Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Liturgy of St James

Liturgy of St James

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Liturgy of St James'
Start a new discussion about 'Liturgy of St James'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
The Liturgy of Saint James is the oldest complete form of the Eastern varieties of the Divine Liturgy
Divine Liturgy
Divine Liturgy is the common term for the Eucharistic service of the Byzantine tradition of Christian liturgy. As such, it is used in the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches. Armenian Christians, both of the Armenian Apostolic Church and of the Armenian Catholic Church, use the same term...

 still in use among certain Christian churches.

It is based on the traditions of the ancient rite of the Early Christian Church of Jerusalem, as the Mystagogic Catecheses of St Cyril of Jerusalem
Cyril of Jerusalem
Cyril of Jerusalem was a distinguished theologian of the early Church . He is venerated as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Anglican Communion. In 1883, Cyril was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XIII...

 imply. Forming the historical basis of the Liturgy of Antioch
Antioch
Antioch on the Orontes was an ancient city on the eastern side of the Orontes River. It is near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey.Founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antioch eventually rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the...

, it is still the principal liturgy of the Syriac Orthodox Church
Syriac Orthodox Church
The Syriac Orthodox Church; is an autocephalous Oriental Orthodox church based in the Eastern Mediterranean, with members spread throughout the world. The Syriac Orthodox Church claims to derive its origin from one of the first Christian communities, established in Antioch by the Apostle St....

. It is also occasionally used in the Eastern Orthodox Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 and Melkite Catholic Church.

The Liturgy is associated with the name of James the Just
James the Just
James , first Bishop of Jerusalem, who died in 62 AD, was an important figure in Early Christianity...

, brother of Jesus and patriarch among the Jewish Christians
Jewish Christians
Jewish Christians is a term which appears in historical texts contrasting Christians of Jewish origin with Gentile Christians, both in discussion of the New Testament church and the second and following centuries....

 at Jerusalem
Jerusalem in Christianity
For Christians, Jerusalem's place in the ministry of Jesus and the Apostolic Age gives it great importance, in addition to its place in the Old Testament, the Hebrew Bible.-Jerusalem in the New Testament and early Christianity:...

. Saint James was martyred at the hands of a mob incensed at his preaching about Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 and his "transgression of the Law" - a factitious accusation made by the Jewish High Priest
Kohen Gadol
The High Priest was the chief religious official of Israelite religion and of classical Judaism from the rise of the Israelite nation until the destruction of the Second Temple of Jerusalem...

 of the time, Hanan ben Hanan
Hanan ben Hanan
Ananus ben Ananus , d. 68 CE, was a Herodian-era High Priest of Israel in Jerusalem, Iudaea Province...

.

The historic Christian liturgies are divided between Eastern and Western usages. Among the Eastern liturgies, the Liturgy of Saint James is one of the Antioch
Antioch
Antioch on the Orontes was an ancient city on the eastern side of the Orontes River. It is near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey.Founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antioch eventually rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the...

ene group of liturgies, those ascribed to Saint James, to Saint Basil
Liturgy of Saint Basil
The Liturgy of Saint Basil or, more formally, the Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great, is a term for several Eastern Christian celebrations of the Divine Liturgy , or at least several anaphoras, which have been attributed to St. Basil the Great, who was Bishop of C├Žsarea in Cappadocia from 370...

, and to Saint John Chrysostom
John Chrysostom
John Chrysostom , Archbishop of Constantinople, was an important Early Church Father. He is known for his eloquence in preaching and public speaking, his denunciation of abuse of authority by both ecclesiastical and political leaders, the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, and his ascetic...

. Other Eastern liturgies include the Assyrian or Chaldean rites, as well as the Armenian and Maronite rites. The Byzantine liturgies attributed to Saint John Chrysostom and Saint Basil are the ones most widely used today by all Eastern Orthodox Christians and by the Eastern Catholic Churches in communion with Rome.

The Liturgy of Saint James as it presently exists has been brought into conformity with developed Trinitarian Christianity and Eastern Orthodoxy.

Manuscript tradition


The Liturgy of Saint James is considered to be the oldest surviving liturgy
Liturgy
Liturgy is either the customary public worship done by a specific religious group, according to its particular traditions or a more precise term that distinguishes between those religious groups who believe their ritual requires the "people" to do the "work" of responding to the priest, and those...

 developed for general use in the Church. Its date of composition is still disputed with some authorities proposing an early date, perhaps ca. AD 60, close to the time of composition of Saint Paul
Paul of Tarsus
Paul the Apostle , also known as Saul of Tarsus, is described in the Christian New Testament as one of the most influential early Christian missionaries, with the writings ascribed to him by the church forming a considerable portion of the New Testament...

