Project Canterbury

From The Works of the Rt. Rev. Charles C. Grafton (Volume 6),
edited by B. Talbot Rogers, New York: Longmans, Green, 1914, pp. 20-26

Plain Suggestions for a Reverent Celebration of the Holy Communion

by Bishop Charles Chapman Grafton


Chapter V

How to Prepare for the Celebration

In the vestry, or sacristy, the vessels are prepared in this manner: A simple linen covering is spread upon some suitable shelf or table. Upon this is placed the chalice. A purificator is laid across the top of it. Upon the purificator is then placed the paten, which is nearly flat, and so can rest safely upon it. Upon the paten, in churches where wafer-bread is used, it is customary to place a single large wafer. Over this is laid the pall, and then over all the silk chalice-veil is spread. Lastly, the burse, containing within it the corporal and the fair linen veil, is laid on top. In the church, upon the credence, should be placed two cruets, one holding wine, the other water. If there is to be a very large number of communicants, the wine may be in the flagon, but glass is a better and cleaner material than metal for the purpose of holding wine. The kind of bread, whether leavened or unleavened, our Church does not regard as an essential matter. The kind and form used have no doctrinal significance. But bread in a wafer form, because always ready for use and never crumbling, is more convenient for both priest and people. It may also be said to appertain to reverence, as separate from common use. It is, moreover, most probably the same kind of bread used by our Lord at the institution of the Holy Communion, and known as Passover bread now. It is used by the Lutherans and in the Swedish churches. The altar-bread or wafers will be placed in some suitable vessel, which either has a cover or is covered with some linen cloth. If there is to be an offering of money a decent basin to receive it will be placed on the credence, and not on the altar. The altar will have upon it the fair linen cloth, which falls two or more feet at either end, but does not show in front. When the celebrations are very frequent, it is sometimes left upon the altar. It is then protected from dust by a temporary covering of some common stuff, which is removed before the celebration. The altar should have a book-rest upon it. When the priest is without an assistant, the altar service-book will be placed closed upon the book-rest before the service begins.

If Morning Prayer is not to precede the communion, the priest should bring in the vessels when he comes to celebrate. When Morning Prayer precedes the communion, he may place the vessels upon the altar before service. In this case he will take the corporal out of the burse and spread the corporal, and then place the sacred vessels upon it, still covered with the chalice-veil.

The priest vests himself in the sacristy, or vestry, the latter and more customary term better denoting the place where the vestments are kept. The vestments needed for the celebration, where there is room for the purpose, may be conveniently laid out for the priest in the following order on some table:

The chasuble, with the lower half of its two sides turned up, so that, being laid down flat, the exterior is protected from any dust which might be on the table, and the garment is more easily put on by the priest. Upon it are laid the maniple and the stole. The girdle, having been doubled, is placed upon them. Then the alb is laid over them, so folded as to be more readily put on. And lastly the amice is laid on the top. The priest, having washed his hands, then vests himself in the following manner, with cassock, amice, alb, girdle, stole, maniple, and chasuble. The cassock, it may be here observed, though now much discarded for the purpose, is as much a home or secular garb as a church one, and therefore has not been previously mentioned. The amice is the first piece put on. It is first placed on the top of the head, the two long strings attached to it hanging down in front. The strings are crossed on the breast and then passed round the body and brought to the front, where they meet and are tied in a bow-knot. The alb is then put on, and next the girdle. The girdle is passed round the waist and brought to the front, where its two ends are passed through the loop which is made by the girdle’s having been doubled, and is so secured. Next the stole is placed over the neck. The amice is now allowed to drop down and form a collar covering the stole and preventing its getting soiled. The stole, if the celebrant is a bishop, hangs straight on either side, but if the celebrant is a priest it is crossed on the breast. It is kept in its place by the girdle, the lower portions of which were hanging in front, and are now brought to either side of the body. The maniple is worn on the left arm; and lastly the chasuble is put on.

As the act of vesting soon becomes a mechanical one, the priest may profitably say during the process a few prayers. The following, or others of one’s own selection, can be used. They can either be learned by heart of copied out and hung up before the priest in the place where he is accustomed to vest.


Prayers While Vesting for the Holy Communion

At washing the Hands

Cleanse me, O Lord, from all defilement of heart and body, that I may with clean hands and a pure heart fulfil Thy work.

At putting on the Amice

Cover, O Lord, my head with the helmet of Thy salvation, that, the assaults of the evil one being repelled, in peace I may offer this service to Thee.

At putting on the Alb

Cleanse me, O Lord, that, made white and washed in the blood of the Lamb, I may serve Thee faithfully, and at last attain to everlasting joy.

At putting on the Girdle

Gird me, O Lord, with the girdle of Thy love, and extinguish within me the fire of all evil desire, that the grace of temperance and chastity may abide in me.

At putting on the Stole

Grant me to so bear Thy yoke and minister in Thy name that Thy word may never return to Thee void, but may fulfil that to which Thou sendest it.

At putting on the Maniple

Grant me to so bear the present burden of labour and sorrow for love of Thee it may be light, and I may persevere even unto the end.

At putting on the Chasuble

Clothe me, O Lord, with the robe of Thy righteousness, that trusting only in Thy merits, and resting in Thy love, all that I do may be acceptable to Thee.

(It may be observed that the ancient English use of Sarum directed the priest to say the hymn Veni Creator while he was robing himself in the sacred vestments.

Other Prayers That May Be Said

O merciful Lord, incline Thine ear to our prayers, and enlighten our souls by the grace of Thy Holy Spirit, that we may worthily celebrate Thy holy mysteries and love Thee with an everlasting love.

Inflame our hearts, O Lord, we beseech Thee, with the fire of Thy Holy Spirit, that we may serve Thee with chaste bodies, and please Thee with pure souls.

Visit, we pray Thee, O Lord, and cleanse our consciences, that Thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ may, when He cometh, find in us a mansion fitted for His abode.

O God, who in this wonderful sacrament hast left unto us a memorial of Thy passion, grant us so to venerate the sacred mysteries of Thy body and blood that we may always perceive in ourselves the fruit of Thy redemption.

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