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Back to school – with two new Eucharistic Prayers for children

Two new Eucharistic Prayers for school and church use are published today - both composed to involve children and capture their imaginations as fully as possible in the preparation and celebration of Holy Communion. They are available alongside practical guidance from the Liturgical Commission helping celebrants turn an ordinary school room into an exciting place of worship; and they are available in a range of print and digital formats to suit schools and churches (full details below).

Endorsing the new prayers, the Revd Mary Hawes, National Going for Growth (Children's and Youth) Adviser, said: "These prayers have been specially written to unlock a child's imagination whilst being arresting and brief so that they can be learned by heart. Children can lead particular sections and engage with worship through art and music. I fully commend their use in churches and schools."

Recognising that the attendance of children at all-age celebrations has increased, and taking account of the Dearing Report's emphasis on the importance of the Church's mission work with schools, the General Synod commissioned the House of Bishops to compile the prayers in 2008.

Using direct, visual and vivid language, the two prayers may be incorporated within the current framework of Common Worship services either within Holy Communion: Order One or A Service of the Word with Holy Communion.

Guidance material encourages celebrants to think carefully about how best to prepare a room that may also be used for school dinners or gymnastics, and "use imagination and allow space for an entire liturgical experience", "leaving room for silence and mystery"; it suggests inviting children to make bread and banners, and play uplifting music on their own instruments, and covers practical matters such as the height of the Communion table.

Alongside the free online versions of the two new Eucharistic Prayers , Church House Publishing (CHP) has published the texts and guidance in a range of useful formats:

- Common Worship Additional Eucharistic Prayers: with Guidance on Celebrating the Eucharist with Children is available as a booklet (ISBN 978 07151 2225 9, £5.99) from booksellers or direct from CHP.

- A Kindle Edition of the booklet is available.

- The services and guidance are also available in Visual Liturgy Live, CHP's worship-planning software.

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