Eucharistic Prayer II and the Canon of Hippolytus

It is said that the new Eucharistic Prayers draw on ancient sources in the Church's history. This is especially so - we are told - with Eucharistic Prayer II which uses a canon written by a 3rd century martyr called Hippolytus. Below I provide two essays which examine this claim. Firstly, though, compare the old and new prayers side by side (honest, these are the correct texts!):

The Canon of Hippolytus

We give you thanks, O God, through your beloved Servant Jesus Christ, whom at the end of time you did send to us a Saviour and Redeemer and the Messenger of your counsel. Who is your Word, inseparable from you; through whom you did make all things and in whom you are well pleased. Whom you did send from heaven into the womb of the Virgin, and who, dwelling within her, was made flesh, and was manifested as your Son, being born of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin. Who, fulfilling your will, and winning for himself a holy people, spread out his hands when he came to suffer, that by his death he might set free them who believed on you.

Who, when he was betrayed to his willing death, that he might bring to nought death, and break the bond of the devil, and tread hell under foot, and give light to the righteous and set up a boundary post, and manifest his resurrection, taking bread and giving thanks to you said: Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you. And likewise also the cup, saying: This is my blood, which is shed for you. As often as you perform this, perform my memorial. Having in memory, therefore, his death and resurrection, we offer to you the bread and the cup, yielding you thanks, because you have counted us worthy to stand before you and to minister to you. And we pray you that you would send your Holy Spirit upon the offering of your holy church; that you, gathering them into one, would grant to all your saints who partake to be filled with the Holy Spirit, that their faith may be confirmed in truth, that we may praise and glorify you. Through your Servant Jesus Christ, through whom be to you glory and honor, with the Holy Spirit in the holy church, both now and always and world without end. Amen.

  Eucharistic Prayer II

Lord, you are holy indeed, the fountain of all holiness. Let your Spirit come upon these gifts to make them holy, so that they may become for us the body and blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Before he was given up to death, a death he freely accepted, he took bread and and gave you thanks. He took the bread, gave it to his disciples, and said: Take this, all of you, and eat it: this is my body which will be given up for you. When supper was ended, he took the cup. Again he gave you thanks and praise, gave the cup to his disciples, and said: Take this, all of you, and drink from it: this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all men so that sins may be forgiven. Do this in memory of me.

Let us proclaim the mystery of faith. [Four options for response.]

In memory of his death and resurrection, we offer you, Father this life-giving bread, this saving cup. We thank you for counting us worthy to stand in your presence and serve you. May all of us who share in the body and blood of Christ be brought together in unity by the Holy Spirit.

Lord, remember your Church throughout the world; make us grow in love, together with N. our Pope, N. our bishop, and all the clergy. Remember our brothers and sisters who have gone to their rest in the hope of rising again; bring them and all the departed into the light of your presence. Have mercy on us all; make us worthy to share eternal life with Mary, the virgin Mother of God, with the apostles, and with all the saints who have done your will throughout the ages. May we praise you in union with them, and give you glory through your Son, Jesus Christ. Through him, with him, in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, almighty Father, for ever and ever. Amen.

(Translation from TheApostolic Tradition of Hippolytus by Burton Scott Easton, 1934)   (Translation from Ordo Missae Cum Populo, A Latin-English Text For Congregational Use According to the Intent of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Second Vatican Council, 1978

Decide for yourself whether Eucharistic Prayer II is an adaptation or a corruption of the above ancient canon (which itself poses problems outlines in the essays below).

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Last modified 21st April 1999, by David Joyce.