SEARCH Journal

Liturgica: The Lord is with you!

‘COME people, Aaron’s drest.’ So ends George Herbert’s poem Aaron. It is part statement and part invitation and reminds us that worship begins with the act of gathering. Once gathered, the congregation is greeted; and so the Order for Morning and Evening Prayer begins in the 2004 edition of the Book of Common Prayer with the liturgical greeting: ‘The Lord be with you.’ ‘And also with you.’

This greeting and its response occurs twice in the service of Holy Communion Two, at the beginning of the service, and in the opening dialogue of the three Eucharistic Prayers. In the Latin Mass the formula punctuated the whole service, and even in Thomas Cranmer’s first English Prayer Book of 1549 it occurred three times, before the Collect, at the beginning of Eucharistic Prayer, and before the post-communion prayer. These were erased in subsequent books right up to the 1662 Book, authorised for use in Ireland in 1665. One can understand the Reformers’ suspicion of ‘vain repetition’, but what was lost, and why has it been restored in more recent liturgical revisions?

* Full article available in printed copies.

Christopher Irvine

Christopher Irvine

is priest in charge of Ewhurst and Bodiam in the diocese of Chichester and lecturer in Liturgy for the College of the Resurrection, Mirfield.