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Concelebrating priests in oranten pose during high prayer ( Manila , 2013)
Byzantine liturgy, priest and deacon at prayer

Prayer (Canon of the Mass, Latin Canon Missae ) or Anaphora refers to the genre of great praise and thanksgiving prayers in the Christian liturgy .

Concept and scope

The genus developed from the Jewish praise and blessing prayers (the Berachot ), and in this tradition the prayers are mostly directed to God the Father . The term Hochgebet has been used in German since C. Anton Baumstark (1872–1948).

Holy Mass

The widespread and understandable synonymic use of prayer and canon in Holy Mass is not very precise: The entire prayer from the opening dialogue to the final acclamation is referred to as “prayer”, while “canon” is the name for all parts of the Sanctus . In addition, Canon Missae or Canon Romanus was only today's first prayer for over 1400 years. The Roman missal also knows the term high prayer both for the whole prayer and for the part after the Sanctus.

In prayer the Eucharistic liturgy reaches its climax as praise, remembrance and request with the aim of communion on the sacred gifts. There are Eucharistic prayers in the Roman Catholic and Old Catholic Church as well as the Pre-Chalcedonian, Orthodox , Anglican and Lutheran Churches . There they are also ascribed consecrative power that through the request for the Holy Spirit (in the Eastern churches) or after the epiclesis with the appointment report, "the power of the words and actions of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit" (in the Western churches ) the gifts of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ truly changed be.

Prayers at sacraments and sacramentals

To the kind of Prayers also the blessing prayers include all sacramental celebrations : the praise and invocation of God over the waters of baptism , prayer over the confirmands that Lossprechungsgebet in repentance , the prayer of blessing on the bride and groom at the wedding ceremony , the prayer of dedication at Konsekrationshandlungen so the Chrism -Weihe, and the Easter praise over the Easter candle and until 1955, the Palm consecration .


All prayers contain the following parts:

  • Invitation of the head of department for mutual thanks and declaration of readiness from the fellow celebrants ("opening dialogue" or "invitation")
  • History : the memory of the saving acts of God in Christ - in the Eucharistic Prayer, beginning with the gratefully-laudatory preface , followed by that of priests and people in general together sung acclamation, the Sanctus , and culminating in the foundation of praise and the institution narrative , the words of consecration , opening out in view of the second coming of Christ (see also Mystery of Faith )
  • Epiclesis : calling down the Holy Spirit on the Eucharistic gifts and on the assembled community, which is united with Christ and with one another through communion.
  • Memento : the requests following the epiclesis, the so-called intercessions, carry out the request for unity of the epiclesis in that the congregation asks for unity with the Church of the past (dead), the present (Pope and bishops) and the future (saints).
  • The final doxology .
  • Amen as approval ("signature") of the fellow celebrants.

These elements can appear several times and in different order, but none can be completely missing.

Roman Catholic Church

The oldest written prayer, partly contained in Prayer II of the current Roman Missal, comes from the " Traditio Apostolica " (probably 4th century, originally Greek) attributed to Hippolytus of Rome - probably wrongly in the traditional form . The oldest Latin prayer texts can be found in the 4th century, e.g. B. Ambrose of Milan , the current form ( Prayer I of the current missal ) in the 6th century probably not in Pope Gregory I , but in the sacramentaries of the 8th century. From the beginning of the Middle Ages to the liturgical reform of Vatican II, the Roman prayer, the Canon Romanus , was prayed quietly by the priest, apart from exceptions (e.g. Old Slavonic rite ), in Latin and according to the Sanctus up to doxology, because the Since then, he feared dishonor of the most sacred words of Jesus, because the main prayer of the parish mass was loud again as originally, and since 1967 mostly in the national language.

