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Church Publishing, Incorporated
A Priest's Handbook / Edition 3

A Priest's Handbook / Edition 3

by Dennis G. Michno
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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780819217684
Publisher: Church Publishing, Incorporated
Publication date: 12/07/1998
Edition description: Subsequent
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 1,327,569
Product dimensions: 6.22(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.86(d)

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A Priest's Handbook

The Ceremonies of the Church

By Dennis G. Michno, Richard E. Mayberry

Church Publishing Incorporated

Copyright © 1998Dennis G. Michno
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8192-1768-4



The Holy Eucharist


Anglican tradition has never explicitly spelled out ceremonial action except where such movement is part of the "sign" to the people of the sacramental experience. The rubrics surrounding the words of institution in the BCP are a case in point, as is the signing with the cross at Baptism, or the laying on of hands in Ordination. However, order is necessary both to increase an understanding of the liturgical action and to provide for decency of movement. When the new rites first began to emerge in the late sixties, many priests and congregations felt that they not only gave license to informality but also allowed and even encouraged sloppiness, and yet did little to heighten the level of participation in worship. This confused and alienated more people than it attracted.

These perceptions were mistaken, for if there is anything the new Eucharistic rites seek to emphasize it is the encounter with the living presence of our Risen Lord through Word and Sacrament. It is the celebrant who presides, and therefore it is the obligation of the celebrant to ensure that this presence is realized and shown forth to its fullest extent—with simplicity, order and devotion.

Thus, in the Holy Eucharist, the principal act of worship in the Christian community, the elements of mystery, order, continuity, artistic taste and clarity must be joined together carefully so that expressiveness, simplicity, and beauty may reach out and touch the hearts of the people of God gathered together to proclaim the Lord in their midst.

Preparations for the Eucharist

On the credence:

a. chalice, purificator, paten, bread or host on the paten, pall, and corporal. Whether the chalice is covered with a veil or not, the purificator is normally placed on top of the chalice and the pall on top of the purificator. The burse is normally placed on top of the pall (and veil) and it contains the corporal and an extra purificator.

b. lavabo bowl and towel

c. (a cruet of water)

d. a second chalice and purificator, if needed

e. an extra cruet or flagon with wine, if necessary

On a table in the midst of the congregation or at the door of the church:

a. bread box with wafers or bread

b. a cruet of wine

c. (a cruet of water)

Note: If the gifts are not presented from the congregation the bread box and wine are placed on the credence.

The Altar Book and stand should not be on the altar until the Offertory. If there is room it may be on the credence or on some other shelf or table.

Note: The chalice should not be on the altar, nor the corporal laid, until the Offertory.

The Holy Table is spread with a clean white cloth during the celebration (BCP, 406).

The Entrance Rite

Prayers in the Sacristy

A short prayer or moment of silent prayer before the entrance is desirable. Too often the atmosphere before the service is hectic, and a prayer before beginning helps to focus the thoughts of the clergy and servers on what is about to happen. These prayers should not be prayers involving the congregation. For prayers before the Eucharist, see page 273.

The Entrance

The entrance rites (from the entrance itself to the Collect of the Day) can easily become cluttered and hence confusing. The purpose here is simply to begin the liturgy. The goal is to gather the people through hymns, psalms and prayers of preparation. If too much goes on during this period, the idea of gathering is lost and the rite becomes overburdened with nonessentials.

Form A.

1. The celebrant and assisting ministers enter during a hymn, psalm or anthem (or in silence). All reverence the altar and the celebrant may approach it and kiss it. (The deacon stands at the celebrant's right.)

2. The appropriate acclamation (BCP, 323 or 355; AB, 9 or 147; music, AB, 372 or Hymnal, S 76-83) is sung or said by the celebrant, the people responding (see page 34).

3. In Rite I the Collect for Purity follows; in Rite II the Collect for Purity may be said.

4. In Rite I the Decalogue (BCP, 317) or the Summary of the Law (BCP, 324) may be said after the Collect for Purity. (The deacon or assisting minister may read the Decalogue and/or the Summary.)

