Forms of the central prayer of the Eucharist. Until well into the 3rd cent. the bishop, as the normal president at the Eucharist, would have improvised the prayer, and the forms that survive from the early period are probably only possible models. The 4th and 5th cents. saw the composition of the prayers in the liturgies ascribed to St Basil and St John Chrysostom. In the W. the Roman Canon of the Mass was virtually the only Eucharistic Prayer in use from the 6th cent. onwards. At the Reformation Lutherans suppressed all of the Canon except the Preface and the Words of Institution; Reformed Churches often used those Words as a warrant for celebration and had no equivalent to a Eucharistic Prayer. The BCP rearranged the elements of the Canon, inserting the Communion immediately after the Words of Institution. In 1968 the Congregation of Sacred Rites provided three new Eucharistic Prayers for use in the RC Church as alternatives to the Canon which became, in a slightly revised form, Eucharistic Prayer I. Further Eucharistic Prayers have since been authorized. Provinces of the Anglican Communion have devised a variety of Eucharistic Prayers and liturgical revision has proceeded in most W. Churches.
Eucharistic Prayers normally include the following elements: a thanksgiving for creation and redemption, including the Sanctus; the Words of Institution; the Anamnesis; the Epiclesis; some form of intercession; and a final doxology.