The primary liturgy, or worship rite, for Sundays is the Eucharist, also known as Holy Communion, the Lord’s Supper, or Mass. In the Eucharist, we offer ourselves to God’s service, receive forgiveness for our sins, and unite with Christ and one another in receiving the sacrament of Christ’s body and blood in the consecrated wine and bread. All baptized Christians are welcome to receive the sacrament.
Worship in the Anglican tradition is a richly textured experience, combining prayer, proclamation, vocal and instrumental music, ritual movement, vestments, and liturgical symbols and fixtures. Above all it is participatory: the congregation, the assembly of worshippers, joins in the prayers, psalms, and hymns; and exercises leadership roles in the liturgy as readers of the Scripture (lectors), as ushers and greeters, as acolytes, as choir members and musicians, as leaders of prayers, and as chalice bearers during the Eucharist. Lay people may also be licensed to preach, and commissioned to take the Eucharist to homebound persons.
The rite of Eucharist has two parts: the liturgy of the word which focuses on collects (a general prayer offered by the presider usually at the beginning of the liturgy), the prayers of the people, canticles and anthems, passages from the Old and New Testaments, a sermon, the general confession, and the exchange of the Peace (derived from the Hebrew greeting shalom); and the liturgy of the table which focuses on the sacramental action of the Eucharist: the invitation to the people (the sursum corda), the recitation of the sanctus (an invocation), the Eucharistic prayer including the consecration of the bread and wine, the offering of the consecrated elements to the congregation, the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer, and the fraction (breaking of the consecrated bread). The rite ends with a prayer of general thanksgiving and dismissal.
In addition to the Eucharist, The Book of Common Prayer includes the Daily Office (Morning Prayer, Noonday Prayer, Evening Prayer, Compline); daily devotions, and specific sacramental rites for baptism, confirmation, and ordination, and pastoral rites (marriage, ministration to the sick, reconciliation of a penitent, and burial) as well as liturgies for the church’s primary celebrations during Lent and Easter.