Liturgy Institute London

For a detailed and peaceful study of Liturgy

Liturgy in the West: History & context

Taught by: James Leachman

photo of James Leachman OSB

James Leachman


Aims: The course aims to provide insight into the origin and developments of the liturgy in the West up to the present day, reflecting the different cultural periods of society and how these shape the liturgy of the Catholic Church. It examines both the historical and liturgical record and and the recent debates among Catholic liturgists concerning the past and future development of the Roman Catholic liturgy. The course will proceed by means of a chronological study of the major periods of the liturgy of the Christian Church in the West.


Dates: 2 – 14 July 2012
(free days Sunday 8th , Feast of S. Benedict 11th): Block 2

Hours: 14.00-16.45 (including one 15 minute break)
The course anticipates the student will spend 60 hours in personal reading and study.

Location: Benedictine Study and Arts Centre (at Ealing Abbey)
74 Castlebar Road Ealing London, W5 2DD, UK


Previous knowledge

It is recommended that students be familiar with the history of western civilization in the Christian period and, in particular, with the various liturgical celebrations of the Catholic Church.



The course contains the following elements:

Part I:    A consideration of the method used and an outline of the different periods.

Part II:   The characteristics of the different periods of the Western Liturgy from New Testament  forms to Second Vatican Council.

Part III: Conclusions and principles of liturgical renewal.


Course Material

♦ M. Metzger, History of the Liturgy: The Major Stages,  tr. M. Beaumont, Liturgical Press, Collegeville MN 1997.

Introduction to the Liturgy (Handbook for Liturgical Studies 1), ed. A.J. Chupungco, Liturgical Press, Collegeville MN,  1997, 95-113, 131-152, 153-178.

♦ T. Klauser, A Short History of the Western Liturgy, , tr. J. Halliburton OUP, Oxford 1969.

♦ G. Dix, The Shape of the Liturgy, Dacre, London 1945.

♦ J. Jungmann, The Early Liturgy to the Time of Gregory the Great, tr. F.A. Brunner, DLT, London 1960.


Course activities

♦ study of the recommended literature and liturgical and cultural records;

♦ active participation in class activities;

♦ development of a knowledge of the theological issues involved in the contemporary discussions regarding the renewal and development of the liturgy of the Catholic Church and other Western churches

♦ development of a knowledge of the major issues concerning liturgical renewal since Vatican II.


Evaluation description

Examination type: class attendance and participation 25%; oral with written preparation 75%.

When?: final examination after the teaching sessions

Evaluation type: Closed book

Explanation: Copies of the liturgical books discussed during the course will be provided for students during the exam.


Note: Students must be over 18 years of age.

The course anticipates the student will spend 60 hours in personal reading and study.

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

Dates: Block I
2-7 July (Monday to Saturday; free day Sunday 8th)
9-10 July (Monday, Tuesday; free day Feast of St Benedict 11th)
12-14 July (Thursday to Saturday)
Students are invited to attend the St Bede Annual Lecture on Saturday afternoon.

Hours: 14.00-16.45 (two hours and 30 mins daily, including one 15 minute break)
26 contact hours = 2.5 hours daily for 11 days is 25.5 contact hours + supervised study

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



Limited accommodation is available for students over 18 years of age through Ealing Abbey or other religious houses or nearby.

Residential students may arrange to arrive on Saturday 14, Sunday 15 or Monday 16 July 2012 and depart on Friday 26 or Saturday 27 July 2012.


Additional information from KU Leuven course web-site

 Academic year: 2012−2013

 Study points: 4

 Language: English

 Difficulty: Graduate-Intermediate

 Duration: 26.0 hours

 Periodicity: Taught annually in Block I

 POC: POC Theology and Religious Studies


This course is included in

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