Public Worship

Public Worship is the service of the different religious bodies open to all worshippers, and is so designated in distinction from minor services intended simply as auxiliaries to the devoted in their religious life. It is usually supposed to be a service under charge of clergy, though it need not be thus limited. It is at any rate supposed to embrace a public address in behalf of the truth espoused by the congregation convened. In the Christian Church the outward forms of religion tended in her very infancy to the imposing. From the ancient temples the incense and many customs of heathenism were transferred to the churches. By the use of tapers and perpetual lamps, the solemnity of nocturnal festivals was combined with the light of day. The people were called together by a piece of metal struck by a hammer, until this method led to the adoption of bells in the 7th century. Soon after the organ came into use, and added to the spectacular action of Christian worship. But notwithstanding this unwarranted tendency towards the dramatic, the expounding of Holy Scripture and prayer formed a principal part in early worship. In the Greek Church the principal part of public worship consisted in the sermon, though it was often only a rhetorical amusement rewarded by the clapping of hands. As the Church had been formed under the Roman empire, it retained many Roman usages. The first to protest against the peculiarities of the Romish clergy were the Christians of Britain, who worshipped in the simplicity of apostolic times. But no effectual check was put upon ecclesiastical usages, SEE IMAGE- WORSHIP, until the great Reformatory movement which resulted in restoring the beautiful and impressive order of the Saviour and his disciples. SEE WORSHIP. Nearly all Protestant churches have regulations regarding the form and order of public worship. In the Anglican service- book the rubrics (q.v.) present it. According to article 20 the Church has power to decree rites or ceremonies that are not contrary to God's Word; and according to article 34 "it is not necessary that traditions and ceremonies be in all places one, or utterly like; for all times they have been divers, and may be changed according to the diversity of countries, times, and men's manners; so that nothing be ordained against God's Word." But in this same article provision is also made against unscriptural (popish) innovations, as well as against the abandonment of those regulations instituted by the proper authority.

"Whosoever, through his private judgment, willingly and purposely doth openly break the traditions and ceremonies of the Church, which be not repugnant to the Word of God, and be ordained and approved by common authority, ought to be rebuked openly (that others may fear to do the like), as he that offends against the common order of the Church, and hurts the authority of the magistrate, and wounds the consciences of weak brethren. Every particular or national Church hath authority to ordain, changse, and abolish the ceremonies or rites of the Church, ordained only by man's authority, so that all things be done to edifying." Canon 6 provides: "whoever shall affirm that the rites and ceremonies of the Church of England by law established are wicked, anti-Christian, or superstitious: or such as, being commanded by lawful authority, men who are zealously and godly affected may not with any good conscience approve them, use them, or, as occasion requireth, subscribe unto them; let him be excommunicated ipso facto, and not restored until he repent, and publiclv revoke such his wicked errors." Canon 80. "The churchwardens or questmnen of every church and chapel shall, at the charge of the parish, provide the Book of Common Prayer, lately explained in some few points by his majesty's authority, according to the laws and his highness's prerogative in that behalf; and that with all convenient speed, but at thie furthest within two months after the publishing of these our constitutions. Every dean, canon, or prebendary of every cathedral or collegiate church, and all masters and other heads, fellows, chaplains, and tutors of or in anly college, hall, house of learning, or hospital, and every public professor and reader in either of the universities, or in every college elsewhere, and every parson, vicar, curate, lecturer, and every other person in holy orders, and every schoolmaster keeping any public or private school, and every person instructing or teaching any youth in any house or private family as tutor or schoolmaster, who shall be incumbent, or have possession of any deanery, canolny, prebend, mastership, hendship, fellowship, professor's place or reader's place, parsonage, vicarage, or any other ecclesiastical dignity or promotion, or of any curate's place, lecture, or school, or shall instruct or teach any youth as tutor or schoolmaster, shall at or before his admission to be incumbent, or having possession aforesaid, subscribe the declaration following: 'I, A. B., do declare that I will conform to the liturgy of the Church of England, as it is now by law established' (13 and 14 Charles II, c. 4, s. 8, and 1 William, sess. 1, c. 8, s. 11). And no form or order of common prayers, administration of sacraments, rites, or ceremonies, shall be openly used in any church, chapel, or other place than that which is prescribed in the said book (§ 17),'

