An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church


The invocation of the active presence of the Holy Spirit in the eucharistic prayer so that the bread and wine may become the body and blood of Christ. The presider at the eucharist may extend his or her hands over the gifts at the epiclesis. The term is based on the Greek word that means “to call upon,” “to invoke.” The epiclesis typically follows the institution narrative (see eucharistic prayers A, B, and D, BCP, pp. 363, 369, 375), but it precedes the institution narrative in eucharistic prayer C (BCP, p. 371). The Roman Mass did not have an explicit epiclesis, although recent reforms in the Roman Church have added prayers of epiclesis. Thomas Cranmer placed the epiclesis prior to the institution narrative in the 1549 Prayer Book, but he replaced it with a prayer for worthy reception of communion in the 1552 BCP. The epiclesis was not reintroduced in the 1662 BCP. Scottish reformers restored the epiclesis, and the Scottish Book of 1637 included the petition that God the Father would “vouchsafe to bless and sanctify with thy word and Holy Spirit these thy gifts and creatures of bread and wine, that they may be unto us the body and blood of thy most dearly beloved Son. . . .” The Episcopal Church followed the Scottish rather than the English model with respect to the epiclesis. An epiclesis in some form has been included in the eucharistic prayers of the Episcopal Church since the 1789 BCP. The epiclesis of Prayer I in Rite 1 of the BCP is substantially the same as that in the 1789 BCP. See Holy Spirit.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.