Author Topic: Why were liturgies added in the 4th century?  (Read 879 times)

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Offline chrisiacovetti

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Why were liturgies added in the 4th century?
« on: August 04, 2013, 12:15:13 PM »
I was just thinking about this earlier. If the Liturgy of St James was around by the mid-late 1st century, why did other liturgies (i.e. St Basil, St John Chrysostom) get added to the Orthodox practice around 300 years later? It doesn't seem wrong or anything, it just seems like a strange addition. What gave birth to it, and what jurisdiction(s) decided to use it?

Offline Cyrillic

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Re: Why were liturgies added in the 4th century?
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2013, 12:21:34 PM »
Because there was no codified, universal liturgy to begin with. Each city had a different liturgy.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2013, 12:21:44 PM by Cyrillic »
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Offline Justin Kissel

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Re: Why were liturgies added in the 4th century?
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2013, 01:29:30 PM »
There was a process of shortening the liturgy in the early Church to accommodate the slothful and inattentive people (like me).
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Re: Why were liturgies added in the 4th century?
« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2013, 01:32:57 PM »
Some of the early liturgies were five hours, I've heard... wow. :)
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Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re: Why were liturgies added in the 4th century?
« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2013, 01:43:43 PM »
There's also a distinction to be made in terms of rites and prayers.  The rubrics and prayer formulae of Byzantine James are different from both Byzantine Basil and John.  But, unless I'm mistaken, the only difference between the latter two is in terms of prayers.  

It's not unusual for prayers to differ within a set framework.  In some of the early patristic witnesses, we learn that the prayer of the anaphora wasn't set in stone, in many places it was an ad libitum thanksgiving offered by the presider "as best he could": only later was it written down.  Since the liturgical services differed, often significantly, from region to region, there were many variations before serious codification occurred, and even then, a variety of formulae were codified and there wasn't always and everywhere a prohibition on further development.  For instance, the Syriac liturgy has around eighty anaphorae that can be used in the Eucharist: they fit into the same ritual framework, they don't involve rubrical differences, and many were composed after the fourth and fifth centuries, the most recent being only a thousand or so years old.    
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Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re: Why were liturgies added in the 4th century?
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2013, 01:44:12 PM »
Some of the early liturgies were five hours, I've heard... wow. :)

Some of us still do that.  ;)
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Offline Alpo

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Re: Why were liturgies added in the 4th century?
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2013, 01:45:14 PM »
Some of the early liturgies were five hours, I've heard... wow. :)

Some of us still do that.  ;)

OOs? Is the actual liturgy really that long or does it include, say, hours?

Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re: Why were liturgies added in the 4th century?
« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2013, 01:49:46 PM »
OOs? Is the actual liturgy really that long or does it include, say, hours?

It depends.  I've never been to an Ethiopian Liturgy, but I was told that it was of a similar length.  The Coptic Liturgy is typically 2.5-3 hours in my limited experience, the Syriac Liturgy is typically 2 hours, and the Armenian Liturgy about 1.5-2 hours.  All without hours and/or other additions.
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Offline Orthodox11

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Re: Why were liturgies added in the 4th century?
« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2013, 03:07:50 PM »
OOs? Is the actual liturgy really that long or does it include, say, hours?

The actual Liturgy (of the Word and of the Faithful) tend to be around the same length as a full Byzantine liturgy, though Communion will often take a lot longer due to the Body and Blood being given separately (if everyone is communing twice, it can easily add an extra 30mins). The extra length tends to include things like the Proskomidi, which in the Byzantine tradition is read silently in the altar during Matins/Hours.

Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re: Why were liturgies added in the 4th century?
« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2013, 04:24:08 PM »
The actual Liturgy (of the Word and of the Faithful) tend to be around the same length as a full Byzantine liturgy, though Communion will often take a lot longer due to the Body and Blood being given separately (if everyone is communing twice, it can easily add an extra 30mins). The extra length tends to include things like the Proskomidi, which in the Byzantine tradition is read silently in the altar during Matins/Hours.

This is Coptic (and Ethiopian?) practice.  The other Churches' practice wrt these specific practices is, more or less, the same as Byzantine practice. 
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Offline Orthodox11

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Re: Why were liturgies added in the 4th century?
« Reply #10 on: August 04, 2013, 04:29:58 PM »
This is Coptic (and Ethiopian?) practice. 

Which is presumably why Coptic/Ethiopian liturgies are usually the longest.

Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re: Why were liturgies added in the 4th century?
« Reply #11 on: August 04, 2013, 04:34:24 PM »
In my experience, it has more to do with the speed of the singing and the length of the sermon.  I've been to rather speedy Coptic Liturgies, but the chanting was not drawn out at all, and the sermon was in the 10-15 minute range.  What I usually experience in Coptic parishes is a 20-30 minute sermon and the typical chanting speed.  And if there happen to be two priests, they distribute the Body and the Blood at the same time, so that also reduces the time, though even with one priest it doesn't seem so burdensome. 
"Do not tempt the Mor thy Mod."

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Offline Orthodox11

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Re: Why were liturgies added in the 4th century?
« Reply #12 on: August 04, 2013, 04:37:16 PM »
In my experience, it has more to do with the speed of the singing and the length of the sermon.  I've been to rather speedy Coptic Liturgies, but the chanting was not drawn out at all, and the sermon was in the 10-15 minute range.  What I usually experience in Coptic parishes is a 20-30 minute sermon and the typical chanting speed.  And if there happen to be two priests, they distribute the Body and the Blood at the same time, so that also reduces the time, though even with one priest it doesn't seem so burdensome. 

I think the shortest Liturgy I've ever been to was a 50min Coptic one (and with a bishop serving at that!), but that's definitely not the norm.

Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re: Why were liturgies added in the 4th century?
« Reply #13 on: August 04, 2013, 04:39:08 PM »
50 minutes!!  That beats the shortest Liturgy I've ever experienced: 55 minutes. 
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Offline Salpy

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Re: Why were liturgies added in the 4th century?
« Reply #14 on: August 04, 2013, 06:29:05 PM »
The shortest liturgy I ever attended was at a Coptic Church in West Los Angeles.  It was an English liturgy and I think it was the liturgy of St. Mark.  It was about an hour.  I think that's because the liturgy of St. Mark is extremely ancient.

There is an Ethiopian Church in West Los Angeles that I visited a few years back.  If I recall correctly, their liturgy, without the hours, was four of five hours.  They really know how to pray.  :-)


Offline Salpy

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Re: Why were liturgies added in the 4th century?
« Reply #15 on: August 04, 2013, 06:30:35 PM »
And happy birthday, Mor.   :)

Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re: Why were liturgies added in the 4th century?
« Reply #16 on: August 04, 2013, 06:35:53 PM »
Thank you!  The day is moving along like sands in an hourglass.  ;)
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Offline augustin717

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Re: Why were liturgies added in the 4th century?
« Reply #17 on: August 04, 2013, 06:38:55 PM »
Liturgy in my hometown lasts easily 2 hours plus the 1 hour matins that r never skipped. But the OCA liturgies I've been too are just a little over 1 hour. Same rite but different musical settings. And back home they always skip the catechumen stuff.

Offline Luka

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Re: Why were liturgies added in the 4th century?
« Reply #18 on: August 04, 2013, 06:39:15 PM »
50 minutes!!  That beats the shortest Liturgy I've ever experienced: 55 minutes. 
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Offline podkarpatska

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Re: Why were liturgies added in the 4th century?
« Reply #19 on: August 04, 2013, 11:21:22 PM »
This morning we started around nine, when we finished is was ten forty two...Yes I checked my watch. Fairly typical, a bit longer though from Sept through June with longer sermons and more announcements then.

Offline 88Devin12

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Re: Why were liturgies added in the 4th century?
« Reply #20 on: August 04, 2013, 11:46:41 PM »
As has been noted already, liturgies weren't technically added in the 4th Century.

There were many, many liturgies/masses throughout Christendom in the first 3 centuries. Each one of them connected back to the earliest liturgies amongst the Apostles & their followers, and all had close similarities, but local differences.

The Liturgy of St. Basil took the local liturgy and added to it, such as some anaphora prayers and other prayers. The Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom took this, and added to it, and removed a bit. He actually shortened the Liturgy, making it a bit more manageable for use in Constantinople.

As for other liturgies, they just come out of older local traditions. All are quite similar when you look at them and their structure, because they all come out of the earliest liturgies. Eventually the West unified all the various rites in it's borders under the rite practiced in Rome, this was done more through direct enforcement and intervention. The East (minus the non-Chalcedonians) unified all under the rite practiced in Constantinople, this was done through a little less direct enforcement, and largely occurred due to the missionary work by Constantinople and it's heavy influence over Antioch, Jerusalem & Alexandria. Over time, in the East, monasticism also played a huge part in adding to the Liturgy. So if you go to a monastery, say, on Mt. Athos, the Orthros (morning) and Liturgy services will be very, very long. Some hymns/psalms are sung only in part outside of monasteries. Also, even though we all share the same liturgy, that of St. John Chrysostom, there have still been individual developments in each region. In Greece, you'll find different hymns in some portions than you'll find in Russia. There will be other minor differences too, like when they open & close the Royal Doors, how they make processions, where they stand when reading the Epistle/Gospel etc...