The Canon of the Mass: Canon “C”

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.)

Our last anaphora is Vagaggini’s “Canon C,” which has a fixed preface, and which is “…to be used ad libitum on sundays of the year, and in those masses which do not have a proper preface .” It presents the history of salvation, which we saw in some of the ancient canons.


1-5 It is good and fitting, and for our salvation, to give glory to you; to offer thanks at all times, in every place, to you, Lord,

6 holy Father,

7 almighty and eternal God,

8 through Christ our Lord.

9 Through him you have enabled us to acknowledge the truth

10-12 that we might humbly adore you above all things, Father of eternal glory, with your Son and the Holy Spirit;

13 that in proclaiming you, Love itself beyond all telling, 14 we might love you with undying gladness of heart.

15 It is in him. your only Son.

16 that you have made all things, visible and invisible,

17 in order that he be first among all men;

18 and all creation is in him;

19 and through him all forever praise your name.

20-21 Through him, therefore, all the choirs of angels adore your eternal glory.

22 the countless saints of heaven worship your eternal majesty.

23 Gathered around your throne

24 with unending joy they sing:

25 Holy,

26 Holy,

27 Holy,

28 Lord, God of all.

29 The heavens and the earth are filled with your glory.

30 Hosanna in the heights of heaven.

31 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

32 Hosanna in the heights of heaven.


33 You are indeed, Lord, holy:

34 truly you have filled heaven and earth

35 with the wonder of your glory.

36 In the beginning you made man out of earth,

37 made him in your image, like to yourself;

38-43 so that, having subjected all living things to him, the wonders of your world are his to rule; all that you have made is a gift in trust, and at all times he adores you in the wonders of your works.

44 After his fall from the life of grace

45 you did not cease to favour him

46 so that he still searched for you:

47 in your goodness, through the Law and the prophets, you led him by the hand to the Saviour.

48 You loved the world so much. holy Father,

49 that you sent you only Son to be our Saviour,

50 that you might love in us what you have always loved in the Son.

51 Conceived through the Holy Spirit in the virgin Mary,

52 he has brought back to us, in abundance,

53 the gifts we lost in the first Adam.

54 He loved us to the end;

55-56 thus, through the Holy Spirit he offered himself to you, a blameless Victim,

57 fulfilling in himself what the sacrifices of old prefigured,

58 and once for all gained our eternal redemption.

59 He arose from the dead in glory,

60 ascended to his place at your right hand,

61 the eternal High Priest, living forever to intercede for us.

62 He will come to judge the living and the dead,

63-64 and we have his promise he will be with us forever.

65 And so, from you, Father, he has sent another Paraclete,

66 the Spirit of truth, to teach us all things

67 and fill the world with all holiness.


68 We ask, therefore, most merciful Lord,

69-71 that the Holy Spirit be pleased to fill with the presence of his glory these gifts w.e offer for you to sanctify;

72 through him may they become the body and the blood

73 of your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord,

74 to be a sacrifice pleasing to you,

75 the sacrifice he demanded we offer you.


76 For he, the day before his passion,

77-78 gave us in trust this great mystery of the new covenant,

79 an everlasting memorial of his marvellous works:

80 in his mercy he ordained before he offered himself on the cross

81 that we too, his humble servants

82 should constantly offer this sacrifice

83 in the mystery of his body and his blood.

84 So when he was about to give himself to die,

85 he took bread in his holy and blessed hands,

86 looking up to heaven, to you, God, his all-powerful Father,

87 he gave thanks, blessed and broke it and gave to his disciples saying:

88 take and eat, all of you:

89 this is my body which shall he given for you.

90 Do this in memory of me.

91 In the same way when they had eaten,

92 he took wine and water in a cup,

93 gave thanks, blessed and gave it to his disciples saying:

94 take and drink,all of you:

95 this is the cup of the new covenant in my blood

96 which shall be poured out for you and for everyone

97 to take away all sins.

98 Do this in memory of me.


99 Therefore, Lord,

100 we your servants, and your holy people,

101 remember the glorious passion of your Son,

102 his wonderful resurrection and ascension into heaven;

103 thus, while we await his second coming,

104 we confidently approach the throne of your loving mercy;

105-106 we thank you, we offer you this bloodless sacrifice, the gift which you yourself have given us :

107 the pure Victim,

108 the holy, blameless Victim.

109 the victim given that the world might live.


110 We beg you, eternal Lord,

111 receive this Victim, for you desired our salvation through his intercession.

112 Look with kindness on the offering of your Church,

113 an offering made holy by the work of your Spirit.

114 Accept it, we pray;

115 grant, in your goodness, that as many of us as receive the body and blood of your Son,

116 may be filled with this Holy Spirit;

117 may we become in him one body, one spirit.

118 May he make us an eternal offering to you,

119 that we may come to the lasting inheritance the saints enjoy.


120 Above all in company with the blessed, glorious, and ever-virgin Mary,

121 mother of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ;

122 with blessed Joseph and John the Baptist,

123 your holy apostles Peter and Paul,

124 saint N. (patron of the diocese), saint N. (saint of the day), and all your saints; [in Masses which are not de sanctis the individual priest—or community—may here insert a saint’s name of his own choice.]

125 we trust that through their merits and prayers we shall receive your help, as they plead on our behalf.


126 Remember, Lord, your holy Church throughout the entire world,

127 for which we offer this saving Victim.

128 Be pleased to gather your people from every place on earth and protect them,

129 with your servant our Pope N., and all the bishops of the world,

130 our own bishop .N., and the holy people you have redeemed.


131 We pray, Lord, accept

132 the petitions and prayers of those who have made this offering

133 and all those here present, who offer this sacrifice of praise to make amends.

134 Wipe away their sins through these holy mysteries, 135 and. in your kindness. cleanse them

136 that they may receive forever the gift of your faithful love.


137-8 Look on us, ministers at your altar, with mercy, Lord, for we too are sinners.

139 Accept our service kindly,

140 grant that our lives may be true to the mystery we celebrate.


141 Remember also, Lord, those men and women, your servants, who have died

142 marked with the sign of faith,

143 and rest in the peace of Christ.

144 Let them enter, we pray, that place of eternal joy and light,

145 where we hope one day to enjoy with them the everlasting vision of your glory.


146 Through Christ, our Lord,

147 through whom you give all gifts to the world, [when food is blessed here, there is said: …through whom you ever create all things, and they are good, you make them holy, you endow them with life, you bless them, and you offer them to us.]

148 through him,

149 with him,

150 and in him

151-3 be all honour and glory, to you, God the almighty Father, one with the Holy Spirit,

154 forever and ever. Amen.

One Reply to “The Canon of the Mass: Canon “C””

  1. An ancestor of Eucharistic Prayer IV, obviously, with some gestures toward the Roman Canon that have subsequently disappeared.

    The more traditional I get, the more I don’t like the idea of the wholesale rewriting of anaphorae in this way, not quite out of whole cloth, but pretty close.

    BTW, this is also related to Eucharistic Prayer D in ’79 American BCP.


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