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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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.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 ?
bishops, liturgists and Catholics in the pews struggled with the new translations, their counterparts in other parts of the world also confronted the translations, sometimes in different ways:
If the private net benefit from performing a liturgy is non-negative ([Mathematical Expression Omitted]), then a potential liturgist would maximize (4) by volunteering, and hence by setting the probability of performing a liturgy [[Pi].sub.i] = 1 and the share of wealth concealed [[Sigma].sub.i] = 0.
Every group of bishops, liturgists, academics, pastors, musicians, and publishers has discussed the change from every angle, and every possible opinion has been expressed and continues to be expressed.
Gary O'Neill, acting dean and canon liturgist, said: "We are delighted that the cathedral has featured regularly in broadcasts by the BBC, which reflects the quality and creativity of the music and worship here."
of New Mexico-Gallup) and preacher, teacher, and liturgist Maggie Mansueto warn that the current trend toward nihilism is rooted in and serves to reinforce the market system.
Jim, an Air Force veteran, was an active member of Our Lady of the Wayside CFM, a Wake Liturgist, a Eucharistic Minister, an avid golfer and a Chicago Bears and Notre Dame Football fan.
Anscar Chupungco, a renowned Filipino liturgist who died in early January, say his wide-ranging academic contributions were matched by his personal kindness and influence on the students he taught.
Acting Dean Canon Peter Howell- Jones will continue working with the Canon Missioner, Nigel Hand, and the Canon Liturgist, Janet Chapman, to develop the mission and ministry of the cathedral.
Now, I was an eager seminarian who fancied myself somewhat of a liturgist. So I prepared a Christmas Eve service that was very different and presented it to my supervisor a few days later.
MacCulloch, author of the 700-page Thomas Cranmer: A Life, published in 1996, painted the cleric, liturgist and scholar as a bundle of contradictions who came to his beliefs gradually, and as a key figure in the English Reformation.
The liturgist's art is partly quotation and linkage - the disruption of context, the application of strong words to a purpose for which they were not intended.
"He was a very fine liturgist and preacher, always present to his people who were always and foremost in his mind."