HE PREFACE, perhaps like other parts of the Liturgy of the Eucharist can at times be easily overlooked or tuned out. Yet most often, there is something very unique and special about the Preface.
Under the The Eucharistic Prayer” the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) states:
364. The numerous Prefaces with which the Roman Missal is endowed have as their purpose to bring out more fully the motives for thanksgiving within the Eucharistic Prayer and to set out more clearly the different facets of the mystery of salvation.
Like the Creed, the Preface is a unique place in the Mass where dogma of the Church is expressed. Furthermore, it expresses thanksgiving for the work of salvation.
”…The thanksgiving (expressed especially in the Preface), in which the Priest, in the name of the whole of the holy people, glorifies God the Father and gives thanks to him for the whole work of salvation or for some particular aspect of it, according to the varying day, festivity, or time of year.
ITH A NAME LIKE “PREFACE” it connotes something less important. Relatively speaking, it is less important than the consecration. However, giving thanks for the work of salvation certainly deserves greater dignity of proclamation! It warrants singing. Proclaimed by the Head—the priest acting in persona Christi capitis—it is prayed by the entire body. It is another act of unity.
An astounding example of the Preface “setting out more clearly the differ facets of the mystery of salvation” is from the Nativity of John the Baptist, June 24:
THE MISSION OF THE PRECURSOR
In his Precursor, Saint John the Baptist,
We praise your great glory,
for you consecrated him for a singular honor
among those born of women.
His birth brought great rejoicing;
Even in the womb he leapt for joy
at the coming of human salvation.
He alone of all the prophets
pointed out the Lamb of redemption.
And to make holy the flowing waters,
he baptized the very author of Baptism
and was privileged to bear him supreme witness
by the shedding of his blood.
I find these words to be extraordinary. To sing them is truly right and just.
You may download all the chanted Prefaces of the liturgical year (as well as all music from the Roman Missal) here.