Thransfiguration, St. Katharines's, Sinai.

Walker, 3.12-3.14, pp. 164-172; Chadwick, ch. 18, “Worship and Art”, pp. 258-272

[12.1] Developing Hierarchies  [12.2] Public Worship And Sacred Seasons  [12.3] Developing Eucharistic Liturgy  [12.4] The Liturgy of the Hours  [12.5] Popular Christian Piety






The acceptance of Christianity as the religion of the empire gave to the Emperors a practical authority over the church. By the time of Justinian, the Emperor declared, on his own initiative, what was sound doctrine, and to a considerable extent regulated churchly administration.[1] The Emperors largely controlled appointment to high ecclesiastical office, especially in the East. This imperial power was limited, however, by the necessity, which even Emperors as powerful as Justinian felt, of securing the approval of the church through general councils for statements of faith and canons of administration. The imperial support of these edicts and decisions of general councils made heresy a crime, and must seriously have limited freedom of Christian thought. It was a very narrow path both in doctrinal opinion and in administration, that a bishop of Constantinople, for instance, had to walk. If conditions were more favorable for the papacy (ante, pp. 134-136), it was largely a consequence of the general ineffectiveness of imperial control in Italy, though cases were not lacking where the Popes felt the heavy hands of the Emperors.

  The Clergy

    As in the third century, the bishops continued to be the centres of local ecclesiastical administration, and their power tended to increase. By them the other clergy were not merely ordained, but the pay of those below them was in their hands. The First Council of Nicæa provided that other clergy should not remove from a diocese without the bishop’s consent.[2] In each of the provinces the bishop of the capital city was the metropolitan, who, according to the synod of Antioch (341), should “have precedence in rank . . . that the other bishops do nothing extraordinary without him.” [3]The ancient custom of local synods, for the consideration of provincial questions was extended, the First Council of Nicæa requiring them to be held twice a year.[4] This metropolitan arrangement was fully introduced into the East by the middle of the fourth century. In the West it was about half a century later in development, and was limited in Italy by the dominance of the papacy. Nevertheless it won its way in northern Italy, Spain, and Gaul. Above the metropolitans stood the bishops of the great capitals of the empire, the patriarchs, whose prominence antedated the rise of the metropolitan system. These were the bishops, or patriarchs, of Rome, Constantinople (by 381), Alexandria, Antioch, and, by 451, Jerusalem.

    By Constantine, the clergy were made a privileged class and exempted from the public burdens of taxation (319).[5] The government, anxious not to lose its revenues through the entrance into clerical office of the well-to-do, ordered that only those “of small fortune” should be ordained (326).[6] The result of this policy was that, though the ordination of slaves was everywhere discouraged, and was forbidden in the East by the Emperor Zeno in 484, the clergy were prevailingly recruited from classes of little property or education. The brilliant careers of some men of talent and means, of whom Ambrose is an example, show the possibilities then before those of high ability who passed these barriers. The feeling, which had long existed, that the higher clergy, at least, should not engage in any worldly or gainful occupation, grew, and such works were expressly forbidden by the Emperor Valentinian III in 452. Such exclusive devotion to the clerical calling demanded an enlarged support. The church now received not merely the gifts of the faithful, as of old; but the income of a rapidly increasing body of landed estates presented or bequeathed to it by wealthy Christians, the control of which was in the hands of the bishops. An arrangement of Pope Simplicius (468-483) provided that ecclesiastical income should be divided into quarters, one each for the bishop, the other clergy, the up-keep of the services and edifices, and for the poor.

    The feeling was natural that the clergy should be moral examples to their flocks. Celibacy had long been prized as belonging to the holier Christian life. In this respect the West was stricter than the East. Pope Leo I (440-461) held that even sub-deacons should refrain from marriage,[7] though it was to be centuries before this rule was universally enforced in the Western Church. In the East, the practice which still continues was established by the time of Justinian, that only celibates could be bishops, while clergy below that rank could marry before ordination. This rule, though not without advantages, has had the great disadvantage of blocking promotion in the Eastern Church, and leading to the choice of bishops prevailingly from the ranks of the monks.

  Catechumens, Confirmation

    While the bishop’s power was thus extensive, the growth of the church into the rural districts about the cities, and of many congregations in the cities themselves, led to the formation of congregations in charge of presbyters, and thus to a certain increase in the importance of the presbyterial office. These congregations still belonged, in most regions, to the undivided city church, ruled by the bishop; but by the sixth century the parish system made its appearance in France. There the priest (presbyter) in charge received two-thirds of the local income, paying the rest to the bishop.

    The incoming of masses from heathenism into the church led, at first, to an emphasis on the catechumenate. Reception to it, with the sign of the cross and laying on of hands, was popularly regarded as conferring membership in the church, and was as far as the great multitude of less earnest Christians went in Christian profession, save in possible danger of death. The growth of generations of exclusively Christian ancestry, and, in the West, the spread of Augustinian doctrines of baptismal grace, brought this half-way attitude to an end. The catechumenate lost its significance when the whole population had become supposedly Christian.

    In one important respect East and West fell asunder in this period regarding rites connected with baptism. As already described, by the time of Tertullian (ante, p. 96), baptism proper was followed by anointing and laying on of hands in token of the reception of the Holy Spirit. In Tertullian’s age both baptism and laying on of hands were acts of the bishop, save in case of necessity, when baptism could be administered by any Christian (ante, p. 97). With the growth of the church, presbyters came to baptize regularly in East and West. With regard to the further rite the two regions differed. The East saw its chief significance in the anointing, and allowed that to be performed, as it does to-day, by the presbyter with oil consecrated by the bishop. The West viewed the laying on of hands as the all-important matter, and held that that could be done by the bishop alone[8] as successor to the Apostles. The rites therefore became separated in the West. “Confirmation” took place often a considerable time after baptism, when the presence of the bishop could be secured, though it was long before the age of the candidate was fixed in the Western Church.







Public worship in the fourth and fifth centuries stood wholly under the influence of the conception of secret discipline, the so-called disciplina arcani, derived, it is probable, from conceptions akin to or borrowed from the mystery religions. Its roots run back apparently into the third century. Under these impulses the services were divided into two parts. The first was open to catechumens and the general public, and included Bible reading, singing, the sermon, and prayer. To the second, the true Christian mystery, none but the baptized were admitted. It had its crown in the Lord’s Supper, but the creed and the Lord’s Prayer were also objects of reserve from those uninitiated by baptism. With the disappearance of the catechumenate in the sixth century, under the impression that the population was all now Christian, the secret discipline came to an end.

