The Book of Common Prayer
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    Bishop Seabury’s Communion Office




O R   O R D E R








Recommended to the Episcopal Congregati-
ons in Connecticut,

By the Right Reverend
B I S H O P   S E A B U R Y.

Printed by T. GREEN, M,DCC,LXXXVI.



¶ The Exhortation.

DEARLY beloved in the Lord, ye that mind to come to the holy Communion of the body and blood of our Saviour Christ, must consider how St. Paul exhorteth all persons diligently to try and examine themselves, before they presume to eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For as the benefit is great, if with a true penitent heart and lively faith we receive that holy sacrament, (for then we spiritually eat the flesh of Christ, and drink his blood: then we dwell in Christ, and Christ in us; we are one with Christ, and Christ with us;) so is the danger great, if we receive the same unworthily, not considering the Lord's body; for then we are guilty of the body and blood of Christ our Saviour; we kindle God's wrath against us, and bring his judgments upon us. Judge therefore yourselves, brethren, that ye be not judged of the Lord; repent you truly for your sins past; have a lively and stedfast faith in Christ our Saviour; amend your lives, and be in perfect charity with all men; so shall ye be meet partakers of those holy mysteries. And, above all things, ye must give most humble and hearty thanks to God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, for the redemption of the world, by the death and passion of our Saviour Christ, both God and man, who did humble himself even to the death upon the cross for us miserable sinners, who lay in darkness and the shadow of death, that he might make us the children of God, and exalt us to everlasting life. And to the end that we should always remember the exceeding great love of our Master and only Saviour Jesus Christ thus dying for us, and the innumerable benefits which by his precious blood-shedding he hath obtained to us, he hath instituted and ordained holy mysteries, as pledges of his love, and for a continual remembrance of his death, to our great and endless comfort. To him, therefore, with the Father, and the Holy Ghost, let us give (as we are most bounden) continual thanks, submitting ourselves wholly to his holy will and pleasure, and studying to serve him in true holiness and righteousness all the days of our life. Amen.

¶ Then the Priest, or Deacon, shall say,
Let us present our offerings to the Lord with reverence and
Godly fear.

¶ Then the Priest shall begin the offertory, saying one or more of these sentences following, as he thinketh most convenient in his discretion.

IN process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the flrstlings of his flock, and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel, and to his offering: but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. Gen. iv. 3, 4.
    Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that. giveth it willingly with his heart, ye shall take my offering. Exod. xxv. 2.
    Ye shall not appear before the Lord empty. Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God, which he hath given you. Deut. xvi. 16, 17.
    Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come into his courts. Psal. xcvi. 8.
    Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. Mat. vi. 19, 20.
    Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Matth. vii. 21.
    Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into it: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury. For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living. Mark xii. 41, 42, 43, 44.
    Who goeth a warfare at any time of his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? 1 Cor. ix. 7.
    If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great matter if we should reap your carnal things? 1 Cor. ix. 11.
    Do ye not know, that they which minister about holy things, live of the sacrifice? and they which wait at the altar, are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained, that they who preach the gospel, should live of the gospel. 1 Cor. ix. 13, 14.
    He that soweth sparingly, shall reap also sparingly: and he who soweth bountifully, shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity; for God loveth a cheerful giver. 2 Cor. ix. 6, 7.
    Let him that is taught in the word, communicate unto him that teacheth, in all good things. Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. Gal. vi. 6,7.
    Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy: That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. 1 Tim. vi. 17, 18, 19.
    God is not unrighteous, to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. Heb. vi. 10. .
    To do good, and to communicate, forget not; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. Heb. xiii. 16.

Title page of the facsimile edition

In 1784, Samuel Seabury, elected to be Bishop of Connecticut, travelled to Scotland to be consecrated, as this was not possible at that time in England. His consecration took place in Aberdeen on 14 November, 1784. The Bishops of the Scottish Episcopal Church asked "that Bishop Seabury would endeavor all he can" to make the Scottish form of the Communion liturgy the norm in the United States. To this Bp. Seabury agreed.

