+L’s Little Liturgical Lesson: The PATER NOSTER

So after the Great Prayer of Thanksgiving when we rehearse what I called last week the ‘Christ Event’, the service invites is to share in the most famous of all prayers, the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ often called the Pater Noster from the Latin.

  • I suppose it’s called that because the Lord gave it to us, but it might be more accurate to call it the Disciple’s Prayer, or better – note the place of the apostrophe – the Disciples’ Prayer, for it is so much a common prayer, and is most at home when prayed with others.
  • You may notice that the celebrant prays the prayer with his hands extended in what is known as the ‘orans position’, from the medieval Latin for prayer or pleading. It’s an ancient way to pray – standing with arms outstretched in openness, and was probably a pretty normal way for the Lord himself to pray.
  • In the Roman Catholic Church after the renewals of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960’s it became something of a custom for the whole of the congregation to pray the Lord’s Prayer in this way, though for some reason, rather grumpy liturgists have discouraged this. I have to say, I rather like it, so if you want to try, do! You will in time find it a natural way to pray.
  • The prayer generally ends with ‘deliver us from evil’ but can also have a doxology added to it (‘for thine is the kingdom etc) as we do.
  • What we don’t include in Anglican services is a lovely additional bit that comes after ‘deliver us from evil’ and before ‘for thine is the kingdom..’ called the ‘Libera nos’ from the Latin ‘deliver us’.  These are the words which I love to use as a prayer anyway:

Deliver us Lord, from every evil and grant us peace in our day. In your mercy keep us free from sin, and protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Saviour Jesus Christ…’

  • At Christ Church (if you haven’t got your eyes closed!) you may notice one of the servers or the assistant priest make a journey from the nave altar to the Aumbry – the cupboard on the left side of the chancel – to get the ‘reserved sacrament’ – the remaining bread of the communion consecrated the previous week which is stored there. It will be used during the distribution of communion so that each week the reserved sacrament is refreshed.

+L

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