    The public portion of Sunday worship began with Scripture reading, interspersed with the singing of psalms. These selections presented three passages, the prophets, i. e., Old Testament, the epistles, the Gospels, and were so read as to cover the Bible in the course of successive Sundays. The desirability of reading appropriate selections at special seasons, and of some abbreviation led, by the close of the fourth century, to the preparation of lectionaries. In the Arian struggle the use of hymns other than psalms grew common, and was furthered in the West with great success by Ambrose of Milan.

    The latter part of the fourth and the first half of the fifth centuries was above all others an age of great preachers in the ancient church. Among the most eminent were Gregory of Nazianzus, Chrysostom, and Cyril of Alexandria in the East, and Ambrose, Augustine, and Leo I in the West. This preaching was largely expository, though with plain application to the problems of daily life. In form it was often highly rhetorical, and the hearers manifested their approval by applause. Yet, while this preaching was probably never excelled, preaching was by no means general, and in many country districts, or even considerable cities, few sermons were to be heard. Prayer was offered before and after the sermon in liturgical form. The benediction was given by the bishop, when present, to the various classes for whom prayer was made, and the non-baptized then dismissed.

  The Lord’s Supper

    The private portion of the service—the Lord’s Supper— followed. Both East and West held that, by divine power, the miracle of the presence of Christ was wrought, but differed as to when in the service it took place. In the judgment of the East it was during the prayer known as the invocation, epiklesis. This was undoubtedly the view in the West till late in the sixth century. There, however, it was replaced, probably under Roman influence, by the conviction that the Eucharistic miracle occurred when the words of institution were recited, culminating in “This is My body . . . this is the new covenant in My blood.” To Gregory of Nyssa and Cyril of Alexandria the Supper is the repetition of the incarnation, wherein Christ takes the elements into union with Himself as once He did human flesh. The Lord’s Supper was at once a sacrifice and a communion. It was possible to emphasize one aspect or the other. The East put that of communion in the foreground. Consonant with its theory of salvation, the Supper was viewed as primarily a great, life-giving mystery, wherein the partaker received the transforming body and blood of his Lord, and thereby became, in a measure at least, a partaker of the divine nature, built up to the immortal and sinless life. This view was far from denied in the West. It was held to be true. But the Western conception of salvation as coming into right relations with God, led the West to emphasize the aspect of sacrifice, as inclining God to be gracious to those in whose behalf it was offered. The Western mind did not lend itself so readily as the Eastern to mysticism. In general, the Oriental administration of the Lord’s Supper tended to become a mystery-drama, in which the divine and eternal manifested itself in life-giving energy.

    Beside the Sunday worship, daily services of a briefer character were now very common, and had widely developed into morning and evening worship.


    The older festivals of the Christian year, Easter and Pentecost, were, as earlier, great periods of religious observance. Easter was preceded by a forty days’ fast, though the method of reckoning this lenten period varied. The Roman system became ultimately that of the whole West, and continues to the present. The whole of Holy Week was now a time of special penitential observance, passing over to the Easter rejoicing. By the fourth century the observance of Ascension was general. The chief addition to the festivals of the church which belongs to this period is that of Christmas. Apparently no feast of Christ’s nativity was held in the church till into the fourth century. By the second century, January 6 had been observed by the Gnostic disciples of Basilides as the date of Jesus’ baptism. At a time not now apparent, but probably about the beginning of the fourth century, this was regarded in the East as the time of Christ’s birth also, by reason of an interpretation of Luke 323, which made Him exactly thirty years old at His baptism. Other factors were at work, however. It was an opinion in the third century that the universe was created at the vernal equinox, reckoned in the Julian calendar as March 25. Similar habits of thought would make the beginning of the new creation, the inception of the incarnation, fall on the same day, and therefore Christ’s birth on the winter solstice, December 25. That that date, when the sun begins to turn, was the birthday of the Mithraic Sol Invictus, was not probably the reason of the choice, though it may well have commended it as substituting a great Christian for a popular heathen festival. At all events, the celebration of December 25 as Christmas appears first in Rome, apparently in 353 or 354, though it may date from 336. From Rome it spread to the East, being introduced into Constantinople, probably by Gregory of Nazianzus, between 378 and 381. A sermon of Chrysostom, preached in Antioch in 388, declares that the celebration was then not ten years old in the East, and the discourse was delivered, it would appear, on the first observance of December 25 in the Syrian capital. It reached Alexandria between 400 and 432.[9] From its inauguration, Christmas became one of the great festivals of the church, comparable only with Easter and Pentecost.







Chadwick, ch. 18, “Worship and Art”, pp. 258-272

THE early Christians shared with the Jews the conviction that ‘religion’ included an interpretation of the whole of life, and was very far from being limited to a matter of cultic acts and ceremonies. But they also shared with the Jews the idea that God had given certain covenant signs of his grace. The Christians regarded circumcision as a particular form limited to Judaism and not intended to be binding on Gentile Christians; but they kept the washing of baptism which had been an important constituent in the ceremonies of the admission of a Gentile proselyte to the Jewish synagogue. The bread and wine of the Jewish passover and other sacred meals were invested for the Church with an intense significance by their association with the Last Supper and the Crucifixion when, as St Paul put it, ‘Christ our passover was sacrificed for us’ (I Cor. v, 7). One stream of language in early Christian literature used to contrast Judaism as a religion of externals with Christianity as a worship of God ‘ in spirit and in truth’. But the Christians were well aware that if they were to be a society with a coherent community life they could not live on a purely individualistic inwardness. They needed form and order, and they knew that the visible signs of baptism and eucharist were dona data, God’s gifts to his church, verba visibilia, a visible actualization of the very substance of the gospel.

As early as St Paul’s time it was customary for the Christians to meet for worship on Sunday in commemoration of the Lord’s resurrection; and this weekly association of ‘the Lord’s day’ with the resurrection led in time to the transfer of the annual celebration of Easter from the date of the Jewish passover (Pascha) on the fourteenth day of the month Nisan to the Sunday following it. Soon other observances of Jewish origin were general in the Church, such as Pentecost. By the fourth century the calendar included Ascension Day, and the nativity of Christ which the Greek East celebrated on 6 January, the West on 25 December.

