Choral Eucharist

The Cathedral Church of Saint Paul the Apostle features the liturgy of the Eucharist at the heart of its regular cycle of worship. The word 'Eucharist', derived from the Greek word for 'thanksgiving', is also known as 'Holy Communion' or the 'Mass', and it is the central act of Christian worship. The title derives from the fact that at its institution it is recorded that after taking the bread, Christ 'gave thanks.' The 'Choral' reference in the title of the service refers to the fact that worship is led by The Cathedral Choir. The choir leads the congregation in the singing of the four hymns and the psalm. In addition, the choir sings choral settings to the Ordinary of the Eucharist (Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei). During the congregational receiving of communion, the choir sings a motet appropriate to the theme or season of the service.

Nave AltarThe historical position of the Anglican Communion is found in the Thirty-Nine Articles of 1571, which state "the Bread which we break is a partaking of the Body of Christ"; and likewise that "the Cup of Blessing is a partaking of the Blood of Christ" (Articles of Religion, Article XXVIII: Of the Lord's Supper). The fact that the terms "Bread" and "Wine" and the corresponding words "Body" and "Blood" are all capitalized may reflect the wide range of theological beliefs regarding the Eucharist among Anglicans. However, the Articles also state that adoration, or worship per se, of the consecrated elements was not commanded by Christ and that those who receive unworthily do not actually receive Christ but rather their own condemnation.

Anglicans generally and officially believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, but the specifics of that belief range from transubstantiation, sometimes with Eucharistic adoration (mainly Anglo-Catholics), to something akin to a belief in a "pneumatic" presence, which may or may not be tied to the Eucharistic elements themselves (almost always "Low Church" or Evangelical Anglicans). The normal range of Anglican belief ranges from Objective Reality to Pious Silence, depending on the individual Anglican's theology. There are also small minorities on the one hand which affirm transubstantiation, or on the other hand, reject the doctrine of the Real Presence altogether. The classic Anglican aphorism with regard to this debate is found in a poem by John Donne (sometimes attributed to Elizabeth I): "He was the Word that spake it; He took the bread and brake it; And what that Word did make it; I do believe and take it."

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