Seabury published this Communion Service in 1786 for his own Diocese, where it apparently was indeed used for several years. Eventually it was, of course, superseded by the first U. S. Book of Common Prayer of 1790. This Office is based very closely on the Scottish Communion Office of 1764. The only significant differences are the addition of some "Private Devotions" towards the end of the service, several "Private ejaculations" spoken by the priest during the Comfortable Words, the substitution of "Priest" for "Presbyter", and, of course,the omission of any references to the King. It even begins, just as the 1764 Scottish Office does, with the Exhortation; normally this service would be preceeded by considerable material, including the Ten Commendments, scripture readings, a sermon, and the Nicene Creed.

This Communion Office of Bishop Seabury, and the Scottish Communion Office both are a good deal closer to the original 1549 Communion service than was the 1662 Communion service then in use both in England and the United States. There are a number of differences, primarily in the arrangement of the service. The sections labelled here "Oblation" and "Invocation", are expanded and rearranged to a somewhat different place in the service. The Prayer for the Whole State of Christ's Church, the Confession and Absolution, and the Comfortable Words also all appear in different places in this service versus the 1662.

Bishop Seabuy's efforts obviously must have been successful, as this Communion Office (and thus the Scottish Communion Office) did indeed serve as the basis for the Communion service in the first U. S. Book of Common Prayer.

The text reproduced here came from an 1874 facsimile copy of the original, produced, with considerable additional commentary, by the Rev. Samuel Hart, later first Custodian of the Book of Common Prayer. I wish to thank Charles Hensel for kindly lending me his copy of this text.

We also have the text in PDF (Adobe Acrobat) format, which preserves much better the "look and feel" of this old document.

Also available online is an essay by Bp. Seabury on the Eucharist, An Earnest Persuasive to Frequent Communion, which provides a good accompaniment to this text.

Bishop Seabury

¶ While the Priest distinctly pronounceth some or all of these sentences for the offertory, the Deacon, or (if no such be present) some other fit person, shall receive the devotions of the people, in a bason provided for that purpose. And when all have offered, he shall reverently bring, and deliver it to the Priest; who shall humbly present it before the Lord, and set it upon the holy table, saying,

BLESSED be thou, O Lord God, for ever and ever. Thine, O Lord, is the greatness and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine: thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all: both riches and honour tome of thee, and of thine own do we give unto thee. Amen.

¶ And the Priest shall then offer up, and place the bread and wine prepared for the sacrament upon the Lord's table, putting a little pure water into the cup: and shall say,

    The Lord be with you.
    Answer. And with thy spirit.
    Priest. Lift up your hearts.
    Answer. We lift them up unto the Lord.
    Priest. Let us give thanks unto our Lord God.
    Answer. It is meet and right so to do.
These words [Holy Father] must be omitted on Trinity-Sunday.    Priest. It is very meet, right, and our bounden duty, that we should at all times and in all places give thanks unto thee O Lord, * [holy Father,] Almighty, everlasting God.

¶ Here shall follow the proper preface, according to the time, if there be any especially appointed; or else immediately shall follow,

Therefore with angels and archangels, &c.

¶ Proper Prefaces.

¶ Upon Christmas-day, and seven days after.

  * During the seven days after Christmas, say, as at this time.
BECAUSE thou didst give Jesus Christ thine only Son, to be born * [as on this day] for us, who, by the operation of the Holy Ghost, was made very man, of the substance of the blessed Virgin Mary his mother, and that without spot of sin, to make us clean from all sin. Therefore with angels, &c.

¶ Upon Easter-day, and seven days after.

BUT chiefly are we bound to praise thee, for the glorious resurrection of thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord: For he is the very Paschal Lamb, which was offered for us, and hath taken away the sin of the world; who by his death hath destroyed death, and by his rising to life again, hath restored to us everlasting life. Therefore with angels, &c.

¶ Upon Ascension-day, and seven days after.

THROUGH thy most dearly beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord; who, after his most glorious resurrection, manifestly appeared to all his apostles, and in their sight ascended up into heaven, to prepare a place for us; that where he is, thither might we also ascend, and reign with him in glory. Therefore with angels and archangels, &c.

¶ Upon. Whitsunday, and six days after.

