Episco-Fact #144
June 13, 2019


Will you explain the differences in the Eucharistic Prayers? They do not sound the same, but they sound alike.

There are six Eucharistic Prayers in The Book of Common Prayer (BCP), 1979. Two of those Prayers, I and II, are in the language used in the BCP, 1928. Prayer I was the Prayer adopted for the BCP, 1789. It focuses on Christ's suffering and death, while commemorating his resurrection and ascension. This prayer has a strong sense of memorialization in it. Prayer II is a revision of Prayer I, shorter, containing all the elements listed above except that it is less a memorialization.

Rite 2 has four prayers for the Eucharist. Prayer A is an equivalent of Prayer II. It is Anglican with its emphasis on the cross and, therefore, is recommended for use in Lent. Prayer B emphasizes the incarnation based on a 3rd century Eucharistic Prayer. It is recommended for usage in the incarnational seasons of Advent, Christmas, and Easter. Prayer C, which St. Francis used from June through Labor Day in 2018, emphasizes the created order, the revelation of God in the Hebrew Bible, and by its use of congregational acclamations. It is especially recommended for use during green Sundays (i.e. the seasons after Epiphany and Pentecost). Prayer D comes from a prayer of St. Basil, one of the main contributors to the legitimization of the Nicene Creed, written in the 4th century. It is likely, the most widely used prayer within the church, and is especially appropriate for use on Maundy Thursday, the great baptismal dates of the Great Vigil of Easter, the Feast of Pentecost, the Feast of All Saints, and the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord. It is, also, a prayer with a focus on the Holy Spirit.

Believing that the language of the United States and the culture which contains it were transforming rapidly, the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music began to release supplemental worship materials for use in parishes in 1997. That release added three more prayers for use by parishes, but with restrictions. The prayers that were developed do not, and were not intended to, replace the six BCP prayers already discussed above. These three prayers were allowed for use, under the supervision of the Diocesan Bishop, at times other than the main worship services on Sunday Morning.

During the period from June 23, next Sunday, through Labor Day, St. Francis is going to take-up the permission granted by the General Convention in 2018 and use the second of the three options for the 10:00 AM service this summer, under the Bishop's supervision, of course.

A few details about this prayer that may help the congregation navigate the language. The opening paragraph is a statement about creation and God's graciousness embedded in the created order, an order we rebelled against. It continues with the humans who cooperated with God in our salvation, Mary and Jesus, especially the work that Jesus did in the world. The resulting prayer is, therefore, a combination of Prayers B, C, and D from the BCP in summary form. For this summer, listen, reflect, and seek understanding in the Eucharist we celebrate.