Wednesday, May 13, 2015

I hate bidding prayers

There is an interesting article about bidding prayers of the General Intercessions on NLM. I hate them and I hate writing them. I know that at some places like Fontgombault they are used in the Old Rite where they are sung by the deacon with a Kyrie Eleyson response. I still hate them.

Here, at a sung Mass, as we have no deacon, the lector reads the intercession and the priest sings something like 'we pray to the Lord' and the people respond, 'Lord, we ask you hear our prayer' or 'Te rogamus audi nos'. it sort of works a little better than just saying the things but I think it is really putting lipstick on a pig. After the singing of the Creed, the intercessions always feel like a downward movement, rather than a rite that the leads to the priests going up to the altar to offer the sacrifice. They are just another set of words, after a lot of other words.

Although the General Instruction of the Roman Missal calls for them on Sundays and Solemnities and even encourages their use on weekdays, especially in Lent and Advent, they are not liturgical, there is no proper liturgical text for them. I have more or less given up allowing the reader to write them, they so easily end up theologically ambiguous or politically partisan or merely twee but them I am not too happy with my own efforts either, it is not my skill.

One of the reasons I hate them is not just because they are practically always badly written but that they distract from the Canon or Eucharistic Prayer and making something which is general specific, in the sense that they should be an invitation to prayer rather than n end in themselves.

My 'feel' for the role of the laity at Mass is that they are supposed exercise their priestly role by adoring, giving thanks, making reparation and interceding with the priest who stands at the altar. As the priest prays for the living and dead, for the Church and its clergy, for those in need during the Canon or Eucharistic prayer, so too are the laity supposed to pray, bringing their world to the altar as well. They have come in from those peripheries with all the concerns and love they have for the world.

General Intercessions together with the Canon or Eucharistic prayer said aloud tend to make the role of the laity into mere listeners or bystanders rather than prayerful participants. Coming from an age when it was noteworthy that St Ambrose read without articulating the words he read, I suspect that during the reciting of the muttered Canon the faithful also muttered prayer for what they perceived to be their needs. Saying the prayer aloud, which for 1,500 years was recited quietly, has now become a distraction for the faithful from fulfilling their role, which has many including Pope Benedict to suggest 'the Eucharistic Prayer is in crisis', people simply don't know what to do when it is taking place.

In England, before the Reformation, the clerk would announce anniversaries of deaths, pray for patrons, the King, the clergy, the kingdom, great public needs such as war and plague etc., the birth of a prince etc after the sermon, generally with Paters and Aves but they were announcements not primarily intercessions and their form was more or less standard.


Православный физик said...

I tend to agree with you Father, I do think if you're forced to use them against your should use the Litany of Peace from the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom....(The reply would be Lord have mercy)

In Peace Let us pray to the Lord

For peace from on high and for the salvation of our souls, let us pray to the Lord

For peace in he whole world, for the well being of the holy churches of God and for the union of all, let us pray to the Lord

For this hoy Church and for all who enter it with faith, reverence and the fear of God, let us pray to the Lord

For our Holy Father Francis, Pope of Rome, let us pray to the Lord

For our most reverend Metropolitan (name) for our God loving Bishop (name) for the presbyterate, diaconate all the clergy and the people, let us pray to the Lord

For our civil authorities and all in the service of our country, let us pray to the Lord.

For this city, for every city, and for all the faithful living in them, let us pray to the Lord

For favorable weather, for an abundance of the fruits of the earth and for peaceful times, let us pray to the Lord

For all who travel by sea, air, and and, for the sick, the suffering, the captive and for their salvation, let us pray to the Lord

That we be delivered from all affliction, wrath and need, let us pray to the Lord.

Protect us, save us, have mercy on us, and preserve us O God by your grace.

P: Remembering our most holy, most pure, most blessed and ever glorious Lady, the Theotokos and ever virgin Mary with all the saints le us commend ourselves and one another and our whole lives to Christ our God...To you O Lord

For to you Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is due all glory honor and worship, now and ever and forever. Amen

One can be assured of the orthodoxy, and it gives union with the you never have to change them.

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

Do you have a bulletin? Why not post an explanation more or less exactly as you have explained it here, that the bidding prayers tend to distract from the awesome majesty of the Eucharistic miracle, that it tends to be used for political or partisan purposes, etc. then tell everyone that you'll be posting a list of prayer intentions every week in the bulletin and ask parishioners to adopt one or two as a particular intention throughout the Mass and through the following week. At the point where the GIRM insists on this stuff, put one thing, just one, in at that point that is related to the feast of the day, to bring that section of the Mass that seems distracting back to a focus on the actual liturgy.

Just another mad Catholic said...

My big bugbear is the banality of them, next to nothing about the conversion of souls but plenty about the latest social justice stuff.

