Demonstrated Eucharist, by Dom Gregory Dix (undated, c. 1955)

Statement of Dom Morris, Abbot, Nashdom Abbey:

I am grateful for your courtesy in asking my permission to publish this material in the way that you suggest. It is my duty to take into account what would have been the probable wishes of Dom Gregory in the matter. On the negative side, I know that he declined an offer from a weekly periodical in this country called “Everybody’s” to write an article on the subject, although I am not clear as to his reasons for this refusal. Also, I think it probable that in addressing a wider public through the medium of the printed word, he would have introduced greater safeguards, particularly on the subject of the ministry, in case he should seem to give countenance to celebrations by other than bishops in the Apostolical succession or by episcopally ordained priests. He would have emphasised that the early evidence is overwhelming in favor of confining the power of celebration of the Eucharist to such bishops or by deputation to their presbyters.

On the other hand, I know from experience that such demonstrations can be a powerful means of increasing the knowledge, and appreciation of and devotion to the Eucharist, which was of course an end very dear to Dom Gregory’s heart. His own deep devotion centred round the Eucharist and it was his great desire that others should come to an ever full appreciation of our Lord’s gift of Himself in the Sacrament and of the full intent of His words “This is my Body,” and “this is my Blood.”

In view of these considerations, I gladly agree to the publication of the material by the Missionary Society in the form you suggest.


Let us just say a prayer; you needn’t kneel down. “O God, who in a wonderful sacrament hast left unto us a memorial of thy Passion: grant us, we beseech thee, so to venerate the sacred mysteries of thy Body and Blood, that we may ever perceive within ourselves the fruit of thy redemption. Who livest and reignest God, world without end. Amen.”

We are here tonight to study a little more deeply and a little more meaningfully, and a little more responsively into something that we all know well. That service which ever since the night before Calvary has been the heart and the core and the power of Christian living. That service which has many names; the Holy Communion, which is a name given from one part of what we do; or the Holy Sacrifice or the Holy Offering or Oblation, which is given from another part of what we do; or the Breaking of Bread, a name from yet another part of what we do; or the Lord’s Supper, a name given to remind us of how that rite originated, how it began; or the Holy Eucharist or Thanksgiving, which reminds us of the special nature of the prayer which is the central thing in it; or that simple little word the Mass, which is a useful word, because it doesn’t mean any of those particular things; it means them all together.

We use different names but we need never quarrel with anybody about the name they give it. They are all true and they all simply define the obedience that we pay to our Lord’s last command before He died to those whom He called His own. Do this for the recalling of me.

            And you know how, if you want to understand a rather elaborate and complex thing, you have got to get it in its original form, in its simplest beginning. When you have seen that fundamental, basic meaning then the more elaborate form begins to seem simple. And so I want you to think, to start with, of the Eucharistic Service, the Mass, the Holy Communion Service as we know it. Think of it in the form you go through Sunday by Sunday (and please God oftener) in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church. Has it never struck you as being rather an odd thing about that service: That the service which is headed the administration of the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion doesn’t begin to talk, or to think, or to do anything about Holy Communion ’til it’s half over? It isn’t merely that it doesn’t mention the word; it doesn’t speak of or do anything about the bread and the wine; it doesn’t begin to prepare for Holy Communion until after the Creed. That rather odd fact comes down in all the liturgical services of Christendom for the same reason. Historically the eucharistic rites of all Christendom come down from two distinct, separate services, which had different origins, served different purposes, and were attended by rather different people, very often held at different times. 

