The Rev. Jim Richardson, Priest-in-Charge
You hopefully will notice that for the next few weeks we will be using Eucharistic Prayer C from the Book of Common Prayer. It is perhaps the most unusual of the Eucharistic prayers in our tradition, with a strong emphasis on creation. It is especially suitable during the summer when we spend more time outdoors.
The prayer draws heavily from the biblical books of Genesis, Exodus, 1 Chronicles, the Letter to the Hebrews and the Acts of the Apostles. It tells the story of creation and our Old Testament ancestors more fully than the other Eucharistic prayers.
What makes Prayer C especially popular is the line about the enormity of God in creation: “At your command all things came to be: the vast expanse of interstellar space, galaxies, suns, the planets in their courses, and this fragile earth, our island home.” That line has earned it the nickname “The Star Trek Prayer.”
The prayer has an Eastern Orthodox flavor with more congregational responses than any of our other Eucharistic prayer. It also has a slightly different, but significant, difference in the order of the prayer. It is unique among our Eucharistic prayers by invoking the words of sanctification (or epiclesis) upon the bread and wine before the story is told of the Last Supper. In the other Eucharistic prayers, the words, “Sanctify them by your Holy Spirit…” come after the story of the Last Supper. But in Prayer C, those words come immediately before the story. This order harkens back to prayer books in the English and Scottish churches before 1775.
The prayer ends with a reminder that Jesus Christ is the “great High priest” which echoes Hebrews 4:14 and makes this prayer the “highest” of our Eucharistic prayers.
Eucharistic Prayer C was written by Howard E. Galley Jr., who was the primary editor of the 1979 revision of the prayer book and worked for Morehouse Publishing, the publishing arm of the Episcopal Church. He wrote a number of books on liturgy. He died in 1993.