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A “Hippolytan” Eucharistic Prayer

Here is a sample Eucharistic prayer based on the Apostolic Tradition and its later adaptations.

Opening Dialogue

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.

Praise

It is fitting and right, Almighty Master
to give you thanks unceasingly
for all your benefits
which you have given us.

Blessed are you, Lord our God, the Creator of all things.
All that you have made worships you:
the sun and moon and all the choirs of stars;
the earth, the sea, and all that is in them.

Thousands of thousands
and ten thousands of ten thousands
of angels, archangels, thrones, dominions,
principalities, and powers worship you.

The all-seeing cherubim worship you,
and the six-winged seraphim
which continually, night and day, cry ‘Holy.’
With them receive also our cry of ‘Holy,’ as we say:

Holy, holy, holy, Lord of Hosts,
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.

Truly, Lord of Hosts, heaven and earth
are full of the holiness of your glory.

Thanksgiving

We give thanks to you, Lord,
through your beloved Son Jesus Christ.
In the fullness of time you sent him to us
as Savior and Redeemer and Messenger of your will.

He is your Word,
inseparable from you.
Through him you made all things,
and in him you are well-pleased.

You sent him from heaven into the Virgin’s womb,
where he was conceived, and made flesh.
Born of the Virgin by the power of the Holy Spirit,
he was revealed as your Son.

Fulfilling your will,
he stretched out his hands on the cross,
to release from suffering those who have believed in you
and to gain for you a holy people.

And when he was handed over to voluntary suffering
that he might destroy death, and break the bonds of the devil,
and trample down hell, and lead the saints into light,
and appoint a day for judgment, and manifest the resurrection:

He took bread and gave thanks to you, saying,
“Take, eat, this is my body, broken for you.”
Likewise the cup, saying, “This is my blood, shed for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.

Remembering, therefore, his death and resurrection,
we set before you this bread and this cup.
We give you thanks, not as we ought but as we are able,
that you have held us worthy to minister before you as priests.

Supplication

Have mercy on us, Lord, and send your Holy Spirit
upon the offering of your holy church,
that he may show this bread to be the body of Christ
and this cup to be the blood of Christ.

Bring together in unity all who share these holy mysteries.
Confirm them in the true faith, forgive their sins,
deliver them from the evil one,
fill them with the Holy Spirit, and gather them into your kingdom.

(The following intercessions may be added, wholly or in part:)

May every sinful way may be driven out by the power of your name.
When hell hears that name it trembles:
the dragon is crushed, the spirits are driven away,
sin is cast out, disobedience is subdued, and every root of bitterness destroyed.

Grant, Lord, that we may see you with our innermost eyes:
to praise and glorify and serve you,
and to have a portion in you alone,
and in your Son, Jesus Christ, to whom all things are subdued.

Sustain to the end those who have gifts of revelations.
Confirm those who have a gift of healing.
Make those who have the gift of tongues courageous.
Keep those who rightly divide the word of truth.

Care for those who do your will always.
Visit the widows; help the orphans.
Remember those who have fallen asleep in the faith,
and grant us an inheritance with your saints.

Doxology

Grant that, with one mind and one heart,
we may always give you glory and praise through Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit
forever and ever and to all eternity:

Amen.

NOTES

This anaphora is based on the one recorded in the Apostolic Tradition, as well as the various anaphoras that have looked to it for inspiration. These include:

  • The so-called “Clementine Liturgy” in Book 8 of the Apostolic Constitutions (ApConst, Syria, ca. 380)
  • The Anaphora of Epiphanius of Salamis (Cyprus, ca. 370-400)
  • The Testamentum Domini (Asia Minor? ca. 450)
  • The Ethiopian Anaphora of the Apostles (ca. 500?)

Almost all of the wording can be found in at least one of these sources.

Traditionally associated with the Roman presbyter Hippolytus in the early third century, more recent scholarship sees the Apostolic Tradition as a collection of diverse materials representing several geographic areas. A date sometime in the third century, though not as early as Hippolytus, is still a possibility. (See Paul F. Bradshaw, Liturgy 16 [2000] 7-11.)

I have re-cast this material into a tripartite structure with the most basic verbal cues used in the Jewish birkat ha-mazon or ‘table blessing,’ namely, (1) an opening section of praise for creation, (2) a section of commemoration of God’s saving acts, and (3) a concluding section of supplication (the epiclesis).

(1) The Praise Section: “Blessed are you.”

The preface and Sanctus are drawn from wordings found in ApConst and the Anaphora of the Apostles. The other adaptations of ApTrad do not attempt to include a Sanctus.

The line beginning “blessed are you” is derived ultimately from a line in ApConst, “glory be to you, Almighty God, for all things.” I have re-cast this line as a berakah to give the anaphora a more Judaic “feel.”

The introductory “it is fitting and right, etc.” comes from Epiphanius.

(2) The Thanksgiving Section: “We give thanks to you.”

From here on, the wording of ApTrad itself is followed more or less strictly. The original phrase “to establish the limit” seemed problematic due to its ambiguity of reference. I chose to paraphrase it “appoint a day for judgment” following the suggestion of R. H. Connolly (JTS 38 [1939], p. 362).

The line, “we give you thanks, not as we ought, but as we are able” is taken from the institution narrative in ApConst. It is such an fitting sentiment that I couldn’t bear to lose it. It is moved into the anamnesis to preserve the original introduction to the institution narrative.

(3) The Supplication Section: “Have mercy on us.”

I have elaborated upon the original Epiclesis with words or sentiments found in ApConst, Testamentum Domini, and Epiphanius. The opening words, “have mercy on us,” provide the last verbal cue to the birkat ha-mazon formula. There is precedent for the appeal “have mercy” in other ancient epicleses, for example, in the Jerusalem Liturgy of Saint James.

The petition to “show” the bread to be the Body of Christ, etc., is a literal translation of the original Greek ἐπιφάνη, “show,” “reveal,” or “manifest,” in ApConst and other ancient anaphoras.

The optional intercessions are from the Testamentum Domini. I have abbreviated this section and paraphrased a line or two.

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1 Comment

  1. Doug Chaplin says:

    And of course (but sticking more closely to the earliest sample prayer in the AT’s ordination rite) Eucharistic Prayer II of the Roman Rite, and Prayer B of the Church of England’s Common Worship Rite, are both self-consciously based on “Hippolytus”

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