Recent articles in several religious journals have criticized the encroachment of a “liturgical movement” on the formerly “informal” denominations, such as the Methodist, Presbyterian, and Baptist churches. A careful reading of these articles reveals a widespread misunderstanding about what liturgical worship really is.

Consider first what it is not.

Liturgical worship is not “formalism.” It is true that we have too much of this and that churches once distinguished by a warm-hearted approach to the Gospel in which Christians are exhorted to love God, sinners are called to repentance, and sin is denounced in no uncertain terms, have become self-satisfied, immersed in mechanics, and absorbed in an attempt to “enrich” their services at the expense of fervent preaching and congregational participation. Worship, so called, has become formalized into a pattern which has no life; words are repeated without meaning, and exhibition pieces by the choir have replaced congxegational singing of familiar hymns. This is formalism, and it is a danger that must be met. But it is not liturgical worship—far from it.

In the second place, liturgical worship is not an attempt to “prettify” the service, to introduce new elements for the sake of novelty. The so-called Modern Creed has no connection with the liturgical, movement, which uniformly seeks to bring back the use of the historic creeds of Christendom, such as the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed; these have not only the merit of long usage, but also that of theological soundness. True, the Apostles’ Creed is couched in the language of ancient thought and does not say everything that we believe. It must be explained and interpreted if it is to mean much to the congregation. But it is much ...

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