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Commentary: The Eucharistic Prayer

There are four eucharistic prayers available to be used for ordinary masses. All of them are rooted in the Jewish liturgy. The fourth eucharistic prayer also has a strong connection with the eastern churches, and takes some of its content from the eucharistic prayer of Saint Basil.

Each of the eucharistic prayers begins with an introductory dialogue, ‘The Lord be with you ... Lift up your hearts...’ This dialogue emphasises the fact that, although the priest continues alone, we are all very much part of the prayer.

The Preface comes next. Its title might give the impression that it’s only a prayer of introduction, but in fact it is THE prayer of thanksgiving of the Eucharist. It is the song of the world discovering its salvation.

The Holy, Holy (or sanctus) is made up of eleven references to scripture, from both the Old and the New Testaments. It is a song. It is the song of the Angels and the Saints and it is our song. It is also our part of the Eucharistic Prayer and even if we only feel able to sing mentally, we should sing.

The eucharistic prayer concludes with the great prayer of praise, or doxology and then our Great Amen. The doxology is accompanied by a gesture of offering which signifies our entire history and our destiny. The priest has prayed on our behalf, but with the Great Amen we ratify - or affirm - what has been prayed.

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