Children’s Communion Prayer

One of the items being discussed at next month’s General Synod is the provision of Eucharistic liturgy for a "Children’s Communion". With more and more churches admitting baptised children to Communion, the lack of any suitable texts is becoming increasingly apparent.

Here at Christ Church I wrote an experimental liturgy to use with children (and their parents) for a service a few months ago. I offer it here therefore to begin a debate on what such a liturgy should look like, especially on grounds of accessibility. I don’t offer it to start a debate over whether non-confirmed children should be admitted to Communion. At Christ Church our standard pattern is that they are not, but we wanted to include liturgy that was aimed towards an 8 year old, not an 80 year old.

It’s not a finished product so don’t treat it as such. Have a read (I’ve included notes on actions in bold red italics) and then pile in with your comments. The whole liturgy was handed out in the service sheet and projected on a large screen above the president (which may make sense of some of the anotations).

The Lord is here
He is with us

Out of nothing God made everything.
He was and is and will be
He is love and truth and everything that is good
But best of all good things, he sent us his Son

(during this response the Hebrew "kadosh" appears as a watermark on screen behind the words)
Thank you Heavenly Father for sending Jesus 
Through him you made the world and saved us
Thank you Heavenly Father

Jesus came and showed us what God was like
He was God but also just like us
He wanted us to be with him always
So he did what was needed to make that happen

(during this response the Hebrew "kadosh" appears as a watermark on screen behind the words)
Thank you Jesus for coming to die for us
You died on a cross so we could be free

Thank you Jesus

The night before he died
Jesus took some bread and wine,
Said thank you to his Father
And then told everybody there
That he was like the bread and the wine

(during this response the fracture takes place)
Torn into pieces for us
Poured out for all the bad things we have done      

He was taken by the soldiers
Nailed to a cross
He died instead of us
So that we would live forever

(this response is said with increasing volume through the lines)
His friends were sad that he’d died
But
The soldiers couldn’t beat Jesus
The nails in his hands and feet couldn’t stop Jesus
A big stone in front of his tomb couldn’t get in the way of Jesus
Even death couldn’t defeat Jesus
He was more powerful
He was God

Jesus – You got rid of everything that comes between us and God
And then you and the Father sent the Holy Spirit
So we could know you now
Live for you now
And do your work now
So we can see heaven on earth

(during this response the Hebrew "kadosh" appears as a watermark on screen behind the words)
Thank you Holy Spirit for giving us life
Come and live in us, spreading your gifts and making us like Jesus
Thank you Holy Spirit

That’s why we celebrate
That’s why we have this meal
To worship Jesus
To remind ourselves what he’s done for us
And to get ready to tell the whole world what a special person he is

We say the prayer Jesus taught us

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.

Amen.

13 Comments on “Children’s Communion Prayer

  1. I don’t offer it to start a debate over whether non-confirmed children should be admitted to Communion.

    Pity :-)


    The night before he died
    Jesus took some bread and wine,
    Said thank you to his Father
    And then told everybody there
    That he was like the bread and the wine

    My chief concern is this section. I feel very strongly that the words of Jesus, taken directly either from one of the gospels or (my preference) 1 Corinthians 11 should be used at this point. I realise that we are not Romans, but I don’t think that we should ignore Aquinas in every detail, particularly those where he is closest to scripture. I would need to look up what the reformers said; but I recall (possibly mistakenly) that the reformers were also firm on this point.

    • The problem with writing for children is that you have to use language that they’d understand. The question arises then – is it possible to refer to the words of institution without actually using the exact expression. You miss out the response to this section from the president which completes the phrasing.

      Surely our English translations already vary from the Greek? Couldn’t we have a debate over literal versus dynamic equivalence translation (this prayer uses the second)?

      • Peter: I appreciate the necessity of expressing this in a manner that children will understand. However, if a child is unable to understand “This is my Body which is given for you… This is my Blood of the New Covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgivness of sins…”, he or she should not be receiving the Body and Blood of Christ. They should first understand that which they are doing.

        In faith, Dave
        Viva Texas <

      • The other thing you have got to ask is whether “That he was like the bread and the wine” is an accurate translation of “This is my body;” “This is my blood.” It is very easy to insert your own theology into here. For example, saying “The bread and wine are like my body and blood” seems to suggest a Zwinglian interpretation, rather than, say, Lutheran. While “The bread and wine are my body and blood,” suggests a Catholic interpretation, and would offend the Zwinglians. The one thing we all agree on is “On the night that he was betrayed, he took bread, broke it and said ‘This is my body’ etc.” I was under the impression that “official” Church of England doctrine, while rejecting Catholic Transubstantiation, otherwise left the matter ambiguous; the liturgy should do the same. While providing a dynamic translation, you are also in effect interpreting the text, which could be dangerous if you get it wrong. Also, I’m not sure that your phrase is satisfactory under any view. “That he was like the bread and the wine” What? Oven baked, and containing 7% alcohol? With all due respect to John 6:35 etc., I don’t think that that’s going to help the children understand or appreciate the doctrine of the Eucharist; or they could go away with some very strange ideas.

