Prefaces of the Roman Missal

Prefaces of the Roman Missal

This week we feature Preface of the Epiphany of the Lord used at Mass this past Sunday, and a chance to look back at the three Prefaces of the Nativity of the Lord, and the two Prefaces of Advent

The Roman Mass texts for Epiphany mostly focus on the coming of the Magi, but texts of the Liturgy of the Hours, and eucharistic texts of the Ambrosian and Hispanic tradition, maintain the ancient ecumenical focus of Epiphany, not just on the Magi but on the Baptism of the Lord and the first of his ‘signs’ at Cana in Galilee. This Preface seems to act as a synthesis of all these themes, without mentioning any one of them. It terse character is typically Roman.

The Epiphany Preface in the pre-1970 Roman Missal is found in the Gelasian Sacramentary, and the Papal sacramentaries of the ninth Century. It contained the simple statement that we find in the final two lines of middle portion of the present Preface. To this the revisers added lines from a Christmas Preface in the Verona Sacramentary, celebrating the revelation ‘today’ of the mystery of our salvation as a light to the nations, a theme also found in the Preface for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord on 2nd February.

The Scriptural background of these themes is that of light and revelation, as, for instance, in The Servant Song (Isaiah 42:6-7): I have made you a covenant for the people and light for the nations …  and the Canticle of Simeon ((Luke 2:29-32): … a light of revelation for the Gentiles and the glory of your people Israel.
Using the links below, you can read the commentaries on all the Prefaces for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany:

Preface of the Epiphany of the Lord
Preface III of the Nativity of the Lord
Preface II of the Nativity of the Lord
Preface I of the Nativity of the Lord

Preface of Advent II
Preface of Advent I