02 January 2012

Post Communion Prayer

Unlike in the Roman liturgy, in Lutheran liturgy the post-communion collect is an ordinary, not technically a proper. Yet, our Lutheran Service Book does provide three of them, and I think they work best when used seasonally. Here's my suggestion:

The regular collect, used the lion's share of the time, is Dr. Luther's from the German Mass: "We give thanks to You, almighty God..." This prayer is so beautiful, and it captures exactly what we beg from God through our use of the Holy Sacrament - after we thank Him for the refreshing gift - to be strengthened in our trust in Him and in our love (though I wish the brĂ¼nstige of the German came through better - BURNING love!) toward one another.

During the seasons of Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany, we use "O God the Father, the fountain and source of all goodness..." This prayer specifically references "in loving-kindness [You] sent Your only-begotten Son into the flesh." The Father's covenant faithfulness and His tender mercies lead to the gift of the Son into our flesh and we remember that it is the enfleshed Son we have just received under the consecrated bread and His holy blood in the consecrated wine.

During the weeks of Easter, we use the prayer "Gracious God, our heavenly Father..." with its reference to the marriage feast of the Lamb in His kingdom. A fitting reminder of the early church's joy in the great 50 days as a bit of heaven on earth itself - the 50 days being a foretaste of the Kingdom!

Thus, all three prayers become familiar across the year's worth of services and yet a subtle shading of the particular season also has a place. Anyone else out there use a similar schema?


rev_af_col said...

For better or worse the last year of so, I have been using #1 most of the year as you suggest. I use #2 Advent through Easter because of the incarnation aspect and that's what's going on. #3 on special occasions such as Reformation and All Saints.
Of course in Setting 3, we only have the first two collects.

Rev. Luke T. Zimmerman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rev. Luke T. Zimmerman said...

Pr. Weedon:

We have a similar schema at my parish, one that uses the 3-year lectionary:

"O God the Father, the fountain and source...." (Collect 2) is used from Advent through Trinity Sunday, the festival half of the Church Year. During this time the focus of the Propers is on the life and work of the Christ, the Incarnate Son of God.

"We give thanks to You...." (Collect 1, Luther's prayer) is used from Pentecost 2 through Reformation Day. The focus of the Gospel readings is more on Christ's teachings for His Church that show us the steadfast love that we should have for Him and for one another.

"Gracious God, our heavenly Father...." (Collect 3) is used from All Saints Day through Christ the King Sunday/Last Sunday (Saintstide). The focus of the Propers is on the eschaton. We anticipate being participants in the everlasting wedding banquet and pray for faithfulness until that time when we do.

So the themes of the seasons and their Propers are echoed in which Post-Communion Collect is prayed. Our schema differs from yours, but the goal is the same.

Anonymous said...

Very similar. We use Luther's prayer during the green seasons, because it fits well with the theme of spiritual growth, "O God the Father, the fountain and source..." during the festivals because of the incarnation and salvation themes, and collect 3 when we use DSI, which is the seasons of Epiphany and Easter, and the month of September (17 Sundays a year - about a third. Otherwise we use DS3, which has no third collect.)
The only exception is to use Luther's prayer on Reformation day. The only non-green day we use it.

Terry Maher said...

If it changes according to a pattern, it's a proper. That's what they do, and if they do that, that's what they are.

The difference from Rome is that the Postcommunio does not form with the Collect and Secreta the basis of the proprium.

But hey, since even the Gloria isn't always the Gloria these days, what the hell.

THE Lutheran Hymnal had no such problems. Neither should later ones.

William Weedon said...


The Lutheran Hymnal provided also TWO post-communion collects; and a choice of one of two versicles to precede them.

Terry Maher said...

More than one Postcommunio is nothing new, in fact, there can be more than one said at a Mass.

My point was rather that the connexion among Collect, Secret, and Postcommunion, so far as I can tell, which is of the essence of a proprium in a Roman Mass, is not present in ours, and that not multiplicity of Postcommunions but varying it seasonally or by other reference to the church year makes it a proper.

William Weedon said...

Yes, I suppose. But since in our rite it is not incorrect to use ANY of the prayers at any time, it's not a true proper. Using Luther's post-communion at Christmas would not be the same thing as using Epiphany's preface on Easter. They are suitable for use year round, hence they are not truly propers. And varying them by the season doesn't actually make them "proper" to the Day/Season - they just seem to fit best during certain times, though as this discussion showed, pastors use them in a variety of ways.

Joshua said...

Just out of curiosity, why was the large range of medieval postcommunions cut down to only two or three?

William Weedon said...

I have never read a Lutheran of that period discuss it, Joshua. But it was universally done in areas reformed by the Lutherans. Also, there is no question that Luther's collect hands down won the day in German territories. The Swedes had another one that we do not have in our rite: O Lord almighty God, who hast suffered us to be partakers of Thy sacrament, we beseech thee that thou wilt likewise suffer us to be partakers of their eternal honor and glory together with Thee and all Thine elect saints, through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth...

Terry Maher said...

Just speculation, but my speculation is that they were cut down because the multiplicity of postcommunions derives from the rather complicated Roman sanctoral calendar, with often several postcommunions being said, not just of the Mass just said but other commemorations that may happen on the same day, which rest upon a role of the saints Lutheranism does not uphold.

At one time there were two postcommunions. The Communion was read from the Epistle side (if anyone knows what the hell that is any more) then the priest came to the centre for another Dominus vobiscum but not said facing the people, then he went back to the Epistle side for the Postcommunions. The first one was the ad complendum, which is the postcommunion as we know it, the second the ad populum, and also became a Vespers prayer, as Vespers was commonly said right after conventual Mass. (We did that but we ate in between, being Germans after all.)

So I also speculate that the trimming down may have too been part of removing this stuff from the cloistered cesspool of the monkatorium to parish life with real people.

In any case, if we're gonna really do the novus ordo thing, it ain't postcommunion now, it's the Prayer After Communion. Although I'll be double dag dog dipped if that ain't exactly what postcommunion means, but if Rome made any sense to me whatever I suppose I'd still be there.

Richsheri1 said...

I also use the collects from the 1969 Worship Supplement.

Christopher Gillespie said...

Dcn. Muehlenbruch mentioned writing or compiling proper Post-Communion Collects. Given our love of the Preface, a proper post makes sense. http://writ-in-red.blogspot.com/2012/02/septuagesima-sunday.html

Rev. James Leistico said...

just now finding this post, and I think I might just put this into practice (tomorrow I would have used #1, but #2 instead now). I'll only add that I have tended to use #3 in November with the end of the Year focus on the eschaton.