Christian Worship (RS 150), Spring 2002

Voskuyl Library 216 or Deane Chapel, TTh 1:15-3:05 p.m.

Telford Work
Porter Center 9
(805) 565-6087
Office Hours: TTh 10-11:30 a.m., W 11:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.


  3. TEXTS


Perhaps the most constant feature of Christian life over the twenty centuries of Christian history has been the regular meeting together of believers in Jesus Christ to worship him. This course explores the history of Christian worship and the issues it has raised, which continue to affect those who worship him today.

The first half of the course focuses more on history as the context for theological issues. The second half focuses on theological issues as the context for history. We will ask how worship practices have taken shape among Christians across the centuries and across the world. We will also explore some of the fundamental categories of worship: the function of sacred space, time as imagery, the various uses of performative language, the roles of ritual and innovation, worship as sacrifice, worship as evangelism, worship as ethics, and so on. Finally, we will put all this knowledge to work in appreciating actual worship services.

As you will see, while evangelicals are among the most liturgically innovative Christians, we can also be among the least liturgically reflective. This means that many of our readings reflect a more structured, "Catholic" approach to worship. I want you to learn not only the rich resources and pitfalls of these "traditional" approaches, but also the ways that liturgical theology and history can serve the different structures and sensibilities of much evangelical worship.

At all points we will pay particular attention to historical context. We will see how (1) our pasts form us, and (2) we form our pasts. "History" is not a self-contained, stable deposit of information that passively awaits our investigation. Rather, history is a living project where what we retrieve is shaped by what we expect, and what we retrieve changes how we live and think (and what we expect to retrieve in the future). Rather like worship! Through our look back upon this aspect of the Christian faith, we will revive the past, and the past will revive us.


Sleepy students, beware: This is a seminar, not a lecture course. Class time will concentrate on student presentations and discussions. I will offer occasional lectures, especially on our "big-picture" questions. And of course I will mount my soapbox regularly. Nevertheless, we will usually be hearing from (and interrupting) students. You will be responsible not only for the content of your own presentations, but also for your colleagues'.

Many of our sessions will be combined with Grey Brothers' Music in the Worshipping Church. When we are together, we will meet in Deane Chapel. When we meet separately, they will be pursuing musical issues, and we will be pursuing historical and theological issues.

Having trouble understanding the reading? I will be posting introductions to readings several days in advance. Look up unfamiliar terms in a dictionary (for instance, the on-line New Advent Catholic Dictionary), or google them. If even these suggestions do not help, then I leave you with the advice of Thomas Cranmer:

"I cannot understand it." What marvel? How shouldest thou understand, if thou wilt not read nor look upon it? Take the books into thine hands, read the whole story, and that thou understandest keep it well in memory; thou that understandest not, read it again and again: if thou can neither so come by it, counsel with some other that is better learned. Go to thy curate and preacher; show thyself to be desirous to know and learn: and I doubt not but God, seeing thy diligence and readiness (if no man else teach thee) will himself vouchsafe with his Holy Spirit to illuminate thee, and to open unto thee that which was locked from thee (Preface to the Great Bible 6).

In other words, giving up on difficult material is not an option.


BH: James F. White, A Brief History of Christian Worship, Abingdon, 1993.
NA: James F. White, ed., Christian Worship in North America: A Retrospective, 1955-1995, Liturgical Press, 1997.
DW: Pedrito U. Maynard-Reid, Diverse Worship: African-America, Caribbean, and Hispanic Perspectives, InterVarsity, 2000.
PS: Dwight Vogel, ed., Primary Sources of Liturgical Theology: A Reader, Liturgical Press, 2000.
SL: Cheslyn Jones et al., eds., The Study of Liturgy, rev. ed., Oxford, 1992 (on reserve).
Various texts online (see syllabus).


William F. Strunk Jr. and E.B. White, The Elements of Style, 3rd ed., Macmillan, 1979, or 4th ed., Allyn & Bacon, 2000.
In this class you will regularly write and review others' writing. For decades "Strunk & White" has been a favorite guide to good writing. It is concise, accessible, and powerful: just like your writing will need to be. If you cannot identify (for instance) a run-on sentence, sentence fragment, split infinitive, or appositive on sight, or confuse "its" with "it's," then consider this book required.