5. In Rite I the Kyrie (in English or Greek, said or sung) may follow, and when appointed the Gloria in excelsis or other song of praise may be said or sung. Note: The Trisagion ("Holy God ...") is not appropriate if the Gloria is to follow, since the Trisagion is a song of praise. In Rite II the Gloria or other song of praise is used when appointed, and at other times the Kyrie or the Trisagion is used.

6. The opening hymn, psalm, or anthem may be omitted at the entrance. The celebrant may sing or say the acclamation immediately, process to the altar during the song of praise (cense the altar, see pages 86-87), and continue with the salutation and the Collect of the Day.

Form B. (A Penitential Order)

1. The celebrant and assisting ministers enter during a hymn, psalm or anthem (or in silence). All reverence the altar and the celebrant may approach it and kiss it. (The deacon stands at the celebrant's right.)

2. The appropriate acclamation (BCP, 319 or 351; music, AB, 372 or Hymnal, S 76-83) is sung or said by the celebrant, the people responding (see page 34).

3. The Decalogue (BCP, 317 or 350; for music see HymAccEd; S 353-354) may be said, the people kneeling and the celebrant standing.

4. A sentence of Scripture may follow (BCP, 319 or 351). (The deacon or assisting minister may read the Decalogue and/or the sentence of Scripture.)

5. The deacon or celebrant facing the people then says the invitation to the Confession of Sin (BCP, 320 or 352).

6. It is appropriate that a period of silence follow.

7. The confession is said by the minister and people (BCP, 320 or 352).

8. The bishop if present or celebrant stands alone and says the absolution (BCP, 321 or 353). The sign of the cross is made over the people.

9. The liturgy continues with the Kyrie eleison, Trisagion or Gloria in excelsis (as appointed, see page 32).

Form C. When there is a solemn procession, see pages 168-169.

Form D. When the Great Litany is used at the beginning of the Eucharist, see page 163.

Note: The Kyrie eleison (or "Lord, have mercy") may be sung or said in threefold, sixfold, or ninefold form.

The Trisagion, "Holy God," may be sung or said three times, or antiphonally (BCP, 406):

Minister: Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One,

People: Have mercy upon us. or

Minister: Holy God, People: Holy God,

Minister: Holy and Mighty, People: Holy and Mighty,

Minister: Holy Immortal One, People: Holy Immortal One,

Minister and People: Have mercy upon us.

Ceremonies at the Entrance

1. The celebrant, whether bishop or priest, is the last one in the procession. Assisting ministers and acolytes precede. The deacon or assisting priest may carry the Gospel Book.

2. For the entrance, whether Form A or Form B is used it is appropriate that the sacred ministers face the altar with their backs to the people. The celebrant turns and faces the people for the (Decalogue and the) salutation before the Collect of the Day (see 6 below). All else should be said or sung facing the altar.

3. When the celebrant and assisting ministers reach the altar, a reverence is made, either a genuflection (if the Sacrament is reserved) or a solemn bow. It looks better if this is done by all together, not individually. The celebrant may approach the altar and kiss it. (If the deacon is holding the Gospel Book, it is placed on the altar at this time.) The celebrant returns to the foot of the altar or to the celebrant's chair (accompanied by the deacon). Remember, the purpose is to focus the attention of the people on the liturgical action.

4. The sign of the cross may be made by the celebrant and people during the acclamation (BCP, 319, 323 or 351, 355).

5. Three acclamations are given for Rite I and Rite II (BCP, 319, 323 or 351, 355). These same acclamations precede the versicles and responses in the Baptismal liturgies (BCP, 299, 413).

a. The first acclamation ("Blessed be God ...") is for general use except during Lent, Holy Week, and the Fifty Days of Easter.

b. The second acclamation ("Alleluia. Christ is risen ...") is for use at all celebrations of the Eucharist during the Fifty Days of Easter (from the Great Vigil through the Day of Pentecost). This acclamation replaces the first one and is not to be used in addition to it.

c. The third acclamation ("Bless the Lord ...") is for use during Lent and Holy Week (except for Good Friday and Holy Saturday). This acclamation may also be used on other penitential occasions such as a national day of fast or mourning or at a public service of penitence (see page 248). Again it is used in place of the first acclamation not in addition to it.

d. The Baptismal liturgies follow the same rules (see above) for the acclamation preceding the proper versicles and responses.

e. Advent is not a penitential season and therefore the proper acclamation throughout this season is the first ("Blessed be God ...").