Canon 4. "Whosoever shall affirm that the form of God's worship in the Church of England, established by law, and contained in the Book of Common Prayer and Administration of Sacraments, is a corrupt, superstitious, or unlawful worship of God, or containeth anything in it that is repugnant to the Scriptures, let him he excommunnicated ipso facto, and not restored but by the bishop of the place, or archbishop, after his repentance and public revocation of such his wicked errors." Canon 38. "If any minister, after he hath subscribed to the Book of Common Player, shall omit to use the form of prayer, or any of the orders or ceremonies prescribed in the Communion Book, let him be suspended; and if after a month he do not reform and submit himself, let him be excommunicated; and then if he shall not submit himself within the space of another month, let himi be deposed from the ministry." Canon 18 requires that "no man shall cover his head in the church or chapel in the time of divine service, except he have some infirmity, in which case let him wear a nightcap or coif. All manner of persons then pre-ent shall reverently kneel upon their knees, when the general confession, litany, or other prayers are read; and shall stand up at the saying of the Belief, according to the rules in that behalf prescribed in the Book of Common Player. And likewise, when in time of divine service the Lord Jesus shall be mentioned, due and lowly reverence shall be done by all persons present, as it hath been accustomed; testifying by these outward ceremonies and gestures their inward humility, Christian resolution, and due acknowledgment that the Lord Jesus Christ, the true eternal Son of God, is the only Saviour of the world, in whom alone all the mercies, graces, and promises of God to mankind, for this life and the life to come, are fully and wholly comprised. And none, either mann, woman, or child, of what calling soever, shall be otherwise at such times busied in the church than in quiet attendance to hear, mark, and understand that which is read, pileached, or ministered: saying in their due places audibly, with the minister, the Confession, the Lord's Prayer, and the Creed, and making such other answers to the public prayers as ale appointed in the Book of Common Prayer; neither shall they disturb the service or sermon by walking or talking, or any other way; nor depart out of the church during the time of divine service or sermon without some urgent or reasonable cause." Canon 14. "The common prayer shall be said or sung distinctly and reverently, upon such days as are appointed to be kept holy by the Book of Common Prayer, miand their eves, and at convenient and usual times of those days, and in such places of every church, as the bishop of the diocese or ecclesiastical ordinary of the place shall think meet for the largeness or straitness of the same, so as the people may be most edified. All ministers likewise shall observe the orders, rites, and ceremonies prescribed in the Book of Common Prayer, as well in reading the Holy Scriptures and saying of prayers as in the administration of the sacraments, without either diminishing in regard of preaching or in any other respect, or

adding anything in the matter or form thereof." Preface to the Book of Common Prayer: "All priests and deacons are to say daily the morning and evening prayer, either privately or openly, not being let by sickness or some other urgent canuse. And the curate that ministereth in every parish church or chapel, being at home, and not being otherwise reasonably hindered, shall say the same in the parish church or chapel where he ministereth; and shall cause a bell to be tolled thereunto, a convenient time before he begin, that the people may come to hear God's Word, and to pray with him." The American reviewers omitted from the Prayer-book the 45th canon of 1832, which enjoins that "every minister shall, before all sermons and lectures, and on all other occasions of public worship, use the Book of Common Prayer as the same is or may be established by the authority of the General Convention of this Church. And in performing said service, no other prayer shall be used than those prescribed by the said book." The Westminster Directory enacts: "Let all enter the assembly, not irreverently, but in a grave and seemly manner, taking their seats or places without adoration, or bowing themselves towards one place or other. The congregation being assembled, the minister, after solemn calling, on them to the worshipping of the great name of God, is to begin with prayer. The public worship being begun, the people are wholly to attend upon it, forbearing to read anything except what the minister is then reading or citing; and abstaining much more from all private whisperings, conferences. salutations, or doing reverence to any person present, or coming in; as also from all gazing, sleeping, and other indecent behavior which may disturb the minister or people, or hinder themselves or others in the service of God. If any, through necessity, be hinderd from being present at the beginning, they ought not, when they comne into the congregation, to betake themselves to their private devotions, but reverently to compose themselves to join with the assembly in that ordinance of God which is then in hand." This injunction to begin with prayer has been universally departed from in Scotland, and the reason assigned is this: "The reader or precentor began the service with reading a chapter, and gave out a psalm as the minister came into church — so that the minister, the psalm being sung, began with prayer. But the precentor's function has ceased since the middle or towards the end of last century, and the minister now begins with praise, doing himself what used to be done by his subordinate." SEE PRECENTOR; SEE READER.

In most of the American churches the principal object of public worship is the expounding of the Word of God by the minister in a sermon. This is usually preceded by song and prayer and the reading of the Scriptures, and followed by prayer and song. The order of arrangement differs, being usually regarded as immaterial. SEE CHURCH; SEE CLERGY; SEE LITANY; SEE PRAYER; SEE WORSHIP.

Topical Outlines Nave's Bible Topics International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Online King James Bible King James Dictionary

Verse reference tagging and popups powered by VerseClick™.