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Worship (Biblical and Christian)

Subject Religion

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631181392.1995.x


[ xiii.a, b ] There is no systematic description of early Christian worship, but all the evidence suggests that it was modelled on the non-sacrificial worship of the Jewish S ynagogue. The focus of such worship was the reading and exposition of the B ible. To this might be added hymns, psalms and prayers, some of which survive in the New Testament. To begin with no priestly class was appointed to conduct the worship, nor (in G entile C hristianity ) was any special day of worship prescribed, [ a. 9: 124–49; a. 11: vi , 973–89; a. 18: 237–44]. The distinctive feature of Christian worship was the E ucharist , originally central to the main service (and taken in the course of a communal meal) but later frequently celebrated by itself at a separate gathering. It became one of the seven S acraments. ‘Liturgy’ denotes all the fixed services of the church, or specifically the Eucharist, which for the E astern orthodox church joins heaven to earth [ b. 195: 269–72]. The divine office is the daily public prayer of the Western church, which priests are obliged to recite. The Breviary contains material for this, including the canonical hours, from Matins in the early hours of the morning through Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None and Vespers to Compline at night. Recitation of scripture, especially psalms ( see C hurch music ), has always been central to these services, but over the ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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