  * During the six days after Whitsunday, say, as at this time.
THROUGH Jesus Christ our Lord; according to whose most true promise the Holy Ghost came down * [as on this day] from heaven, with a sudden great sound, as it had been a mighty wind, in the likeness of fiery tongues, lighting upon the apostles, to teach them, and to lead them to all truth, giving them both the gift of divers languages, and also boldness with fervent zeal constantly to preach the gospel unto all nations, whereby we are brought out of darkness and error into the clear light and true knowledge of thee, and of thy Son Jesus Christ. Therefore with angels, &c.

¶ Upon the feast of Trinity only.

WHO art one God, one Lord; not one only person, but three per Sons in one substance. For that which we believe of the glory of the Father, the same we believe of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, without any difference or inequality. Therefore with angels, &c.


¶ After which prefaces shall follow immediately this doxology.

THEREFORE with angels and archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify thy glorious name, evermore praising thee, and saying, Holy, holy, holy Lord God of hosts, heaven and earth are full of thy glory. Glory be to thee, O Lord most high. Amen.

¶ Then the Priest standing at such a part of the holy table as he may with the most ease and decency use both his hands, and shall say the prayer of consecration, as followeth.

ALL glory be to thee, Almighty God, our heavenly Father, for that thou of thy tender mercy didst give thy only Son Jesus Christ to suffer death upon the cross for our redemption; who made there (by his one oblation of himself once offered) a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world; and did institute, and in his holy gospel command us to continue a perpetual memory of that his precious death and sacrifice. For, in the night that he was betrayed (a) he took bread; and when he had given thanks, (b) he brake it and gave to his disciples, saying, Take, eat, (c) THIS IS MY BODY, which is given for you: DO this in remembrance of me. Likewise after supper (d) he took the cup; and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of this, for (e) THIS IS MY BLOOD, of the new testament, which is shed for you, and for many, for the remission of sins: DO this as oft as ye shall drink it in remembrance of me.

The OblationWHEREF0RE, O Lord, and heavenly Father, according to the institution of thy dearly beloved Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, we thy humble servants do celebrate and make here before thy divine majesty, with these thy holy gifts, WHICH WE NOW OFFER UNTO THEE, the memorial thy Son hath commanded us to make; having in remembrance his blessed passion, and precious death, his mighty resurrection, and glorious ascension; rendering unto thee most hearty thanks for the innumerable benefits procured unto us by the same. The InvocationAnd we most humbly beseech thee, O merciful Father to hear us, and of thy almighty goodness vouchsafe to bless and sanctify, with thy word and Holy Spirit, these thy gifts and creatures of bread and wine, that they may become the body and blood of thy most dearly beloved Son. And we earnestly desire thy fatherly goodness, mercifully to accept this our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, most humbly beseeching thee to grant, that by the merits and death of thy Son Jesus Christ, and through faith in his blood, we (and all thy whole church) may obtain remission of our sins, and all other benefits of his passion. And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy and lively sacrifice unto thee, humbly beseeching thee, that we and all others who shall be partakers of this holy Communion, may worthily receive the most precious body and blood of thy Son Jesus Christ, be filled with thy grace and heavenly benediction, and made one body with him, that he may dwell in them and they in him. And although we are unworthy, through our manifold sins, to offer unto thee any sacrifice; yet we beseech thee to accept this our bounden duty and service, not weighing our merits, but pardoning our offences, through Jesus Christ our Lord: by whom, and with whom, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, all honour and glory be unto thee, O Father Almighty, world without end. Amen.


¶ Let us pray for the whole state of Christ's Church.

