Calvin’s Manner of Celebrating the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper

Taken and adapted  from, “Preces Ecclesiastics”
This particular piece of liturgy came from John Calvin, with the exception of the ‘Consecrating Prayer,’ which came from the Liturgy of Geneva; and ‘The Manner of setting apart the Elements,’ which came from the Directory of Worship.

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THE

MANNER OF CELEBRATING

THE

Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper

The service may be introduced by the singing of a Sacramental Hymn, followed by these prayers.

The Lord’s Prayer.

Our Father which art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil : For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Invocation.

Most Gracious God! whose well-beloved Son hath once offered up His body and blood upon the Cross for the remission of our sins, and doth vouchsafe them for our meat and drink unto life eternal: Grant us grace, with sincere hearts and fervent desires,to accept this great blessing at Thy hands. May we by lively faith partake of His body and blood, yea, of Himself, true God and man, that only bread from heaven, that giveth life unto our souls. Suffer us no more to live unto ourselves, according to a corrupt and sinful nature; but may He live in us, and lead us to the life that is holy, blessed, and unchangeable for ever. Thus may we be partakers of the new and everlasting Testament, which is the Covenant of grace. And thus assure us of Thy willingness ever to be our gracious Father ; not imputing to us our sins,but as Thy beloved heirs and children, providing us with all things needful for our good, that both by our works and words we may magnify Thy Name. Fit us, O heavenly Father! at this time so to celebrate the blessed remembrance of Thy beloved Son. Enable us profitably to contemplate His love,and shew forth the benefits of His death ; That receiving fresh increase of strength in Thy faith and in all good works,we may with more confidence call Thee our Father,and evermore rejoice in Thee: Through  Jesus Christ our Redeemer. Amen.

Let us now make profession of our faith in the doctrine of the Christian religion, wherein we do all purpose, by the grace of God, to live and to die.

The Creed.

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth: and in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell ; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven,and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost; the Holy Catholic Church,the Communion of Saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting.
Amen.

Then follows the Exhortation; prefaced with the words of the institution, from 1 Corinthians 11:23-30.

Exhortation.

Attend to the words of the institution of the Holy Supper of our Lord Jesus Christ,as they are delivered by the Apostle Paul.

For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus,the same night in which He was betrayed, took bread: and when He had given thanks, He brake it, and said, Take, eat; this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also, He took the cup, when He had supped, saying, ‘This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till He come.’ Wherefore, whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord ,unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread,and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.

We have heard, brethren, in what manner our Lord celebrated the Supper among His disciples; whence we see that those who are not of the company of the faithful, may not approach it. Wherefore, in obedience to this rule, in the Name and by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, I warn all idolaters, blasphemers, despisers of God, heretics, all that are rebellious against fathers and mothers,all that are seditious, contentious, injurious, and all that lead corrupt and wicked lives: that they abstain from this Table, lest they pollute the sacred food which our Lord giveth only to His faithful servants. Let each of you then, according to St. Paul’s exhortations examine and prove his own conscience, to know whether he have true repentance, and sorrow for his sins; whether he desires henceforth to lead a holy and godly life; above all things, whether he puts his whole trust in God’s mercy, and seeks his whole salvation in Jesus Christ; and renouncing all enmity and malice, doth truly and honestly purpose to live in harmony and brotherly love with his neighbour.

If we have this testimony in our hearts before God, we may not doubt that He adopts us for His children, and that our Lord Jesus addresses to us His word, admitting us to His Table, and presenting us with this holy Sacrament, which He bestows upon His followers. And notwithstanding that we feel many infirmities and miseries in ourselves as, namely, that we have not perfect faith, and that we have not given ourselves to serve God with such zeal as we are bound to do, but have daily to battle with the lusts of our flesh: Yet since the Lord hath been graciously pleased to print His Gospel upon our hearts, and hath enabled us to withstand all unbelief; and hath given us this earnest desire to renounce our own thoughts and follow His righteousness and His holy commandments: Therefore we rest assured,that remaining sins and imperfections do not prevent us from being received of God, and made worthy partakers of this spiritual food. For we come not to this Supper to testify hereby that we are perfect and righteous in ourselves: but on the contrary, seeking our life in Jesus Christ, we acknowledge that we lie in the midst of death. Let us then look upon this Sacrament as a medicine for those who are spiritually sick ; and consider that all the worthiness our Lord requires is, that we truly know ourselves to be sorry for our sins, and find our pleasure, joy, and satisfaction in Him above.