Like the Jews, the early Christians kept certain days for fasting. Jewish custom kept Mondays and Thursdays as fast days (cf. Luke xviii, 12 ‘I fast twice in the week’). By the end of the first century at least, the Christian fast days were Wednesdays and Fridays. A fast day was soon called a ‘station’, or day of military duty on the watch. In the ‘Shepherd of Hernias’ Christians were warned that on station days the fasting God required was abstinence from evil acts and desires. From the text of Mark ii, 20 it appeared that Christians should specially fast on the day ‘when the bridegroom was taken away’, i.e. in commemoration of the Passion. The fast immediately preceding the Easter festival became increasingly important, and included an all night vigil, soon with special Paschal candles. The pre-Paschal fast tended to lengthen. By the beginning of the fourth century the fast before Easter lasted seven days in the Greek East but forty days in the West. The forty-day Lent was first introduced to the Greek churches in 337 by Athanasius after his exile to the West in which he felt put to shame by the seriousness of Western austerity. As Easter was especially associated with baptism the period of Lent was used as a period of instruction during which the bishop would give lectures for catechumens. From the fourth century onwards the ceremonial structure of Holy Week evolved, first with the special observance of Maundy Thursday, then (by the sixth century) Palm Sunday, though a form of blessing of palms is not found before the ninth century. The custom of holding no celebration of the eucharist on Good Friday is found as early as 416 in Pope Innocent I’s letter to the bishop of Gubbio .[10]

The form and pattern of the actual rites used in the period before Constantine and the Nicene council can be known only very imperfectly from scraps and fragments of evidence often contained in casual passing allusions or in illustrations of an argument about other matters. The practice of baptism in North Africa in 200 is described by Tertullian. After a preparatory fast the ceremony began with an act of renunciation of the devil and his works and with a declaration of faith. It appears from other third-century evidence (Hippolytus, Cyprian) that this declaration took the form not of a declaratory creed but of a repeated answer ‘I believe’ to three interrogations concerning belief in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit respectively. At each answer the candidate was dipped in the water. After coming up from the font the candidate was anointed with oil and hands were laid on him with prayer for the gift of the Holy Spirit. He received milk and honey as tokens of his entry into the promised land. (There is evidence that a similar ceremony with milk and honey occurred in some pagan mystery rites, but the biblical typology dominated the Christian understanding of its meaning.) The sacrament was normally administered by a bishop or, with his leave, by a presbyter, or deacon, or exceptionally by a layman. At Rome, as in Africa, at this time the anointing was given after baptism in water. But this order was not universal. In third-century Syria, according to a church order entitled Didascalia Apostolorum, the anointing came before the baptismal washing. Or there might be two anointings, both before and after; or even three as in Hippolytus. The variation is no doubt evidence of hesitation about the status of the rite. But the oil as a sign of the gift of the Spirit was quite natural within a semitic framework, and therefore the ceremony is probably very early. Some Gnostic sects disparaged water baptism, and laid all the stress on ‘the baptism of the Spirit’ conferred by the holy anointing. In time the biblical meaning became obscured : Ambrose explained it to his catechumens as like the anointing of an athlete before running a race.

Although it was regarded, e.g. by the author of the Didache, as in principle desirable for baptism to take place at a river or lake, in practice well before the end of the first century it had become customary to baptize simply by pouring water on the candidate’s head three times. The symbolism of partial immersion in running water, however, was preserved by constructing special baptisteries in the house churches or, after the fourth century, adjacent to the main church building. The candidates would descend a few steps and stand in water. The ceremony was one of the most intense solemnity, made more formidable by exorcisms. When baptism was given to the sick or to infants, care was necessary not to risk health, and accordingly water was poured on in very small quantities. Third-century evidence in the letters of Cyprian and elsewhere shows that some over-anxious believers were not quite sure of the true validity of sickbed baptism, but Cyprian regarded such scruples as mistaken and superstitious. Baptism meant dying to sin and rising again to newness of life with Christ; therefore it was specially associated with Easter and Pentecost. For the same reason baptisteries were often octagonal, symbolizing ‘ the Lord’s resurrection on the ‘eighth day’. (For this number symbolism cf. 1 Peter iii, 20.)

The earliest second-century texts (Didache, Ignatius of Antioch, Justin Martyr) agree that the regular Sunday worship of the Christians was first and foremost ‘thanksgiving’, eucharistia, a term which gradually replaced the more primitive term ‘breaking of bread’. The Greek word eucharistia became so technical a word for the service that it passed into Christian Latin in transliteration, though the Latin Christians also spoke of it as a giving of thanks, gratiarum actio, and agere came to mean ‘celebrate’. Hence the Western title for the great eucharistic prayer, canon actionis or ‘rule of celebrating’.

Except among the Gnostic sects who were notoriously casual about such matters, only the baptized were admitted to the sacred meal. The Roman eucharist of 150 is described by Justin Martyr in a passage intended to reassure pagan readers that Christian rites are not black magic. After readings from ‘the memoirs of the apostles’ and from the Old Testament prophets, the president (evidently the bishop) preached a sermon, at the end of which everyone stood for a solemn prayer ending in the kiss of peace. Then bread and ‘a cup of water and of wine mixed with water’ were brought to the president who ‘to the best of his ability’ offered a prayer of thanks to the Father through the Son and Holy Spirit, concluding with the people signifying their ratification by the word Amen. Justin parenthetically explains for his uninitiated readers that the Christians are accustomed to use this Hebrew word meaning So be it. The communion followed at which each person partook of the bread and wine distributed to them by deacons, and received it not as common food for satisfying hunger and thirst, but as the flesh and blood of Christ. Finally pieces of the sacred bread were taken round to the sick and those in prison. It is clear that, although attending the service meant risking one’s life or liberty, all Christians regarded it as an absolute obligation to be present each Sunday if it was in their power. Justin saw in the universal Christian custom of a weekly eucharist a direct fulfilment of the prophecy of Malachi i, to that in every place a pure sacrifice would be offered to the Lord from the rising of the sun to its setting.

Justin’s presiding bishop was entirely free in the wording he chose for the great prayer of thanksgiving. There was no prescribed form of words. Nevertheless there was evidently an expected pattern of themes which were going to crystallize out into prepared forms. As early as the Didache such forms, no doubt intended to serve as models, were being provided. After the Didache the earliest extant forms of prayer, other than the briefest fragments, are preserved in the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus, a church order specifically mentioned on the statue erected in his honour (above p. 8g). The text of this work does not survive exactly as Hippolytus wrote it, and has to be painfully reconstructed from later compilations which drew upon it, in particular from a Latin version of about 400 preserved in a manuscript at Verona written c. 494, from Coptic, Arabic, and Ethiopic adaptations which used an early (lost) Coptic translation, and from later church orders, written in the name of the Lord or the apostles, which borrowed material from it (notably the late fourth-century Apostolic Constitutions and the fifth-century Testament of the Lord).

