP p. 407.

Offertory: Celebrant may say sentence at Altar, hands joined and facing people. Deacon (or Celebrant) spreads corporal and prepares Chalice and Paten. Representatives of congregation bring bread and wine, and money or other gifts. When all is ready Celebrant offers the gifts, raising them slightly and placing them upon the corporal. Money and other gifts may then be removed to the credence. Paten may be covered by folding part of the corporal over it, and the Chalice may be covered with a pall or a second folded corporal. Lavabo, if used, may come at this point or before preparation of elements.

Sursum corda: All standing, Celebrant faces people and either 1) extends and joins hands for salutation, raises and extends and then lowers and rejoins hands at "Lift up your hearts" and does the latter again at "Let us give thanks," or 2) extends and joins hands for salutation, closing them only at the final response of the people. Note that Celebrant says "unto our Lord God" in Rite I, but "to the Lord our God" in Rite II.

Preface: Celebrant faces Altar in orans position, bowing with hands joined at "through Jesus Christ our Lord." In Prayer C hands may be joined for the responses.

Sanctus: All bow through the first "glory," pausing slightly at end of each line.

Benedictus is optional in Rite I, required in Rite II. Chalice and Paten are then uncovered unless there is a danger of strong breeze or insects.

Consecration: People may remain standing or kneel. Celebrant may extend, raise, and then join hands at the beginning and may bow, hands joined, at the Name of Jesus where it occurs. Celebrant assumes orans position when the hands are not otherwise needed. At the Words of the Lord, which should be said clearly and distinctly, the Celebrant first holds the bread or lays a hand upon it (normally the right hand); it is convenient to raise the Paten with the left hand and place the right hand on the bread, or a large host may be lifted in both hands after the others have been touched. Likewise, the Chalice may be lifted with both hands, or one hand laid over it without actually touching the wine. (In both cases a small cross may be traced at "given thanks," and a reverence may follow each elevation). At "these thy holy gifts, which we now offer unto thee" or "we offer you these gifts," the Celebrant may raise the Paten in the right hand and Chalice in the left, crossing the hands at the wrists. At the invocation of the Holy Spirit (epiklesis) the Celebrant at the word "sanctify" may trace a cross over the elements and/or spread the hands over them, palms down and thumbs touching. At the self-offering in Rite I, the Celebrant may bow, hands joined or arms crossed in front of the breast. At the prayer for self-sanctification in Rite II, as at the petition for benediction or sanctification of ourselves in both rites, the Celebrant (and all) may make the sign of the cross. At "unworthy" (Prayer I only) Celebrant may strike the breast with the right hand. At the concluding Doxology, Celebrant joins hands and then may elevate the consecrated Bread and Chalice, or alternatively the Celebrant may elevate the Bread and the Deacon the Chalice. A profound reverence follows this prayer.

Lord's Prayer: Introduction facing Altar, hands joined. Orans for "Our Father...", hands joined again for concluding Doxology. A slight pause at end of each line, and a very slight pause after each comma, is suggested.

Breaking of Bread: Done in silence, avoiding flourishes. "Christ our Passover" and/or Agnus Dei or other hymn may follow, hands clasped; alternatives are suggested in The Book of Occasional Services. If additional Chalices are to be filled from a flagon, it may be done now. Kneel or deep bow for Humble Access if used (Rite I only); for variety, Humble Access may be restricted to Lent.

Holy Communion: Stand and face people, extending consecrated elements, and say "The Gifts of God," etc; alternatively, Celebrant extends Paten and Deacon the Chalice; or, if preferred, Celebrant may merely gesture first to the "Gifts" and then to the "people." While communicants come forward, Celebrant and assistants reverence, receive in both kinds, reverence again, then administer to communicants. Longer formula of administration may be said seriatim, and need not be repeated entirely for each. Addressing individual communicants by name is not advised, lest some names be forgotten. When all have received, return to Altar and reverence.

Ablutions: Remaining elements may be consumed and vessels cleansed immediately, at the Altar or credence, or this may be done after the dismissal or in the sacristy afterwards, the vessels covered with a pall or second corporal meanwhile. The Chalice may be cleansed with water only, or with wine first and then water. Any rinsing from ablutions should not be poured into a sink or toilet but into a piscina or upon consecrated ground.

Postcommunion prayer: Celebrant at the center of the Altar or at the chair, orans position, then hands joined for the conclusion.

Blessing (required in Rite I, optional in Rite II): Celebrant faces people, may make sign of cross over them at "blessing" and the mention of the Trinity. Dismissal (optional in Rite I, required in II) is given by Deacon or Celebrant or Assisting Priest (not by lay assistant), facing people, hands joined.