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History of the Christian Church, Volume VIII: Modern Christianity. The Swiss Reformation.
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§ 20. The Reformed Celebration of the Lord’s Supper.


Zwingli, Werke, II. B. 233. Bullinger, I. 263. Füssli, IV. 64.


The mass was gone. The preaching of the gospel and the celebration of the Lord’s Supper by the whole congregation, in connection with a kind of Agape, took its place.

The first celebration of the communion after the Reformed usage was held in the Holy Week of April, 1525, in the Great Minster. There were three services,—first for the youth on Maundy-Thursday, then for the middle-aged on Good Friday, and last for the old people on Easter. The celebration was plain, sober, solemn. The communicants were seated around long tables, which took the place of the altar, the men on the right, the women on the left. They listened reverently to the prayers, the words of institution, the Scripture lessons, taken from the 1 Cor. 11 and the mysterious discourse in the sixth chapter of John on the spiritual eating and drinking of Christ’s flesh and blood, and to an earnest exhortation of the minister. They then received in a kneeling posture the sacred emblems in wooden plates and wooden cups. The whole service was a commemoration of Christ’s atoning death and a spiritual communion with him, according to the theory of Zwingli.

In the liturgical part he retained more from the Catholic service than we might expect; namely, the Introit, the Gloria in Excelsis, the Creed, and several responses; but all were translated from Latin into the Swiss dialect, and with curious modifications. Thus the Gloria in Excelsis, the Creed, and the Ps. 103 were said alternately by the men and the women, instead of the minister and the deacon, as in the Catholic service, or the minister and the congregation, as in the Lutheran and Episcopal services.107107    Werke, II. B. 237 sqq. I give a specimen from the Gloria in Excelsis:—
   Der Pfarrer: Eer sye gott in den höhinnen!

   Die Mann: Und frid uf erden!

   Die Wyber: Den menschen ein recht gmüt!

   Die Mann: Wir lobend dich, wir prysend dich.

   Die Wyber: Wir betend dich an, wir verehrend dich, etc.

   Shorter responses, however, occur between the minister or deacon and the congregation.
In most of the Reformed churches (except the Anglican) the responses passed out of use, and the kneeling posture in receiving the communion gave way to the standing or sitting posture.

The communion service was to be held four times in the year,—at Easter, Whitsunday, autumn, and Christmas. It was preceded by preparatory devotions, and made a season of special solemnity. The mass was prohibited at first only in the city, afterwards also in the country.

Zwingli furnished also in 1525 an abridged baptismal service in the vernacular language, omitting the formula of exorcism and all those elements for which he found no Scripture warrant.108108    The first German baptismal service by Zwingli and Leo Judae appeared in the summer of 1523, the second in May, 1525. Werke, II. B. 224 sqq.; 230 sq.

The Zwinglian and Calvinistic worship depends for its effect too much upon the intellectual and spiritual power of the minister, who can make it either very solemn and impressive, or very cold and barren. The Anglican Church has the advantage of an admirable liturgy.



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