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1. the forms of public services officially prescribed by a Church
2. Chiefly Eastern Churches the Eucharistic celebration
3. a particular order or form of public service laid down by a Church
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Derived from the Greek word leitourgia ("public duty"), liturgy has come to refer to the act of public worship, especially as it pertains to Christian church services. But its emphasis, though subtle, has quite literally changed the landscape and influenced daily life.

The kind of building we associate with the word "church" is a direct result of the liturgy it was designed for. The formal liturgical tradition of the Catholic Mass, for instance, called forth the Gothic cathedral. The simple tradition of the Quaker meeting produced a less formal design. The New England Meeting House places the preacher and his pulpit front and center, while many modern sanctuaries look more like "theaters in the round" with full-scale media rooms controlling sound and lighting equipment.

Beginning with the reforms of Vatican II (see Vatican Councils) in 1963, Roman Catholic liturgy forced a change in furniture placement. In an effort to include more lay participation, the priest now stood behind the altar, facing the people. Previously he had stood with his back to the people, facing the altar. Now the altar had to be moved away from the wall, enabling people to move behind it. While common now, back then it caused a furor.

When organs began to be used to accompany liturgy, churches were built around the demands of the instrument itself. Organ pipes began to be a recognizable part of liturgical furniture. Now, with many Protestant churches employing modern instruments, it is not uncommon for churches to be built around orchestra pits and stages, with giant screens behind the worship leader so as to project the words of songs or highlight the text of the lecturer's sermon.

Liturgy dictates architecture. Architecture displays theology. Theology demands liturgy. The three cannot be separated.

The Religion Book: Places, Prophets, Saints, and Seers © 2004 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a Christian worship service during which the Eucharist is received. The Russian popular name for the liturgy is obednia (based on the time of day when it is conducted, before obed, “lunch”). The Catholic name for the liturgy is the Mass.

Initially, the form and content of the liturgy were determined by oral traditions, which were different in various localities. Two basic forms of liturgy evolved in the Eastern Roman Empire during the fourth to fifth centuries (attributed to Basil the Great and John Chrysostom). They were reworked and supplemented right up to the 14th century. In this form they have been preserved in the modern Orthodox Church. The liturgy includes readings from the Bible, singing, prayers, and a number of symbolic actions and processions, allegorically depicting the life and death of Christ. Since the late 17th century, composers have created complete cycles of choir renditions of the liturgy. Classic models of such liturgies were created by P. I. Tschaikovsky, A. T. Grechaninov, and S. V. Rachmaninoff.


Schulz, H.-J. Die byzantinische Liturgie. Freiburg im Breisgau, 1964.



a state obligation in ancient Greek city-states that was borne by prosperous citizens and metics (aliens and freed slaves whose wealth was estimated at three talents or over). They were obliged to meet certain important state expenditures.

There were both regular and extraordinary liturgies. The regular varieties included the choregia (payment of the chorus performing at dramatic and musical competitions), the architheoria (financing of embassies dispatched for religious festivals), and the gymnasiarchia (selection and support of participants in gymnastic competitions). The trierarchia (for the equipping of naval triremes) is an example of an extraordinary liturgy. The liturgy was particularly widespread in Athens during the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. It was introduced to meet two needs: to reduce contradictions between the rich and poor and to strengthen the military and political might of the city-state.

In addition to the ancient Greek city-states, the liturgy was found in Hellenistic and Roman Egypt, the Roman Empire, and Byzantium.


Oertel, F. Die Liturgie: Studien zur ptolemäischen und kaiserlichen Ver-waltung Ä gyptens. Leipzig, 1917.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The point of R.'s analytical focus is not only to explore but also critique the entrenched conventions of the liturgical scholarly and clerical guilds regarding the evangelical or free church worship traditions and practices as nonsacramental, not-quite-liturgical, and therefore deficient.
Part 2, "Contemporary Liturgical Migrations," addresses such topics as the impact of the 1974 "forced migration" of Ethiopian Orthodox Christians on "long-standing patterns of liturgical continuity" (p.
Baldovin, a professor of historical and liturgical theology at Boston College, said that Pope Pius VI "decried and abrogated" the recommended reforms in the 18th century, but the incident gives evidence that church leaders even then were thinking of ways to rewrite liturgy.
Lombardi also stated that the Pope's initiative "should call our minds and hearts to the simple and spontaneous gesture of love, affection, forgiveness and mercy of the Bishop of Rome, more than to legalistic, liturgical or canonical discussions." This kind of liberal "spontaneity" that rejects authority is what led to the creation of the Novus Ordo which, through its inherently inviting legions of abuses, led to our present day crisis of faith.
The mode of liturgical theology proposed here differs from the more widely used historical and textual methods of liturgical studies.
That is, according to him, both the "liturgy" of Lutheran Book of Worship (LBW) and so-called "informal worship" are bur personal or pastoral-parish "preferences" and "choices" to be made on, or for, a given Sunday from a wide variety of available-and optional-"worship resources." For the sake of congregational unity, those of us who are more "liturgical" than others are to participate "willingly" in those "informal" services and those of us less liturgical are to participate willingly in "traditionalist" worship.
17436), which, as a well-known ninth-century manuscript, is usually analysed from a liturgical and historical viewpoint.
This is a bizarre notion, considering that Jesus (in Passion Play 2) is called both a heretic and a "lollar." At other points Granger argues for the liturgical intent and textual unity of N-Town, confusing form with function when she states: "One has to assume here that the original intention was for the play to go round local communities and various liturgical pieces to be performed" (69).
As to the history of Christianity's other shared sacrament, baptism, the late Benedictine monk and Yale Divinity School professor Aidan Kavanagh's 1974 The Shape of Baptism: The Rite of Christian Initiation (Liturgical Press, 1991) remains a classic guide, along with Edward Yarnold's The Awe-Inspiring Rites of Initiation (Liturgical Press, 1994), which mines the patristic heritage of the foundational Christian sacrament.
Thanks to the work of the Roman Catholic International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) and the International Commission on English Texts (ICET), the translations of the "Lord, have mercy," the "Glory to God," the Nicene Creed, liturgical greetings and responses ("The Lord be with you/And also with you"), the "Holy, Holy, Holy," and the "Lamb of God," appearing in the 1973 (and current) Roman Missal, were used in the publication of new worship books in other Christian communities produced in the 1970s and beyond, including the most recent Evangelical Lutheran Worship in 2006.
What began in 1978 with a handful of participants has since become the 300-member Allen Liturgical Dance Ministry, which offers dance classes for all ages and performs in every Sunday service.
Gibson began working for the ACC on a part-time basis while working as liturgical officer for the Anglican Church of Canada.