liturgy, Christian


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liturgy, Christian

[Gr. leitourgia = public duty or worship] form of public worship, particularly the form of rite or services prescribed by the various Christian churches. In the Western Church the principal service centered upon the Eucharistic sacrifice, but with the Protestant Reformation, the reformers generally rejected the idea of sacrifice and shifted toward the sermon as the focus of formal worship. They also adopted vernacular speech. The liturgy of the Roman Catholic, the Orthodox Eastern, and some other groups centers upon the EucharistEucharist
[Gr.,=thanksgiving], Christian sacrament that repeats the action of Jesus at his last supper with his disciples, when he gave them bread, saying, "This is my body," and wine, saying, "This is my blood." (Mat. 26; Mark 14; Luke 22; 1 Cor. 11.
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. In the Roman Catholic ChurchRoman Catholic Church,
Christian church headed by the pope, the bishop of Rome (see papacy and Peter, Saint). Its commonest title in official use is Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.
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 there are nine rites with distinctive liturgies (in various languages). The Orthodox Eastern ChurchOrthodox Eastern Church,
community of Christian churches whose chief strength is in the Middle East and E Europe. Their members number some 300 million worldwide. The Orthodox agree doctrinally in accepting as ecumenical the first seven councils (see council, ecumenical) and in
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 has several liturgies. The ancient liturgies of the East are classified as Antiochene or Syrian (with modern liturgies in Greek, Old Slavonic, Romanian, Armenian, Arabic, and Syriac) and Alexandrine or Egyptian (with liturgies in Coptic and Ethiopic). The liturgies that arose in the West are classified as either Gallican (including the Celtic, Mozarabic, and Ambrosian) or Roman, both using Latin. In the 8th cent. the Gallican was largely superseded by the Roman, which is the principal liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church today. The language was Latin until the vernacular liturgy was introduced following the Second Vatican Council. In a broader sense, liturgy includes the divine office (given in the breviary) and also services other than the Mass. In the 20th cent. there has been a movement, called the liturgical movement, for purification and renewal of liturgy. Most of its demands were met in the Roman Catholic Church by the liturgical reformation directed by the Second Vatican Council, including the use of vernacular languages in the Mass, participation of the laity in public prayer, and an emphasis on music and song. In the Protestant churches a similar liturgical movement has gained much ground, urging the formulation and reform of service and wider awareness of the value of form itself.

Bibliography

See E. B. Koenker, The Liturgical Renaissance in the Roman Catholic Church (1954, repr. 1966); J. A. Jungmann, The Mass of the Roman Rite (1959); D. Attwater, The Christian Churches of the East (2 vol., rev. ed. 1961); T. Klauser, A Short History of the Western Liturgy (tr. 1969).