Robert E. Webber, Twenty Centuries of Christian Worship, Hendrickson, 1994.
J.G. Davies, ed., The New Westminster Dictionary of Liturgy and Worship, Westminster/John Knox, 1986.
Bard Thompson, Liturgies of the Western Church, Fortress, 2nd ed., 1982.
Rodney Clapp, A Peculiar People, IVP, 1999. (See my comments at the RS departmental web site, under "What We're Reading".)


Internet Theology Resources: Liturgical Studies and Liturgical Music: Ancient and modern liturgical texts and other resources.
Lift Up Your Hearts: Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada worship site.
Taizé Community: Official website.
Order of Saint Benedict: Liturgy site.
Get Down Ministries: The site of my church's worship department.
Terra Nova Project: By the Leadership Network.



1. Attendance at class sessions and participation in discussions is required. If this is true of lecture courses, it is even more so in seminars.

2. Each of you will give an in-class presentation on that day's reading. Here you will remind us of the reading, provide helpful context, make observations, and raise questions for us to discuss. The point is to facilitate a productive discussion. Presentations may take several forms: Recitation of a text for discussion, lecture, or some other format (the choice is up to you, in consultation with me). A typical discussion text amounts to 2-3 tightly written, single-spaced pages. Please distribute copies to your classmates on the day of your presentation. Your presentation will count as 20% of your final grade. As you write, please refer to my suggestions for writing papers for helpful suggestions, cautions about Internet "research", ultimata regarding late papers and plagiarism, and so on.

3. Each of you will do a peer review evaluating another student's presentation in writing. This must happen before the presentation, so that the presenter has time to address your concerns. You will want to refer to my peer review guidelines. You will turn in the student's draft you have annotated (which may or may not match the final version). At the presentation, you will offer a brief critical response (less than one double-spaced page) that identifies strengths and weaknesses and poses questions for the presenter and/or the class. Your peer review and response will count as 10% of your grade.

4. Everyone who is not presenting that day will bring a 1-2 page typewritten brief that (1) summarizes the reading, and (2) asks at least one thoughtful question for discussion. These should be in prose-outline form (see my rationale and example), well written. If your briefs do not conform to the requirements, I will hand them back and you will need to resubmit them. I do not normally accept late briefs, though I do accept briefs ahead of time for absences. I will collect these after class, and grade them as follows: "+", "-", "U" (unacceptable), or "0" (absent). They will comprise 30% of your final grade.

5. You will write a three-page historical/theological analysis of a liturgical text of your own choosing. This may be a hymn, prayer, sermon, or some part of a formal liturgy. Your analysis will need to evaluate the text with the methods developed in the course materials. Consider this a way to practice for your final exam. Analyses will be due Tuesday, March 19 and must be peer reviewed by Thursday, March 21. Your analysis will count as 10% of your final grade.

6. Your final exam is an 8-10 page analysis of a church service in a particular Christian tradition. In this assignment, you may need to draw on secondary sources beyond the course reading. Analyses will be due Tuesday, April 23. These may be peer reviewed (at my future discretion). Your analysis will count as 30% of your final grade. It will need to interpret the service in its tradition, compare it to others, and evaluate it with the methods developed in the course materials.

In the last four Tuesdays of the semester, eight students will each team up with a music student to summarize their analysis. They will need to provide copies (or overheads) of the liturgy, texts of relevant hymns, and so on. Each presentation and discussion will take fifty minutes. These blessed few will gain invaluable feedback from the class. They are also exempt from briefs on their presentation day (though not of course from doing the reading!).

