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Monday, June 27, 2011


Paul Inwood wrote on June 27, 2011 on 
To be perfectly accurate, “Christ has died” was not fashioned [by ICEL] but borrowed.

No one knows for sure who wrote it, but it seems to have been the work of an Anglican clergyman attending a World Council of Churches meeting, possibly in India, in about 1963.Already by 1965 it was in fairly wide use in Anglican Churches, and found its way into the Series 3 Eucharist. 

ICEL simply borrowed it without acknowledgement for the 1970 translation of the 1969 Latin Order of Mass (and, worse still, claimed copyright in it themselves — naughty!). 

... [I]t was about Christ, rather than addressed to Christ, and the other three acclamations were indeed criticised by liturgists for addressing Christ in the middle of a prayer addressed to the Father. 

(rather in the same way that Rome instructed the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales on two separate occasions — but they did not take any notice — not to include the Hail Mary in the General Intercessions because the thrust of these prayers was towards the Father and a prayer addressed to the BVM interrupted that).  

There has always been some justification, therefore, for saying that “Christ has died” was more appropriate than the other acclamations.  

When in July 2003 I interviewed Joseph Gelineau, who had worked on the Eucharistic Prayers and was responsible for the inclusion of the Memorial Acclamation in the EP, I quizzed him closely on this. 

He said that in the tradition as they found it (for example in Greek liturgies), such acclamations of the people were always addressed to Christ because, it was surmised, the people felt “closer” to Christ than to the Father. (My [Inwood] reaction to that would be that today, it is possible to say that people feel a lot closer to the Father than they once did — and it’s also possible to point to the openings of the 1973 ICEL collects as a reason for that!.)  

Gelineau also told me that he had frequently been asked questions by other liturgists about why these acclamations were addressed to Christ instead of to the Father.  

I asked him if there was any reason why the three acclamations might not have been on the lines of 

“We profess his death, O Lord, and proclaim his resurrection, until he comes again” or 

“When we eat…. we proclaim his death, O Lord,…”, 

in each case with “Lord” being addressed to the Father rather than to Christ.  

He said there was absolutely no reason why this couldn’t have been done; it was simply that they hadn’t thought of it because of what they found in other traditions.  

Paul's comment is a good example of questioning ourselves about every little thing we do in liturgy.  In order to make a good decision as a liturgical presider (or planner) regarding the proclamation of the Mystery of Faith (following the Institution Narrative in the Eucharist), it is helpful to have the sort of information Paul provides.

He has pointed out an inconsistency and simple ways to eliminate it by either rephrasing or selecting the more consistent option.  It could be an example of something “feeling better” to the congregation without them even knowing that an inconsistency has been eliminated. Maybe it explains why so many congregations are most comfortable with the “Christ has died” response.

Using Paul's information could fit under a heading I have in preparation, "Decide to Preside."

In order for one to be the best possible presider one possibly can become, each presider needs to decide, on a good basis, what is to be done with each word or action and not just accept the practices one has seen previously or fallen into using without making a specific decision. 

If you preside at Eucharist, can you say why you use every particular word in that particular delivery with those particular postures or gestures, for all of your presiding? 

Do you think that too much to ask?  Talk to any good actor after a performance and they can probably answer such questions.  They are well aware that everything they do or omit can affect how effectively the meaning of the playwright gets to the audience and how easy it is to distract from that effectiveness. Does not sacramental presiding deserve at least as much care?

Many clergy could benefit from realizing that having such reasons can make the liturgy clearer to persons in the pews. They can benefit from someone asking how the presider might make the intentions of the church even clearer.  
That is, I think many clergy could benefit from a presiding coach asking such questions and discussing possible alternatives for the presider to select.

If any priest or minister who presides at Eucharist would like to have a presiding coach, please email

If you think some presiders you know could improve with a little bit of coaching, send them a link to or copy of  this blog posting.  

1 comment:

  1. Being Byzantine myself, I don't have this particular monkey on my back, but I'm rather surprised that no one of the Western declension has taken you up on your offer! Their loss! Dom Gregory Dix would be raising his eyebrows, I think!

    Rdr. James Morgan
    Olympia, WA