Here follows the Saint Aelfric Customary for the Service of Holy Communion.
Choosing between the rites
The first decision, when planning a Communion service either individually or over the long-term, is which rite to use. The first rite is called the Anglican Standard Text, rightly so because it contains historic prayers that have comprised the classical Prayer Book pattern since 1549, albeit in its own new arrangement. Those concerned with precedent and the force of history will find no reason to deviate from this rite, except perhaps to borrow occasionally from the Renewed Ancient Text’s shorter Prayers of the People, for example. And so the first and primary recommendation is to use the Anglican Standard Text for all celebrations of Holy Communion, and (permitted by the rubrics) draw upon the Renewed Ancient Prayers of the People for especially short or non-feast-day services.
But according to this Customary’s other principle – for every option an appropriate use – the Renewed Ancient Text, complete with its modern abbreviated confession and its unique interpretation of the The Apostolic Tradition attributed to Hippolytus, ought to have its place. For those who wish to use it, the best times to do so are as follows:
- From the first Sunday of Advent through the first Sunday of Epiphany (excluding the feasts of Saints Thomas, John, Stephen, and the Holy Innocents)
- Ascension Day until the Eve of Pentecost
- Feasts of our Lord and his relatives: The Presentation, St. Joseph, The Annunciation, The Visitation, Nativity of St. John the Baptist, Parents of St. Mary, The Transfiguration, The Virgin Mary, Holy Cross Day, Holy Michael and all Angels, and All Saints’ Day.
The rationale behind these appointments is that the Prayer of Consecration in the Renewed Ancient Text takes a broader scope of the gospel, prominently including the doctrine of the incarnation even to the point of naming the Virgin Mary herself. This makes it particularly appropriate for the above named seasons and feasts with a particular emphasis on the incarnation.
Besides the Anglican Standard and the Renewed Ancient Text, the rubrics of the 2019 Prayer Book also permit and provide for the re-ordering of the Communion liturgy to conform to the pattern of the 1662 Prayer Book (and any other classical prayer book such as the American 1928). This option, too, should be utilized by local churches at least occasionally to provide the congregation with exposure to the classical pattern of Anglican worship. The Day of Pentecost is the most appropriate day to do this, as that is the anniversary of the promulgation of the first Prayer Book. Other occasions include commemorations of Anglican divines, and especially the Martyrdom of King Charles I.
Devotions before Communion
The Altar Book being prepared for Anglican Liturgy Press contains vesting prayers and an excellent Office of Devotion, appropriate for use by the celebrant and the altar party before the beginning of the Communion service. To this, the following Occasional Prayers may be added:
- #5 for the spirit of prayer
- #97 preparation for personal prayer
- #98 for the acceptance of prayer
- #101 before the reading of scripture
- #102 on Sundays
- #103 preparation for public worship
- #104 before receiving holy communion
The nine Acclamations in the Prayer Book are clearly marked as to their times of their use. A few clarifications may be in order:
- The Nativity of St. John the Baptist may use the Advent Acclamation.
- Other Saints’ Days should use the All Saints’ Day Acclamation.
- Holy Michael and All Angels Day may use either the All Saints’ Day or the standard Trinity Acclamation.
- Transfiguration Day may use the Epiphany Acclamation.
- The Annunciation and the Visitation should use the Christmastide Acclamation.
- Days of Optional Commemoration and “Other Occasions” should use the Acclamation of the season.
Collect for Purity
The celebrant should pray this facing the altar, or holy table. Modern custom calls for the congregation’s recitation of this prayer also, though prior tradition is that this was spoken by the priest only.
Appointed use of Penitential Rite
The standard two options are to use the Summary of the Law with the Kyrie or to use the Decalogue. The Summary of the Law & Kyrie are the default in the 2019 Prayer Book, though the Decalogue should be used throughout Advent and Lent except on major feast days, as well as on Ember Days and the Rogation Days. Other times to use the Decalogue include:
- The Last Sunday of Epiphany
- The Sunday after the Ascension
- The Day of Pentecost (especially if using the 1662 Order)
- The first Sunday of the month in July through October. This would include Propers 9 (or 8), 13 (or 14), 18 (or 17), 22 (or 21), and All Saints’ Sunday (Proper 26 or 27).
The rubrics permit more elaborate forms of a Penitential Rite, but they should only be used on special occasions for specific reasons.
Appointed use of the Gloria
The Gloria in excelsis Deo is to be omitted during Advent, Lent, Ember Days, Rogation Days, and other penitential occasions. In a liturgy with music, it is best replaced on these occasions with a hymn appointed for that season or occasion.