7. To stimulate discussion, this class will have its own e-mail discussion group you will use to take class discussions into and out of class sessions. This is a place for you to post questions and thoughtful answers to the questions of others. I will lurk, responding and posing questions only when I consider it necessary. Send e-mail to


Date Subject
(Voskuyl 216/Deane Chapel)
(required/ recommended)
Tues. 1/8 Introduction to the Course; Basics of Christian Worship; Why Study Worship? BH preface, PS pp 16-26 (Dalmais) Telford Work
Thurs. 1/10 Course Assignments; A Grand Historical and Theoretical Tour DW ch 2, PS pp 76ff (Hoffman) Telford Work
Tues. 1/15 The New Testament Era BH ch 1, Hustad ch 6, SL pp 565ff (Tripp) RS student
Thurs. 1/17 The Christian Shape of Christian Liturgy Didache, PS pp 27ff (Casel), 237ff (Hoon), 137ff (Taft)  
Tues. 1/22 The Patristic Era BH ch 2, Hustad pp 157-173 RS student
Thurs. 1/24 The Liturgical Shape of Christian Life Divine Liturgy, PS pp 52ff (Schmemann), pp 89ff (Kavanagh)  
Tues. 1/29 The Middle Ages BH ch 3, PS pp 46ff (Underhill), Hustad pp 173-182 RS student
Thurs. 1/31 Envisioning Salvation: Imagery in Worship Mass of the Roman Rite, PS 165ff (Ramshaw), 213ff (Lathrop), SL pp 542ff (Grisbrooke)  
Tues. 2/5 The Sixteenth Century BH ch 4, NA ch 1, Hustad 183-203 RS student
Thurs. 2/7 Reforming Liturgy: The Protestant Era (in Voskuyl 216 or 307) NA chs 2-3, 5, 1526 German Mass or 1545 Strassburg Liturgy or 1662 Anglican Eucharist, Luther "Of the Office of Preaching"  
Tues. 2/12 Modernity BH ch 5, Hustad 204-244 RS student
Thurs. 2/14 Modern American Worship NA chs 10, 7-8, Hustad ch 10 MU student
Tues. 2/19 President's holiday DW ch 3  
Thurs. 2/21 African-American Worship DW chs 4-7, PS pp 36ff (Guardini), 261ff (Trulear) RS student
Tues. 2/26 Hispanic Worship DW chs 11-13, PS pp 253ff (Gonzalez) RS student
Thurs. 2/28 A Table in the Presence of My Enemies: Liturgy as Politics NA chs 15-16, PS pp 295ff (Phillips),149ff (Collins)  
Tues. 3/5 A Worshipping World: Liturgy as Culture PS pp 245ff (Chapungco), NA ch 6  
Thurs. 3/7 Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi: Liturgy as Theology PS 101ff (Kilmartin), 110ff (Wainwright), NA ch 24  
3/11-3/15 Spring recess    
Tues. 3/19 Text Analyses Due SL pp 493ff (Gelineau), 507ff (Dunstan), PS 63ff (Haussling)  
How and Why to Analyze Worship Services (Focusing on Music)
Thurs. 3/21 Liturgy as Remembrance: The Christian Week and Year PS pp 126ff (Allmen), 300ff (Zimmerman), About the Revised Common Lectionary, SL pp 455ff (Cobb)  
Tues. 3/26 Architecture and Sacred Space NA chs 17-21, 4, SL pp 528ff (Cobb)  
Thurs. 3/28 Offering, Sacrifice, Communion NA chs 14, 22-23  
Tues. 4/2 Analyses: An Orthodox Liturgy; A Catholic Liturgy PS pp 191ff (Chauvet), pp 178ff (Power) RS student and MU student
Thurs. 4/4 The Bible as Liturgical Book: The Lectionary and Psalter PS pp 225ff (Hilkert) and others  
Tues. 4/9 Analyses: A Lutheran or Episcopal Liturgy; A Presbyterian or Methodist or Covenant Liturgy NA ch 12, PS pp 202ff (Brunner) RS student and MU student
Thurs. 4/11 Indigenization (Focus on Caribbean Worship) DW chs 8-10  
Tues. 4/16 Analyses: A Black Mainline Liturgy; A Pentecostal Liturgy DW ch 14, PS pp 274 RS student and MU student
Thurs. 4/18 Liturgy as Initiation and Evangelism NA ch 13, PS pp 284ff (Duck), Sally Morgenthaler "More Than a Talk Show"  
Tues. 4/23 Final Exam Due NA ch 9 RS student and MU student
Analyses: A Fundamentalist Liturgy; An Evangelical Parachurch Liturgy (Westmont chapel)
Thurs. 4/25 Liturgy beyond the Gathering; Conclusion NA ch 11, BH ch 6, PS pp 1ff (Vogel) Telford Work