East meets West
Posted: 02 Nov 2006 @ 00:00
In certain eucharistic prayers, the epiclesis follows the words of
institution. In these circumstances, is it still appropriate to follow the
words of institution with the elevation?
In short, yes, because the prayer of consecration is a whole, whose effect
is the change in the elements of bread and wine, a grace that is asked for
throughout the entire prayer. Bear in mind that it takes time to say the
eucharistic prayer, while the change is effected in a moment. That moment is
not of necessity the moment when the prayer ends; so whichever rite we use, and
in whatever order the epiclesis and words of institution are arranged, we are
at some stage going to be asking for something that has already been granted.
Furthermore, for as long as the Prayer Book (which has no explicit
epiclesis) remains a standard in the C of E, it must be that the words of
institution remain the focus of the prayer. This would also keep us in line
with the rest of Western Christendom, where the elevations tend now to be
called “ostensions” or showings, and, in places where they are used, are the
moments when the ringing of sanctuary bells and censing with the thurible are
(The Revd) Robert Wilkinson
Neither 1662 nor the Tridentine rite has an epiclesis. It was introduced
into modern rites in ecumenical response to Orthodox spirituality, which
emphasises the epiclesis as the moment when the bread and wine become Christ’s
body and blood. In the West, the repetition of the words of institution makes
There are two forms of epiclesis, for the Church and for the elements. When
it is for the Church, as in Common Worship Prayers B and D, there is
no problem. When it is for the elements, it may be before the words of
institution, as in Prayer C and E, or after, as in F, G and H. Perhaps the
prayer that the elements “may be to us the body and blood” is in reality a
prayer for the Church: that the eyes of the congregation may be opened (1
Corinthians 11.29). Be this as it may, the problem envisaged by the question
arises only in the last three cases.
In the Divine Liturgy of John Chrysostom: [After the words of institution:]
the deacon crosses his hands and elevates the chalice and paten. [After this
the priest prays:] “Send down your Holy Spirit upon us and upon these gifts
here set forth.” Then the deacon, pointing to the Holy Bread . . .: “Master,
bless the holy Bread.” Priest . . .: “and make the Bread the precious Body of
your Christ.” [Repeated for the chalice.]
After further prayers, there is a second elevation of the paten alone, but
the chalice is not elevated again.
Thus the sequence in Prayers F, G and H is close to Orthodox tradi-tion.
Even in that tradition, the elevation occurs after the words of institution and
before the epiclesis. The Common Worship rubrics say nothing of
Christopher Haffner (Reader)
East Molesey, Surrey
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Out of the Question
Correction: the name of the Reader referred to by the Revd
(Answers, 4 February) was Mary Oakeley, and not as printed.