By Fr Michael.
Saint Bride Hermitage is officially bi-ritual, able to use either the Liturgy of Saint John the Divine or the Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom. The two liturgies most probably had their beginnings from a single original first century document called the Didache which in part says: “Now concerning the Eucharist, give thanks this way. First, concerning the cup: We thank Thee, our Father, for the holy vine of David Thy servant, which Thou madest known to us through Jesus Thy Servant; to Thee be the glory for ever. And concerning the broken bread: We thank Thee, our Father, for the life and knowledge which Thou madest known to us through Jesus Thy Servant; to Thee be the glory for ever. Even as this broken bread was scattered over the hills, and was gathered together and became one, so let Thy Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into Thy kingdom; for Thine is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ for ever. But let no one eat or drink of your Eucharist, unless they have been Baptised into the name of the Lord; for concerning this also the Lord has said, “Give not that which is holy to the dogs.” The Didache basically describes the same ritual as the one that took place in Corinth. The order of cup and bread differs both from present-day practice.
It is believed that this is the earliest written instruction regarding the Divine Liturgy. We know that the Church in the British Isles claimed that it was sent a liturgical document from Ephesus around AD90, when Saint John the Divine was still living there and it is likely that it was the Didache. It is believed that the British Church gradually developed its Liturgy over the following five hundred years culminating in the Liturgy which we have in the Stowe Missal and the Bobbio Missal. The Liturgy of Saint John the Divine (from the Stowe Missal) as used in the British Isles was well known on the Continent for what they thought were the quaint eccentricities – “British” – that they saw in it. To us today it looks like any Celtic liturgy – but there are differences. What we have (which was translated at Oxford over a hundred years ago and has very minor additions) as being peculiarly appropriate to the secular, pagan society surrounding us rather than the later triumphalist liturgies.
It is authentic, we know that the original book is there for scrutiny and it has been scrutinised. It might even be possible to take the x-rays which have been done and re-construct the liturgy as it was before the insertion of the Gregorian canon. That gives it an authority and an unarguable Orthodox authenticity.
So here we begin with some very basic points about the celebration of the Liturgy of Saint John the Divine. These instructions will be enlarged upon as we add to this paper.
THE LITURGY OF SAINT JOHN THE DIVINE
< 1. Putting on the amice, tying the tapes
< 2. The Alb over Amice, with Amice still on the head, cincture on and stole crossed for a Priest and secured by the ends of the cincture.
^ 3. Having entered and said the preparation at the Rood Screen,
first censing of the Altar.
< 4. At the creed, take the antimension out of the burse, stand the burse at the back right of the altar and spread the antimension in the centre of the altar. Next place the Corporal over the antimension.
5. The Angelic Hymn >
< 6. The Epiclesis – this is the Consecration, the Priest stands back and merely indicates the Sacrifice with one or both hands.
7. The Fraction using the centre piece >
< 8. The Peace. Note, the priest cannot stand with his back to the consecrated sacrifice.
9. The Fusion >
^ 10. he Great Blessing with the Sacrifice holding part of the Host above the Chalice.
^ 11. Final Blessing.
^ 12. Blessing the eulogion (antidoron) outside the rood screen.