's Epistle to the Romans
Epistle to the Romans
The Epistle of Paul to the Romans, often shortened to Romans, is the sixth book in the New Testament. Biblical scholars agree that it was composed by the Apostle Paul to explain that Salvation is offered through the Gospel of Jesus Christ...

, while most authorities propose a fourth century date for the known form, because the anaphora
Anaphora (liturgy)
The Anaphora is the most solemn part of the Divine liturgy, Mass, or other Christian Communion rite where the offerings of bread and wine are consecrated as the body and blood of Christ. This is the usual name for this part of the Liturgy in Eastern Christianity, but it is more often called the...

 seems to have been developed from an ancient Egyptian form of the Basilean anaphoric family united with the anaphora described in The Catechisms of St. Cyril of Jerusalem.

The earliest manuscript is the ninth-century codex, Vaticanus graecus 2282, which had been in liturgical use at Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

, in the diocese of Antioch
Antioch
Antioch on the Orontes was an ancient city on the eastern side of the Orontes River. It is near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey.Founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antioch eventually rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the...

.

The only critical edition is the one published by Dom B.-Charles Mercier in the Patrologia Orientalis
Patrologia Orientalis
The Patrologia Orientalis is an attempt to create a comprehensive collection of the writings by eastern Church Fathers in Syriac, Armenian, Arabic, Coptic, Ge'ez, Georgian, and Slavonic. It is designed to complement the comprehensive, influential, and monumental Latin and Greek patrologies...

, vol. 26 (1950).

Rubrics of Worship


The Liturgy of St. James is commonly celebrated on the feast day of Saint James (October 23) and the first Sunday after Christmas
Christmas
Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual holiday generally celebrated on December 25 by billions of people around the world. It is a Christian feast that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, liturgically closing the Advent season and initiating the season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days...

, and then almost exclusively celebrated on a daily basis in Jerusalem, in the Eastern Orthodox Church. The Liturgy of Saint James is long, taking some hours to complete in full. The recitation of the Divine Liturgy is performed according to the worship rubrics of a particular Rite, with specific parts chanted by the presider, the lectors, the choir, and the congregated faithful, at certain times in unison. Like other compositions in the Byzantine tradition, the Divine Liturgy of St. James as celebrated in Greek forms the basis of the English transcription. In its Syrian form, the Liturgy is still used in the Syriac and Indian Churches - Catholic and Orthodox - both in a Syriac translation and in Malayalam and English.

During the Offertory
Offertory
The Offertory is the portion of a Eucharistic service when bread and wine are brought to the altar. The offertory exists in many liturgical Christian denominations, though the Eucharistic theology varies among celebrations conducted by these denominations....

, the partiture calls for a Cherubic Hymn chanted by readers as the priest brings the gifts to be consecrated onto the altar. In the Latin Rite, this composition became popular as a separate hymn of reverence for the Eucharistic species, known in English as Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence
Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence
Let all mortal flesh keep silence is an ancient chant of Eucharistic devotion based on the verses taken from Habakkuk 2:20 "Let all the earth keep silence before Him"taken from one of the books of the 12 minor prophets of Bible...

.

Musical annotation


The hymnographers of the early Church composed both the words of the sung prayers and the tones of the musical scale to be sung in a single codex for a particular community. The annotation was recorded in close correspondence to the text (for sample codices, see those collated by the North American Greek Orthodox Monastery of St. Anthony in Arizona) with neumes indicating the melodic tones and their duration used before the adoption of the Western system of staff and scales became established in medieval times. In those communities that worship in Syriac the neumes are mirror images of those used by the authocthonous Greek and Cyrillic Orthodox Churches and written and read right to left in accordance with the Arabic [Arabic or Aramaic?] script of the prayer texts.

The English Hymnal features the 1906 Ralph Vaughan Williams
Ralph Vaughan Williams
Ralph Vaughan Williams OM was an English composer of symphonies, chamber music, opera, choral music, and film scores. He was also a collector of English folk music and song: this activity both influenced his editorial approach to the English Hymnal, beginning in 1904, in which he included many...

 arrangement of the English verses of the Cherubic hymn of the Offertory chant (see above) to the melody of a French folk tune Picardy
Picardy (hymn)
"Picardy" is a hymn tune used in Christian churches, based on a French carol; it is in a minor key and its meter is 8.7.8.7.8.7. Its name comes from the province of France from where it is thought to originate. The tune dates back at least to the 17th century, and was originally used for the folk...

. The hymn is also popular in the Roman Catholic Latin rite as an alternative to the spoken communion antiphon.

English translation of Holy Qurbana


A reproduction of the text for the Liturgy can also be found at The Divine Liturgy of Saint James.

External links