Earliest liturgy?


I know that Justin Martyr published the earliest description of the liturgy, but as far as I know, he didn’t publish a complete description, replete with prayers, etc.

I assume that we have extant liturgies from St. Basil and St. John Crysostom, since those liturgies are still practiced in the Eastern Catholic Churches (and elsewhere). Are these the earliest complete liturgies we have? Or are there other, fuller descriptions than Justin Martyr’s earlier than these?



Chrysostom translated one of the West Syrian Rites into Greek for use by the Byzantines. The Liturgies used by the East and West Syrian Traditions are the oldest. The Anaphora of the Twelve Apostles dates to the 1st century.


I thought that it was the Anglican Book of Common Prayer!?!? :wink:


:rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl: …I have to admit, that made me laugh (at work none the less)


=jemfinch;2341437]I know that Justin Martyr published the earliest description of the liturgy, but as far as I know, he didn’t publish a complete description, replete with prayers, etc.

I am not trying to hijack this thread but for anyone reading I want to give our perspective and then back out. I **do think **that Justin Martyrs description was complete, it just doesnt jive with what many think it should, and with that I am out. Hope you guys understand.


And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons.”"

  1. The writings of the apostles and prophets are read as long as time permits.
  2. The president preaches.
  3. Everyone stands up to pray.
  4. Bread, wine, and water are brought.
  5. The president says unscripted, “according to his ability”, prayers.
  6. They eat and drink.


what? the fathers left no missalettes? no power point presentations with the hymns, responses etc.? no overheads? how on earth did people of those times learn how to worship?


The liturgy of St. Hyppolitus (died 236) is probably one of the oldest. I wish I could find it online, but no luck. I know it exists though because I studied it in my early church history class.



His liturgy is the oldest known in the Western Church. It exists only in fragments. The Oldest Known Liturgy still in use in the Catholic Church is the Antiochian, which as I mentioned earlier, uses an Anaphora which dates back to the 1st century.


Here is the Anaphora of Addai and Mari still in use by the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East. They claim that it was written by Addai and Mari, two of the seventy two sent forth by Christ (John 10)


The following document tells the story on page 2 & 3.

Admission to the Eucharist in situations of pastoral necessity: Provision between the Chaldean Church and the Assyrian Church of the East**


I left that one out because “Technically” there is still a Schism between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church. There is also the Liturgy of St James. The Anaphora used by the Syrian Churches are published online by the Syrian Orthodox at sor.cua.edu/Liturgy/Anaphora/index.html


Technically you can cite this one because the Chalean Church will be using it. The Chaldean’s are in communion with Rome.



I know of the Liturgy of St. James and the Liturgy of St. Mark. Someone mentioned a Liturgy of St. John, but I’ve not heard of this one. Anyone have any more info on this?


While not providing a complete liturgy in the fashion we would necessarily understand it today, the Didache (AD 50-125) provided a fairly clear example of “how” the Early Church celebrated both the Eucharist and Baptism.


Drawn mostly, I’ll admit, by the lure of good piroghis and kolach, I attended a parish festival at our local (very small) Byzantine Catholic parish. As my husband and I were admiring their beautiful church (they bought it from the local Mennonite group when they moved further out into the country… then gave the church a gold onion dome and a beautiful icon mural of the Last Supper behind the altar!), the brother giving us the tour asked where we went to church.

“St. Gregory’s, up on the boulevard.” we replied.
“Oh, you use the new mass, then.”
“Um? You mean the Novus Ordo?”
“No, I mean the Tridentine Rite.” and he smiled.
“Ok, I’ll bite, what do you use?”
“The John Chrysostom mass from the 300’s!” :stuck_out_tongue:


I didn’t know King Henry Vlll was part of the early church?
And, wouldn’t you know it I looked him up on Wikipedia and I guess the’ve got it wrong?:shrug: I’ve always read he was a sixteenth century King of England? :blush:

"Henry VIII (28 June 1491 - 28 January 1547) was King of England and Lord of Ireland, later King of Ireland, from 22 April 1509 until his death. He was the second monarch of the House of Tudor, succeeding his father, Henry VII. Henry VIII is infamous for having been married six times. He wielded perhaps the most unfettered power of any English monarch, and brought about the Dissolution of the Monasteries and the union of England and Wales. He also introduced Protestantism to England."


A joke, Bishopite. Completely tonge-in-cheek. A jab at the Reformation.

'Tis to lahff.





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