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The Canon of the Mass: The Paleo-Hispanic Anaphora

The form and structure of liturgies is something that churches which employ these in worship either take for granted or argue over intensely. But very few people understand how a) these came into being or b) how they should be revised or replaced in times of liturgical change. What kind of theology is embodied in a liturgy? What attention to the rhythm and metre is given? How will a liturgy work in a language other than one the one it’s written in? How well does a liturgy communicate its message, in addition to being the setting for the “sacred pledge” of the Eucharist? All of these important questions frequently get the short shrift, either by defenders of an existing liturgy of by proposers of a new one?

Liturgical change is the time when these questions do get asked the most. Probably the most important liturgical transition of the last one hundred years took place when the Roman Catholic Church promulgated the Novus Ordo Missae, which was instituted in 1970. That mass was the result of both theological and liturgical forces that had been going on in the Church for most of the preceding century.

Many of those changes—and probably some of the process that led to the NOM—were set forth in Cipriano Vagaggini’s book The Canon of the Mass and Liturgical Reform. Published in 1967, it is a careful and thorough treatment of the subject, and probably represents the thinking of those in charge of the liturgical reform initiated by Vatican II.

The focus of his work is the anaphora, which is, by Vagaggini’s definition, “the liturgical text which accompanies and expresses the offering of the Church’s sacrifice to the Father.” The RCC had used the Roman Canon for nearly fourteen centuries and, while Vagaggini is careful to underline the importance of the Roman Canon to the life of the Church, he is also clear that it has its defects as well.

In this series (which starts here,) we will reproduce the various historical anaphorae he sets forth, plus two Projects “B” and “C” which are his proposals (or perhaps those at the Vatican in the process of formulating the then really “new” NOM) for new anaphorae to be used in the church. Vagaggini also has extensive explanations for all of this; consult the book for these.

I will reproduce the English translations of these anaphorae only. Serious liturgists would do well to consult his original Latin, as the translations look like they were taken from the Italian without consideration of the original Latin text. I have tried to winnow out errors in the OCR process but, if you find some, please bring them to my attention.

A general overview of this topic can be found here.

(Here ends the fixed portion of the introduction; the variable portion follows.)

Today’s anaphora is the Paleo-Hispanic.  As the name implies, it comes from Spain, probably during the last century of Roman rule.


Prayer for the Church:

Let us remember in our prayers the holy Catholic Church, that God in his goodness may be pleased to increase her faith, her hope and her love. Let us remember all sinners and captives, the sick and pilgrims, in order that in his goodness, the Lord may look on them, redeem them, heal them and strengthen them.

R. Graciously hear us, eternal and almighty God.

Another Prayer:

O God without beginning, who created all that is eternal, who created beings that are perpetual in their origin, but who yourself are perpetual in an absolute way; we implore you with all our heart: in giving us your pardon in this present world, make us worthy to enjoy your mercy eternally, and grant that you may always find in us the dispositions to receive your forgiveness.

R. Amen.

Through your mercy, our God, before whom are proclaimed the names of the holy apostles and martyrs, the confessors and virgins.

R. Amen.

Our bishops, the Pope of Rome and the others, offer this oblation to the Lord God for themselves, for all the clergy and the people entrusted to them, and for all the brethren. All the priests, deacons, clergy and people offer it also in honour of the saints, for themselves and for theirs.

R. They offer it for themselves and for all the brethren.

We honour the memory of the holy apostles, of the glorious Virgin Mary, of Zachary, John, Stephen, Peter and Paul, John, James, Andrew, Fmctuosus, Saturninus, Eulogius, Vincent, Felix, Acisclus, Eulalia, Engratia, Justina, Leocadia.

R.And of all the martyrs.

We honour the memory likewise of the confessors Hilary, Athanasius, Fulgentius, Leander, Isidore, Eugene, Hildephonsus, Julian.

R. And of all the confessors.

The holy and catholic Church of God offers the sacrifice for the souls of all the faithful departed, that the Lord may in his goodness number them among the ranks of the blessed.

R. Graciously hear us, almighty and eternal God.

Prayer after the names (variable):

Almighty God, grant that we may overcome the desires of the flesh and find our true glory in your cross. By your cross, may the faults of the living be blotted out and the sufferings of the dead taken away; by your cross receive the offerings of your faithful, and may the faithless, ashamed, return to Christ. May we, who firmly believe in your resurrection be able to please you by our acts, so that, thanks to this sacrifice, you may show us your mercy granting peace to the living and the desired rest to the departed.

R. Amen.

For you are the life of the living, the health of the sick and the repose of all the faithful departed for ever and ever.

R. Amen.

PRAYER FOR PEACE (variable):

Flying like spiritual eagles over the body of our kind Redeemer, and contemplating in the light of faith the splendour of the risen Lord, we offer you, most merciful Father, the thanks which is your right: we also ask that, invited to the feast of this heavenly table, we may also be renewed in this paschal banquet with the gift of eternal peace.

