Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Addendum re Eucharistic Prayer II

Opening up Hänggi & Paul's Prex Eucharistica (Fribourg, 1968), to find the versio latina antiquissima of the Eucharistic Prayer in the little work called The Apostolic Tradition attributed to St Hippolytus, and then to compare it with the Latin of Eucharistic Prayer II, I find that, of the 244 words of the ancient Latin version, I must underline 78 as not being found in the modern E.P. II, even in loose paraphrase, from Dominus vobiscum before the modern Preface to the Amen after the final doxology.  Hence, 166 words, that is, 68% or about two-thirds of the Prayer of pseudo-Hippolytus (for recent scholarship regards it as proven that it is not really his) have been used to construct E.P. II.

Meanwhile, the modern E.P. II, from Dominus vobiscum to Amen (including the Sanctus, entirely missing from the ancient text, and a Memorial Acclamation), consists of about 383 words, of which, as mentioned, at best 166 words are derived, however loosely, from ps.-Hippolytus.  In other words, only 43% of the whole of E.P. II consists of Hippolytan material; and of that, 51 words comprise the Preface (which is 68% Hippolytan – and almost wholly such, disregarding its opening and closing phrases), which may be replaced by another – in which case, E.P. II from Vere sanctus to the final Amen is only 37% Hippolytan (97 words out of 263), and still less if the whole doxology Per ipsum is regarded as it ought be, as a straight borrowing from the Roman Canon and not at all taken from The Apostolic Tradition.  The body of the Prayer is thus really only a third from that primitive source.

In sum, two-thirds of an early Eucharistic Prayer of uncertain provenance was adapted to comprise two-thirds of a modern Eucharistic Prayer.  As all men know, 2/3 multiplied by 2/3 is 4/9, or about 44%, so my above calculation seems roughly right.

How did the experts set to work in the late sixties to concoct this (alas! shorter and thus most successful) rival to the venerable and holy Roman Canon, until then the sole Eucharistic Prayer of Western Catholicism (including the Ambrosian Rite, whose Canon has only a few minor differences, and excluding only the few Masses said in the Mozarabic Rite – since 1500, usually only one each day), having been said daily by countless priests for at least sixteen centuries?

Basically, the first, Christological part of the ancient prayer was separated off and turned into a Preface, given a proper Roman-style protocol beginning Vere dignum and an eschatocol Et ideo [which also echoes a phrase in the Missale Gothicum about both angels and saints praising the Lord], leading into the Sanctus.

After that, using the common Gallican and Mozarabic opening phrase Vere sanctus (found also in the Ambrosian Rite on one day of the year), a preconsecratory epiclesis was composed and inserted (I should remember where the phrasing about "the dew of thy Spirit" comes from, but don't; it is of course ultimately a Scriptural allusion to Gideon's fleece, itself an image of the virginal conception).  [UPDATE: apparently fons omnis sanctitatis is a phrase pinched from the Liber mozarabicus sacramentorum, while Spiritus tui rore sanctificas comes from the Missale Gothicum.]

Next, the Hippolytan text of the consecration was slightly amplified and harmonized with the Roman words of consecration, and the modern Memorial Acclamation introduced by Mysterium fidei inserted.  

The whole anamnesis and oblation is, it must be said, taken almost verbatim from ps.-Hippolytus, but an entirely new postconsecratory communion epiclesis (retaining the one reference to being "gathered into one") was added thereafter, omitting most of what the ancient prayer had (at which point, in any case, the text has a number of convenient variants in various ancient versions – the original Greek has been lost, which is why I refer to the most ancient Latin of it that has survived, since presumably the revisers worked mainly from it).

Finally, a long intercession (whose opening lines, about remembering the Church spread throughout the world and perfecting her in love, seem to me to derive from the Didache 10:5 and 9:4) was added, since a Eucharistic Prayer was felt to be incomplete without such offering up of the Sacrifice of the Mass for all the living and the dead, in union with the Pope and bishop, and commemorating Our Lady and the Saints, but concluding with a last line pinched from the old prayer: "that Thee we may laud and glorify through Thy Child Jesus Christ" – which was made to lead (a bit ungrammatically) into the Roman Canon's Per ipsum.

(I have, since writing this, also noted all the words taken more or less verbatim from the Roman Canon and used in the composition of E.P. II – some in the epiclesis, most in the consecration and the intercessory paragraphs – amounting to about 80 in total, plus all the 26 words of the Per ipsum (not to mention the Preface, whose protocol and eschatocol contain 24 more taken from the Roman tradition, nor its dialogue, nor the Sanctus): so that, excluding the Preface &c., 106 out of 263 or 40% of the text of the Eucharistic Prayer from Vere sanctus to the final Amen is in fact from the Roman Canon; there is some overlap with the 37% of the same I count as Hippolytan, since I included all words of the ancient Hippolytan doxology that seemed more or less equivalent to those of the Per ipsum.)

What a dog's breakfast!

I recall Michael Davies saying that a Swiss Reformed church (or was it a Lutheran one in Germany? – hence its cruel nickname of the Lutheran Canon, which is actually not a very Lutheran concept at all; "the quickie Canon" is more apt) adopted this Eucharistic Prayer II (leaving out the Pope of course, as I heard a Jesuit do when saying a funeral Mass for a Protestant in Melbourne) as sufficiently ambiguous to be acceptable to their theology of the Eucharist; and I just found it, almost word-for-word (again omitting the Pope), amusingly enough in the now-obsolete nasty old ICEL paraphrase, in the Holy Liturgy of the Anglican Church of the Province of Central Africa!

A cynic might say that E.P. II was the answer to the prayers of Irishmen, priests and laity, down the ages: Lord, make Mass go even faster.

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