Planning and Preparing Holy
There are basically two parts to the Holy Communion service: the
Word and the Sacrament.
The Word part consists of
* the first part of the Holy Communion
(The Gathering and The Liturgy of the Word)
* A Service of the Word (Preparation,
The Liturgy of the Word, Prayers). This can take the form of
Morning or Evening Prayer, or a Family Service.
The Sacrament part consists of
* The Peace
* Preparation of the Table
* The Eucharistic Prayer
* Breaking of the Bread
* Giving of Communion
* The Dismissal
These features are not all of equal weight.
How it works
First decide the structure.
This is well set out on page 12 above, although Note 10 to A
Service of the Word (page 14) says that the order provided is not
prescriptive. A decision will need to be taken about where to place
those ingredients that are normal but may vary in position; for
example, where penitence is to come, and where the Peace is
Second, add to this structure:
* Other elements that are compulsory,
but may vary in form. All of the authorized forms of confession and
absolution from Common Worship may be found in Section B.When A
Service of the Word with a Celebration of Holy Communion is being
used, the readings must be governed by an authorized lectionary,
but the Creed could be the Apostles' Creed or an authorized
Affirmation of Faith. All those currently authorized may be found
in Section E.
* Those ingredients in the service
which are not compulsory; e.g. the collect for purity, the Gloria
in excelsis, the prayer of humble access, the choice of post
communion or another suitable prayer.
* Those parts of the service where 'ad
lib' or unofficial material may be used, or where there is
provision made in the Resource Sections, e.g. the Greeting, the
Prayers of Intercession, the introduction to the Peace, Prayers at
the Preparation of the Table, the Post Communion or other suitable
or seasonal prayers, the seasonal or other suitable form of
Most modern rites place the Peace between the Prayers and the
Preparation of the Table. Note the scope for placing it elsewhere,
for example at the beginning or the end of the service, as well as
the option to introduce it with other words, which may be composed
for the occasion or the locality. See page 271 below.
Preparation of the Table
Customs vary on the solemnity with which this is done. In some
places, variable prayers may be used. These should be preparatory,
as the title for this part implies, and not dramatically overshadow
the Eucharistic Prayer.
The Eucharistic Prayer
One of the authorized forms must always be used. A Eucharistic
Prayer, whether it takes the form of extended monologue with
acclamations, or a dialogue between president and congregation,
normally includes the following:
* thanksgiving for creation, redemption
and the work of the Spirit
* the memorial prayer for the Church to
receive and grow in the life of Christ
* doxology, offering praise to God the
These are the 'deep structures' of the prayer.They need to be
'signposted' clearly as the prayer progresses, not least by the
tone of voice(s) used as the prayer is proclaimed. The pattern of
the prayer is normally
* an opening dialogue
* an introduction to praise
* an extended act of thanksgiving
* the narrative of the institution of the
* the memorial prayer
* the prayer for the work of the
* the concluding doxology.
While this basic pattern is true for all the Eucharistic Prayers
in Common Worship Order One, an examination of the
position of the Sanctus reveals two slightly different
* The traditional Western structure, to
which people grew accustomed in the prayers in The Alternative
Service Book 1980, places the Sanctus at the climax of the
preface or extended thanksgiving. It is followed by petition, which
also encompasses the narrative of institution. This is the pattern
of Prayers A, B, C and E.
* The Trinitarian or Eastern structure
followed in Prayers F and G places the Sanctus within the
thanksgiving, where it marks the change of focus from Father to
Son. In this pattern the narrative of institution marks the shift
from praise to petition and the focus on the Holy Spirit comes
This Trinitarian pattern is slightly less clear in Prayer D. Prayer
H is also Trinitarian in pattern, but the initial thanksgiving is
concluded with the narrative of institution and the Sanctus is the
final climax of praise at the end of the prayer.
Within this framework there is scope for variations:
* The Preface: Short Prefaces may be
inserted in Eucharistic Prayers A, B and C in Order One, and
Extended Prefaces may be used with Eucharistic Prayers A, B and E.
See Note 18 on page 333 in Common Worship, and also Praise
in Resource Section G in this book. Others may be specially
composed, provided that they balance the style and overall
length of the rest of the prayer.
* Acclamations: four three-line
acclamations, each with a specific introductory line, are provided
for Eucharistic Prayers A, B, C, E and G, and one of them must be
chosen. Optional acclamations are suggested for use in Prayers A
and E, and as Note 18 says, other acclamations may be used.
* Chorus or metrical versions of the
Sanctus and Doxology may be used, instead of those printed.
In Order One the Eucharistic Prayer leads into the Lord's
Prayer, but A Service of the Word with a Celebration of Holy
Communion does not specify where the Lord's Prayer should be used,
opening up the possibility of using it, for example, in the Prayers
of Intercession or in its Order Two position.
Breaking of the Bread
This symbolic action prepares for the sharing of the bread and
wine. On Sundays and Principal Holy Days one of the forms of words
provided in Order One or Order Two must be used. On other days it
may be done in silence or during the Agnus Dei. See Note 20 on page
334 of Common Worship.
Invitation to Communion
Forms for this may be found on page 180 of Common Worship, but
there are no explicit instructions either in the Notes or the Order
on page 12 in this book.
Giving of Communion
Local customs vary.However the consecrated bread and wine are
shared, it should be done decently and in order.
Consecrated bread and wine not required for communion are
reverently consumed at the end of the distribution or after the
service. This is not a liturgical act and need not be done at the
holy table or by the president.
For prayer after communion there is a choice between
presidential texts (the authorized Post Communion of the day or
another suitable prayer) and congregational texts. Other
alternative prayers and dismissals are provided in Resource Section