The 20th century was a period of great liturgical renewal and reform, especially between 1955 and 1980. In the United States alone, those twenty-five years saw two new Lutheran hymnals (and a move towards liturgical unity across the Lutheran denominations), a revised Book of Common Prayer, and the first official vernacular translations of the Roman Catholic liturgy.
The liturgical changes came as the result of a surge in historical research beginning in the 1800s. Indeed, Lutherans of a certain age will remember the old Common Service Book, used for some four decades (1918-1958), but the basic order of service was put together in the 1880s.
In the case of the Roman Catholic Church, liturgical scholars were part of the driving force behind the Second Vatican Council and the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. The resulting changers were staggering. The chalice was restored to the laity, the priest turned towards the people (versus populi, as opposed to facing east, ad orientem), and the Mass was celebrated in the language of the people. Continue reading “Vatican II: Hear the Difference”