Hippolytus begins the Apostolic Tradition by explaining that because of certain grave irregularities on the part of an irresponsible authority (probably Callistus is in mind) he has felt it urgently necessary to lay down norms of usage for church practice. Even so, Hippolytus does not expect a celebrant at the eucharist to adhere rigidly to his form of words :

It is not at all necessary for the bishop in giving thanks to recite the same words as we have given as if they were to be learnt by heart. But let each pray according to his capacity. If he can pray in a long and solemn prayer, it is good. But if in his prayer he prays at modest length, no one may prevent him, provided only that his prayer is orthodox.

Certain fixed forms were a necessity if the congregation was to join in, as in the prefatory dialogue between celebrant and people immediately preceding the great prayer of thanks-giving. As Hippolytus’ prayer is so early an example, it deserves to be quoted in full:

BISHOP: The Lord be with you.

PEOPLE: And with your spirit.

BISHOP: Lift up your hearts.

PEOPLE: We lift them to the Lord.

BISHOP: Let us give thanks to the Lord.

PEOPLE: It is meet and right.

BISHOP: We give you thanks, O God, through your beloved Son Jesus Christ, whom in the last times you sent to us as saviour and redeemer and as angel [i.e. messenger] of your will, who is your inseparable Word, through whom you made all things, and whom by your good pleasure you sent from heaven to a Virgin’s womb, who was conceived and was made flesh and was manifested as your Son, born of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin;

Who, fulfilling your will and procuring for you a holy people, stretched out his hands when he suffered that he might free from suffering those who have believed in you;

Who, when he was betrayed to a voluntary passion to destroy death and break the devil’s chains, to tread down hell and lead the just to light, to fix hell’s limit and to manifest the resurrection, took bread and gave thanks to you and said: Take, eat, this is my body which is broken for you. Likewise also the cup, saying: This is my blood which is shed for you. When you do this, do it in remembrance of me.

Remembering therefore his death and resurrection, we offer you this bread and cup, giving you thanks that you have counted us worthy to stand before you and minister to you as priests.

And we beseech you to send your Holy Spirit on the offering of the Holy Church. Gather them together and grant that all who partake of the holy things may be filled with the Holy Spirit for the confirmation of their faith in the truth, that we may laud and glorify you through your Son Jesus Christ, through whom be glory and honour to you, Father and Son with the Holy Spirit, in your holy church, both now and for ever, Amen.

The invocation of the Spirit in the final paragraph has been much debated, and this is one of the points where it has been argued that Hippolytus could not have written this and that the wording of the invocation reflects fourth-century developments. For in the Greek churches of the fourth century the invocation of the Spirit (or epiclesis) became very prominent, and any eucharistic prayer that lacked such an invocation would be likely to have one inserted. There are, however, weighty arguments to counter these sceptical doubts. First, the Latin and Ethiopic versions are unanimous witnesses to the text; and while the crucial sentence, ‘we beseech you to send your Holy Spirit on the offering’, is absent from the fifth century Testament of the Lord which in all other respects incorporates Hippolytus’ prayer, the author of the Testament may have had special motives for omitting the clause. Secondly, the words are more an invocation of the Spirit on the action of the church in making the offering than an invocation on the bread and wine in themselves, and contain nothing that a theologian of 200-220 could not have said. Twenty years before, Irenaeus had written of the invocation of the divine Word by which the bread and wine ceased to be ordinary food and drink. Thirdly, when the late fourth-century author of the Apostolic Constitutions drew on Hippolytus, he took over much of the prayer but felt it necessary to modernize it at precisely this place, adding the supplement: ‘And we beseech you to look kindly on the gifts placed before you, O God in need of nothing . . . and send down your Holy Spirit on the sacrifice, the witness of the sufferings of the Lord Jesus, that he [i.e. the Spirit] may make this bread the body of your Christ and this cup the blood of your Christ’. The fact that he had to abandon the original formula of Hippolytus at the critical moment is significant; it brings out the point that no fourth-century reviser or interpolator would have composed an epiclesis in a form that to his age would have seemed very inadequate and old-fashioned theology.

The importance of the invocation of the Spirit in the great eucharistic prayer or anaphora is mentioned by several Greek writers of the latter half of the fourth century as being the principal moment in the action of the service (e.g. Cyril of Jerusalem, Basil of Caesarea, and Theophilus of Alexandria). An unusual instance occurs in an anaphora ascribed by the manuscript tradition (viz. an eleventh-century codex on Mount Athos) to Serapion bishop of Thmuis, friend and correspondent of Athanasius of Alexandria, and certainly belonging to some church in fourth-century Egypt, where neither Arianism nor Nicene theology had influenced the language of worship. Here the prayer is, first, that the divine Word may come upon the elements ‘that the bread may become the body of the Word’ and ‘that the cup may become the blood of the Truth’, and, secondly, that all the communicants may receive the medicine of life to their benefit and not to their condemnation.

Besides the invocation of the Spirit there are several other points worthy of notice in Hippolytus’ eucharistic prayer. There is the direct link with the Last Supper made by the recital of the words of institution, which occur in a relative clause, a formal feature which recurs in both Eastern and Western liturgies and was a mark of deep solemnity. Hippolytus has no Sanctus.[11] The three-fold angelic hymn is quoted from Isaiah in the letter of Clement of Rome to the Corinthians to illustrate the harmony of the heavenly host which the Corinthians are enjoined to imitate, but there is no evidence that for either Clement or Hippolytus the Sanctus was a necessary constituent of the Roman liturgy. As late as 400 the use of the Sanctus was much less widespread in the West than in the East, and the later Roman tradition marked the canon of the mass as beginning after the Sanctus, which might be taken to suggest that it was an addition to a previously composed structure. Hippolytus also makes repeated statements that the sacred bread and wine are ‘antitypes’ or figures of the body and blood of the Lord – language also found in Tertullian. Hippolytus accordingly enjoins on the faithful intense reverence for the eucharist. It should be received early before any other food, and the greatest care should be taken to see that nothing was dropped or spilt. At this period it was common for pieces of the eucharistic bread to be taken home and received privately, after daily prayers, during the week. Hippolytus had to warn communicants against leaving the sacred bread about the house where an unbaptized person, or even a mouse, might accidentally eat it.

