Christians in many worshiping traditions use a variety of ritual actions to indicate their reverence for the worship of God and participation in the sacrament of the Eucharist. This article explains what these actions of reverence look like and how the architectural design of the sacramental symbols can enhance their meaning.
This article argues for an environment of worship that encourages the full participation of the people and complements the symbolic meaning of the actions of worship, particularly the sacraments. It is written in the context of Roman Catholic worship, but reflects the concerns of nearly all highly liturgical traditions. Many of these have been emphasized throughout the Christian church, given the recent phenomenon of liturgical convergence.
The church building is the home for God’s people, providing identity and a place in the world. The article illustrates how the change in liturgical understanding since Vatican II has changed the understanding of what a church building wants and needs to be for God’s people.
Roman Catholic liturgy, like that of many of the more liturgical churches, features texts that are sung in each liturgy or service. These are called ordinary texts. Often these texts are sung. Settings of these texts, and other frequently used texts, are called service music or liturgical music. This music is part of the liturgy itself, not something that interrupts or is added to the liturgy. Since the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960s, Catholic churches have had more freedom in choosing service music. This has resulted in vast numbers of new compositions, many of which are valuable for churches in many worship traditions.
Since 1950, there has been more music published for congregational singing than at any other time in the history of the church. Nearly every major denominational body, as well as many independent congregations and publishing companies, have produced official and supplementary hymnals and related collections of songs. In almost every case, these collections evidence a recovery of traditions once lost and relentless pursuit of contemporary music that is both faithful to the gospel and representative of the languages—both verbal and musical—of modern culture.
Through much of the nineteenth century, worship in liturgical churches followed largely low-church convictions. In the mid-nineteenth century and continuing into the twentieth, many of these churches began recovering ancient patterns of worship. In music, this meant the recovery of Gregorian chant in the Catholic church, the return of Lutherans to sixteenth-century liturgy forms, a movement in some Anglican churches away from Puritan-influenced worship to the recovery of catholic forms, and the trend in some free churches from revival-style worship to quasi-liturgical practices.
The pervasive individualism of Western culture has broken down the sense of identity experienced through community. Nevertheless, the church in the post-World War II era has seen a resurgent interest in and recovery of community. Two promising models of community from which a strong worship is arising are the “basic communities” of South America and the small group movement.
The centerpiece of Roman Catholic theology of worship is the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is celebrated in worship.
Although the Roman Mass, standardized by directives of the Council of Trent (1570), is technically a post-Reformation document, it is not an innovation but rather the summation of the medieval development of western Catholic worship. Consequently, the mass below is presented as part of the pre-Reformation liturgies as an example of ancient Catholic worship.
The Council of Trent (1545–1563) initiated a period of liturgical standardization in the Roman Catholic church. Catholic worship remained largely uniform throughout the world until the appearance of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council (1963).