The first part of the service comes straight down from the synagogue service of our Lord’s time and the apostle’s time. I wish we had time tonight to dip into that very interesting derivation and show how it represents to us just that worship that our Lord, himself, as a boy and as a man went to week by week at Nazareth. The service at which he preached, if you’ll read the fourth chapter of St. Luke’s Gospel; the service which the Apostles were quite accustomed to as their public worship and which quite naturally after the Resurrection and Ascension, they continued as, so to speak, their Christian propaganda service. But we haven’t time for that tonight. And so, I want you in your mind to draw a thickline after the creed in the ordinary Eucharistic office that you know; and think only of the second half of the service; that doesn’t come from the synagogue service, that doesn’t come from anything done in publicly. It comes from something done strictly privately in the upper room of a private house, the last supper of the Lord with His own. Now I’m going to read you the earliest account that we have of what happened at that supper. This was written down in the form we have now by St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthian Christians, which he write in the spring of A.D. 53—I Corinthians 11. And I shall read it, not quite as it is written in the King James version, but translated quite literally from St. Paul’s Greek. “For I handed on to you as that which I had received from he Lord how that the Lord Jesus in the night in which he was betrayed to break; and when he had given thanks, he braked it and said, This is my body which is for you, do this for the recalling of me.” In the same way this cup, also, after supper saying, “This is the new covenant in my blood. This do whenever you drink it for the recalling of me.”” And then St. Paul himself goes on to say, “For as often as you eat this break or drink this cup you proclaim the Lord’s death ’til he come.”

The first of our gospels, St. Mark’s gospel, was written down as we have it now, about 15 years later than that. So this is the earliest account. And you’ll notice St. Paul says that this isn’t the first time he tells the Corinthians about it all; years ago when he first came to Corinth he told them of it in this form. And this is the form in which he first learnt about it when he himself was baptized and confirmed as a Christian at Damascus; that was perhaps 5 years, perhaps even less, from the day of the last supper itself. And he knew St. Peter and all the others who had been there at the supper and so you can take it that this account of St. Paul’s is equivalent to quite first hand evidence of what happened at the last supper.

