LITURGY, in the technical language of the Christian Church, the order for the celebration and administration of the Eucharist. The word (from Gr. XEcrovvyta, public service) has come to be used in a more general sense to denote any or all of the various prescribed forms of public worship. In this article the liturgy is treated in the stricter sense.
There are nine main families or groups of liturgies, four of them being of Eastern and five of them of Western origin and use. They are known either by the names of the apostles with whom they are traditionally connected, or by the names of the countries or cities in which they have been or are still in use.
The principal liturgies to be enumerated under this group are the Clementine liturgy, so called from being found in the eighth book of the Apostolic Constitutions, which claim in their title, though erroneously, to have been compiled by St. Clement, the 1st-century bishop of Rome ; the Greek liturgy of St. James ; the Syriac liturgy of St. James. Sixty-four more liturgies of this group have existed, the majority being still in existence. Their titles are given in F E. Brightman's Liturgies, Eastern and Western (1896), pp. lviii.–lxi The Egyptian Rite (St. Mark).—This group includes the Greek liturgies of St. Mark, St. Basil and St. Gregory, and the Cop tic liturgies of St. Basil, St. Gregory, St. Cyril or St. Mark; to gether with certain less known liturgies the titles of which are enumerated by Brightman (op. cit. pp. lxxiii. lxxiv.). The liturgy of the Ethiopian church ordinances and the liturgy of the Abyssin ian Jacobites, known as that of the Apostles, fall under this group.
This Nestorian rite is represented by the liturgy which bears the names of SS. Adaeus and Maris together with two others named after Theodore of Mopsuestia and Nestorius. This group has sometimes been called "East-Syrian." The titles of three more of its now lost liturgies have been preserved, namely those of Narses, Barsumas and Diodorus of Tarsus. The liturgy of the Christians of St. Thomas, on the Malabar coast of India, formerly belonged to this group, but it was almost completely assimilated to the Roman liturgy by Portuguese Jesuits at the synod of Diamper in 1599.
The Greek liturgies of St. Chrysostom, St. Basil and St. Gregory Dialogus, or The Presanctified, also ex tant in other languages, are the living representatives of this rite. The Greek liturgy of St. Peter is classified under this group, but it is merely the Roman canon of the Mass, etc., inserted in a Byzan tine framework, and seems to have been used at one time by some Greek communities in Italy. To this group also belongs the Armenian liturgy, of which ten different forms have existed in addition to the liturgy now in general use named after St. Atha nasius.
This group of Latin liturgies, which once prevailed very widely in Western Europe, has been almost universally superseded by the liturgy of the Church of Rome. Where it survives, it has been more or less assimilated to the Roman pattern, It prevailed once throughout Spain, France, northern Italy, Great Britain and Ireland. The term "Ephesine" has been applied to this group or family of litur gies, chiefly by English liturgiologists, and the names of St. John and of Ephesus, his place of residence, have been pressed into service in support of a theory of Ephesine origin, which, however, lacks proof and may now be regarded as a discarded hypothesis. Other theories represent the Gallican to be a survival of the orig inal Roman liturgy, or an importation into Western Europe from the East through a Milanese channel.
This was the national liturgy of the Spanish church till the close of the 11th century, when the Roman liturgy was forced upon it. Its use, however, lingered on, till in the 16th century Cardinal Ximenes, anxious to prevent its becoming quite obsolete, had its books restored and printed, and founded a college of priests at Toledo to perpetuate its use. It survives now only in several churches in Toledo and in a chapel at Salamanca, and even there not without certain Roman modifica tions of its original text and ritual.