First, then, we must believe these promises that Jesus Christ, who is Infallible Truth, hath pronounced with His own lips: That He is truly willing to make us partakers of His body and of His blood, in order that we may wholly possess Him, that He may live in us, and we in Him. And although we see here only the Bread and Wine, let us not doubt that He will accomplish spiritually in your souls all that He outwardly exhibits by these visible signs: He will shew Himself to be the heavenly Bread, to feed and nourish us unto life eternal. Let us not be unthankful to the infinite goodness of our Lord,who displays all His riches at this Table, to distribute them among us. For in giving Himself to us, He testifies that all He hath is ours. Also let us receive this Sacrament as a pledge, that the virtue of His death and passion is imputed unto us for righteousness; even as though we had suffered in our own persons. Let no man perversely draw back, when Jesus doth gently invite him by His Word. But considering the dignity  of His precious gift, let us present ourselves to Him with an ardent zeal,that He may make us capable of receiving it.

And now to this end lift up your minds and hearts on high, where Christ abideth in the glory of His Father, whence we expect His coming at our redemption. Dwell not on these earthly and corruptible elements, which we see present to our eyes, and feel with our hands,to seek Him in them,as though He were inclosed in the bread or in the wine. Be satisfied to have this bread and this wine for witnesses and signs; seeking spiritually the truth where God’s Word hath promised that we shall find it. For then only shall our souls be disposed to crave food and life from His substance, when they shall thus be lifted above all worldly things, even unto heaven, and enter into the kingdom of God, where He dwells.

The Consecrating Prayer.

Lord God! The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! Thou that art infinite goodness and perfect love! We bring Thee the sacrifice of our praise and the offering up of our thanks, for Thine inestimable gift in sending Thy Son into the world; for delivering Him up to die for us all; and for inviting us to participate in the fruits of His atonement, at the Table of this holy feast. Lord ! what are we, to receive such priceless benefits at Thy hand? or how shall we worthily shew forth our gratitude to Thee? The heavens and the earth, O Lord ! are full of the tokens of Thy bounty: but especially doest Thou manifest Thy love,in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Accept, O Lord our God ! the homage of Thine adoring people. And grant that we, partaking of this holy Sacrament, to which we are welcomed by Thy grace, may now join ourselves by the bonds of living faith and true holiness to our Saviour: so that we shall not henceforth live unto ourselves, but that He may live in us, to lead us to that blessed life that shall have no end.

Father of Mercies! who didst not spare Thine only-begotten Son, but deliveredst Him to death for us all; and hast brought us into His fellowship that we may obtain everlasting life: We Thy servants,with a lively sense of Thy precious gift, do now consecrate ourselves entirely unto Thee. We present to Thee our bodies, and our souls, in a living, and holy sacrifice. And since Thou hast loved us so much, we acknowledge ourselves constrained to love one another. Impress our hearts, O God! with these holy inclinations: that so celebrating the remembrance of Thy dear Son, our faith may grow strong, our charity  increase, our sanctification advance and be made complete, until we be meet for the inheritance of Thy saints in light everlasting. Hear us, O Father of Mercies! we ask all in the Name of Thy well-beloved Son Jesus Christ our Lord: unto Whom, as unto Thee, and the Holy Ghost, one God, be honor, praise, and glory, now, henceforth, and for ever.
Amen.

Then the Minister is to take the Bread and break it, in the view of the people, saying:

Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the same night in which He was betrayed, having taken bread,and blessed and broken it, gave it to His disciples; as I, ministering in His Name, give this bread unto you: saying, [here the bread is to be distributed] take, eat: this is My body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me.

After having given the Bread, he shall take the Cup, and say:

After the same manner our Saviour also took the cup; and having given thanks, as hath been done in His Name, He gave it to the disciples; saying, [here the cup is to be given,] This cup is the new testament in My blood, which is shed for many, for the remission of sins: drink ye all of it. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till He come.

The Minister himself is to communicate, at such time as may appear to him most convenient.
Then let a eucharistic hymn be sung.
The collection for the poor may be made after this.
Then the Minister is to pray, and give thanks to God.

Thanksgiving.

Heavenly Father! we give Thee immortal praise and thanks that upon us poor sinners Thou hast conferred so rich a benefit, as to bring us into the communion of Thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Him having delivered up to death for us, Thou hast given for our food and nourishment unto eternal life. Now also grant us grace, that we may never be unmindful of these things; but carrying them about engraven on our hearts, may we advance and grow in that faith which is effectual unto every good work. Thus may the rest of our lives be ordered and followed out to Thy glory and the good of our fellow men: Through Jesus Christ our Lord: Who with Thee, O Father! and the Holy Ghost,liveth and reigneth in the unity of the Godhead, world without end.
Amen.

Benediction.

Now the God of Peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus,that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will,working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ; to Whom be glory for ever and ever.
Amen.