Participating in our Eucharist
St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, like all Episcopal churches, is a “liturgical” church. This means that during our Eucharist services on Sundays (or during the week), people participate through their verbal responses, readings from Holy Scripture, singing of hymns, offering prayers and by receiving Holy Communion. The congregation participates in all aspects of the liturgy, which has a set format.
During the liturgy, the congregation refrains from talking among themselves, except at the “Sign of Peace,” where we reverently greet each other. Refraining from talking gives us space to think and reflect on our personal experience with God.
Practices vary – even among individual Episcopalians – as to when it is appropriate to sit, to stand or to kneel. Watch the people sitting around you for clues, and do whatever feels comfortable. The general rule is to stand to sing. Hymns are found in the maroon Hymnal books in the pews. Other music is printed in the worship bulletin you receive when you attend a service.
We stand to say our affirmation of faith, the Nicene Creed; and for the reading of the Gospel. Psalms are sung or said sitting. We sit during readings from the Old Testament or New Testament Letters, the sermon, and the choir anthems. We stand or kneel for prayer. Some Episcopalians make the sign of the cross or bow at particular times and kneel for prayer upon entering the Nave. Silence is usually kept before services.
The Book of Common Prayer
Words to all our liturgies are found in The Book of Common Prayer which can be found in the book slot in your pew. The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) contains prayers for daily use and prayers for the celebration of the Eucharist. The Book of Common Prayer has evolved over the years. The first Prayer Book is attributed to Thomas Cranmer, who in 1549, drew on traditional resources to create services that were prayed in English for the first time. This collection of prayers and responses provides the basic structure for the current Prayer Book being used in the Episcopal Church. The version in use today was last revised in 1979.
The Eucharist (Worship Service)
The principal service of The Episcopal Church is the Eucharist (“Holy Communion”). In some Episcopal churches it is celebrated quite simply, without music, early on Sunday morning.
At St. Matthew’s we have three Sunday liturgies at which we celebrate Eucharist: 8 a.m, 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.
The 8 a.m. Eucharist is small and does not have a choir, but it does have an organ and the congregation sings hymns.
Our 10 o’clock Eucharist is our biggest Sunday service. This liturgy has a full choir and organist (and often other musicians). This is our largest service in terms of attendance. During our 10 o’clock service we also have worship services for children. Click here for information about our Children’s Worship Services.
Our 5 o’clock Eucharist on Sunday afternoons is more modern, often with “folk” music and a more relaxed atmosphere.
Visitors are welcome at any of our services.
We also have a small Eucharist on Wednesday mornings at 10a.
SEE ALSO May I receive Holy Communion?