22 November 2009

Red Book's Proposed Eucharistic Prayer

This little volume (promulgated in 1576) is truly one of the undervalued gems of Lutheran liturgical theology. Sad that it met so swift a demise in Sweden. Although the Red Book retained the Swedish custom of building the consecration into the actual Preface and so followed it with the Sanctus, what is of interest to me is the prayer that was prayed following the Sanctus and leading to the Our Father. It is in every sense an evangelical reworking of the Roman canon:

[...Hosanna in the highest!]

Therefore we also remember, O Lord God, this blessed command and the same Thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ's holy passion and death, His resurrection and ascension. And this Thy Son Thou hast in Thy boundless mercy sent and given unto us, that He might be an offering for our sins, and by His one offering on the cross pay the price of our redemption, fulfill Thy justice and make perfect such an offering as might serve for the welfare of all the elect unto the end of the world. The same Thy Son, the same offering, which is a pure, holy and undefiled offering, set before us for our reconciliation, our shield, defence, and covering against Thy wrath, against the terror of sins and of death, we take and receive with faith and offer before Thy glorious majesty with our humble supplications. For these Thy great benefits we give Thee fervent thanks with heart and mouth, yet not as our bounden duty is but according to our power.

And we humbly beseech Thee through the same Thy Son, whom thou in Thy divine and secret counsel hast set before us as our only mediator, that Thou wilt vouchsafe to look upon us and our prayers with mercy and pitying eye, suffer them to come to Thy heavenly altar before Thy Divine majesty and be pleasing unto Thee, that all we who are partakers at this altar of the blessed and holy food and drink, the holy bread of eternal life and the Cup of eternal salvation, which is the holy body and precious blood of Thy Son, may also be fulfilled with all heavenly benediction and grace.

We pray Thee likewise, O Lord God, that Thou wilt vouchsafe to grant us poor sinful men who trust in Thy manifold mercies, that we may be received among Thy holy Apostles, Martyrs and all Thy saints, in whose number suffer us to be, not of our merit, but of thy compassion, who forgivest our sins and failings. Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

By whom Thou, O Lord, dost ever create, sanctify, quicken, bless and grant us every good thing. Through Him, with Him, and in Him be all honor, glory and praise unto Thee Almighty God and Father and to the Holy Spirit, from everlasting to everlasting. Amen.

Let us pray.
As our Lord Jesus Christ himself hath taught us, saying thus : Our Father


Dan Pharr said...

"For these Thy great benefits we give Thee fervent thanks with heart and mouth, yet not as our bounden duty is but according to our power."

Is the part that causes me pause. In one of the liturgies in ELW a similar wording occurs..."We give you thanks not as we ought but as we are able." What I hear that saying sounds pious yes, but I think it falls short of being what can be deemed "evangelical". The thanks we give God as "WE are able" always falls short and is not accepted by God as the thanks due Him. It is works righteousness clothed in false piety. Through trust in Christ, we confidently and boldly pray that God accepts our thanks, prayers, petitions and through that same trust in Christ we believe He does.

My two cents.

Dan Pharr

William Weedon said...

Actually, Dan, I think that it's just stating the truth: we don't give thanks as we ought, but as are able - and the focus being that even as new creatures in Christ, our thanksgiving fails to be all that it should. Yet God graciously accepts it from us in His Son. That's how I take it, at any rate.

Dan Pharr said...

Maybe it's semantics...apart from faith our thanksgivings fail flat or even worse aren't heard at all. While as new creatures in Christ our thanksgiving is everything it should be for it is Christ himself offering the thanks to the Father.

Past Elder said...

Another good reason to forget all this eucharistic prayer stuff and just stick to the words of Christ.

Our words are always inadequate, including those in eucharistic prayers however well intended, so let's just stick with his.

And speaking of his, they are simply Take and eat, take and drink, not take, write a nice anaphora and say it, and eat, etc.

Mad church! Mad scholars! Mad prayers!

(This Nietzschean dance may require some unpacking, so rather than leave it to the future editors of the Complete Works of Past Elder, I will do it here. The last is a paraphrase of "Mad world! Mad kings! Mad composition!" from Shakespeare's King John II i, an often cited example of anaphora in its rhetorical, not liturgical, meaning. All true Germans are now ROFLOL. Those just Germaned over are saying "huh?" Those not Germaned at all may fall into either camp.)

Trent said...

"Another good reason to forget all this eucharistic prayer stuff and just stick to the words of Christ.'

Interesting, I hear the same thing from Baptist about the liturgy and the creed all the time.

Past Elder said...

What you don't hear from Baptists etc about sticking to the words of Christ is to stick to them because they mean this is his body and this is his blood, period, no further theology to it, just what he said.

It is not in sticking to man-made add-ons that we stick to Christ, it is in sticking to his words and what he meant by them.

minas said...

"...not as we ought but as we are able" can be found in several ancient liturgies, including that of St. James. King Johan did a wonderful job in this Liturgy of 1576, and it is a shame that it is not more well known.