Silent communion

silent communionA silent communion can be a powerful and moving way of experiencing in a different way the significance of communion, of what we are doing when we take bread and wine.

I held a silent communion recently, which was inspired by the fact that our service was focused on persecuted Christians, including starting with a bit of an experience of how an underground church might have to meet. Holding a silent Eucharist seemed like a powerful extension of this. Strictly speaking, this is really a silent Eucharistic prayer. The rest of the service was said or sung (very quietly at the start). It is possible to do the entire service silently, but I thought that this wouldn’t work for a main service.

I also wanted the actions to have the same structure (as far as possible) the structure of an Anglican Eucharistic prayer. These all include a beginning focus on God’s creative power, the narrative of institution, an amanensis (remembering God’s saving power) and an epiclesis (asking the Holy Spirit to come on either the elements or the congregation or both). I represented the epiclesis by making the sign of the cross over both the congregation and over the elements.

I had people ready prepared to bring things up to the communion table (these are the things underlined in the order below). On a side table I had a table-cloth, white and purple cloths, and a crown of thorns to use during it without people bringing them up.

It’s not something that I would do very often, but I know that people found it a powerful and moving way of celebrating communion (not least due to the fact that it was different to how we normally do it – I suspect that it would lose some of it’s power if repeated at all regularly).

Order for a Silent Communion

begin with a bare table
put table-cloth on the communion table

bring up grapes and wheat
take, hold up and show congregation
place on table

bring up Bible
take, hold up and show congregation
find 1 Corinthians 11 (or other passage – people can look afterwards if they are interested)
place on table

bring up candles
place on table and light

bring up loaf
take, hold up and show congregation
wrap loaf in white cloth
cradle like a baby, show congregation
throw off robe
wrap in purple robe
hold a crown of thorns over the top
hold up and show the congregation

bring up cross and paten
take off purple robe and put round the base of the cross
place crown of thorns on purple robe
hold loaf up high and tear it in two
tear off a bit big enough to go round the congregation
place this bit on the paten, and the rest by the cross

bring up wine and chalice
take the top off the wine
hold up the chalice and wine and pour out wine whilst still holding it up high
make sign of cross over congregation (I did this twice to include people sitting in different parts of the church)
make sign of cross over the bread on the paten
make sign of cross over the wine in the chalice
hold up bread and wine

quietly say: “As our Saviour taught us, together we pray:”
Say Lord’s prayer

pass round the bread and wine – this way people can stay in their seats and serve each other, which preserves the reflective, prayerful mood of the service.


3 thoughts on “Silent communion

  1. This morning I presided at Silent Holy Communion which I have adapted for our use here in Norfolk. I appreciated the silence and symbolic action of it all. Thank you for the inspiration.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Janet! I’m glad that it went well. I’d be interested to hear what changes you made to it? (I think it’s always good to hear other people’s takes on things!)


  2. Pingback: What To Do Without a Church Musician – Cooking with Elsa

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