A-Z: General definitions: Liturgy


A set form of a worship service in church, usually written down. This includes set prayers and Bible readings for certain weeks of the year. See Book of Common Prayer and Ritual.

The key elements of medieval worship were the Divine Office and the Mass.

a. The Divine Office
As outlined in the monastic Rules, the Office consisted of the Night Office (Matins) together with seven hours (times) of prayer during the day: Lauds (at dawn), Prime (first hour of the day), Terce (third hour), Sext (sixth hour), None  (ninth hour), Vespers (at dusk), Compline (before bed). This pattern was inspired by the words of the Psalmist: "I rose at midnight to give praise to thee... Seven times a day I have given praise to thee". Psalms 119:62 Psalms 119:164 (Vulgate 118). The major component of these services was the singing of the Psalms.
b.  The Mass (also called the Eucharist, Holy Communion or Lord's Supper). The chief sacramental service of the Church, incorporating praise, intercession and readings from scripture. The central action is the consecration of the bread and wine by the priest, recalling the words and actions of Christ at the Last Supper and commemorating the sacrifice which he offered for the sins of mankind on the cross. In the medieval Church the Mass was celebrated daily; it was also offered for the souls of the dead. 

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