The Divine Service – The Preface and Proper Preface

Home > Newspaper Articles, The Christian Liturgy > The Divine Service – The Preface and Proper Preface

A few weeks ago, we considered the nature, importance, and value of the Lord’s Supper. It is important to understand this as we continue now with the Service of Holy Communion. We begin with what is called the Preface, which is a series of responses between the Pastor and the congregation. The responses are as follows:

Pastor: The Lord be with you.

Congregation: And with your spirit.

This is more than just a wish. Each is pronouncing the blessing of the Lord’s presence upon each other. This will be especially seen as the Lord’s body and blood, in and with the bread and wine, are distributed and received among them.

Pastor: Lift up your hearts.

Congregation: We lift them up unto the Lord.

We all have burdens, some more pressing than others at different times in our lives. As we approach the Lord’s Supper, we anticipate the rest from those burdens that He will give to us, having already borne them on the cross with the same flesh and blood we are about to receive. This certainly gives us reason to lift up our hearts to the Lord, from where our help comes.

Pastor: Let us give thanks to the Lord, our God.

Congregation: It is good and right so to do.

The pastor encourages the congregation to give thanks to God, again in anticipation for what we are about to receive. Since God’s promises never fail, it does not matter when we thank Him, either before or after. The congregation’s response is to encourage the pastor to pray a prayer of thanksgiving on their behalf, known as the Proper Preface.

The Proper Preface begins, “It is truly good, right, and salutary [healthy/wholesome] that we should at all times and in all places give thanks to You, holy Lord, almighty Father, everlasting God…” We pray to God, not as if He were far off, but present with us, even having heard the response of the congregation to the pastor’s encouragement to pray.

As we thank the Father in the Proper Preface, the second part changes to thank Him for specific blessings based on the theme of the day or season of the Church Year. An example of this is the Christmas Preface we will be using in a few weeks, “for in the mystery of the Word made flesh You have given us a new revelation of Your glory, that, seeing You in the person of Your Son, we may be drawn to the love of those things which are not seen…”

The final part of the Proper Preface concludes, “Therefore with angels and arch angels and with all the company of heaven we laud and magnify Your glorious name, evermore praising You and saying…” leading us into the Sanctus (the topic of our next article). But with these words, we are reminded that just as Christ unites believers here on earth to Himself in Holy Communion, so we on earth are not the only members of this communion. We are also united with all those who have died in the faith as well as with His created angels.

Rev. Gullixson is the pastor at Our Savior Lutheran Church at 162 Sneden Street. The Divine Service begins at 9:30 AM every Sunday. To speak with Pastor Gullixson, please call (760) 873-6589.