In 2008, the General Synod asked the House of Bishops to commission Eucharistic Prayers suitable for use on occasions when a significant number of children are present or when it is otherwise pastorally appropriate to meet the needs of children present. The Additional Eucharistic Prayers are the result. They are intended for occasions such as a school Eucharist, not for use on a weekly basis at the main celebration of Holy Communion in the parish church. The Liturgical Commission has also prepared some guidance on celebrating the Eucharist with children. The Guidance is printed at the start of this booklet, in order to introduce those planning a Eucharist with children to first principles and to the development of a model of best practice according to their particular context. The task of preparing worship is not simply to facilitate the praying of a liturgical text, but rather to use imagination and allow space for an entire liturgical experience of which the text is a part, leaving room for silence and mystery. The Guidance is intended to help in this task, where a large number of children are gathered.
There are two Eucharistic Prayers, each of which has its own distinctive style while conforming to a classical structure. Both prayers provide for the children to participate. Prayer One offers optional congregational responses which are simple enough to be learned quickly and without needing to be read. Prayer Two uses an optional pattern of asking and answering questions at three different points. Each question reflects on what has just been said and the answer calls the congregation’s attention to the next section of the prayer. Prayer Two also includes specially composed proper prefaces, which relate to a range of basic themes (light, creation, cities, sorrow, joy) rather than directly to the seasons of the Christian Year. Local composition of other suitable proper prefaces is permitted.
Though the prayers are relatively brief, brevity was not the primary consideration in composing them. A Eucharistic Prayer is made accessible not only by brevity but also by using appropriate language and imagery, and by good and imaginative presidency.
The language is direct, visual and vivid. Some traditional terms have also been included, in the belief that children will grow into a deeper understanding of the words as the prayers are used. Though there is much fresh composition, the prayers also incorporate core texts which will enter the children’s memories and begin to build a familiar liturgical repertoire as they mature in age and experience.
Above all, these prayers give expression to the whole work of the Trinity in creation, redemption and sanctification. The drama of our salvation, by the incarnation of Christ and his death on the cross for our redemption, has been incorporated in each prayer in the form of a story, and in such a way as to encourage a sense of wonder and gratitude.
Common Worship: Additional Eucharistic Prayers - with Guidance on Celebrating the Eucharist with Children, material from which is included here,
is copyright © The Archbishops' Council 2012 and published by Church House Publishing.