As the congregations swelled in size during the fourth century, so the liturgy tended to be extended. Sometimes these enlargements could go to enormous lengths, as in the eucharistic formulas provided in the eighth book of the Apostolic Constitutions. Often older prayers were expanded by inserting biblical quotations – so that it is a paradoxical law of early liturgical study that the greater the biblical element in any given prayer the less primitive it is likely to be. In the Greek East in the second half of the fourth century ceremonial began to become quite elaborate. Greek clergy began to wear ornate clothes, and the ritual acquired a high dramatic splendour. At the same time the pressure of the multitude joining the church, and perhaps also the struggle against Arianism, led to a marked insistence on holy awe and on the transcendent wonder of the eucharistic action. The catechetical lectures of Cyril of Jerusalem, about 350, show both the beginnings of elaboration in ceremonial and also the emphasis on the intense awe appropriate for the rite. Cyril provides the earliest evidence for the introduction of the symbolic washing of the celebrant’s hands (lavabo), and for the use of the Lord’s Prayer at the conclusion of the great eucharistic prayer (a use which in Augustine’s time was almost universal). Cyril gives elaborate instructions to prevent any irreverent dropping at the communion : the communicants are directed to receive the bread in hollowed palms, the left hand supporting the right. Above all, Cyril repeatedly mentions the solemn invocation of the Spirit by which, to faith, the bread and wine become Christ’s body and blood, and speaks several times of the ‘fearful’ presence upon the holy Table.

This attitude of fear and trembling is even more prominent in Basil of Caesarea and especially in John Chrysostom who speaks of the Lord’s Table as a place of ‘terror and shuddering’. The eucharistic rite described in the recently discovered catechetical lectures of Theodore of Mopsuestia was marked by the most advanced ritual splendour. Important consequences followed from these developments. Before the end of the fourth century in the East it began to be thought necessary to screen off the holy Table by curtains. When Justinian’s great church of Sancta Sophia was built in the sixth century, there was not only a gorgeous curtain before the canopied altar, embroidered in gold with a figure of Christ Pantokrator blessing his people and holding the gospel book in his left hand, but also a screen with three doors on which were figures of angels and prophets and the monograms of Justinian and Theodora over the central door. This was the first iconostasis, so copied elsewhere[12] that it became a necessary feature of all Greek churches. The doors in the screen were used for ceremonial ‘Entrances’ at the reading of the Gospel and the Offertory.

The later fourth century also saw great enrichment in the ornaments and vessels. At Antioch in John Chrysostom’s time the church possessed finely wrought chalices, candelabra, silk veils, white vestments, and sometimes silverwork decorating the altar itself. At Thessalonica early in the fifth century a church was built, dedicated to St Demetrius, with a fine silver canopy over the altar.

In the West liturgical elaboration proceeded considerably more slowly. Moreover, it was not until the latter part of the fourth century that the Western liturgy began to develop a life of its own; for until the time of Damasus the eucharist at the city of Rome had continued to be celebrated in Greek, so great was the influence of conservatism from the days when the Roman community had been wholly Greek-speaking. The earliest evidence for the order and formulae of the early Latin mass, apart from a few allusions in Tertullian and Cyprian, is found in Ambrose of Milan, whose lectures to catechumens ‘On the Sacraments’ were preserved by the private enterprise of an anonymous stenographer  . In this work Ambrose quotes the principal eucharistic prayer in customary use at Milan in his time. I t is noteworthy that, in contrast to Cyril of Jerusalem with his emphasis on the invocation of the Holy Spirit as the decisive moment of consecration when the elements of bread and wine were transformed, Ambrose places all his stress upon the effect of the recitation of the dominical words of institution. As Ambrose’s formulae are akin to those which later became a fixed part of the canon of the Latin mass,[13] they deserve quotation. After praises to God[14] and’ intercessions for the people, for kings, and the rest’, the celebrant continues:

Grant to us that this offering be approved, spiritual, and acceptable, as the figure of the body and blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ; who the day before he suffered took bread in his holy hands, looked up to heaven, to you, holy Father, Almighty, everlasting God; giving thanks he blessed, broke, and gave the broken bread to his apostles and disciples saying, All of you take and eat this; for this is my body which is broken for many. Likewise also after supper the day before he suffered he took the cup, looked up to heaven, to you holy Father, Almighty, everlasting God; giving thanks he blessed and gave it to his apostles and disciples saying, All of you take and drink of this, for this is my blood. As often as you do this, so often will you make my .memorial until I come again.

Therefore remembering his most glorious passion and resurrection from the dead and ascension into heaven, we offer to you this unspotted victim, a spiritual victim, an unbloody victim, this holy bread and the cup of eternal life.

And we pray and beseech you to accept this oblation by the hand of your angels, as you deigned to accept the gifts of your servant, righteous Abel, and the offering made to you by the high priest Melchizedek.

Ambrose’s prayer corresponds in plan and partly even in actual wording to the central core of the later Roman mass as it appears in the eighth century, which contains an expanded and modified version of the same basic formulae in the QFam oblationem, Qyi pridie, Unde et memores, Supra quae, and Supplices. But his prayer that the offering be approved was expanded into a longer form in the Te igitur with which the Roman canon begins, a restatement of the offertory in which the priest asks that God will accept and bless the gifts offered and will grant peace and unity to the church.

Although Ambrose goes on to expound the Lord’s Prayer in what follows, he does not make it explicit whether this had its place at the conclusion of the great eucharistic prayer. But since Augustine records that this practice was almost universal in his time, and since Augustine was very familiar with Milanese use, it is as good as certain that Ambrose was familiar with this custom. Two allusions in Jerome and Augustine strongly suggest that the Lord’s Prayer was commonly introduced by the words ‘... we are bold to say’ (audemus dicere).

Accordingly the basic elements and structure of the Roman liturgy were fixed in the period from Damasus to Leo the Great. But the earlier part of the service was still fluid. Two notable modifications to this introductory part, before the dismissal of the catechumens, were made under Eastern influence. By 500 the Kyrie Eleison, which formed a regular part of Greek litanies in the time of Egeria’s pilgrimage to the Holy Places about 384, had been incorporated in the first part of the Latin mass, and, curiously, kept as a Greek formula, untranslated. The Gloria in excelsis was a Greek hymn, first attested in the Apostolic Constitutions, which had long been in use in the East without forming part of the eucharistic liturgy (like the Te Deum in the West);[15] it began to find its way into the text of the mass on special occasions by 500, though it did not achieve universal use in the West for another six hundred years.

