I can just hear the traditionalists gnashing their teeth at this title. “Two post communion prayers? What’s wrong with your new prayer book, couldn’t you just settle on one like the good old days?” The funny thing, in this case, is that the 1662 Prayer Book actually did have two choices of prayer after the reception of Holy Communion. The second option is essentially what we have to this day in American Prayer Books – the “post communion prayer.” The first option might be called a Prayer of Oblation, and American prayer books have typically placed it as part of the Prayer of Consecration. So where the 1662 Prayer Book has a one-or-the-other-prayer situation, books like the 1928 use both, having moved one to a different spot.
In the 2019 Prayer Book, though, with our two communion rites, we end up with two different versions of the post-communion prayer. Before preparing this write-up, I’d not yet spent any time comparing the two prayers against one another, and was pleasantly surprised at what I discovered: they are essentially the same prayer. Check it out:
Of course there are some differences, and even the slightest difference can imply a much larger shift in emphasis and focus. So let’s take a look at some of the variations between these. The Prayer on the left side is the Anglican Standard Text, and, minus a couple words and one phrase trimmed out, is the same as found in the 1662 Prayer Book. If you’re interested in that “true standard”, you can find it at the end of this entry.
The first major streamlining in the Renewed Ancient Text (right column) is where the prayer makes an aside to further explicate the nature of the Church. “The body of your Son, and heirs of your eternal Kingdom” is made to cover for twice as much material in the Anglican Standard Text.
The next noteworthy omission is in the petition. The first prayer asks God to assist us with his grace, while the second prayer asks God to send us out. Both involve doing the good works according to his calling, but the former leans first on a prayer for perserverance in faith and the latter leans more on mission. Indeed, that reference to serving as faithful witnesses of Christ is the only element of the second prayer that is truly unique to it, rather than a reduction of the other.
In short, both Post Communion Prayers in the 2019 Prayer Book are based upon the historic Post Communion Prayer. The Anglican Standard Text is slightly shortened from the original, and the Renewed Ancient Text is even more shortened, and given a “missional” flavor toward the end. They still ultimately communicate the same thing to us, but they do send us in slightly different directions.
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ALMIGHTY and everliving God
we most heartily thank thee, for that thou dost vouchsafe to feed us,
who have duly received these holy mysteries,
with the spiritual food of the most precious Body and Blood
of thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ;
and dost assure us thereby of thy favour and goodness towards us;
and that we are very members incorporate in the mystical Body of thy Son,
which is the blessed company of all faithful people;
and are also heirs through hope of thy everlasting kingdom,
by the merits of the most precious death and passion of thy dear Son.
And we most humbly beseech thee, O heavenly Father, so to assist us with thy grace,
that we may continue in that holy fellowship,
and do all such good works as thou hast prepared for us to walk in,
through Jesus Christ our Lord; to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost,
be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen.