History of Liturgy

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Carmelo P. Arada, Jr.


G. Dix: The Shape of the Liturgy (London 1965).
J. Jungmann: The Early Liturgy to the Time of Gregory the Great (London 1966). T. Klauser: A Short History of the Western Liturgy (Oxford 1969). C. Vogel: Medieval Liturgy. An Introduction to the Sources (Washington, D.C. 1986) P.M. Gy: “History of the Liturgy in the West to the Council of Trent,” Church at Prayer, Vol. 1 (Collegeville 1987) pp. 45-61. P. Jounel: “From the Council of Trent to Vatican Council II,” ibid., pp. 63-84. P. Bradshaw: The Search for the Origins of Christian Worship (London 1992). A. Adam: Foundations of Liturgy: An Introduction to Its History and Practice (Collegeville 1992). A. Chupungco: “History of the Liturgy Until the Fourth Century,” Handbook for Liturgical Studies, Vol. 1 (Collegeville 1997) pp. 95-113. Idem.: “History of the Roman Liturgy Until the Fifteenth Century,” ibid., pp. 131-152. K. Pecklers: “History of the Roman Liturgy from the Sixteenth until the Twentieth Centuries,” ibid., pp. 153-178.


Interpretation of historical facts: liturgy and cultural expressions; relative value of liturgical practices; role of local churches and church authorities in the development of liturgical forms; historical models and contemporary situation; liturgia semper reformanda.

The New Testament Period: “Fidelity and Autonomy”

1.The attitude of Jesus and the disciples: fidelity to the law, temple, and synagogue (Mt 5:17); freedom to reinterpret Jewish forms of worship: baptism, eucharist, anointing of the sick, laying on of hands, sacred scripture, fasting (Lk 24:44).

2.Jewish influence on the Christian forms of worship in apostolic time: liturgy of the word, baptismal rite, domestic celebration of the Eucharist, liturgical calendar; the new Christological meaning of these rites: “in the name of Jesus Christ” (Ac 2:38).

3. Places of worship: the Jerusalem temple, the synagogue, and home. Domestic celebration of the forms of worship that are distinctive of Christians: the word and the breaking of the bread (Ac 20: 70-12; 2:46).

The Greco-Roman Period (second to fourth century): “Liturgy for a Missionary Church”

Coming out of the Jewish environment, the Church in the West had to face the challenges of evngelization presented by the culture and religions of Greeks and Romans. How did the missionary Church cope with the new situation and what effect did such an encounter have on its worship? In many ways this question continues to

1. Characteristics of the period:

a. Tension between fidelity and autonomy: the Easter date controversy;
Saturday and Sunday; days of fasting.
b. Disdain of pagan forms of worship.
c. Assimilation of cultural forms not tied to pagan worship: liturgical terms and rites in Tertullian and Hippolytus (eiuratio, signaculum fidei, baptismal anointing, and milk and honey); the domus ecclesiae. d. Spontaneity in the liturgy according to Didache, Justin Martyr, Hippolytus; conditions for spontaneity.

The Era of Constantine (fourth to seventh century): “Liturgy and Imperial Culture”

1. Effects of the peace of Constantine (313 AD)

a. The Constantinian edifices for worship: basilica, baptistery, martyria, cemeteries. b. Imperial and senatorial insignia (mitre or crown, pallium, maniple, ring, cappa magna, candles and incense for procession); socio-political terms (ordo, gradus, honor for ordination rites); elaborate and solemn liturgical celebrations of the Eucharist (Roman Ordo I) and initiation rites (St. Ambrose’s on the Mysteries; St. Cyril of Jerusalem’s Mystagogical Catechesis); Sunday rest.

2. “From freedom to formula”: factors that led to fixed and canonical formularies.

3. Contact with Greco-Roman culture:

a. Influence of Greco-Roman language on liturgical formularies: in the East (rhetorical, hieratic, philosophical); in Rome (sober, direct, juridical). b. Influence...
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