That of Pope Paul VI. edited Roman Missal offers four Prayers to choose from: The first Eucharistic Prayer is the revised Canon Romanus, the second Eucharistic Prayer is an advanced around the Sanctus and the intercessions and in the sequence Wandlungsepiklese - Foundation praise - Kommunionepiklese edited version of the Eucharistic prayer of the Apostolic Tradition, the third Prayer of prayer is a new creation, the fourth prayer contains formulations from the Christian East and was created in this form after the Council. In addition, Paul VI. other prayers that were included in the third edition of the Roman Missal , namely the two prayers on the subject of "Reconciliation" (only one of which has been translated into German), one prayers for the deaf and three prayers for masses with children who share with others Acclamations were fitted. The suggestion that emerged after the liturgical reform to leave the bishops' conferences in various countries to prepare further prayers was approved by Pope Paul VI. declined; however, the Bishops' Conferences were granted the right to submit new prefations. However, the Holy See approved individual special forms for regionally restricted use, for example for wedding masses in Canada or originally for the Swiss Synod the “ Prayer for Special Issues ” with four prefations and associated interchangeable intercessions. The occasionally recommended partial or complete return to “canon silence”, i. H. for quiet prayer, contradicts valid liturgical law (basic order of the Roman Missal No. 30. 32) and is rejected by most liturgical scholars as improper. In addition to the Roman missal, there are also other missal books of individual rites that belong to the Western or Latin rite family:

The so-called Ambrosian Missal (reformed after the 2nd Vatican Council) knows six prayers. The first four are identical to the four prayers of the Missale Romanum from 1969, the fifth is a separate text for Maundy Thursday, the sixth a separate text for Easter Vigil. The structure and structure of the last named prayers are similar to the first four.

The mozzarab missal (also reformed after the 2nd Vatican Council) has its own opening dialogue for prayer; the prefecture is called Illatio, the prayer address to the father is not always consistently carried out; the Sanctus acclamation, which is also common in the Roman missal, is followed by the Greek words hagios, hagios, hagios, kyrie o theos trishagion , followed by a separate and quite independent “Oratio post sanctus” (prayer after the Sanctus). The quam pridie, i.e. the words of change or the foundation prize, is always the same. The acclamation “Amen” follows the bread and cup word, followed by a separate “oratio post pridie”, and then a final phrase. The epiclesis is only hinted at at times, as are the intercessions. Even stronger than the Canon Romanus in its old form before the reform by Paul VI. the Mozzarabic texts give the impression of a loose sequence of independent individual prayers that are not precisely coordinated.

The sequence of the individual parts of the Roman Catholic prayer in the Roman missal is:

The prayer is sung or spoken by the celebrant in an ornamental position . The preface and the sanctus should always be sung whenever possible. In Catholic masses during the concelebration, epic reading and the epic reading of communion, as well as the instigation report, are presented jointly by the principal and the concelebrants (one loud, the other softly); the concelebrants can take over individual stanzas of the intercessions.

Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches

Recitation of the prayer in a Byzantine liturgy

In the Orthodox and the Oriental Orthodox Churches, Eucharistic liturgies with various prayers, e.g. B. Basil's anaphora , known from the 4th and 5th centuries. The prayer in the Eastern Church liturgy also has the above basic structure, with the difference that it does not know a split epiclesis, but only an epicsreading (which summarizes the epics of change and communion) according to the anamnesis and is often more detailed and varied than that of the Catholic West .

The anaphora of the Chrysostos Muslim liturgy like the Basileios liturgy has the following structure. The invitation to stand reverently is followed by the introductory dialogue between celebrant and believer. Then the celebrant sings the anaphora prayer corresponding to the Roman prefation “It is worthy and just ...”, which ends with “Holy, holy, holy” (ie with the Sanctus as in the Roman liturgy, not the Trishaghion ). This is followed by the anamnesis with the final amen . This is followed by the offering of the sacred gifts with the prayer “Remembering this redeeming commandment… we offer you what is yours from yours….” Now follows the epiclesis with the requests for the spiritual sending to transform the bread and its, “what in this cup is “to the body and blood of Christ. After the three times amen , the anamnesis of the saints, the Theotokos, the deceased and the living are remembered. This part is decided with the Doxology .

