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History Of The Liturgy: The Major Stages Paperback – July 1, 1997


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Liturgical Press (July 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814624332
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814624333
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.3 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #153,579 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

. . . goes to the heart of what is Liturgy and why it has developed to the point at which we celebrate it today.
The Priest

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By C. Coyne on August 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
Metzger's book on the history of the western liturgy offers an accessible and well-structured treatment of the topic. As the professor of Sacred Liturgy at St. John's Seminary in Brighton, MA, I have used this text in my graduate level course on Catholic liturgy and it was well received by the students. As with most of these books, one could quibble over the somewhat artificial manner in which the historical epochs are divided into the various chapters, but Metzger, at least, offers clear reasons for his choices. The one major drawback, and the main reason why I offer only three versus four stars as a rating, is Metzger's limited treatment of the liturgy in the west from the twelth century onward; quote from chapter 6, "Owing to the centralization, fixity, and uniformization of rituals, the period extending from the twelth century to Vatican II is of limited interest for the history of the fundamental liturgical institutions" (p. 123). Yet, there were in fact many significant developments in the ritual life of the Roman Church such as the rites of marriage and Christian burial, the sacrament of the sick, and many minor rites attached to religious life. Metzger, in fact, makes mention of these and other developments later on in chapter six but gives them only a cursory treatment. As a result, in order to get a complete treatment of the history of the liturgy in the western church, one would have to go elsewhere, such as to James White's book on the history of the liturgy from Trent to today. All this is too bad since most of what Metzger has to say is quite good. One wishes he could have been more generous in his treatment of the post-twelth century history for that reason alone.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By James J. Kuropatwinski on August 26, 2007
Format: Paperback
I purchased this book for a Men's study on the development of the Catholic Mass. It was good for those purposes.

The author handles the second through fifth cenuries very well, however does a very broad sweep of at least 1,000 years (~900 to 1960); not too much of an issue (unless your specialty is the glorious Medieval Era) since alot of the Mass is developed in the Golden Age of the Patriarchs, culminating in the Carolingian Empire.

My greatest complaint in the book is that the author doesn't stay true to one of his initial premise. A quote,

"The Liturgy is indeed at the heart of the tradition of the Church; it is an apostolic heritage transmitted in a living way from generation to generation down to us. Whereas in a democracy the laws must obtain the assent of the majority, in the churches they must correspond to the will of Christ, the founder, as expressed in the tradition of the Church, written and oral.

"Therefore, the history of tradition, whose heart is the Liturgy, is the place where the will of Christ the founder was manifested and was implemented by church leaders under the action of the Holy Spirit. As a consequence, the history of the Liturgy must be known to church leaders, but it also interests believers eager to know the foundations of their faith."

I whole heartedly agree with this. The Holy Spirit speaks through the Liturgy, even uses the Liturgy to prepare Catholics for whatever the world may be ready to throw at 'em. (An example, the Golden Age of the Liturgy, was precisely when the various Germanic tribes was causing much chaos in Western Europe).
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By John A Lee III on June 14, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This little volume is written by a Roman Catholic from a Roman point of view but will be of interest to anyone interested in the development of Christian liturgy. It does no go over much into a description of the conduct of the rites themselves but instead describes their context, what prompted various practices and how those practices changed over time.

After a brief introduction, the author breaks his narrative into several distinct phases. These include Apostolic times, the period before Christianity was tolerated, the period when Christianity became "Official", and the later medieval period. Some information is given on the Vatican II reforms but this is not a major part of the book. Likewise, some attention is given to Eastern Orthodox practice early on but this subsides with the historical schism of the church and Easter rites are mentioned only in passing later on.

Very little will be found in here on Protestant practices but that does not stop the book from being useful to Protestants with an interest in liturgy. In the first place, it is well written and in the second, most of what is examined comes from a common heritage before the Reformation. There will even be found a few snippets that would seem to favor some modern Protestant practice over current Roman practice though they are not presented in this manner. (Unction comes immediately to mind.)

This volume does not presuppose a high level of training. Any person who has a basic familiarity with the practices of Christian worship should be able to follow along.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By B. Maher on February 11, 2010
Format: Paperback
In getting through his book, it was easy to note his personal liturgical biases. It began early in the text when it became obvious that he had repeatedly changed quotes of Church Father and various documents to exclude words such as "he", "man" and "mankind"; I can get past that, especially because of the frequency of such things these days. He spent the first 120 pages of the text on roughly the first 400 years of the Church and her liturgy in that period. I found it to be helpful in understanding what had taken place in that age. However, the following 1600 years were quickly passed over in 26 pages and essentially described as an age of degradation of the liturgy and an absolute neglect of the people of God. I would caution any reader to be careful in taking in too much of what the author says on that point (I would suggest stopping the book at the end of Chapter 4). To get a better view of the development of the liturgy over the years after that, I would suggest turning to Dr. Alcuin Reid's 'The Organic Development of the Liturgy'.
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