R. Amen.

May the grace of God the Father almighty, the peace and love of our Christi et communicatio Spiritus Lord Jesus Christ and the gift of Sancti sit semDer cum omnibus the Holy Spirit be with you all for vobis. ever.

R. And with all men of good will.

The deacon: Give one another the kiss of peace.


I give you my peace, I entrust my peace to you; I do not give peace as the world gives it.

V. I give you a new commandment, that vou should love one another.

R. I give you . . .

V. Glory and honour to the Father, to the Son and to the Holy Spirit for ever and ever, Amen.

R. I give you. . .


I will go to the altar of God.

R. The God of my gladness and joy.

Listen to the Lord.

R. We open ourselves to the Lord.

Lift up your hearts.

R. Let us lift them up to the Lord.

To our God and Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God who is in the heavens, let us sing our praises and thanksgiving.

R.That is right and fitting.


PREFACE (variable):

It is right and fitting, truly glorious and sublime, to recall in our hearts, voices and mouths, O God, your gifts and kindnesses which pass all counting, and to flavour the insipidity of our voices with the savour of your holy word. But man’s heart is too small for the praise of such magnitude, and the more each one contemplates you in the depths of his being, the greater you become in his eyes, because you are always ancient and always new.

You sent your Son into this world, born under the Law. He was in the Virgin’s womb before his birth, was with you before all time and created all things. The elements of the world that saw him born were those same elements that had seen him putting them in their first order. Peoples were astonished at his tender age-those whose ancestors had known his ancient power.

If his birth was so great and beautiful a mystery, bow much more wonderful yet was his death! Death in fact was deceived by his incarnation; not recognising God hidden in the flesh which clothed him, he bit upon the hook that was hidden under the bait, and fastened by nails to the cross, began to weep and groan. Lord, with what wonderful skill you baffled the greed of the ancient dragon-so that when you seemed to him a prey upon the cross, it was then that he himself was nailed to the wood. Shedding your flesh, you, the Word, enter the underworld with complete freedom. You break open the doors which encircle it and free the captives from their chains. Free among the dead, you fill the darkness with new light.

In no way was your majesty, Lord, obliged to undergo this suffering, hut we were your necessity. In fact, Lord, our life would have been lost, if by the death of your Son it had not been found again. Against the debt of our sins you produced the surety of your only Son, and you have can-celled it by right of the victor. By his wounds you have healed our wounds, and you have redeemed us through your only Son, without in any way injuring the rights of the Godhead: God himself has made himself man’s ransom.

What shall we do then, now that we have been redeemed with such a ransom and one of such magnitude? What work of ours can compensate this price? In what way can we serve such a Lord, who bas promised us liberty and offers us his inheritance? Realise in us Lord whatever pleases you, and in order that we may possess you, take possession of us yourself. We shall not stray far from you, you will give us life and we shall invoke your name, that name which is above all names, and which the angels and archangels praise saying:

R. Holy, holy, holy, the Lord, God of the universe! Heaven and earth are filled with the glory of your majesty. Hosanna to the Son of David, Blessed is be that comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest heaven. Agios, agios, agios. Kyrie o Theos.



Truly holy and truly blessed is our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son. He alone, by the power of his word governs the universe, bears and sustains all things through his cross. He shattered the doors of iron and smashed the gates of bronze; he descended into the depths of hell, and for those who sat in the shades of death he shone forth with the splendour of unknown light. At last, he, the sun of justice, came out of the tomb in his risen body, and, in a marvellous way dispersed the darkness with the rays of his brightness, he, the Lord Christ and eternal Redeemer.


On the day before he suffered, he took bread, and, giving thanks, blessed and broke it and gave it to his disciples saying: Take and eat, this is my body which is given for you. Whenever you eat it, do this as a memorial of me.

R. Amen.

Likewise after the meal, he took the chalice, saying: This is the cup of the new covenant in my blood, which will be poured out for you and for the many in forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do so as a memorial of me.


Every time you eat this bread or drink this cup, you will be proclaiming the death of the Lord until he comes from heaven in glory.

R. We believe it, Lord Jesus.



We acknowledge, Lord, we acknowledge and believe that it was for our faults that you underwent the pains of death in your body, and that afterwards, for the salvation of all, having conquered death, you returned amongst the triumphant angels to the heavenly dwelling place of your Father from which you had come. That is why, almighty God, we ask and pray you willingly to accept these offerings which we, your servants, bring before you. Deign, too, through your holy Angel, to distribute these gifts to us which you have accepted and sanctified, so that while you purify our hearts in uniting us to the body and blood of your Son our Saviour, you may also receive our prayers in the odour of sweetness.

R. Amen.

DOXOLOGY (fixed)

Grant this, uncreated Father, through your only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him, you do not cease, for us your unworthy servants, to create, sanctify, vivify and bless these good things so as to make a gift to us, so that they may be blessed by you, our God, for ever and ever.

R. Amen.


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