The Creed properly belonged to baptism and made a late appearance in the eucharistic liturgy. In any event the Western baptismal creed was the so-called ‘Apostles’ Creed’, while the Greek East used for baptism the Nicene creed of 325. Local baptismal creeds in the Greek East long continued to be used after 325, but orthodox bishops inserted the principal Nicene terms. So it was that at Constantinople in 381 there lay before the council called by Theodosius  a formula which was called Nicene, because it contained the assertion that the Son is identical in substance with the Father, but had in fact derived its basic structure from a local baptismal creed perhaps already in use. This Nicene-Constantinopolitan creed first entered the eucharistic liturgy in unusual circumstances. The fifth-century Monophysites inserted it as a dramatic public protest against the ‘innovations’ of the council of Chalcedon. The Chalcedonians simply answered this exclusive claim to a monopoly of orthodoxy by making the same insertion. Gradually the custom of including the Nicene-Constantinopolitan creed in the eucharist spread to the West, but it only began to become important under Charlemagne who was anxious to lay great emphasis on the Western Filioque . At this time the creed found its central position after the reading of the Gospel.

Two other late additions to the Latin mass were the appending of the Benedictus to the Sanctus during the sixth century, and the Agnus Dei which appeared by the end of the seventh century.

The early Western liturgy owed something to Greek models, which was natural enough. For example, the Supra quae and Supplices of the Roman canon and the closely related formula of Ambrose  asking that God would accept the sacrifice brought by his holy angel, as he had once accepted the gifts of Abel and Abraham, are very closely paralleled in the Alexandrian Liturgy of St Mark (which also places the formula immediately before the commemoration of the faithful departed). But it was likewise very natural that there should be wide varieties of regional usage. There is no reason to suppose that such varieties had not always existed from the beginning – the quest for an original, universally observed ‘apostolic liturgy’ is a mirage. Yet in both East and West diversity of custom in such sacred matters was felt by some to be a difficulty. By the seventh century it had become usual to employ unleavened bread for the Western eucharist, while the Greek East (except for the Armenians, whose history on this point is lost in obscurity) used ordinary leavened bread. In time this diversity was to become a matter of controversy. Another difference of practice was that in the East it was usual to have only one celebration of the eucharist under the bishop on a Sunday; in the West there gradually spread from the city of Rome the practice of holding celebrations taken by presbyters in suburban parish churches, which in fourth-century Rome were called ‘title-churches’ because they bore the names of the original donors of the title to the. property and provided for the maintenance of the clergy by their endowments.

Beside the main Sunday eucharist it was customary by 400, at least in important cities, for the eucharist to be celebrated daily. From the third century the anniversary of a martyr’s death, called his ‘birthday’, was commemorated at his grave by a celebration. At first the veneration , of the majority of the martyrs was a matter of private devotion which was then taken over by central authority as it became popular. Special prayers began to be composed for these lesser feasts, and were collected. An early seventh-century manuscript in the Verona Cathedral library contains the earliest extant collection of Latin prayers, the compiler of which seems to have had at least two earlier collections before him originating in the city of Rome. The modern ascription of this sacramentary to Leo the Great is unsupported by the Verona manuscript and is impossible; but some of the liturgical material it contains certainly goes back to the time of Leo, since one of his Embertide sermons (no. 78) contains numerous allusions to formulas of prayer found in the later sacramentary. Leo may have written some of these prayers.







Chadwick, ch. 18, “Worship and Art”, pp. 258-272

  Daily Prayer

In addition to the Sunday eucharist, participation in which was an indispensable sign of church membership, and the special celebrations on the days of saints and martyrs usually supported by smaller groups, there were also daily private prayers. Hippolytus in the Apostolic Tradition directed that Christians should pray seven times a day – on rising, at the lighting of the evening lamp, at bedtime, at midnight, and also, if at home, at the third, sixth and ninth hours of the day, being hours associated with Christ’s Passion. Prayers at the third, sixth, and ninth hours are similarly mentioned by Tertullian, Cyprian, Clement of Alexandria and Origen, and must have been very widely practised. These prayers were commonly associated with private Bible reading in the family. Of these times of private prayer two gradually became more corporate in character, so that by 400 it became common, at least on certain days in the week, for the morning and evening prayers to be taken by the clergy in the church building. Egeria  vividly describes the solemnity and large attendance at daily morning and evening prayers in Jerusalem.

In ascetic communities the cycle of offices was fuller. The hours of prayer were shaped into an obligatory and institutional system in the rules for ascetic communities. In Basil the Great’s Rule there were eight offices; but John Cassian had only seven at Marseilles – in accordance with the Psalmist’s practice, ‘Seven times a day will I praise thee’. At Rome about 500 the daily offices numbered six. The basic material for the monastic office was provided by the Psalter, and the clergy in Rome developed a system whereby the Psalter was recited in full once a week, with Psalm 119 (118) providing for Terce, Sext, and None. They also had an ordered cycle of lections. This Roman system was taken over in the Benedictine Rule, but Benedict added the dawn office of Prime and the final office at the completion of the day (Compline, Completorium). It was usual to begin the night office with ‘O God make speed to save me, O Lord make haste to help me’, with the Gloria Patri, and with ‘0 Lord open thou my lips, and my mouth shall show forth thy praise’. Benedict also added the hymns of Ambrose as insertions in the offices, and prescribed the Te Deum for the vigil of the Lord’s Day and the Benedictus and Benedicite for Lauds. The widespread use of the Benedicite in the devotions of the Greek East is attested in John Chrysostom. The Greek use of the Nunc Dimittis for evening prayers is mentioned in the fourth-century Apostolic Constitutions, but it did not form a part of Benedict’s Compline and only later found its way into the Roman office. At Arles in the time of bishop Caesarius early in the sixth century the Magnificat was being used at mattins, and appears there also in seventh-century Ireland in the Book of Mulling, an Irish gospel book now in the library of Trinity College, Dublin. It is probable that Benedict’s monks used the Magnat at Vespers for which his Rule prescribes a ‘Gospel Canticle’.

  Early Church Music

Twice in the letters of St Paul (Col. 3, 16, Eph. 5, 19) we find allusions to the use of singing in worship. As singing and chanting were already the custom of the synagogue there can be no surprise here. Philo of Alexandria describes the developed musical life of the ascetic community, the Therapeutae, near Alexandria. He says that they wrote hymns in all manner of metres and tunes, with notation to indicate that the rhythm was to be of a solemn character fitting for sacred music. They had choirs of both men and women, chanting sometimes in harmony, sometimes antiphonally. It is likely enough that the first Christian chants were simply taken over from synagogue usage. This helps to explain, for example, the continued use of the untranslated Hebrew word ‘Alleluia’ for a chant of praise. A passing hostile comment in the second-century pagan critic Celsus shows that the chants used in Christian worship (which he seems to have heard) were not only unusual to his pagan ears but so beautiful that he actually resented their emotive effect as an instrument for dulling the critical faculty.

