Zwingli Archives: Replacing The Mass With a New Order of Worship
WITH THE ABOLITION of the Roman Catholic Mass came the task of explaining the meaning of the Reformed service of worship. In July, 1531, shortly before his death, Zwingli wrote his “Exposition of the Christian Faith” addressed to a Christian king and described therein his new liturgy. It was radical for his time, yet his order of service may sound familiar to many worshipers today. Your own church may wish to use it some Sunday in commemoration of Zwingli the liturgist, or as the order of worship on Reformation Sunday.
HERE FOLLOWS SUBSTANTIALLY THE ORDER OF SERVICE WE USE AT ZURICH, BERNE, BASEL, AND THE OTHER CITIES OF THE CHRISTIAN ALLIANCE:
First, in a sermon of appropriate length is preached the goodness of God which He has shown us through His Son, and the people are directed to the knowledge of this and thanksgiving for it. When this is finished a table is placed in front of the choir, so-called, before the steps; this is covered with a cloth, the unleavened bread is placed upon it, and the wine poured into cups. Then the pastor comes forward with two assistants, and they all turn towards the people, so that the pastor or bishop stands between the others, having on only the usual garb worn by men of standing and ministers of the Church. Then the pastor begins in a loud voice, not in the Latin tongue, but in the vernacular, so that all shall understand what is going on, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” The assistants respond in the name of the whole church, “Amen.” The Pastor: — “Let us pray.” Now the church kneels.
“Almighty and everlasting God, whom all creatures rightly worship, adore, and praise, as their Maker, Creator, and Father, grant unto us miserable sinners that we may in sincere faith render that praise and thanksgiving which Thy only begotten Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, instructed us to do, through that same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord who liveth and reigneth with Thee, God, in the unity of the Holy Spirit world without end. Amen.”
Then the assistant who stands on the left reads, “What is now read is written in the first Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, eleventh chapter,—‘When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s Supper,’ ”, (v. 20), and the rest as far as, “not discerning the Lord’s body” (v. 29).
Then the assistants and the Church respond, “Praise be to God.” The Pastor, “Glory to God in the highest.” The Deacon, “And on earth peace.” The Sub-deacon, “To men a sound and tranquil mind.” The Deacon, “We praise Thee, we bless Thee,” and the rest to the end of this hymn, the assistants reciting it alternately, verse by verse, the Church understanding the whole and admonished at the beginning that each man is to say over in his heart and consider in the sight of God and the Church the things that are said. The Deacon says, “The Lord be with you.” The assistants respond, “And with Thy spirit.” The Deacon, “What is now read is written in the Gospel of John, the sixth chapter”. The church responds, “Glory be to Thee, O Lord.” The Deacon, “Thus spake Jesus, ‘Verily, verily I say unto you, he that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna,’ etc., to the words, ‘the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.’” After these words the Pastor says, “Glory to God who deigns to forgive all our sins according to His word.” The assistants respond. “Amen.” The Pastor, “I believe in one God.” The Deacon, “the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.” The Sub-deacon, “And in Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, our Lord.” and the rest to the end of the Apostles’ Creed, so-called, the ministers repeating it alternately in loud voice just as they did before the hymn, “Glory in the highest.”
Invitation of the pastor to the worthy celebration of the Supper:—“We now desire, dear brethren, in accordance with the custom instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ, to eat this bread and drink this cup, as He commanded should be done in commemoration, praise, and thanksgiving, because He suffered death for us, and poured out His blood to wash away our sins. Therefore, let every man examine and question himself, as Paul suggests, as to how sure a trust he puts in our Lord Jesus Christ, that no one may behave like a believer who yet hath not faith, and so become guilty of the Lord’s death, and sin against the whole Church (which is His body) by thus showing contempt for it. Accordingly fall upon your knees and pray, ‘Our Father which art in heaven,’ ” etc., to the end. And when the ministers have responded “Amen,” let the pastor again pray.
Prayer: “Lord, God Almighty, who by Thy spirit hast united us into Thy one body in the unity of the faith, and hast commanded Thy body to give praise and thanks unto Thee for that bounty and kindness with which Thou hast delivered Thy only begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ unto death for our sins, grant that we may fulfill this command in such faith that we may not by any false pretenses offend or provoke Thee who art the infallible truth. Grant also that we may live purely as becometh Thy body, Thy sons and Thy family, that even the unbelieving may learn to recognize Thy name and Thy glory. Keep us, Lord, lest Thy name and glory come into ill repute through the depravity of our lives. We always pray, ‘Lord, increase our faith, that is, our trust in Thee, who livest and reignest God world without end.’ ” The church responds, “Amen.” Then the pastor speaks the sacred words with the following actions:—
“The Lord Jesus the same night in which He was betrayed to death took bread” (here the pastor takes the unleavened bread into his hands); “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.” (Here the pastor hands the bread to the ministers who are standing about the table, and they immediately take it with reverence, divide it between them, and eat. Meanwhile the pastor continues): “After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped,” (here the pastor takes the cup into his hands), “gave thanks and said Drink ye all of it. 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,” (ye praise Him and thank Him) “till he come.”
After this the assistants carry round the unleavened bread, and each person takes a piece of the bread with his own hand, and then passes the rest to his neighbor. If any one does not wish to handle the bread with his own hand, the minister carrying it round hands it to him. Then the assistants follow with the cups and hand one another the Lord’s cup. Let not Your Majesty shrink from this custom of offering and receiving the elements, for it has often been found that men who had accidently taken seats next each other when they yet felt enmity and hatred towards each other, have laid aside their angry feelings through this participation in the bread or wine.
Another assistant reads again from the pulpit out of the Gospel of John, while the congregation is eating and drinking the sacrament of the Lord’s body and blood; beginning at the thirteenth chapter. When all the cups have been brought back, the pastor begins, “Fall upon your knees,” for we eat and drink the Sacrament of the Supper sitting and silently listening to the word of the Lord, and when all kneel, the pastor begins, I say:
“Praise, O ye servants, the Lord, praise the name of the Lord.” The Deacon: “Blessed by the name of the Lord from this time forth and for evermore” (Ps. 113:2ff). The Subdeacon: “From the rising of the sun unto the going down, etc.,” and so again the assistants go through alternately this psalm which the Hebrews say used to be said by their ancestors after eating. After this the pastor exhorts the Church in these words:
“Be mindful, dearly beloved brethren, of what we have now done together by Christ’s command. We have borne witness by this giving of thanks, which we have done in faith, that we are indeed miserable sinners, but have been purified by the body and the blood of Christ which He delivered up and poured out for us, and have been redeemed from everlasting death. We have borne witness that we are brethren. Let us, therefore, confirm this by love, faith, and mutual service. Let us, therefore, pray the Lord that we may keep His bitter death deep in our hearts so that though we daily die to our sins we may be so sustained and increased in all virtues by the grace and bounty of His Spirit that the name of the Lord shall be sanctified in us, and our neighbor be loved and helped. The Lord have mercy upon us and bless us! The Lord cause His face to shine upon us and be gracious unto us! Amen.”
The pastor again prays:—“We give thanks unto Thee, O Lord, for all Thy gifts and benefits, who livest and reignest God world without end. Amen.” The pastor: Go in peace. “Amen.” Then the church separates.
By the Editors
[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #4 in 1984]
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