The East Syrian anaphora of the apostles Addai and Mari has been handed down without an institution report. A certain moment or a single formula for the transformation of the gifts is not defined, the prayer is regarded as an indivisible whole that brings about the secret of the transformation of bread and wine. However, the epiclesis, the request for the cooperation of the Holy Spirit, is considered indispensable.

Old Catholic Church

In the Old Catholic Church, the prayer is called the Eucharist throughout (Latin: prex eucharistica ) and its inner unity is emphasized. Therefore consecrative power - through the work of the Holy Spirit - is ascribed to it as a whole . B. is expressed in the fact that the altar service does a squat only after the Amen on the part of the community . In the Old Catholic Church in Germany, 23 Eucharist prayers are in use, the structure of which corresponds to both the Roman - Alexandrian type and the Antiochene type. The Eucharist prayer attributed to Hippolytus of Rome from the “ Traditio Apostolica ” can be found as Eucharist Prayer I in a literal translation , while the Roman Eucharist prayer (Canon Romanus) has been adopted in a freer translation. Most of the other texts are of modern origin and come from both our own (Eucharist prayer of the Union of Utrecht ) and other traditions (e.g. Lima liturgy ). In the five Eucharistic Prayers of the Christian Catholic Church in Switzerland , the undivided epiclesis on bread and wine and on community always follows the anamnesis.

Anglican Church

Various prayers are used in the Anglican Church. In Common Worship (see Book of Common Prayer ) there are high prayers that have both a split and a unified epicreading. It is noticeable that at no point is God directly asked to send his spirit to the gifts or that they are asked for their sanctification and the sanctification of the community. Instead, almost all Eucharistic prayers use the phrase that bread and wine “for us” are the body and blood of Christ (“may be to us”). This corresponds to the understanding of the Eucharist of the Protestant - evangelical wing ( Low Church ) of the Anglican Church, which is opposed to the idea of ​​a real change. In the Anglo-Catholic wing ( High Church ) the Canon Romanus is also in use, either in the form of the Roman Rite or the Sarum Rite , the pre-Indian Mass Ordo of the Church of Salisbury .

Lutheran Church

In the Lutheran Church, the prayer at the Lord's Supper was reduced to the opening dialogue, preface, Sanctus and words of Jesus' institution, following Martin Luther . Theological reason for this was that Luther rejected the idea of ​​sacrifice, which he perceived as dominant, in the ancient Roman mass canon. Since the beginning of the 20th century, however, there have been efforts to regain the prayer in its unfolded form for the Lutheran communion liturgy. Since the agenda in 1956, one possible sequence in the church service is:

In the Lutheran congregations of the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church ( SELK ), this so-called Last Supper form B is in use.


Web links

Wiktionary: Prayer  - explanations of meanings, origins of words, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church 1353.
  2. Eucharistic Prayer for the celebration of the wedding (for the dioceses of the French-speaking area in Canada). In: Weizenkorn S 5 (Stuttgart 1986) 111-113.
  3. ^ Adolf Adam : Liturgy floor plan . Herder-Verlag, Freiburg 2005, ISBN 3-451-28413-8 .
  4. The translation of the prayer texts into German by Sergius Heitz (editor), Mysterium der Adoration, translated and edited by Susanne Hausammann and Sergius Heitz . Luthe-Verlag (Cologne), 1986. p. 309
  5. The celebration of the Eucharist in the Catholic Diocese of the Old Catholics . Prepared for use in worship services by the Liturgical Commission and published by the Bishop and Synodal Representation, Bonn: Alt-Katholischer Bistumsverlag 2006; ISBN 3-934610-30-7
  6. Prayer and hymn book of the Christian Catholic Church of Switzerland, Basel: Christkatholischer Medienverlag 2004; ISBN 3-9522331-2-9
  7. ^ Ton van Eijk, The Epiklese in the New Eucharistic Prayers of the Christian Traditions. From fellowship in teaching to fellowship in prayer ?, in: Internationale Kirchliche Zeitschrift 96, 2006, pp. 89–110