A few Greek hymns survive from the period before Constantine (besides a special hymn by Clement of Alexandria, which may not have been intended for liturgical use). One is a rollicking second-century hymn of joy, which may well have been sung at the Paschal vigil since it takes the form of a wedding hymn of exultation that the lost bridegroom has been found. It runs:

V. Praise the Father, you holy ones. Sing to the Mother, you virgins.

R. We praise. We the holy ones extol them.

V. Be exalted, brides and bridegrooms; for you have found your bridegroom, Christ. Drink your wine, brides and bridegrooms.

Secondly, there is a mutilated strip of third-century papyrus from Egypt on which is preserved an anapaestic hymn where, all the creation joins the church in praising the Trinity: ‘While we hymn Father, Son and Holy Spirit, let all creation sing Amen, Amen. Praise, power to the sole giver of all good things. Amen, Amen.’ This papyrus is of quite exceptional interest since the scribe noted down the music of the chant and provided dynamic signs which can be deciphered with the help of analogies in later Byzantine texts.

A third early example is the evening hymn, established in general use in the time of Basil the Great and still forming a part of Greek Vespers, sung at the lighting of the evening lamp. John Keble’s translation is remarkably literal and accurate:

Hail, gladdening Light, of his pure glory poured Who is the immortal Father, heavenly, blest, Holiest of Holies, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Now we are come to the sun’s hour of rest, The lights of evening round us shine,

We hymn the Father, Son and Holy Spirit divine. Worthiest art thou at all times to be sung

With undefiled tongue,

Son of our God, giver of life, alone:

Therefore in all the world thy glories, Lord, they own.

Clement of Alexandria is the earliest Christian writer to discuss what kind of music is appropriate for Christian use. He directs that it should not be the kind associated with erotic dance music; the melodies should avoid chromatic intervals and should be austere. Perhaps he had in mind some of the Gnostic sects among whom there would probably have been much less sense of inhibition and restraint. The second-century Acts of John preserve a Gnostic hymn intended to be chanted during a ritual dance (familiar to modern English choirs as providing the words for Gustav Holst’s Hymn of Jesus) ; but in orthodox eyes dancing did not succeed in becoming a natural and approved vehicle of religious expression, except in Ethiopia.[16]

As choirs grew in size, it became possible to have two groups of singers chanting alternately. This practice of antiphonal singing came in during the second half of the fourth century. It spread across from Mesopotamia and Syria, and may perhaps have owed something to synagogue precedents. One of Basil the Great’s letters is devoted to a defence of his boldness in introducing the practice at Cappadocian Caesarea in face of outraged conservatism. It is very possible that Ambrose’s hymns at Milan were sung antiphonally.

The use of music in worship was not quite universally approved. In the fourth century a few strong-minded puritans wanted to exclude it altogether, and found a measure of support from those who felt that the chanting obscured the meaning of the words. Athanasius of Alexandria tried to meet the difficulty by demanding speech rhythm in chanting the psalms. On the other hand, the musicians had their chance with the singing of the Alleluia, the performance of which became quite long and elaborate. In his Confessions Augustine records how moving he found the psalm chants in use at Milan, observing that, while he felt guilty of a grave fault if he found the music more important to him than the words, he knew that the words were invested with a far greater power to come home to the mind when they were associated with music of haunting beauty. Augustine observes that there is no emotion of the human spirit which music is incapable of expressing, and that it is excessive austerity to exclude it from church services.

What music the early Christians sang can hardly be told. Only a solitary specimen, the third-century Egyptian papyrus already mentioned, has been preserved. The surviving Greek and Latin manuscripts containing musical notation belong to the medieval period. It is highly probable that the singing in the great centres like Jerusalem, Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople, and Rome, provided a model for the imitation of smaller towns. By the end of the sixth century the chanting practised at the city of Rome had become a model for other Western churches; and by the ninth century responsibility for the invention of the Roman system came to be ascribed to Pope Gregory the Great, so that the local Roman chants were known as ‘ Gregorian’.

By a comparable process many of the hymns used in the Western churches quietly became ascribed to Ambrose. There were also other poets whose hymns achieved wide recognition. Venantius Fortunatus (540-600), bishop of Poitiers, wrote hymns of genuine sensitivity and pathos – Vexilla Regis, Pangue Lingua, and Salve Festa Dies remain in use today. Rather earlier in the sixth century at Constantinople there lived the greatest hymn-writer of the Eastern churches, Romanos, who died soon after 555. A converted Jew, he came to Constantinople from Syria and wrote hymns for Justinian’s splendid foundations in the capital. He created the Kontakion,[17] an acrostic verse sermon of many stanzas, each stanza being sung from the pulpit by a soloist with an answering refrain from the choir. Romanos partly inspired the author of the most famous of Greek Lenten hymns, the so-called Akathistos (i.e. to be sung standing) in honour of the Blessed Virgin.







  Martyrs and Relics

The beginnings of veneration of martyrs and of their relics run back to the middle of the second century. Their deaths were regularly commemorated with public services (ante, p. 93). With the conversion of Constantine, however, and the accession to the church of masses fresh from heathenism, this reverence largely increased. Constantine himself built a great church in honor of Peter in Rome. His mother, Helena, made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, where the true cross was thought to be discovered. Men looked back on the time of persecution with much reason, as a heroic age, and upon its martyrs as the athletes of the Christian race. Popular opinion, which had long sanctioned the remembrance of the martyrs in prayer and worship, had passed over, before the close of the fourth century, to the feeling that they were to be prayed to as intercessors with God,[18] and as able to protect, heal, and aid those who honored them. There arose thus a popular Christianity of the second rank, as Harnack has well called it. The martyrs, for the masses, took the place of the old gods and heroes. To the martyrs, popular feeling added distinguished ascetics, church leaders, and opponents of heresy. There was, as yet, no regular process of weighing claims to sainthood. Inclusion in its ranks was a matter of common opinion. They were guardians of cities, patrons of trades, curers of disease. They are omnipresent. As Jerome expressed it; “They follow the Lamb, whithersoever He goeth. If the Lamb is present everywhere, the same must be believed respecting those who are with the Lamb.”[19] They were honored with burning tapers.[20]

