Liturgy Institute London

For a detailed and peaceful study of Liturgy

Western Liturgical Books

image of Daniel McCarthy15 – 26 July 2024, weekdays

IL: L703
KULeuven: B-KUL-A07I5A, 4 study points

Taught byDaniel McCarthy



At the end of the course each participant will be prepared to:

i. name and describe the characteristics and historical evolution of the principle liturgical books of the West, especially: the sacramentaries, lectionaries, and missals; the ordines, pontificals and rituals; breviaries;

ii. describe the content, historical context and contribution to the developing tradition of the primary books;

iii. use each book’s critical apparatus along with other research instruments;

iv. present one’s own research into these liturgical books.


Hours: to be determined. Typically 14.00 – 17.00 (including one 24 minute break)
The course anticipates the student will spend 60 hours in personal reading and study.

Location: Liturgy Institute London (at Ealing Abbey)
74 Castlebar Road Ealing London, W5 2DD, UK
Telephone: +44 (0)20 8194 2320
For further details or to register contact the Institute:
E-mail Clare Cogswell, the Registrar, at this linked E-mail address.
Location on Google Maps is found here.

KU Leuven awards 4 study points upon the successful completion of  this graduate course.
The Institutum Liturgicum requires this course for its IL certificate.


Previous knowledge

Beyond a general familiarity with the Bible and the history of western civilization in the Christian period, a general familiarity with the the history and context of the liturgy in the West would be helpful. Suggested but not required are the L701 Liturgy Research Seminar and L702 Liturgy in the West, History and Context.



The teacher presents and students handle a broad range of liturgical books. They trace the historical development of each class of books and examine the composition, historical context and contribution of selected books of greater importance.

The course contains the following elements:

i. Instruction on and use of available instruments of research;

ii. Instruction on and use of specific liturgical books, their content, context and contribution to the historical development of liturgy, and their critical apparatus;

iii. Personal research on an agreed short prayer in the Gregorian and Gelasian traditions, discussed regularly and informally in class and formally in the final oral exam.


Course Material

♦   VOGEL, C., Medieval Liturgy: An Introduction to the Sources, tr. rev. W.G. Storey – N.K. Rasmussen (National Association of Pastoral Musicians Studies in Church Music and Liturgy), Pastoral Press, Washington DC 1986 (of Introduction aux sources de l’histoire du culte chrétien au moyen âge, Centro italiano di studi sull’alto medioevo, Spoleto 1981) it is helpful if each student has one’s own copy of this volume.

♦   FOLSOM, C., “The liturgical books of the Roman Rite”, Introduction to the Liturgy (Handbook for Liturgical Studies 1), 245-314. This volume is available for consultation in the IL library.

♦   Participants who wish to prepare for this course may read the chapter by C. Folsom in advance and begin reading the book by C. Vogel. This preparation is especially helpful for people attending this course concurrently with another course.

♦   Participants with a personal computer, with a LAN cable or wireless connectivity and a UK plug-in adapter will benefit more readily from online resources.

♦   The Library resources are available to the participants including research tools, and many study editions of Latin liturgical books.


Course activities

♦   Students use the instruments of research;

♦   Students participate in class lecture and discussions when the instructor presents specific liturgical books, their content, historical context and contribution;

♦   Students examine the composition of Latin liturgical books and compare them;

♦   Students find original sources; examine their content and context; develop and present an argument on their historical development;

♦   Students use both printed, electronic and on-line research tools to study liturgical texts;

♦   The student and instructor agree on a brief prayer for study;

♦   As the course progresses through the primary Roman liturgical books, the student traces the prayer in each book considered in class, noting in writing the prayer’s textual variations, its context in each book and its historical development.

♦   As the course progresses through the primary Roman liturgical books, the student traces the prayer in each book considered in class, noting in writing the prayer’s textual variations and its context in each book;

♦   Students discuss their findings on their prayer regularly and informally in class and formally during the oral exam.


Evaluation description

Examination type: oral (100%); with written notes made throughout the course.

When?: oral exam is conducted at the end of the final session.

Evaluation type: At the beginning of the oral exam the student gives one copy of the notes on the agreed-upon prayer to the instructor and they are kept on file for one year. The mark is not based on these notes intended to help the student; they are not intended to be in essay form. The instructor then assigns one  of the principle early Roman sacramentaries in which the prayer appears and the student has 20 minutes to prepare a fuller explanation of its composition, historical context and contribution. During the oral exam, the student uses one’s notes and books to present the history of the agreed-upon prayer in the different liturgical books, its textual variations and different contexts in each book, and to make a fuller presentation on the liturgical book selected by the instructor. During the discussion the instructor asks questions that help the student complete the student’s presentation and to probe the clarity and comprehensiveness of the student’s knowledge, understanding and evaluation of the theory of these two topics and the application of them to the prayer in its ritual context.

Explanation: The student is to give accurate textual and contextual information about the prayer in each liturgical source considered in class and accurate information about the composition and use of the Roman sacramentary chosen by the instructor. The basis for accurate information is arbitrated by C. Vogel, Medieval Liturgy.

Second opportunity to sit the exam: Because this is an intensive summer course, the opportunity for a second exam is by appointment and depends upon the availability of the instructor.


Notes: Students must be over 18 years of age.

Students wishing to pursue our programme of studies are encouraged to begin with the two courses L701 Liturgical Research Seminar and L702 Liturgy in the West: History and Context before progressing to other courses.

Otherwise, this course may be taken alone or in conjunction with another course offered during the same block of classes.

If students enrol in two concurrent courses, they may wish to prepare for the intensive schedule by reading suggested texts before the course begins.

The instructor will arrange with the students to be available regularly for some time at the Institute and is also available by appointment.

Students and the public are invited to attend the annual St Bede Lecture, to be held at Ealing Abbey on Saturday afternoon 6 July at 2.30 PM.



Non-residential day students are welcome.

Limited accommodation is available through Ealing Abbey house for guests or other religious houses or nearby.


Additional information from KU Leuven course web-site

 Academic year: 2024 − 2025
 Study points: 4
 Language: English
 Difficulty: Graduate-Intermediate
 Duration: 26.0 hours
 Periodicity: Taught every other year, beginning with the summer session 2012
 POC: POC Theology and Religious Studies


This course is included in

Research Master of Advanced Studies in Theology and Religion (120 ECTS)

Master of Theology and Religious Studies Study Abroad Programme in European Culture and Society (PECS)

A link to the course descriptor at KU Leuven is available here.

Page updated on 22 July 2023 by DM.