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  • Writer's pictureGrace Episcopal Church

Lift Up Your Hearts, Sursum corda

Adapted from an article by Victoria Emily Jones of “Art and Theology”

The Lord be with you.

And also with you.

Lift up your hearts.

We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give him thanks and praise.

We hear this, or the Rite I version, at the beginning of the Liturgy of the Table when we celebrate the Eucharist. This is a dialogue between the Celebrant and the People that goes back to at least the 3rd century. It has three parts: An exchange of formal greeting between the Celebrant and the People; an invitation to lift the heart to God, the People responding agreement; and an invitation to give thanks, with the people answering that it is proper to do so. This third exchange indicates the People's assent for the Celebrant to offer the remainder of the Eucharistic Prayer on our behalf. Like so much of our liturgy, the participation of the People is invited, welcomed and needed. As the Miriam-Webster Dictionary states, the Sursum corda “exhorts the faithful to enthusiastic worship.”

This dialogue is known as the Sursum corda, Latin for “Lift up your hearts.” The phrase

“Lift up your hearts” is taken from biblical passages such as Psalm 86:4—“Gladden the soul

of your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul”—and Lamentations 3:41, which says, in

the context of confession and repentance, “Let us lift up our hearts as well as our hands to

God in heaven.” The Sursum corda expresses an inclining of the whole self toward God in

praise and offering.

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