Eucharistie rites

Today the Armenian Church uses a single eucharistic liturgy and eucharistic prayer, attributed to St Athanasius of Alexandria, which seems to be an amalgamation of elements from the liturgies of St James, St Basil and St John Chrysostom. However, in the ancient manuscripts the following anaphoras are found in translation:

St John Chrysostom (Byzantine)

St Basil (Byzantine)

St James (Syriac)

St Ignatius (Syriac)

The Roman canon missae (Latin)

In addition we find the following:

St Gregory the Illuminator (earlier pre-Byzantine version of St Basil) St Gregory of Nazianzus St Cyril of Alexandria St Isaac the Parthian

The last three seem to have been independent compilations. An important commentary on the liturgy by Khosrov Andzewatsi gives evidence of the shape of the liturgy in the tenth century in Vaspurakan province.

The present liturgy of St Athanasius begins with prayers of vesting, which take place privately. This is followed by the purification and accession of the ministers, during which the congregation stands. The purification includes pouring water over the hands of the celebrant, and the accession has clear parallels with the preparation in the Latin rite. This is followed by the prothesis, which is a brief preparation and blessing of the bread (unleavened) and wine (not mixed with water). The prothesis takes place with the curtain drawn shut. Then comes the synaxis, beginning with the censing of the congregation as the celebrant walks in its midst. Next follows the enarxis which consists of blessing, the monogenes, introit, bidding of peace, and chanting of the three antiphons. Then comes the Little Entrance, with a non-Chalcedonian form of the trisagion, the Great Litany and the lections. The Creed follows together with the anathema:

As for those who say there was a time when the Son was not or there was a time when the Holy Spirit was not or that they came into being out of nothing or who say that the Son of God or the Holy Spirit be of different substance and that they be changeable or alterable, such doth the Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematize.

There then follow prayers and a litany entitled 'The Prayers after the Lections'.

The Eucharist proper begins with the Great Entrance, the transfer of the elements from the prothesis table to the altar, and the Peace. The anaphora follows and, as might be expected, is Syro-Byzantine in structure. There are diptyches and then the Lord's Prayer. A prayer of inclination introduces the elevation, and while the sancta sanctis is sung, the priest prays privately. The intinction and fraction precede the communion. The prayers provided as a preparation to communion are quite extensive, and are followed by a thanksgiving, with blessing and dismissal, which includes the last Gospel (John 1: 1-14) from the Roman rite.

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