The first time I visited my Godfather in the midwest the NO included prayers for vocations to religious life / the Priesthood, conversion of souls etc

Fr said...

I stumbled upon this in a book once (I think Pastor in Monte was involved in its publication.)


Let us now offer a special prayer to God Almighty, and to the Glorious Virgin, his Mother, our Lady St Mary, and to all saints, for the peace and welfare of Holy Church; for our Holy Father the Pope, For our Right Reverend Father, the Bishop of this diocese; for the clergy of this church and all that have charge of souls, as well as for all religious men and women, that God grant them each in their degree so well to do that it may bring glory to God and salvation to souls.
We pray for our Sovereign, and for all that rule in the land, that God may give them counsel so to do, that it may be to his praise and the welfare of the realm.
We pray now especially for the all the faithful of this diocese; for all toilers both on land and sea, that God keep them safe in soul and in body and also in goods; for all of good life, that God may maintain them therein and give them an increase of goodness; and for all those that are bound in debt, or in deadly sin, that God of his great mercy soon lead them out.
And that these prayers may be heard and brought about the sooner, let everyone here present say now one Pater Noster, and an Ave Maria.
Now let us offer a prayer to our Blessed Lady, Saint Mary, and to all the saints in heaven for the people of this parish, wherever they may be, especially for those that are sick, that God of his goodness send them release of pain and turn them to the way that is most to his pleasure and for the welfare of their souls.
Let us pray especially for those who have made the celebration of this Mass possible, through their offerings and contributions to God and to this holy church, that God reward them with everlasting bliss; and we pray for those that do not do so, that God soon bring them to amendment.
Let us likewise pray for all those that serve or sing in this church; for those that give or bequeath of their goods to it; for those that find any ornament, vestment or vessel, candle or lamp for the worship of God, or of any of his saints in this place, for those who founded this church, and for those who have maintained it.
For all these people, and for all here present. And for all that have need of prayer, let everyone now hail our Lady with an Ave.
And now let us pray for all the souls that await God’s mercy in Purgatory, especially for the souls of our parents, kinsfolk and friends; for all those whose bones are buried in this parish, and for all souls for whom we are bound to pray, that God of his great mercy release them from their pain, if it be his blessed will.
And that our prayers may somewhat stand them in stead, every one of your charity help them heartily with a Pater Noster and an Ave Maria.

Our Lady of Good Success-pray for us. said...

"they so easily end up theologically ambiguous or politically partisan or merely twee". Very true. They become a soapbox for stuff that should never enter into the liturgy of the Holy Mass.

Fr Ray Blake said...

There enough imports from Eastern liturgies into the Roman Rite, I'm not bring in anpther

Православный физик said...

Father, on that point I agree, the byzantinization of he roman rite has been horrible

D. Benedict Andersen OSB said...

There is, of course, an ancient Roman litany, the so-called Gelasian Litany; an ancient Ambrosian litany ("Divinæ Pacis"); and the so-called Litany of St Martin from the Irish Stowe Missal. Why couldn't these forms be revived in some way for the OF Mass, as Solesmes has done for them for use in the Divine Office?

Matthew Roth said...

I would also suggest the form found in the Ordinariate Mass based on the BCP, which is derived from pre-Reformation forms.

William Tighe said...

Dom Benedict beat me to it; I was going to suggest the same thing!

Anne from Bognor said...

We have someone who writes them and find them always good and helpful. They are for eg children making their 1st Holy Communion, victims in Nepal and beautifully expressed. I like them

Timothy Graham said...

Sorry: a bit long for your comments box, but here is the 1662 BCP bidding prayer authorised for the Ordinariate Use - for the priest only.

Let us pray for the whole state of Christ's Church militant here in earth.

Almighty and everliving God, who by thy holy Apostle hast taught us to make prayers and supplications, and to give thanks, for all men: We humbly beseech thee most mercifully [*to accept our alms and oblations, and] to receive these our prayers, which we offer unto thy Divine Majesty; beseeching thee to inspire continually the universal Church with the spirit of truth, unity, and concord: And grant, that all they that do confess thy holy Name may agree in the truth of thy holy Word, and live in unity, and godly love. We beseech thee also to save and defend all Christian Kings, Princes, and Governors; and specially thy servant ELIZABETH our Queen; that under her we may be godly and quietly governed: And grant unto her whole Council, and to all that are put in authority under her, that they may truly and indifferently minister justice, to the punishment of wickedness and vice, and to the maintenance of thy true religion, and virtue. Give grace, O heavenly Father, to all Bishops and Curates, that they may both by their life and doctrine set forth thy true and lively Word, and rightly and duly administer thy holy Sacraments: And to all thy people give thy heavenly grace; and specially to this congregation here present; that, with meek heart and due reverence, they may hear, and receive thy holy Word; truly serving thee in holiness and righteousness all the days of their life. And we most humbly beseech thee of thy goodness, O Lord, to comfort and succour all them, who in this transitory life are in trouble, sorrow, need, sickness, or any other adversity. And we also bless thy holy Name for all thy servants departed this life in thy faith and fear; beseeching thee to give us grace so to follow their good examples, that with them we may be partakers of thy heavenly kingdom: Grant this, O Father, for Jesus Christ's sake, our only Mediator and Advocate. Amen.