6. A deacon or assisting priest may read the Decalogue or Summary of the Law. In this case, this minister, not the celebrant, turns and faces the people.

7. The sign of the cross may be made at the conclusion of the Gloria in excelsis by the celebrant and people.

Note: It is proper to sing or say the Gloria Patri at the conclusion of a psalm used at the Entrance Rite.

The Collect of the Day

1. The celebrant turns (assisting ministers turn inward and face each other and the celebrant) and, facing the people, sings or says the salutation, and the people respond. (For singing the salutation and response, see AB, 373.)

2. The celebrant turns back to face the altar, and with hands extended (orans position) sings or says the Collect of the Day.

3. In some places the celebrant and assisting ministers go to the sedilia for the Collect of the Day. Although this does establish the presiding function of the celebrant, the oneness of motion and place from the entrance through the Collect of the Day is more desirable. Also, from the viewpoint of the people, the celebrant is facing in the same direction as they are, thus leading their prayer, not directing the collect to the people.

4. It is proper for the people to remain standing for the Collect of the Day. Note: For chanting the Collect of the Day, see AB, 374-376.

When the collect is concluded, the celebrant and assisting ministers reverence the altar with a solemn bow and go to the sedilia for the reading of the lessons. The celebrant sits in the center chair and presides from there. Assistants sit on either side of the celebrant. (The deacon sits at the celebrant's right.)

The Word of God

The Lessons

On Sundays and major Feast Days, a Lesson, Epistle and Gospel are appointed to be read. It is desirable that all three be used when appointed.

Note: For chanting the Lessons, see AB, 377.

For chanting the Gospels, see AB, 378-381.

A. When three lessons are appointed

The Lesson is appropriately read by a lay reader from the lectern. The proper forms for announcing and concluding the lesson are given (BCP, 325 or 357). If there are lay readers or assisting ministers present the celebrant does not read the lessons and remains seated.

A Psalm is appointed with every proper in The Book of Common Prayer. This psalm may either be sung or said, but if the liturgy is sung it is appropriate that the psalm be sung:

1. By a cantor or the choir with the people singing an antiphon.

2. By the people throughout to a simple chant tune.

3. By the congregation in a metrical version (A New Metrical Psalter, Church Hymnal Corporation).

4. If the psalm is said, the Antiphonal and Responsive methods (see BCP, 582) are preferred, but unison recitation may also be used.

5. The Gloria Patri is traditionally not used at the conclusion of the psalm appointed for use after the lesson.

Note: It is preferable that the celebrant and people remain seated for the psalm.

The Epistle or Second Lesson also should be read by a lay reader or assisting minister from the lectern with proper announcement and conclusion (and response by the people). The celebrant remains seated.

Alleluia Verse or Sequence Hymn. Between the second lesson (Epistle) and the proclamation of the Holy Gospel a verse of Scripture with the acclamation "alleluia" (except during Lent) may be said or sung. If the alleluia verse is not used a "sequence" hymn is appropriate. This hymn should bear some relationship to the Gospel, as should the verse of Scripture with the alleluia.

B. When one lesson and a Gospel are appointed

1. The Lesson or Epistle is read by a lay reader or assisting minister from the lectern.

2. The celebrant remains seated at the sedilia.

3. The appointed psalm is sung or said between the Lesson and the Gospel. The Gloria Patri is traditionally not used at the conclusion. Ministers and people may remain seated for the psalm.

The Proclamation of the Gospel

1. It is appropriate that the Gospel be sung or read from a book that is set apart for this purpose.

2. The book should be on the altar.

3. After the Epistle, a deacon or assisting priest if present, or the celebrant, goes to the altar. The altar is reverenced with a solemn bow and the book is taken.

The deacon or other minister makes a solemn bow at the altar, holding the book and says silently this or some other prayer:

Purify my lips and heart, O God, that I may worthily proclaim thy Holy Gospel.

