This study considers what Christian worship has meant to its contemporaries across the centuries. It treats different episodes in the history of the Christian Church and applies to each episode these questions:
- Why did Christians go to church?
- Why worship?
- What happened to them there, substantively and otherwise, and how did they respond?
With these particular queries as well as passages from contemporary theological and liturgical texts as a starting point, Cheung Salisbury carefully explores the evidence for the functions of Christian worship. He argues that the purpose and function of worship in Christian life has never been static and that the particular approach of different periods to the liturgy has been moderated by wider cultural influences, by theological developments and changes, and by the particular circumstances in which the worship was carried out.
Cheung Salisbury proposes that the various forms of worship through the centuries and the understanding of liturgy and worship among and upon Christians demonstrates the variety of ways that Christian living operates in service of God.
Matthew Cheung Salisbury is lecturer in music at University College in the University of Oxford. His writings on musicological, bibliographical, and historical topics have been published in more than fifteen books and articles and his research has been cited internationally on the BBC.
A highly striking treatment of the basics of liturgical theology that does justice to both the theological and historical aspects. This fresh and impressive exploration of the fundamental elements of worship is deeply considered in the light of, but not bound by, a firm grasp of historical tradition. A novel structure that goes backwards chronologically is challenging and effective. The wide-ranging introductory chapter at once explains the rather unusual purpose of the book and hints at the breadth of discussion to follow. Church leaders in many denominations would do well to ponder the conclusions implicit in the author's nuanced treatment of his subject. On balance, a wise, deeply reflective book by a fine scholar.
Richard W. Pfaff University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Drawing on his experience as both a practicing church musician and a scholar, Cheung Salisbury deftly explores the relationship between worship today and its historical antecedents. He asks the important question of how worship, in each age, has appealed to the senses, what its function has been, and what it might still be. This fascinating and interdisciplinary work, which will appeal to people of faith or of none, impressively imparts insights from history, music, and liturgical practice in order to help us understand why we worship, what happens when we do, and what it is for. Cheung Salisbury shows us that, although the form of worship may have undergone change in different ages, its performative function is as relevant as ever, the constant thread being the objective of prayer and praise to God and the innate necessity for human beings to engage in God-directed activity.
Rev. Dr. Jonathan Arnold, Chaplain and Senior Resea ch Fellow, Worcester College, Oxford