Anthony Way

Date of Submission



It is a well established fact that the practice of the eucharistic prayer in the roman, rite is seriously underdeveloped. This survey of complete or partially through -composed settings of the eucharistic prayer attempts to shed some light on why and how composers have responded to the wide-spread opinion that the eucharistic prayer is rarely experienced as the high point of the eucharistic celebration as it was intended. Divided into two parts, the study initially considers the official aims and norms of the post-conciliar liturgy, both in general and as they pertain to the eucharistic prayer, noting some tension between the aims and their realisation. Three broad themes are identified for the entire work: ritual structure, the role of music and participation. The texts of the eucharistic prayers are then discussed to see how the official expectations are realised. A survey of the theoretical writings on rnusic and the eucharistic prayer concludes the first part. The second part focuses on over 100 musical settings, both published and unpublished d the eucharistic prayer. After offering a general chronological overview of the music, noting its forces and general characteristics, the music is scrutinised to see whether its various parts are celebrated or submerged by music, the broader shape of the compositions is examined and then a discussion concerning participation issues follows. The use of tabulated data aids the discussion. While acknowledging that there are many ways to evaluate the usefulness of such compositions and that this study does not touch on their actual reception and performance, it is hoped the current work will offer some insights into the variety of existing responses to the challenge of the setting the eucharistic prayer and offer some suggestions as to how this important work may continue.


School of Arts and Sciences

Document Type


Access Rights

Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Music (MMus)


Faculty of Arts and Sciences