An Early Christian Eucharist
The following is a contemporary reconstruction based on the liturgy contained in the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus of Rome, with additional prayers from the Didache. I present this as a potential Eucharistic service for more formal churches in the Paleo-Orthodox (Early Christian) Movement. Every effort has been made to remain faithful to the historical witness of the church and Sacred Scripture, while providing a functional Eucharistic service.
THE EARLY CHRISTIAN EUCHARIST
OF HIPPOLYTUS OF ROME
Liturgy of the Catechumens
The Presbyter about to pray the Eucharist shall offer a personal prayer of preparation in their own words.
While the first hymn is being sung, the ministers go to the Lord's Table.
Presbyter: Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, the one, undivided Trinity, that unites and sanctifies us, and brings peace to our lives, now and forever. Amen.
Let us pray. Defiled as we are by many sins, do not reject us, Master, Lord, our God. For we draw near to this divine and heavenly mystery, not as though we were worthy, but, looking to Your goodness and grace, we raise our voices to You, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner. For I have sinned against you, and I am not worthy to lift up my eyes to this Your sacred and spiritual Table. Therefor we bring You this supplication, that Your Holy Spirit, the Advocate, may be sent down to us, guiding the thoughts of our hearts and preparing us for worship of You. And grant that without condemnation the word that has been declared by You may be proclaimed by me to my brethren in Christ Jesus our Lord, with whom You are blessed, together with Your Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.
(Speaking to the congregation)
People: And to you.
Deacon: Let us pray to the Lord.
(Presbyter asks for any prayer requests. He or one of the Elders or Deacons prays for the requests, ending with the Our Father)
Presbyter: And praying as Our Lord taught us...
All: Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be Thy Name,
Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who have sinned against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power,
and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.
Deacon: Let us praise the Lord.
(A hymn is sung here.)
Presentation of the Bread and Wine
(The bread and wine are brought forward by the Deacon, prepared and a hymn is sung)
Presbyter: We thank You, our Father, for the life and knowledge which You made known to us through Jesus Your Son; to You be the glory forever. (Presbyter elevates the bread) Even as this broken bread was scattered over the hills, and was gathered together and became one, so let Your Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into Your kingdom; for Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, through Jesus Christ forever.
(Presbyter elevates the chalice.)
We thank You, our Father, for the holy vine of David Your servant, which You made known to us through Jesus Your Son; to You be the glory forever.
Presbyter: A reading from the Book/Epistle of...May the Word of the Lord be in our minds, upon our lips, and dwell in our hearts. Amen.
After the reading:
Presbyter: Cleanse my heart and my lips, Almighty God, Who cleansed the lips of the prophet Isaiah with a burning coal. In Your gracious mercy, deign so to purify me, that I may worthily proclaim Your holy Gospel. Through Christ our Lord. Amen
(Sermon is preached here.)
(After sermon the presbyter approaches the Lord's Table. )
Deacon: Let the catechumens and penitents be dismissed.
The Liturgy of the Faithful
At the center of the Lord's Table, the presbyter continues as follows:
Jesus Our Savior and Lord was delivered to voluntary suffering, in order to dissolve death, and break the chains of the Adversary, and tread down hell, and bring the just to the light, and set the limit, and manifest the resurrection. Being mindful, therefore, of those things that He endured for our sakes, we give You thanks, O God Almighty, not in such a manner as we ought, but as we are able, and fulfill His command: (Holding the bread) "For in the same night that He was betrayed, He took bread in His holy and undefiled hands, and, looking up to You His God and Father, He broke it, and gave it to His disciples, saying, “This is the mystery of the new covenant: take of it, and eat. This is my body, which is broken for many, for the remission of sins."
(Holding the chalice) In like manner also He took the cup, and mixed it of wine and water, and sanctified it, and delivered it to them, saying: "Drink ye all of this; for this is my blood which is shed for you and for many, for the remission of sins: do this in remembrance of me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you do show forth my death until I come."