ALMIGHTY and everliving God, who by thy holy Apostle hast taught us to make prayers and supplications, and to give thanks for all men; We humbly beseech thee most mercifully to accept our alms and oblations, and to receive these our prayers, which we offer unto thy divine majesty; beseeching thee to inspire continually the universal church with the spirit of truth, unity and concord; and grant that all they who do confess thy holy name, may agree in the truth of thy holy word and live in unity and godly love. We beseech thee also to save and defend all Christian Kings, Princes, and Governors; and grant that they, and all who are in authority, may truly and impartially minister justice to the punishment of wickedness and vice, and to the maintenance of thy true religion and virtue. Give grace, O heavenly Father, to all Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, that they may both by their life and doctrine set forth thy true and lively word, and rightly and duly administer thy holy sacraments: and to all thy people give thy heavenly grace, that with meek heart, and due reverence, they may hear and receive thy. holy word, truly serving thee in holiness and righteousness all the days of their life. And we commend especially to thy merciful goodness the congregation here assembled in thy name, to celebrate the commemoration of the most precious death and sacrifice of thy Son and our Saviour Jesus Christ. And we most humbly beseech thee of thy goodness, O Lord, to comfort and succour all those who in this transitory life are in trouble, sorrow, need, sickness, or any other adversity. And we also bless thy holy name for all thy servants, who, having finished their course in faith, do now rest from their labours: yielding unto thee most high praise and hearty thanks, for the wonderful goodness and virtue declared in all thy saints, who have been the choice vessels of thy grace, and the lights of the world in their several generations: most humbly beseeching thee to give us grace to follow the example of their stedfastness in thy faith, and obedience to thy holy commandments, that at the day of the general resurrection, we, and all they who are of the mystical body of thy Son, may be set on his right hand, and hear that his most joyful voice, Come, ye blessed of my father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world Grant this, O Father, for Jesus Christ's sake, our only Mediator and Advocate. Amen.

As our Saviour Christ hath commanded and taught us, we are bold to say,
OUR Father who 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 trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

¶ Then shall the priest say to them that come to receive the holy communion, this invitation.

YE that do truly and earnestly repent you of your sins, and are in love and charity with your neighbours, and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God, and walking from henceforth in his holy ways: Draw near with faith and take this holy sacrament to your comfort; and make your humble confession to Almighty God.

¶ Then shall this general confession be made, by the people, along with the priest; all humbly kneeling upon their knees.

ALMIGHTY God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, maker of all things, judge of all men; We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, which we from time to time most grievously have committed, by thought, word, and deed, against thy divine Majesty; provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against us. We do earnestly repent, and are heartily sorry for these our misdoings; the remembrance of them is grievous unto us; the burden of them is into!lerable. Have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us, most merciful Father; for thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ's sake, forgive us all that is past; and grant, that we may ever hereafter serve and please thee, in newness of life, to the honour and glory of thy name, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

¶ Then shall the Priest, or the Bishop, (being present,) stand `up, and turning himself to the people, pronounce the absolution as followeth.

ALMIGHTY God our heavenly Father, who, of his great mercy, hath .promised forgiveness of sins to all them that with hearty repentance and true faith turn unto him; Have mercy upon you; pardon and deliver you from all your sins; confirm and strengthen you in all goodness; and bring you to everlasting life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


¶ Them shall the Priest say,

Hear what comfortable words our Saviour Christ saith unto all that truly turn to him:

COME unto me, all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you. Matth. ix. 28.

Private ejaculation.
    Refresh, O Lord, thy servant wearied with the burden of sin.
    God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life. John iii. 16.
Private ejaculation.
Lord, I believe in thy Son Jesus Christ, and let this faith purify me from all iniquity.
    Hear also what St. Paul saith.
    This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. 1 Tim. i. 15.
Private ejaculation.
I embrace with all thankfulness that salvation that Jesus has brought into the world.
    Hear also what St. John saith.
    If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins. 1 John ii. 1, 2.
Private ejaculation.
Intercede for me, O blessed Jesu! that my sins may be pardoned, through the merits of thy death.

¶ Then shall the Priest, turning him to the altar, kneel down and say, in the name of all them that shall communicate, this collect of humble access to the holy communion, as followeth.

WE do not presume to come to this thy holy table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy table: But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy. Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his most sacred body, and our souls washed through his most precious blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen.

¶ Then shall the Bishop, if he be present, or else the Priest that celebrateth, first receive the communion in both kinds himself, and next deliver it to other Bishops, Presbyters, and Deacons, (`if there be any present,) and after to the people in due order, all humbly kneeling. And when he receiveth himself, or delivereth the sacrament of the body of Christ to others, he shall say,

THE body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for thee, pre serve thy soul and body unto everlasting life.

¶ Here the person receiving shall say,   Amen.

¶ And when the Priest receiveth the cup himself, or delivereth it to others, he shall say,

THE blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was shed for thee, preserve thy soul and body unto everlasting life.

¶ Here the person receiving shall say,   Amen.

