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An “Egyptian” Eucharistic Prayer

Here is another sample Eucharistic prayer, this time based on ancient Egyptian sources.

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 truly fitting and right, holy and suitable,
and profitable to our souls,
Master, Lord, God, Father Almighty,
to praise you, to hymn you, to give thanks to you,
to confess you night and day
with unceasing lips and unsilenced heart;

You are the LORD, you alone;
You have made the heaven and the earth,
the sea, and everything in them.
To all of them you give life,
and the host of heaven worships you.

Thanksgiving

You made humankind according to your own image and likeness,
and granted us the pleasure of paradise.
When we sinned, you did not despise or abandon us,
but you called us back through the Law,
you taught us through the Prophets,
you saved us through your only Son,
the True Light: our Lord Jesus Christ.

Through this bread and this cup,
in obedience to Christ’s command:
We proclaim his death!
We confess his resurrection!
We await his coming again!

Giving thanks through him to you
we offer this spiritual sacrifice
and this bloodless offering,
which all the nations offer you,
from east to west, from south to north,
for your name is great among the nations,
and in every place incense and a pure sacrifice
is offered to your holy name.

Supplication

Fill us with your Holy Spirit, O God,
and these gifts now set before you,
That they may be to all who receive them
a medicine of life
for the healing of spirt, soul, and body,
and for new life in the kingdom of heaven.

Through the blood of Christ Jesus your Son,
receive our sacrifice of praise, and hear our prayer:

Remember your holy Church,
all your peoples and all your flocks.
Fill our hearts with heaven’s peace,
and grant us also the peace of this life.

Guide the President, the Governor,
and all who are in authority in all peace.
Bless our community and its leaders,
our neighbors, our families, and all that we do.

Send gentle rain to gladden the face of the earth.
Water its furrows, multiply its fruits.
Grant them to us for seedtime and harvest,
for the poor of your people,
for all of us who call upon your name,
for all who hope in you.

Give rest to the souls of those who have fallen asleep.
Remember our spiritual mothers and fathers everywhere;
and grant us to have a part
with [N., N., and] all of your holy prophets,
apostles, and martyrs.

[Conclude with one of the following endings:]

Doxology

Sanctus

Receive our prayers
through your only Son Jesus Christ,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit:

As it was and is and shall be
to generations of generations
and to all the ages of ages.
Amen.

For you are above every principality and power
and virtue and dominion
and every name that is named.
Thousands of thousands
and ten thousands of ten thousands
of the hosts of heaven continually worship you.
Receive also our worship as we sing (say):

Holy, holy, holy, Lord of hosts;
heaven and earth are full of your glory.

NOTES

Most of the earliest Eucharistic prayers did not have many of the features that ultimately became standard or even considered “necessary” for a valid sacrament.

This prayer is based on several such prayers known from ancient Egyptian sources. The main outline of the prayer and much of the wording comes from Strasbourg Papyrus 254, the oldest known example of the Anaphora of St. Mark. Its structure is praise-oblation-intercessions, rounded off at the end with a brief ascription of praise (in Jewish terms, a chatimah). The Strasbourg papyrus gives no evidence of Sanctus, institution narrative, or Epiclesis. Of the other sources consulted, I have leaned most heavily upon the Euchologium of Serapion of Thmuis and the final form of the Anaphora of St. Mark.

1. The “Praise” Section

The praise section contains two paragraphs taken from Strasbourg 254 and the Anaphora of St. Mark.

2. The “Thanksgiving” Section

This section is in three paragraphs. The first is from the preface of St. Mark, whence it probably came via the Egyptian Anaphora of St. Basil.

The second paragraph is an anamnesis or “remembrance” derived mostly from St. Mark.

The third paragraph is an oblation or “offering” which is a paraphrase of the original Strasbourg 254.

Strasbourg 254 does not contain an institution narrative and I have chosen to leave it out. The intitution narrative may be recited before the distribution of the elements. If you really must include the institution narrative in the prayer itself, it may be inserted between the first and second paragraphs of the “Thanksgiving” section (which would then read, “…your Son Jesus Christ, / who, on the night he was betrayed, etc. …/ Through this bread and this cup,” etc.).

3. The “Supplication” Section

The “supplication” is in two paragraphs. The first is an Epiclesis or invocation of the Holy Spirit. Since this is an “Eastern” prayer after all, it seemed appropriate to include an Epiclesis. It is fashioned mainly from Serapion and Egyptian St. Basil.

The intercessions abbreviate and paraphrase Strasbourg 254.

4. The Conclusion

Two options are given for a praise acclamation at the end of the prayer. The one marked “Doxology” is closer to the original Strasbourg wording.

The option marked “Sanctus” requires a bit of explanation. It has been theorized that the Sanctus hymn originally entered the liturgy in Egypt, and that it began its “career” as an ascription of praise at the end of the Eucharistic prayer. There are no extant documents that actually show this structure, and I personally am unconvinced by the theory. To my knowledge, Martin Luther is the first person ever to suggest concluding the Eucharistic prayer with the Sanctus. It is, however, true that later Egyptian Anaphoras have the intercessions early on, before the Sanctus.

I have suggested the option of concluding with the Sanctus because it strikes me as a creative way to re-insert a traditional element in a non-traditional way.

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