Being mindful, therefore, of His passion, and death, and resurrection from the dead, and return into the heavens, and His future second appearing, wherein He is to come with glory and power to judge the quick and the dead, and to recompense to every one according to his works, we offer to You, our King and our God, according to His command this bread and this cup, giving You thanks, through Him, that You have thought us worthy to stand before You, and to offer it to You; and we beseech You that You would mercifully look down upon these gifts which are here set before You, Lord God, who stand in need of none of our offerings. We ask You to bless them, to the honor of Your Christ, and send down upon this bread and wine Your Holy Spirit, the Witness of the Lord Jesus' sufferings, that He may show this bread to be the body of Your Christ, and the cup to be the blood of Your Christ, that those who are partakers thereof may be strengthened for piety, may obtain the remission of their sins, be delivered from the Adversary and his deceit, be filled with the Holy Spirit, be made worthy of Your Christ, and may obtain eternal life upon Your reconciliation to them, Lord Almighty. We further pray unto You, Lord, for Your holy Church spread from one end of the world to another, which You have purchased with the precious blood of Your Christ, that You would preserve it unshaken and free from conflict until the end of the world; for every church that rightly divides the word of truth. We further pray to You for ourselves, who are nothing, who offer everything to You, for the whole presbytery, for the deacons and all ministers of the Gospel, and for the Faithful, that You would make them wise, and replenish them with the Holy Spirit. We further pray to You, Lord, for the president and all in authority, for the whole army, that they may be peaceable towards us, that so, leading the whole time of our life in quietness and unanimity, we may glorify You through Jesus Christ, who is our hope. We further pray for all those holy persons who have pleased You, and all our fellow disciples, whose names You know. We further ask You to bless this this congregation, that You would render them, to the praise of Your Christ, "a royal priesthood and an holy nation;" for those that are in virginity and purity; for the widows of the Church; for those in honorable marriage and child-bearing; for the infants of Your people, that You would not permit any of us to become castaways. We further pray for this city and its inhabitants; for those that are sick; for those in bitter servitude; for those in banishments; for those in prison; for those that travel by water or by land; that You, the helper of all men, would be their Sustainer. We further pray for those that hate us and persecute us for Your name's sake; for those that are without, and wander out of the way; that You would change their hearts, and pacify their anger. We pray for the catechumens of the Church, and for those that are attacked by the adversary, and for our brethren the penitents, that You would perfect the first in the faith, that You would deliver the second from the influence of the evil one, and that You would accept the repentance of the last, and forgive both them and us our offenses. We pray for good weather, and the fertility of the crops, that so, partaking perpetually of the good things derived from You, we may praise You without ceasing, "who gavest food to all flesh." We pray for those who are absent on a just cause, that You will keep us all in piety, and gather us together in the kingdom of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, our King, that You would keep us immovable, blameless, and clean from reproach: for to You belongs all glory and worship, and thanksgiving, honor and adoration, the Father, with the Son, and the Holy Spirit, both now and always, and for everlasting, and endless ages forever.
Therefore, remembering his death and resurrection, we offer to You, Lord, this bread and this wine, giving thanks to You, who has made us worthy to stand before You and to be Your servants, and sons and daughters. And we pray that You would send Your Holy Spirit to the assembly of Your Holy Church. In their gathering together, give to all those who partake of Your holy mysteries the fullness of the Holy Spirit, toward the strengthening of the faith in truth, that we may praise You and glorify You, through Your son Jesus Christ, through whom to You be glory and honor, Father and Son, and Holy Spirit, in Your Holy Church, now and throughout the ages of the ages. Amen.
(The Faithful receive Communion)
Post Communion Prayer:
We thank You, Heavenly Father, for Your holy name which You did cause to tabernacle in our hearts, and for the knowledge and faith and immortality, which You made known to us through Jesus Your Son; to You be the glory forever.
You, Master almighty, did create all things for Your name's sake; You gave food and drink to men for enjoyment, that they might give thanks to You; but to us You did freely give spiritual food and drink and life eternal through Jesus Your Son. Before all things we thank You that You are mighty; to You be the glory forever.
Remember, Lord, Your Church, to deliver it from all evil and to make it perfect in Your love, and gather it from the four winds, sanctified for Your kingdom which You have prepared for it; for Yours is the kingdom, and the power and the glory forever.
(Speaking to the congregation)
Let grace come, and let this world pass away. Hosanna to the Son of David! If anyone is holy, let him come; if anyone is not so, let him repent. Maranatha. Amen.