This unit explores the history of the Church’s liturgy, focussing especially on key developments in the ancient/patristic, medieval and modern periods. Taking “heaven” and “earth” as metaphors of “transcendence” and “immanence,” the course explores how the liturgy expressed a different matrix or relationship between transcendence and immanence in each major historical period. With special reference to the Eucharist throughout, students are encouraged to discover the dynamic role liturgy has played in the Church’s navigation of two millennia of history.

Unit code: CH9240Y

Unit status: Approved (New unit)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Elective

Unit discipline: Church History

Delivery Mode: Blended

Proposing College: Yarra Theological Union

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Learning outcomes


Identify and explain key historical developments in the liturgy


Reflect critically on the use of concepts such as transcendence and immanence in tracking the history of the liturgy


Articulate how key historical developments in the liturgy have been reflected in Eucharistic celebration.


Analyse significant primary and secondary sources relating to key historical developments in the liturgy


Critically evaluate the nature and purpose of liturgical reform in the modern Church


Compare, analyse and assess arguments formulated by historians in explaining the evolution of the liturgy

Unit sequence

24 points at level 8. This is an entry level unit in liturgy, but builds on study in other disciplines


This entire unit will be run using the flipped learning approach. Students will be provided with readings (and potentially lecture videos) and reflection tasks to complete before class. During class, students will engage in a range of activities, discussions and debates designed to develop and deepen their understanding and articulation of learning outcomes.

Indicative Bibliography

  • Baldovin, John F. Reforming the Liturgy: A Response to the Critics. Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 2008.
  • Bradshaw, Paul F. and Maxwell E. Johnson. The Origins of Feasts, Fasts and Seasons in Early Christianity. Great Britain: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2011.
  • Ferrone, Rita. * Liturgy: Sacrosanctum Concilium* . New York/Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2007.
  • Jones, Cheslyn, Geoffrey Wainwright, Edward Yarnold and Paul Bradshaw, eds., * The Study of Liturgy* . London: SPCK, 1997.
  • McGowan, Andrew B. Ancient Christian Worship. Grand Rapids, MI, Baker Academic,2014
  • Ratzinger, Joseph Cardinal. The Spirit of the Liturgy. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2000.
  • Senn, Frank C. The People’s Work: A Social History of the Liturgy. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2010.
  • Spinks, Bryan D. Do This in Remembrance of Me: The Eucharist from the Early Church to the Present Day. London: SCM Press, 2013.
  • Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents*, eds., Austin Flannery. Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 1975.
  • Wainwright, Geoffrey and Karen B. Westerfield Tucker, eds., The Oxford History of Christian Worship. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.
  • White, James F. Roman Catholic Worship: Trent to Today. Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 2003.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)
Document Study 2000 30.0
Tutorial Paper/Seminar Paper 1500 20.0
Essay 3500 50.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by Maggie Kappelhoff on 31 Aug, 2021

Unit record last updated: 2021-08-31 16:39:01 +1000