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Preface (liturgy)

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In liturgical use the term Preface is applied to that portion of the Eucharistic Prayer that immediately precedes the Canon or central portion of the Eucharist (Mass or Divine Liturgy).[1] The Preface, which begins at the words, "It is very meet and just, right and salutary" (or a variation thereof) is ushered in, in all liturgies, with the Sursum Corda, "Lift up your hearts", and ends with the Sanctus, "Holy, Holy, Holy, etc."

In the Western liturgies, proper prefaces are appointed for particular occasions. In the various Eastern liturgies there is great variation. Among those who follow the Rite of Constantinople the audible portion of the preface does not change, but the silent prayer said by the priest will differ depending upon whether it is the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom or the Liturgy of St. Basil the Great. Among the Oriental Orthodox Churches the preface will take different forms, depending upon the liturgical rite and/or the particular feast day.

In both the Ordinary and the Extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, the preface opens with the following:

Priest: Dominus Vobiscum
People: Et Cum Spiritu Tuo
Priest: Sursum Corda
People: Habemus ad Dominum
Priest: Gratias Agamus Domino Deo Nostro
People: Dignum et Iustum Est

In the current, imprecise ICEL English translation for the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, the preface opens with the following dialogue between the priest and the people:

Priest: The Lord be with you.
People: And also with you.
Priest: Lift up your hearts.
People: We lift them up to the Lord.
Priest: Let us give thanks to the Lord, our God.
People: It is right to give him thanks and praise.

A more accurate translation follows:

Priest: The Lord be with you.
People: And with your spirit.
Priest: Lift up your hearts.
People: We have them with the Lord.
Priest: Let us give thanks to the Lord, our God
People: It is worthy and just.

Anglican and Protestant Forms

In the 1979 United States edition of the Book of Common Prayer, this dialog is given for Rite One as:

Priest: The Lord be with you.
People: And with thy spirit.
Priest: Lift up your hearts.
People: We lift them up unto the Lord.
Priest: Let us give thanks unto our Lord God.
People: It is meet and right so to do.
Priest: It is very meet, right, and our bounden duty, that we should . . .

Rite Two has the dialog as in the ICEL version above, with the preface itself beginning:

Priest: It is right, and a good and joyful thing, . . .

Most Protestant churches in the United States, when formal liturgy is used, use forms very similar to ICEL and Rite Two; common 21st Century gender-neutral usage frequently substitutes "It is right to give our thanks and praise," or "It is right to give God thanks and praise."

References

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