Worship in the Byzantine Churches

The churches in the Byzantine tradition are those with an historic relationship to the church of Constantinople (originally Byzantium); they are familiar to North Americans as the Orthodox churches (among them the Greek and Russian). The Byzantine rite is complex and proceeds as two interwoven liturgies, one conducted with the congregation and the other performed by the celebrants behind the icon screen (iconostasis) that separates the altar from the rest of the church. The dominant theme of this liturgical tradition is the presence of Christ, both in his incarnation and in his heavenly ministry.

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Worship During the Fourth and Fifth Centuries

The fundamental pattern of early Christian worship continued to develop through the fourth and fifth centuries. However, “families” of liturgical practice began to emerge, and styles of worship varied from one Christian region to the other. By this time, one can begin to speak of “Eastern” and “Western” characteristics of Christian liturgy.

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