Note: If a bishop is present, either as celebrant or presiding, the reader, after taking the Gospel Book from the altar (and prayer), goes to the bishop for a blessing. The reader kneels or bows for this blessing.

4. It is customary and desirable that the Gospel be sung or read from a place close to the people. A Gospel procession from the altar to the congregation consists of (thurifer), two acolytes with candles, a person (subdeacon) to hold the Gospel Book, and the reader (deacon, assisting priest, or celebrant). The acolytes stand on either side of the Gospel Book. The reader faces the people and announces the Gospel (BCP, 326 or 357) while signing the beginning of the passage with a small cross using the thumb of the right hand. (For the use of incense at the Gospel, see page 88.) The Gospel is sung or read. At the conclusion, "The Gospel of the Lord" is said or sung (AB, 379-381) and the response made by the people. The book should be held high for "The Gospel of the Lord" and then lowered for the reader to kiss. It is customary for the reader to kiss the book at the place of the signing. All then return to their places. The Gospel Book is returned to the altar or other designated place before the reader returns to the sedilia.

5. If the Gospel is to be proclaimed from the pulpit or lectern, a procession is still in order. However, a person to hold the book is not necessary. See above for other ceremonies.

Note: When a portion of the congregation is composed of persons whose native tongue is other than English, a reader appointed by the celebrant may read the Gospel in the language of the people, either in place of, or in addition to, the Gospel in English (BCP, 406).

The Sermon

It is desirable that nothing be inserted between the proclamation of the Gospel and the sermon.

A hymn at this point is out of place.

If music is needed to cover the return of the Gospel procession and to get the preacher to the pulpit, instrumental music may be played.

The sermon should follow immediately. Announcements should not be made at this point, since they break the flow of the liturgical action.

Concerning Sermons

The sermon is an important and integral part of the liturgy. Thus, careful attention should be given to the lessons for the day, especially the Gospel.

The sermon is not a break in the liturgical action as some would hold, nor does it exist apart from the liturgy. It belongs to the proclamation of the Word of God and must be approached and prepared with the appointed lessons in mind. The wealth of Scripture provided in the lectionary is the basis for sound, theological, biblical and Eucharistic preaching. It may take a little more time to prepare a sermon that fits with the liturgy, but a sermon that truly illuminates the Word of God as proclaimed in the appointed lessons is well worth the effort. As priests we must strive to ensure that our preaching is consistent with the tone and teaching of the lessons and hymns for a given occasion and does not introduce alien elements.

The Nicene Creed

On Sundays, Principal Feasts, and Holy Days the Nicene Creed follows the sermon. There is no justification for a hymn that breaks the flow from sermon to affirmation of faith. The celebrant and assisting ministers should stand at the sedilia for the Creed. It is customary to make a solemn bow (or a genuflection on the Feasts of the Nativity of Our Lord and the Annunciation) at the Incarnational affirmation ("For us and for our salvation" or "who for us men and for our salvation" ... "was made man"). In some places this bow is continued through the affirmation of the death and burial of our Lord ("he suffered death and was buried"). It is customary in many places to make the sign of the cross at the conclusion of the Nicene Creed.

Note: The Nicene Creed is omitted at Baptisms, Confirmations and other liturgies when there is a Renewal of Baptismal Vows (i.e. the Great Vigil of Easter); it may be omitted on the Sunday of the Passion (Palm Sunday); the Nicene Creed is not traditionally used at the Burial of the Dead, but the Apostles' Creed may be said.


Excerpted from A Priest's Handbook by Dennis G. Michno. Copyright © 1998 by Dennis G. Michno. Excerpted by permission of Church Publishing Incorporated.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Alphabetical List of Illustrations....................          

Preface to the Second Edition....................          



Liturgical Books....................          

Ceremonial Acts....................          

Manual Acts....................          


Concerning Candles....................          

Concerning Silence....................          

THE HOLY EUCHARIST....................          

THE CALENDAR....................          

THE LECTIONARY....................          

THE DAILY OFFICE....................          


HOLY WEEK....................          




About the Author and Illustrator....................          


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