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Monday, June 4, 2012


My personal list of liturgical principles has grown and the current version is below. 
This list is intended for discussion by liturgy planning groups at all levels.
They are invited to amend it to be accurate and applicable for their own use.
Then they can reference the agreed principles when a discussion gets stuck on what people like, want to do personally, or have seen done elsewhere, in order to address the question, "Liturgically, is this a good idea?"

Specifically Liturgical Values


  1. Liturgy is public prayer.
  2. Liturgy is communal prayer.
  3. Liturgical prayer is regulated by the church.


  1. Liturgy is more a gift from God to the Church than an offering to God from the Church.
  2. Liturgy exists to strengthen communal support for personal Christian living.

Role of the Assembly

  1. The assembled believers are themselves the ones who are praying, the ecclesia.
  2. Christian liturgy is an exercise of the priestly office of the baptized.

Implications (from the role of the assembly)

  1. The members of the assembly should be taught the importance and fullness of their roles in liturgy.
  2. The elements of the liturgy should be comprehensible to the assembly without explanation.
  3. All of the members of the assembly should be supported in actively participating in all the liturgical elements not specifically requiring a ministry expertise.
  4. The assembly needs to be prepared by its ministers before complications or variations are added to a liturgical service.

Nature of Ritual

  1. Liturgical prayer involves ritual whose positive effects are supported by repetition over a lifetime.
  2. The primary role of liturgical music is to unify the prayer of the assembly.
  3. Ritual music is based on the repeated use of melodies and texts, which assists the assembly's participation in song.

General Guidelines

  1. Liturgical preparation is based on the text of the church and must support its flow and climaxes.
  2. Christian liturgy is based on Scripture and should use vernacular translations of Scriptural texts rather than paraphrases in prayers and songs.
  3. The texts of the liturgy and the Scriptures have priority over musical expression.
  4. Liturgy needs to be prepared with the size of the assembly in mind.
  5. Liturgy needs to be prepared with the nature of the prayer place in mind.
  6. Liturgical celebrations, even of a particular congregation, vary in formality depending on the occasion and the size of the assembly.

Role of Ministers

  1. Liturgical ministers, ordained or not, are called to serve and support the praying of the assembly.
  2. Things should not be added or expanded in the liturgy for the gratification of the tastes or demonstration of the talents of the ministers.


  1. Unity in liturgy does not require uniformity in performance.
  2. Beauty in liturgy is an element of acculturation and varies among societies, classes, and places.
  3. Elements of the liturgy require craftsmanship of noble simplicity rather than artistic expression.
  4. The essentials of any liturgical service need to be distinguished from accretions and protected.
  5. Do not fear to have a brief service which allows time for more fellowship or even more preaching.

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