        • Well the full text of the prayer is:

          “That he was like the bread and the wine
          Torn into pieces for us
          Poured out for all the bad things we have done”

          I think that leaves open a range of possibilities from consubstantianist to memorialist and that was my intent. I’d be concerned about being to picky of the language in an intent to defend a particular view of the nature and function of the elements and so that’s why I chose the words I did.

  2. On reflection, some very good points have been made about the words of institution. I’ve done a quick review of the Eucharistic prayers in Common Worship and all of them use the exact words, “This is my body” and “This is my blood” and Dix has a fascinating section on this in “Shape”. I will probably need to go back and amend this section.

    How about something like:

    The night before he died
    Jesus took some bread and wine,
    Gave thanks to his Father
    And said,
    “This is my body,
    This is my blood”.

    Torn into pieces for us
    Poured out for all the bad things we have done

  3. I’m not a trained theologian, and I’m Catholic as well, but I will say this: It’s better, however…

    1) Jesus’ body was not torn into pieces. In fact, not one bone was broken so this statement teaches something about our Savior which isn’t strictly true. On the other hand, his Body WAS “Given for you” which is left out.

    2) “Poured out for all the bad things we have done” sort of covers part of it but omits that his action is a new Covenant and that it procures forgivness of sins for the many.

    In faith, Dave
    Viva Texas

    • Hi Dave,

      1) A very good point which I think I overlooked. Thanks

      2) Hmmmmmm…… I see where you’re coming from, but I don’t think “New Covenant” works with 8 year olds!!!

      • Now’s where I need to be a theologian… so I can suggest a substitute word for “Covenant”.

        However, any person should understand the concept of covenant (or agreement, or contract, or whatever word is substituted for covenant), and the other doctrines surrounding the Eucharist, *before* receiving the Body and Blood of Christ. Once the concept is conveyed, there shouldn’t be any further objection to “covenant”, no? Before that time, the person is simply unready and needs further instruction. Besides, kids are smart; it wasn’t beyond my then 5-year old Episcopal grandson.

        In faith, Dave
        Viva Texas

  4. Thank you both for the time you have taken to discuss this issue.

    As the new Pastor, I am faced with much (MUCH)opposition and unsure how to present this theory (again) as something worth consideration.

    As the interim Pastor for this Church, I made many observations. Worth mentioning here, the children take NO part in communion. In my childhood church, all members (interested in partaking in the sacrament, would come forward, sometimes kneeling at the alter, other times standing before the Pastor, to receive communion. Also welcomed at this time, was the inclusion of children, who were encouraged to come forward for the blessing; a Cross (signed) upon their forehead and a prayer that the Lord watch over and protect them.

    My stance now, "Let the little children come to me" if a child shows interest, perhaps we (as their Spiritual Advisor) should act on that interest and build on it, rather than telling them they are "too young" or will "understand better when you are older". Building that foundation now, when curiosity keeps their interest will help them Stay strong when the world tries to steal their focus. If we institute the theory that faith is out of reach and dim that light too soon, they'll be defeated and uninterested when that time in their lives arrives where faith will be the only thing that sees them through.

    Presently, the children are completely overlooked and very much excluded.

    Of course, who am I to have an "opinion" on this, I have never been and I have no children (YET! they never say that word)… but that card is played every time I bring up the children. :)

    Shield of God protect those who do your work.

    Slow and steady wins HIS race.

    May the Lord be blessed and His Will be done.

    Peace be with you,

    PS In a Sunday School lesson, I once explained "Covenant" as Promise, but that was 12 years ago.

  5. A site with lots of material pro and con on children taking communion is http://www.paeodocommunion.com. I think it right: if Jesus died for them and we're showing his death, how can we leave them out? Cyprian, Augustine, and Pseudo-Dionysius seem to take infant communion for granted. My site, http://www.lohr84.com, has a section "Feed God's babies" answering 30+ objections (let a man examine himself–to make sure he's including everyone who should be included!), giving 19 reasons for, and including two paedocommunion hymns (also posted separately on the web).

  6. I came across this site as I was looking for a good liturgy for communion with children. I have to say that the original 2008 comments seem to be WAY overthinking the matter. The notion that a child — indeed anyone — has to "understand" Eucharistic doctrine of theology before receiving communion sort of goes against that notion that the sign-act of the Lord's Supper is a ultimately a mystery that can't be fully comprehended but must be experienced. I've talked with very small children who have a much better sense of the sacred experience of communion than many adults who have a rather poor, simplistic and incomplete understanding. It's seems that what children are grasping by intuitively by experience the adults are missing by trying to figure it all out. When we excluded children from the table and then tell them that "Jesus loved the little children" we send a decidedly mixed message. Children should be welcomed at the table always. And worrying about exact wording of the words of institution is bland religiosity at its worst.

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