Now, I suppose, all of us take it for granted when we read that story either in the gospel or in St. Paul that when our Lord said “Do this for the recalling of me,” he was commending them to do something quite new which they had never seen before, the breaking of bread and the blessing of the cup, which they would never have dreamed of doing again unless he had especially told them to do it. But, as a matter of fact, that’s quite wrong. At the beginning of supper our Lord took bread and he blessed it and he broke it and he gave it. And after supper he took the cup and he blessed it and he gave it. Now those were two perfectly ordinary Jewish actions. When he took the bread and blessed and brake it at the beginning of supper the apostles wouldn’t be the least surprised. That was the ordinary Jewish grace before meals. Every night since they were little boys they had watched their fathers take bread, take one of the little flat Jewish loaves and break it and bless it with a special blessing which ran: “Blessed be thou, O Lord God, King of the universe, who bringest forth bread from the earth.” And then their father would take a little piece and give a little broken fragment of the bread to everybody at the supper table. All their lives they had seen that done every night, and, I suppose, every time they had eaten with our Lord together they had watched him do it. And so, there was nothing new at all as far as that was concerned. What was new—what was quite different—was the meaning that our Lord gave it. He took the bread, he brake it, he blessed it, and he gave it. And as they were each eating a little broken fragment of bread as their ancestors had done right back to the days when Israel was in the desert, one or two thousand years before in the desert rite of hospitality, he suddenly said something quite new, “This is my body which is given for you.” Now “do this” is not a command to do anything new, it is a command to do the old accustomed rites, the thing they knew so well, with a quite new meaning:—“For the recalling of me.” And then comes supper and the story we know so well of Judas’ leaving the supper and going out and St. Peter saying that he’ll never deny our Lord and our Lord’s washing his disciples’ feet and the rest of the story we all know so well. And then after supper in the same way the cup; St. Paul doesn’t say what cup; he didn’t have to. Not every night at supper, but only on the occasions when supper had a little formality—a father’s or mother’s birthday or a time when you had visitors in and a [2/3] bit of a party or on the night before a great religious feast like the Passover or the Feast of the Tabernacles—the drink at the end of the supper took a slightly different form. The ordinary form was this: the father of the family or host of his guests stood up at the end of supper and said, “Let us give thanks to our Lord God.” And the guests answered, “It is meet and right.” And then the host chanted a long grace which gave thanks to God not only for the meal that they had just had but for God’s gift to his people of the Holy Land and of his law and above all for his covenant with his people—that which made Israel a nation, that which was the very meaning and foundation of life and religion and nationality to a Jew—the covenant of God. At the end of this thanksgiving to God for his mercy to his people the guests or the family chanted “Amen.” Well now, on, as I say, rather formal family occasions, that was sung over a cup of mingled wine and water and then at the end of this when they sang Amen, the father or the host handed it all around the table and it was passed like a loving cup as they all stood and they each took a sip from it. Well, after supper they called that cup of wine and water quite simply “the cup of blessing.” And you remember St. Paul used this normal Jewish name when he wrote “the cup of blessing which we bless is it not a communion—a sharing—of the blood of Christ?” And so our Lord blessed the cup of blessing at the end of supper with the old Jewish thanksgiving for God’s mercies to his people and for the old covenant and then as the cup is being handed round he says something that is very startling indeed, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.” All through the centuries Israel had lived by its covenant and so all through the centuries the prophets had warned them that God one day would raise up a Christ, a Messiah, a Deliverer who would bring new Israel, give Israel a new covenant, the final covenant which God would make. And now it’s come, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.” He is claiming to be not only the priest who shall found and set up the new covenant, but the sacrificed victim—because you could not make a covenant with God without offering a victim in sacrifice. He is going to be the priest who is going to offer himself in sacrifice the next morning. “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Whenever you drink it do so for the recalling of me.” Now there is the last supper as our Lord does it. You might call it seven actions in two groups; one before supper, one after supper. He took bread, he blessed bread, he broke bread, he gave bread. Then comes supper. Then he took the cup, he blessed the cup, he gave the cup. Seven actions, four before, three after supper, and in between, the supper. And there doesn’t seem to be any doubt that for the first twenty or thirty years of Christian history that was the way the Christians did it. They took bread and blessed it, broke it and gave it at the beginning of the meal. Then came the meal. Then came the taking and blessing and giving of a cup. Just like that. St. Paul when he writes to the Corinthians assumes that’s the way that Christians there do the Eucharist, the Lord’s Supper. You remember had a lot of fault to find with the Corinthians about the way they were doing it. He says they were doing it in a very unseemly way, and some of them are getting drunk and some of them are quarreling and some of them don’t get anything to eat at the supper and the selfish and most greedy eat more than enough.

You can see what’s happened. The Jews had a long tradition of religious meals and of right and proper behaviour at them. But Christianity’s spreading now among the Greeks, the Gentiles—Corinth was a Greek city and the Gentiles had a tradition of feasts in honour of the Gods which were just occasions of merry-making with a good deal of drunkenness and disorder. You can see that they were treating the Christian Lord’s Supper as a heathen religious meal. So it began reverently enough. Their bishops—their presbyters—take bread and bless it, break it and give it. Then comes the meal and it’s all rather noisy and sociable and festive and some of them start quarrelling, and it’s all very undignified. And the second half of their [3/4] communion—the blessing of the chalice and the partaking of the communion of our Lord’s blood—is still to follow after the meal. By the time they come to that they’re not at all in a right state to have it. And so somewhere in the next ten years a change was made. You see the things to which our Lord had attached such special meaning. This is my body which is given for you, this cup is the new covenant in my blood. They are, so to speak, isolated at the beginning and end of the meal and the supper is what is causing scandal and what is becoming a source of disorder in the Church and our Lord attributed no special meaning to the supper at all. It was what came before and after it. And so somewhere in the early 60s, or before the year 70 anyhow, the Apostolic Church had come to the conclusion that the supper was what was causing the trouble, and it was the supper that they must leave out. And right after that just the things, the actions which our Lord had commanded to be done for the recalling of Him were combined. Now look at what you get if you bring these two sets of actions together: you take bread, you break bread, you bless bread, you give bread, you take a cup, you bless a cup, you give a cup. That includes the whole of what was commanded by our Lord for the recalling of him. If you notice, you do practically everything in it twice over. And so they made a quite simple rearrangement. They took bread and wine together; they blessed bread and wine together; then they broke the bread and then they gave the bread and wine together. Just like that. It included still all the actions about which our Lord had said “Do this.” And it included them in a compact sensible order. Now that way of doing the Eucharist seems to have been devised somewhere between the writing of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Corinthians in 53 A.D. and the writing of St. Mark’s Gospel somewhere about 67 or 68.

