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Great Thanksgiving


In this ancient and enduring prayer of the church, we give thanks for all God’s mighty acts in the past, present, and future.

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.

We praise God’s creating power and providential care: in making the world; establishing the covenant; giving the law, speaking truth through the prophets; showing mercy in spite of our sin; and above all, through the gift of Jesus Christ.

The Sanctus (“Holy, holy, holy”), a cosmic hymn to the glory of God (Isaiah 6:3 and Revelation 4:8), expresses our joyful praise in union with all creation and with the people of God in every time and place. The Benedictus (“Blessed is he who comes”) is the acclamation of praise that was sung at Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Ps. 118:26; Matt. 21:9, Mark 11:9-10, Luke 19:38, John 12:13).

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

With thanksgiving, we remember: Christ’s birth, life, and ministry; his death and resurrection; his ascension to reign; and the promise of his return.

With thanksgiving, we remember the gift of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. Recalling the institution of the Lord’s Supper (Matt. 26:26-29, Mark 14:22-25, Luke 22:14-20, 1 Cor. 11:23-26) in the context of prayer helps to establish this meal as a joyful feast. When the Words of Institution are used here, they are not spoken at the invitation to the table or the breaking of the bread.

With gratitude, we offer our lives to God in service and praise, as we celebrate this holy meal.

The Memorial Acclamation serves as the people’s proclamation of the mystery of Christian faith: Christ’s dying, rising, and coming again.

Great is the mystery of faith:
Christ has died,
Christ is risen,
Christ will come again.

We call upon the Holy Spirit: to draw us into communion with Christ; to nourish us in Christ’s body; to make us one with Christ and with the universal church; to keep us faithful in ministry; and to hasten the coming of the reign of God.

The Great Thanksgiving concludes with praise to the triune God. The people’s Amen is a sign of the whole congregation’s active participation in the whole prayer.

Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
all glory and honor are yours, almighty God,
now and forever.


Notes adapted from Supplemental Liturgical Resource 1 (WJKP, 1984).

Excerpt from Worshiping God Together: A Guide for Children and Their Parents:

When we pray before the Lord’s Supper we do three things. First, we celebrate and give thanks for all the good things God has done for us. Second, we remember and give thanks for Jesus — how he lived, died, and rose again to save us and give us life. Third, we pray that the Holy Spirit will feed us through this meal, so that we can grow strong in faith and be faithful followers of Jesus.

Directory for Worship

The one presiding is to lead the people in the prayer,

  1. thanking God for creation and providence, for covenant history, and for seasonal blessings, with an acclamation of praise;
  2. remembering God’s acts of salvation in Jesus Christ: his birth, life, death, resurrection, and promise of coming, and institution of the Supper (if not otherwise spoken), together with an acclamation of faith;
  3. calling upon the Holy Spirit to draw the people into the presence of the risen Christ so that they
    1. may be fed,
    2. may be joined in the communion of saints to all God’s people and to the risen Christ, and
    3. may be sent to serve as faithful disciples; followed by an ascription of praise to the triune God, and
  4. the Lord’s Prayer.

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Book of Order, W-3.3613

Invitation to the Lord’s Table | Lord’s Prayer