  The Virgin Mary

    Chief of all these sacred personages was the Virgin Mary. Pious [contemplation concerned] itself with her early. To Irenæus she was the second Eve (ante, p. 66). Yet, curiously enough, she did not stand out pre-eminent till well into the fourth century, at least in the teaching of the intellectual circles in the church, though popular [tradition], as reflected for instance in the apocryphal Protevangelium of James, had made much of her. Ascetic feeling, as illustrated in Tertullian and Clement of Alexandria, asserted her perpetual virginity. With the rise of monasticism, the Virgin became a monastic ideal. The full elevation of Mary to the first among created beings came with the Christological controversies, and the complete sanction of the description “Mother of God,” in the condemnation of Nestorius and the decision of the Councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon. Thenceforth the Virgin was foremost among all saints in popular and official reverence alike. To her went out much of that feeling which had found expression in the worship of the mother goddesses of Egypt, Syria, and Asia Minor, though in a far nobler form. Above that was the reverence rightfully her due as the chosen vehicle of the incarnation. All that martyr or Apostle could do for the faithful as intercessor or protector, she, as blessed above them, could dispense in yet more abundant measure. In proportion, also, as the Cyrillic interpretation of the Chalcedonian creed and Monophysitism tended to emphasize the divine in Christ at the expense of the human, and therefore, however unintentionally, put Him afar from men, she appeared a winsome sympathizer with our humanity. In a measure, she took the place of her Son, as mediator between God and man.

  Angels, Relics, [Images]

    The roots of angel-[veneration] are to be found in apostolic times,[21] yet though made much of in certain Gnostic systems, and playing a great role, for instance, in the speculations of an Origen, angels were not conspicuously objects of Christian reverence till late in the fourth century. They were always far less definite and graspable by the common mind than the martyrs. Reverence for angels was given great furtherance by the Neo-Platonic Christian mystic work composed in the last quarter of the fifth century in the name of Dionysius the Areopagite,[22] and called that of Pseudo-Dionysius. Of all angelic beings, the Archangel Michael was the most honored. A church in commemoration of him was built a few miles from Constantinople by Constantine, and one existed in Rome early in the fifth century. When the celebration of his festival on Michaelmas, September 29—one of the most popular of mediæval feast-days in the West—was instituted, is uncertain.

    It has already been pointed out that reverence for relics began early. By the fourth century it was being developed to an enormous extent, and included not merely the mortal remains of martyrs and saints, but all manner of articles associated, it was believed, with Christ, the Apostles, and the heroes of the church. Their wide-spread use is illustrated by the statute of the Seventh General Council (787); “If any bishop from this time forward is found consecrating a temple without holy relics, he shall be deposed as a transgressor of the ecclesiastical traditions.”(Canon 7) Closely connected with this reverence for relics was the valuation placed on pilgrimages to places where they were preserved, and above all to the Holy Land, or to Rome.

    Reverence for icons was slower in gaining a foothold. It seemed too positively connected with the ancient idolatry. By the time of Cyril of Alexandria, however, it was rapidly spreading in the Eastern Church, where it became, if anything, more prevalent than in the West. The struggles ending in the full authorization of icons by the Seventh General Council have already been narrated (ante, p. 163). [Later] Christian opinion [in the East] [23] was that representation on a flat surface only, paintings, and mosaics, not statues, should be allowed, at least in the interior of churches, and this remains the custom of the Greek Church to the present, though this restriction was not a matter of church law.

    This Christianity of the second rank profoundly affected the life of the people, but it had also its heartiest supporters in the monks, and it was furthered rather than resisted by the great leaders of the church, certainly after the middle of the fifth century. It undoubtedly made the way from heathenism to Christianity easier for thousands, but [if carried too far it held the potential of] heathenizing the church itself.


[1] E g., Ayer, pp. 542, 555.

[2] Ayer, p. 361.

[3] Ibid., p. 363.

[4] Ayer, p. 360.

[5] Ibid., p. 283.

[6] Ibid., p. 280.

[7] Letters, 145.

[8] Acts 8.14-17.

[9] Kirsopp Lake, in Hastings’s Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, 3601-8.

[10] In the sixth century the Byzantines had a special rite for Wednesdays and Fridays in Lent when they used elements consecrated on the preceding Sunday, hence called the Liturgy of the Presanctified.

[11] It has been conjectured that the original text had a Sanctus where the Epiclesis now stands, but there is no solid basis for this guess in the ancient texts.

[12] Compare the influence in the West of the ‘barley-sugar’ columns supporting the altar canopy in Constantine’s church of St Peter’s, Rome.

[13] Missa (a) dismissal (of soldiers); (b) by 400, any act of public worship; (c) by 800, ‘mass’, because of its dismissal formula, Ite missa est.

[14] These may have included the Sanctus, but Ambrose does not mention this.

[15] The first use of the Te Deum is found at Arles under Caesarius (d. 542), but it is certainly older, probably a remaking of a third-century hymn cited by Cyprian. The authorship of the Te Deum is unknown.

[16] Sacred dances were acceptable both in the Jewish tradition (as many Old Testament passages illustrate) and in, for example, the pagan mysteries of Dionysus. But among the Christians they appear either in fringe sects, such as the Melitians in Egypt, or in the exciting popular carnivals on the feasts of martyrs, concerning which Basil the Great, Ambrose, and Augustine express anxious disapproval. As for ballet as an art form, in antiquity this was vulgar, aggressively erotic, and the object of censure to pagan intellectuals like Libanius, Julian, and Macrobius, as well as to moralists like John Chrysostom.

[17] The Kontakion got its name in the ninth century from the rod (kontos) round which the text was rolled.

[18] Augustine, Sermons, 15.91

[19] Against Vigilantius, 6.

[20] Ibid., 7.

[21] Col. 2.18.

[22] Acts 17.34.

[23] “In Orthodox practice icons are normally two-dimensional, but the use of free-standing, three-dimensional statues is not altogether unknown. Although modern Orthodox writers sometimes condemn the use of statues, in the eighth/ninth-century iconodule sources no doctrinal significance is attached to the distinction between two- and three-dimensional religious art.”, Bishop Kallistos Ware, “The Spirituality of the Icon”, ch. 7. The Study of Spirituality. Cheslyn Jones, Geoffrey Wainwright, Edward Yarnold (Oxford University Press. New York. 1986 pp. 195-199)


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