And so at the end of the Apostolic Age you get that rearrangement which is the way that all Christians have done it ever since. There they had, so to speak, the skeleton—the absolute basic foundation—of all Eucharistic rites that contain the whole action that our Lord told us to do for the recalling of him. You take bread and wine, you bless bread and wine, you break bread, you give bread and wine. Or the usual words that we normally use: offertory, consecration prayer, fraction (the breaking of the bread), communion. Our Lord’s own actions we repeat in a compact way. Of course, we are used to a service that’s got a good deal more than that bare skeleton, that bare outline. We have things like the confession and absolution, prayers like the thanksgiving and the offering. When you come to think of it, all those are “extra” prayers. They are rather concerned, not so much with doing, because our Lord didn’t say pray this or think this or feel this. It is an action. It is Do this. They are, so to speak, more concerned with what I feel about doing this. They are, so to speak, its reaction on me expressed in words. I feel very unworthy of coming to communion and so I say the confession. I am comforted by listening to the comfortable words. I feel that I want to worship God and so I say the Sanctus. I feel thankful and grateful for receiving my communion so I join in the thanksgiving and so on. But the actual acts that our Lord commanded are confined to those four things: offertory, prayer (consecration prayer), breaking of the bread, giving of the bread and wine together.

IV. The Demonstration

            The Demonstration begins with no one on stage. Before it begins, each participant should conceal on his person one Host, one Bottle, and one Sacrament Box. The Archdeacon and other Deacons enter one or two at a time from all points designated as doors, greet each other, and put on their stoles immediately. The Deacons go to the doors to prevent the entry of any but baptized and confirmed communicants, while the Archdeacon places a Stole on each chair. The clergy and laity begin to come in one, two, or three at a time, and greet each other happily. Bishop and Priests put on stoles and sit down, while Laity take their stand, (the Priests always stand whenever the Bishop stands, and sit when he sits,) and the Bishop sings:


The rest of the participants all sing this response:


The Bishop and the Priests sit. The Assisting Deacon spreads the Altar Cloth on the Altar, passing round the end of the row of Priests, and never breaking through the semi-circle formed by the Bishop and Priests. (See paths A on diagram.) The Archdeacon brings the Chalice, Bowl and Paten from the Credence Table, and after giving the Chalice to the Assisting Deacon, they take their places at positions C and D respectively. Note that whenever the Chalice is carried by itself, it is held with one hand on each handle.

The first main Act of the Service—The Offertory

            The adult Laity (men first, then the women) pass by along line E, each placing his Host on the Paten, and then “emptying” his Bottle into the Chalice. (For the purposes of the demonstration, the Bottles do not contain, as they did in the second century, a few drops of wine, but even though they do not the people go through the pouring motions. When the adult Laity are through, the Children (who are too poor to bring host or wine, since they are supported entirely by the alms of the Church) come up and “pour” water into the Chalice. The Archdeacon and the Assisting Deacon turn and place the Chalice and Paten respectively in positions K and J on the Altar. The Clergy then make their own offering in both kinds in the following order—Bishop, Priests, Archdeacon, and Assisting Deacon, and Deacons. (Note that the Deacons stay guarding the doors all during the service, except when they leave them momentarily three times.) The Deacons return to the doors, the Archdeacon and Assisting Deacon place the two or three hosts necessary for the conduct of the service directly on the altar cloth at position F, and place the Chalice at position G. The Archdeacon carries the surplus hosts on the Patent to the Credence Table, while the Assisting Deacon gets the Scroll off the Extra Table. (Note that the Bishop and Priests sit throughout the Offertory, except when they make their own offerings.)

