The Canon of the Mass: The Anaphora of Hippolytus

The form and structure of liturgies is something that churches which employ these in worship either take for granted or argue over intensely. But very few people understand how a) these came into being or b) how they should be revised or replaced in times of liturgical change. What kind of theology is embodied in a liturgy? What attention to the rhythm and metre is given? How will a liturgy work in a language other than one the one it’s written in? How well does a liturgy communicate its message, in addition to being the setting for the “sacred pledge” of the Eucharist? All of these important questions frequently get the short shrift, either by defenders of an existing liturgy of by proposers of a new one?

Liturgical change is the time when these questions do get asked the most. Probably the most important liturgical transition of the last one hundred years took place when the Roman Catholic Church promulgated the Novus Ordo Missae, which was instituted in 1970. That mass was the result of both theological and liturgical forces that had been going on in the Church for most of the preceding century.

Many of those changes—and probably some of the process that led to the NOM—were set forth in Cipriano Vagaggini’s book The Canon of the Mass and Liturgical Reform. Published in 1967, it is a careful and thorough treatment of the subject, and probably represents the thinking of those in charge of the liturgical reform initiated by Vatican II.

The focus of his work is the anaphora, which is, by Vagaggini’s definition, “the liturgical text which accompanies and expresses the offering of the Church’s sacrifice to the Father.” The RCC had used the Roman Canon for nearly fourteen centuries and, while Vagaggini is careful to underline the importance of the Roman Canon to the life of the Church, he is also clear that it has its defects as well.

In this series (which starts here,) we will reproduce the various historical anaphorae he sets forth, plus two Projects “B” and “C” which are his proposals (or perhaps those at the Vatican in the process of formulating the then really “new” NOM) for new anaphorae to be used in the church. Vagaggini also has extensive explanations for all of this; consult the book for these.

I will reproduce the English translations of these anaphorae only. Serious liturgists would do well to consult his original Latin, as the translations look like they were taken from the Italian without consideration of the original Latin text. I have tried to winnow out errors in the OCR process but, if you find some, please bring them to my attention.

A general overview of this topic can be found here.

(Here ends the fixed portion of the introduction; the variable portion follows.)

The first in this series is the anaphora of Hippolytus, taken from Chapter IV of his Apostolic Tradition. It is the “minimalist” anaphora of the group, and probably was much of the inspiration for the NOM’s Rite II.

All should give the kiss of peace to whoever has become a bishop, honouring the dignity he has received. The deacons should give him the offering, and as he and all the priests extend their hands over it, he offers thanks, saying:

I

The Lord be with you.

All reply: And with you.

Lift up your hearts.

We have raised them up to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord.

It is right and fitting.

He continues:

II

We give you thanks, O God, through your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, whom in these days you have sent to save and redeem us, and to show us your will. He is your Word, inseparable from you, through whom everything was made. In your goodness, you sent him from heaven to be a virgin’s son. Conceived in her womb, he took flesh and was revealed as your Son, born of the virgin and the Holy Spirit.

III

In carrying out your will, and forming for you a holy people, he stretched out his hands as he suffered, to free from suffering those who had faith in you. When be allowed himself to be given up to suffer, so that he could conquer death and break the bonds of sin in crushing the power of bell, and so lead the just to the light, make a covenant with them and manifest the resurrection, he took bread, and giving thanks to you, said: Take, eat, this is my body, which is broken for vou. He did the same with the cup, saying: This is my blood which is poured out for vou. When you do this, do it in memory of me.

IV

Remembering therefore his death and resurrection, we offer you this bread and cup, thanking you for holding us worthy to stand in your presence and to serve you as priests.

V

We ask you to send your Holy Spirit down upon the offerings of your holy Church. Gathering together all those who receive these mysteries, grant that they may be filled with the Holy Spirit, and their faith may thus be strengthened in your truth.

VI

So may we praise and glorify you, through your Son Jesus Christ. Through him be honour and glory to you, the Father, Son, with the Holy Spirit, in the holy Church, now and always. Amen.

8 thoughts on “The Canon of the Mass: The Anaphora of Hippolytus”

Leave a Reply