QUAERITUR: “back story” on prayer for preparation of the chalice

From a priest reader:

What is the history of the prayer the priest says quietly while he pours water into the wine?  It’s not a quote from Scripture, but where does this text come from?  Who added it, and why?  I love this prayer and I hope to explain it to others, but I can’t find the back-story!

As far as I can tell, this prayer harks to ancient Jewish table customs which were carried over into the Church’s liturgy.  The prayer itself has roots at least in an ancient Collect for the Nativity in the Veronese Sacramentary:

Deus qui humanae substantiae dignitatem et mirabiliter condidisti et mirabilius reformasti, da quaesumus ut eius efficiamur in diuina consortes, qui nostrae humanitatis fieri dignatus est particeps christus filius tuus.

The preparatory prayer at the Offertory in the 1962MR is this:

Deus, qui humanae substantiae dignitatem mirabiliter condidisti, et mirabilius reformasti: da nobis per hujus aquae et vini mysterium, ejus divinitatis esse consortes, qui humanitatis nostrae fieri dignatus est particeps, Jesus Christus, Filius tuus, Dominus noster: Qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti, Deus; per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

In the 2002MR this is somewhat abbreviated.  The Collect remains for Christmas day.

The great J. Jungmann in his The Mass of the Roman Rite says (vol. 2, p. 63):

"Thus the Christmas thought, which hardly ever came under discussion in this connection in the literature of the foregoing centuries, the thought of man’s participation in the divinity through the Incarnation of the Son of God, suddenly comes into prominence.  It is a concept which presupposes and, to some extent, comprises both the oriental interpretation of the admixture rite, the human and divine natures of Christ, and the wester interpretation, our own union with Christ."

 

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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6 Responses to QUAERITUR: “back story” on prayer for preparation of the chalice

  1. Fr. Charles says:

    One of my favorite prayers. My first pastor used to say it audibly, which is incorrect, but it made an impression on me. I occasionally use the prayer in preaching, in an effort to help people notice that the Incarnation is not a miracle to which we are spectators, but a mystery that invites our humanity to come in.

  2. George says:

    I’m lay and don’t know Latin well. What is the prayer in English?

  3. Nick says:

    From the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom:

    “And the priest, while piercing the right side [of the Lamb/Host] with the [liturgical] lance, says: ‘One of the soldiers with a lance pierced His side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true. (John 19:34,35).’

    “Then the deacon, taking wine and water, says to the priest: ‘Bless Master, the Holy Union.’ And taking he blessing upon them, he pours into the holy chalice wine together with water.”

  4. TJ Murphy says:

    Is the English version of this prayer something to the effect of
    “By the mingling of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled Himelf to share in our humanity”?
    I recall hearing that when I was a young Altarboy

  5. mpm says:

    A translation of the 1962MR version:

    Oh God, who hast wonderfully established the dignity of human nature, and more wonderfully yet reformed it: grant that, through the mystery of this water and wine, we may come to share in His divinity, who has condescended to partake of our humanity, Jesus Christ, thy Son, Our Lord.

  6. Fr. Chris says:

    But WHERE does this text come from? Is it a paraphrase of St. Thomas Aquinas (Opusc. 57:1-4), or what??