The Second Main Act of the Service—The Prayer (of Consecration)

The Archdeacon, returning to his place, receives the scroll from the Assisting Deacon, who is back in his place. The Archdeacon, opening it, holds it where the Bishop can see it easily. The Bishop and the Priests arise, and the Bishop begins the chant with the versicles (V), and the people sing the responses (R). The ancient Jewish custom of bowing at the words “Lord God” in the third V. is observed by all.

            At the words “Lift up your hearts…” in the Prayer, all present except the archdeacon, who is holding the scroll) assume the Jewish posture of prayer which is used by the early Christians. (See Photograph #4). After the words “… and demonstrate the resurrection…” there is a slight pause in the singing while the Bishop and Priests arrange themselves around the Altar with their hands extended over the elements for the actual consecration. (See Photograph #5.) After the words “… do my recalling,” Bishop and Priests step back to their places; each just in front of his chair, and resume the prayer posture. When the Bishop finishes the prayer, all sing the response “Amen,” and the Bishop and Priests then sit.

The Third Main Act—The Fraction

The Assisting Deacon takes the Scroll from the Archdeacon and puts it back on the Extra Table, then proceeds to the Altar, meeting there the Archdeacon, who has gone to the Credence and has brought the empty Second Paten from there (or emptied the one used at the Offertory and brought it to the Altar again). The consecrated Hosts are placed on the Paten, and the Archdeacon and Assisting Deacon break them into small pieces quickly, but reverently.

The Fourth Main Act—The Communion

The Communion is taken first by the Bishop, the Archdeacon carrying the Patent and the Assisting Deacon carrying the Chalice. The Bishop, still seated, communicates himself from the Paten held by the Archdeacon, and then receives the administration of the Chalice at the hands of the Assisting Deacon. The Bishop and Priests rise, and the Bishop receives the Paten from the Archdeacon (who steps back into position B after the Bishop receives the Host) and administers the Host to him. The Bishop then carries the Paten to the Priests (in any convenient order), who, standing each in his respective place, communicate themselves. By the time the last Priest is communicated, the Deacons and the Assisting Deacon have lined up along line E in the diagram, and the Bishop goes to administer the Host to them. Immediately after the Bishop administered the Host to the Archdeacon, the Assisting Deacon communicated him from the Chalice. The Archdeacon then took the Chalice and followed along right behind the Bishop, communicating the Priests and Deacons. The Bishop and the Archdeacon now take their places at C and D respectively, and the people (men and boys, then women and girls) pass by in order, each person stopping and facing first the Bishop and then the Archdeacon to receive his Communion. When communicated, each Deacon and lay person returns to his place. When the Bishop finishes administering the Host, he puts the Paten on the Altar (at H), returns to his throne, and sits down, the Priests sitting down at the same time. The Archdeacon returns the Chalice to position G on the Altar, and stands at B.

The lay people (in the same order as before) pass by the Archdeacon, who places a piece of the Host in the Sacrament Box carried by each person. The Archdeacon then returns the Patent to position F on the Altar, and the Clergy take their portions of the Sacrament in this order: Bishop, Priests, Archdeacon, Assisting Deacon, and other Deacons. The Bishop and Priests consume the remaining elements, the Archdeacon places the emptied Chalice and Paten on the Credence Table, the Assisting Deacon folds the Altar Cloth and places it on the Extra Table, and all return to their original places. The Archdeacon then sings:


and all respond:


The clergy remove their stoles, the Archdeacon places them on the Extra Table, and all depart.


