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Liturgical Terms

Chapter 9

Liturgy is a word used to describe a formula for worship within the church. This chapter consists of words, phrases and items that deal with the church and its practice of liturgical worship. From time to time, you will run across the word “liturgy” or “liturgical” in a definition. When it is used in this sense, it is referring to the specific liturgy followed by liturgical churches.

ALB – This is a white, ankle length garment worn by a priest when administering the Lord’s Supper (Eucharist). The alb is white and made from one piece of cloth to symbolize the garment Jesus wore before his crucifixion (Luke 23:11).

ALTAR – 1. This raised structure, made of stone or wood, is used for Communion. It is usually highly ornate in decoration and carvings, and sometimes has phrases or verses carved on it. The altar is always in the most prominent place in the church sanctuary. Some altars sit atop three steps which signify faith, hope and love. They are the three attitudes which those participating in Communion should model. It is upon the altar that the elements of the Lord’s Supper (Eucharist) are placed. This is appropriate because our Lord’s death on the cross would be the last sacrifice required by God for the forgiveness of our sins. 2.

 

When not used for Communion, the altar is left empty; or, it may bear a cross and two candles, one candle on each side of the cross. The empty cross represents the victory of Jesus over sin and death. The candles remind us that Jesus is “the light of the world” (John 8:12). In liturgical churches, the altar is to face east, towards Jerusalem, as a reminder of our Lord’s crucifixion and death.

ALTAR CLOTH – The altar cloth is a piece of cloth made of pure white linen and draped over the altar. This represents the white garments that Jesus was wrapped in when He was placed in the tomb.

ALTARPIECE – This consists of one or more panels either attached to or placed directly behind the altar. A single panel altarpiece is called a “largen” and a triple panel is called a “triptych”. If it has more than three panels, it is called a “polytych”.

AMEN – This word is said at the end of prayers and at the end of hymns that means “true”, “certain”, or “may it be so”. It is taken from the Hebrew word “amanl” which means “to strengthen”.

AMICE – This rectangular piece of white linen that was once worn on the head of the priest for warmth. It is now worn around the neck of the priest. The amice is often embroidered with a cross. It is symbolic of the blindfold placed on Christ during His mocking by the Roman soldiers in the Praetorium (Luke 22:63-65)

 
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