Victor S E Moubarak said...

Our bidding prayers also include names of parishioners who have just died, those whose anniversaries occur at this time, those who are sick and/or in hospital, and those who need prayers for special intentions. We don't include their postcodes though!

God bless.

Leo Wong said...

'There was no question of "improving" anybody. Neither were there any of those ghastly, smug prayers which used to make her writhe at school. Their memory haunted her yet: "Let us pray for the United Nations and all who work for peace," "Let us pray for racial justice in South Africa," "Let us pray that industrial conflicts should find a Christian solution" and so on. They had probably contributed to Judith's irreligion more than the influence of her father. But at Mass nobody or nothing had been prayed for at all, apart from the list of unknown dead "whose anniversaries occur about this time.' -- Bryan Houghton, Judith's Marriage, pp.20-21.

Charlesdawson said...

I am much relieved to read this; I thought it was just me cringing when the priest or the reader reads out some exhortation about governments promoting "sustainable lifestyles" or "social justice". Not that I think such aims are not laudable but neither do I appreciate a Guardian Leader popping up in the middle of Mass.

Sixupman said...

My parish priest has been forcibly retired - I will spare you the vitriol of my angst relative to the matter.

We are now amalgamated with two other parishes and therefore three Masses 09:30; 10:30; 11:30 - an hour each including travel [3 mile radius say].

There are: procession upon entry; children's procession; bidding prayers; offerings' procession; the peace; altar mayhem at Communion; Communion lines; final procession. Also a perfunctory sermon and notices.

Personal prayer - what is that?

A veritable devastation of the parish due to diocesan bureaucracy.

Woody said...

Prof. Kwasniewski was not enamored with my suggestion that the prayers be eliminated. I feel much better knowing you feel the same way! Thank you, Father.

Pelerin said...

Timothy Graham quotes from the BCP which has reminded me of one of the reasons I also do not like the Prayers of Intercession - and there are several!

When we sing 'Lord we ask you hear our prayer' I do wonder why the translation of 'Te rogamus audi nos' has 'ask' instead of 'beg.' (Both are given in one of the online translations) I always feel as if the wrong one has been chosen here. Obviously 'beseech' would not fit the traditional music - one too many syllables and some might think it too Anglican or old-fashioned - but 'beg' has the same number of syllables and is far more powerful than 'ask'. The latter always makes me think of 'Lord we ask you if you can spare a moment please could you possibly be kind enough to hear our prayer.' Surely 'Lord we BEG you' is a much more powerful entreaty?

Another reason why I dislike the Bidding Prayers is the interruption it makes to the Mass. We wait for the reader to come up to the lectern - brain switches off - and after wait for him to leave - brain switches off again - before the Celebrant carries on with the Mass.

The Extraordinary Form is seamless - no interruptions just one continuous prayer in which we can all immerse ourselves.

Sean W. said...

An especially annoying custom in some parts of the United States (I wonder how common this is elsewhere) is for the celebrant at daily Masses to "throw the floor open" for the laity assembled to shout out their own intentions. Inevitably these are pretty harmless, but there are sometimes innumerable intentions so offered (20+ was not unusual at my last parish) and offered in quite, barely discernible voices that sometimes ramble, and which inevitably neglect to include any clear ending, so that after 5 seconds or so of awkward silence the priest is compelled to mumble "for this, we pray to the Lord."

Jacobi said...


I am glad that bidding prayers are not liturgical. I do not like them. In the wrong part of the Mass and a disruption. In my parish they usually reflect the Saturday TV news.

Personally, I ignore then and say my own prayers.

What makes me feel uncomfortable is the priest sitting there apparently with nothing to do. This is contrary to the role of priest and laity as admirably explained by Kwasniewsky and of course Aquinas. The role of the laity is one of "receiving" and that of the ordained priest of "giving".

NBW said...

I hate them as well.

John Nolan said...

You've just sung in the Creed 'et vitam venturi saeculi'. You're now brought down to earth with a bump when someone asks you to reflect on last night's TV news.

The best bidding prayers I heard were those that we sang on the (OF) Feast of Christ the King in 2013 (Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge at Whitby). They were the Laudes Regiae as originally sung for Charlemagne but with the names of the present Pope and Queen inserted. Christus vincit!

Unknown said...

Coxe's "Forms of Bidding Prayer" has many interesting historical examples includIng several from before the English Reformation.

It can be read online at:

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