¶ If the consecrated bread or wine be all spent before all have communicated, the Priest is to consecrate more, according to the form before prescribed, beginning at the words, All glory be to thee, &c., and ending with the words, that they may become the body and blood of thy most dearly beloved Son.


¶ When all have communicated, he that celebrates shall go to the Lord's table, and cover with a fair linen cloth that which remaineth of the consecrated elements, and then say,

Having now received the precious body and blood of Christ, let us give thanks to our Lord God, who hath graciously vouchsafed to admit us to the participation of his holy mysteries; and let us beg of him grace to perform our vows, and to persevere in our good resolutions; that being made holy, we may obtain everlasting life, through the merits of the all sufficient sacrifice of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

¶ Then the Priest shall say this collect of thanksgiving, as followeth.

ALMIGHTY and everliving God, we most heartily thank thee, for that thou dost vouchsafe to feed us, who have duly received these holy mysteries, with the spiritual food of the most precious body and blood of thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ; and doth assure us thereby of thy favour and goodness towards us, and that we are very members incorporate in the mystical body of thy Son, which is the blessed company of all faithful people, and are also heirs through hope of thy everlasting kingdom, by the merits of his most precious death and passion. We now most humbly beseech thee, O heavenly Father, so to assist us with thy grace and Holy Spirit, that we may continue in that holy communion and fellowship, and do all such good works as thou hast commanded us to walk in, through Jesus Christ our Lord; to whom, with Thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen.

¶ Then shall be said or sung, Gloria in excelsis, as followeth.

GLORY be to God on high, and in earth peace, good will towards men. We praise thee, we bless thee, we worship thee, we glorify thee, we give thanks to thee, for thy great glory, O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty; and to Thee, O God, the only begotten Son Jesu Christ; and to Thee, O God, the Holy Ghost.
    O Lord, the only begotten Son Jesu Christ; O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us. Thou that takest away the sins of the world, receive our prayer. Thou that sittest at the right hand of God the Father, have mercy upon us.
    For thou only art holy, thou only art the Lord, thou only, O Christ, with the Holy Ghost, art most high in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

¶ Then the Priest, or Bishop, if he be present, shall let them depart, with this blessing.

THE peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord: and the blessings of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost be amongst you, and remain with you always. Amen.


Private Devotions for the Altar.

BLESSED Jesus! Saviour of the world! who hast called me to the participation of these thy holy mysteries, accept my humble approach to thy sacred table, increase my faith, settle my devotion, fix my contemplation on thy powerful mercy; and while with my mouth I receive the sacred symbols of thy body and blood, may they be the means of heavenly nourishment to prepare my body and soul for that everlasting life which thou hast purchased by thy merits, and promised to bestow on all who believe in and depend on thee. Amen.

Prayer to God.

O Gracious and merciful God, Thou supreme Being, Father, Word and Holy Ghost, look down from heaven, the throne of thy essential glory, upon me thy unworthy creature, with the eyes of thy covenanted mercy and compassion: O Lord my God, I disclaim all merit, I renounce all righteousness of my own, either inherent in my nature, or acquired by my own industry: And I fly for refuge, for pardon and sanctification, to the righteousness of thy Christ: For his sake, for the sake of the blessed Jesus, the Son of thy covenanted love, whom Thou hast set forth to be a propitiation for fallen man, and in whom alone Thou art well pleased, have mercy upon me, receive my prayers, pardon my infirmities, strengthen my weak resolutions, guide my steps to thy holy altar, and there feed me with the meat which perisheth not, but endureth to everlasting life. Amen.

After Receiving.

BLESSED Jesus! Thou hast now blest me with the food of thy own merciful institution and, in humble faith of thy gracious promise, I have bowed myself at thy table, to receive the precious pledges of thy dying love; O may thy presence go with me from this happy participation of thy goodness, that when I return to the necessary labours and employments of this miserable world, I may be enabled by thy grace to obey thy commandments, and conducted by thy watchful care through all trials, till, according to thy divine wisdom, I have finished my course here with joy, that so I may depart out of this world in peace, and in a stedfast dependence on thy merits, O blessed Jesus, in whose prevailing words I shut up all my imperfect wishes, saying,
    Our Father, &c. Amen.

T H E   E N D.

Samuel Seabury signature


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