I. On the manner of singing the Prayer:

            If the “Bishop” is unfamiliar with the Plainsong Notation of the Scroll, he can get the general idea from number 734 in the Hymnal 1940 which shows the second and third sets of versicles and responses in modern notation. The only notes used in the Prayer which are not used in No. 734 are those at the very end, for instance the two notes of the word “ever” which would be C and B respectively in the key in which No. 734 is written. The Plainsong Notation merely acknowledges complete freedom in transposing the tune up or down to fit the voice of the singer.

II. On the Manner of Communicating.

            The early Christians always signed themselves with the Sign of the Cross before receiving the Host, and again before receiving the Chalice. In the case of a Bishop or Priest, who administers the Host to himself, it is made with the particle between the fingers, saying as he signs the Cross, these words of administration: “The Bread of Heaven in Christ Jesus,” and also saying, after he consumes the Host, “Amen.” Deacons and laity, who receive the Host from the Bishop, sign themselves with the empty hand as we do today, then receive the Host directly on the tongue, having tilted the head back slightly and extended the tongue out a little over the lower lip. All reply “Amen” to the words of administration immediately after consuming the particle. 

            Every one receives the Chalice in the same way, since each person receives it from some one else. Having signed the Cross, the person receives three sips of the Wine, one at the mention of the name of each Person of the Blessed Trinity in the following words of administration pronounced by the person holding the Chalice: “In God the Father Almighty, and in Christ Jesus, and in the Holy Spirit, in the Holy Church.” The one who has received replies immediately, “Amen.”

            All receive standing, except the Bishop.


1. List of characters—all parts may be taken by any one, regardless of ecclesiastical status, since this is not to be a valid celebration of the Holy Communion.

a. Men: (1) Bishop—one

(2) Priests—any even number up to twelve

(3) Archdeacon—one

(4) Deacons—any number from two to six

(5) Laity—a token number, usually kept small for convenience, say 10 or 15.

b. Women—used as laity, in numbers about equal to the number of men used in this capacity.

c. Children—one or two—to represent the pauper, orphaned children of martyrs.

2.         Equipment needed

a.         Communion vessels.

            (1) Chalice—one—of the two-handled, loving-cup type, properly silver, and best about 6 inches tall.

            (2) Paten—one or two—circular plates about 8 to 12 inches across, properly silver.

b.         Offertory

(1) Hosts—one for each adult participant—small biscuits, roughly 1 to 1 ½ inches in diameter and about ½ inch thick.

(2) Small bottles—one for each participant, regardless of age.

(3) Bowl.

c.         Vestments—stoles only, one for Bishop, Priests, and Deacons. (These may be improvised easily from inexpensive cloth, but the use of actual stoles, if available, is quite proper.

d.         Furniture

(1) Altar—one—a small table, approximately the size of a card table.

(2) Chairs—one each for Bishop and Priests.

(3) Credence Table—one—small table, large enough to hold the Paten (or Patens) and the Chalice.

(4) Extra Table—one—any type, but large enough to hold Stoles, Altar Cloth, and Scroll.

e.         Miscellaneous

(1) Scroll—one—containing the Plainsong setting of the Prayer. 

(2) Altar cloth—one—any ordinary plain white tablecloth.

(3) Sacrament boxes—one for each participant—about the size of small matchboxes, preferably white.


A. Bishop’s chair

B. Archdeacon’s position (no chair)

C. Deacon’s position (for convenience this deacon will be called the Assisting Deacon) (no chair)

D. Priests’ chairs

E. Altar

F. Credence Table—containing Chalice and Paten

G. Men and Boys will stand here (no chairs)

H. Women and Girls will stand here (no chairs)

J. Remaining Deacons’ positions (no chairs)

K. Extra Table — containing Stoles, Altar Cloth, and the Scroll, should be out of the way, but handy to the Assisting Deacon.

Transcribed by Richard J. Mammana in 2011 from 15 undated mimeographed pages with the citation “Berkeley Missionary Society.”

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Filed under Anglo-Catholicism, Bibliography, Book of Common Prayer, Episcopal Church history, Liturgy

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