The Collect of the Day
In the classical Prayer Books there would sometimes before more than one Collect of the Day. The Collects for the first Sundays in Advent and Lent, for example, were to repeated throughout their respective seasons. The rubrics of the 2019 Prayer Book do not direct this, but this tradition may be observed with the rector or vicar’s consent.
Similarly, when a Major or Minor Feast is displaced by a Sunday, and cannot or will not be transferred to another day, the celebrant may read the Collect for the displaced day alongside the Collect of the Day. If this is to be done, it should be a regular practice throughout the year, and the preaching and instruction from the ministers on such days should at least acknowledge the use of this custom, otherwise these extra collects will needlessly clutter the liturgy.
After each lesson (even if from the Books called Apocrypha) the reader says “The Word of the Lord…” This distinguishes the Communion service from the Daily Office, emphasizing the focus on the voice of God through the liturgy.
The Psalm is not to be followed by the Gloria Patri. If read, it should be read responsively between the reader and the congregation; if sung or chanted, the congregation normally should be invited (and instructed how, if necessary) to participate.
Music may follow the Epistle lesson, as the traditional Gradual and Alleluia in Pre-Reformation tradition. Music should not follow the reading of the Gospel. Where a Gospel Procession is observed it should return to the altar in silence; if the gap of silence is too lengthy for the people then the procession ought to be shortened.
Appointed use of the Creed
The Nicene Creed is to be said on every Sunday and Major and Minor Feast Day, except for Trinity Sunday when the Creed of St. Athanasius is read instead. Optional Commemorations and other weekday occasions may omit the Creed.
The Prayers of the People
On weekdays or other times when a shorter liturgy is desirable, the Prayers of the People from the Renewed Ancient Text may replace those of the Anglican Standard Text.
The Comfortable Words
Although the rubrics permit “one or more” of the sentences to be read, the celebrant should read either all four or none of them. They form a coherent whole and should not be separated. The celebrant should give particular attention to the reading of the Comfortable Words at times that the doctrines of salvation are particularly in focus, such as during Advent, Lent, and Eastertide. However, as these are literally words of comfort, the congregation should hear them more often than miss them.
Appointed use of the Exhortation
The Exhortation is to be read at least on the First Sunday in Advent, the First Sunday in Lent, and on Trinity Sunday. The celebrant should have the text ready on any occasion, however, as it is helpful as an explanation when there are visitors who may be unfamiliar with Anglican theology and worship.
For pastoral reasons (such as low attendance on Thanksgiving weekend) the celebrant may defer the reading of the Exhortation to the following week in order that the greatest number of the congregation will hear it at least thrice annually. Also, whenever the Sacrament of Holy Communion is the subject of the sermon, the Exhortation should be read.
Appointed use of the Offertory Sentences
When the 1662 Order for Holy Communion is used, the celebrant should read all of the Communion sentences in full from the 1662 Prayer Book, at least once a year, such as on the Day of Pentecost. Through the rest of the year, the following rotation of the Communion Sentences in the 2019 Prayer Book should be used:
- Acts 20:35: Epiphany 7, Proper 1, Proper 21, Various Occasions
- Matthew 5:16: Epiphany 8, Proper 2, Proper 22, Optional Commemorations
- Matthew 6:19-21: Epiphany Last, Proper 3, Proper 23
- Matthew 7:21: Lent 1, Proper 4, Christ the King
- 2 Corinthians 9:6-7: Lent 2, Proper 5, Proper 24
- Galatians 6:10: Proper 6, Proper 25, Major and Minor Saints Days
- Hebrews 6:10: Proper 7, Proper 26, Transfiguration Day
- Hebrews 13:16: Presentation, Lent 3, Proper 8, Proper 27
- 1 John 3:17: The Epiphany, Lent 4, Proper 9, Proper 28
- Tobit 4:8-9: The Circumcision, Lent 5, Proper 10
- Matthew 25:40: Christmas Day, Palm Sunday, Proper 11
- Romans 10:14-15: Easter Week, Proper 12
- Luke 10:2: Easter 2, Proper 13
- Deuteronomy 16:16-17: Advent 1, Easter 3, Proper 14
- Psalm 50:14: Advent 2, Epiphany 1, Easter 4, Proper 15
- Psalm 96:8: Advent 3, Epiphany 2, Easter 5, Proper 16
- Ephesians 5:2: Advent 4, Epiphany 3, Easter 6, Proper 17
- Romans 12:1: Christmas Sunday, Epiphany 4, Ascension Day & Sunday, Proper 18
- 2 Corinthians 8:9: Christmas 2, Epiphany 5, Pentecost, Proper 19
- 1 Peter 2:9: Epiphany 6, Trinity Sunday, Proper 20
Most of this order is simply a rotation through the options, such that the congregation will hear the full variety of these verses at least twice a year. A few of them, however, have thematic matches to their appointed occasions.