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In Christianity, worship has been considered by most Christians to be the central act of Christian identity throughout history. Many Christian theologians have defined humanity as homo adorans, that is, the "worshipping man," and thus the worship of God is at the very core of what it means to be human.



Throughout most centuries of Church history, Christian worship has been primarily liturgical, characterized by formal, set prayers and hymns done in a particular order according to specific rituals, whose texts were rooted in, or closely related to, the Scripture, and particularly the Psalter. Set times for prayer during the day were established (based on Jewish models), and a festal cycle throughout the Church year governed the celebration of feasts and holy days pertaining to the events in the life of Jesus and also of the saints of both the Old Israel and the New (the Church).

A great deal of emphasis was placed on the forms of worship, as they were seen in terms of the Latin phrase lex orandi, lex credendi ("the rule of prayer is the rule of belief")—that is, the specifics of one's worship express, teach, and govern the doctrinal beliefs of the community. To alter the patterns and content of worship were to change the faith itself. As such, even though there was always a certain amount of variety in the early Church's liturgical worship, there was also a great deal of unity. Each time a heresy arose in the Church, it was typically accompanied by a shift in worship for the heretical group. Thus, orthodoxy in faith also meant orthodoxy in worship, and vice versa. Even the very word orthodoxy means both "right faith" (literally, "straight opinion") and "right worship" (literally, "straight glory"). Thus, unity in Christian worship was understood to be a fulfilment of Jesus' words that the time was at hand when true worshippers would worship "in spirit and in truth" (John 4:23).


The very early development of Christian worship is lost in the mists of the history of the very early Church, but Christian worship is, in general, rooted in the worship of Judaism of the Second Temple period. The Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles present the very early Christians, then still very much a part of the Jewish scene, as frequenting both the Temple and synagogues, as well as worshipping in private homes, frequently to "break bread," a term which connotes both the sharing of a ritual meal, of which the Passover meal is the best known example; and, within that context, celebrating the Eucharist. However, such meals were celebrated much more frequently, especially on Shabbat or the eve of Shabbat. Thus, Acts 2:42 presents the very early Church of Jerusalem as "continuing in the Apostles' teaching and fellowship [or "communion], the breaking of bread, and the prayers."

Psalms and hymns based on the Psalms were a regular feature of Jewish worship in the synagogues, and these were also incorporated into Christian hymns. The Psalms are still frequently quoted and paraphrased in nearly all the different Christian traditions and denominations, to a greater or lesser degree.

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Types of Christian worshipEdit

Liturgical traditions common to East and WestEdit

See also: Christian liturgy

Eastern ChristianityEdit

Western ChristianityEdit

Major collectionsEdit

Non-Liturgical traditionsEdit

Prayer Edit

Psalms Edit

Profession of Faith Edit

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Classical & Baroque Edit

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Holy days and seasonsEdit

Contemporary forms Edit

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