An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Glossary of Terms

O Antiphons

See Great O Antiphons of Advent.

Oakerhater, David Pendleton

(d. Aug. 31, 1931). The only American Indian listed in the Episcopal calendar of the church year. He was born between 1844 and 1851 on a Cheyenne reservation in Western Oklahoma. Oakerhater, whose name means “Making Medicine,” was imprisoned in Florida for his alleged role in the Battle of Adobe Walls in 1874. He was […]


A swearing that asserts the truth of a statement or promise, typically in the name of God. An oath is often made formally and solemnly. For example, a witness at a trial may swear that his or her testimony will be the full truth. Similarly, one who takes an oath of office swears to fulfill […]

Oath of Allegiance

In 1604 Parliament passed an act requiring all clergy of the Church of England to take an Oath of Allegiance at their ordination to the diaconate or priesthood in which they acknowledged the King (or Queen) of England as supreme governor of the church in all spiritual and temporal matters. Those who refused to take […]


The term is from the Latin for “offered.” Historically, in medieval times, oblates were children who were “given to God” in a monastery by their parents. The child would be educated in the monastery with a view to becoming a member of the religious community. This practice was endorsed by the Rule of St. Benedict. […]


1) Prayer of self-offering. Oblation is “an offering of ourselves, our lives and labors, in union with Christ, for the purposes of God” (BCP, p. 857). Christian oblation is based in Christ's one offering of himself for our salvation. The BCP states that oblation is one of the principal kinds of prayer. 2) In reference […]


The term comes from a Latin word which means earnest entreaty or supplication made in the name of a deity or some sacred thing. The word has often been used to designate those petitions in the Great Litany which begin with the word “By” (see BCP, p. 149).


Funeral rites or ceremonies for the burial of the dead.


” See Oil, Holy.

Occasional Offices

See Pastoral Offices.

Occasional Papers of the Standing Liturgical Commission, The

These were originally issued beginning in 1982 as a series of papers by the Standing Liturgical Commission with the authorization of the General Convention. In 1987 those published during the 1982-85 triennium were published in book form with this title. In 1994 the title of the series was changed to Liturgical Studies, and two additional […]


The coincidence of two scheduled feasts or observances of the calendar of the church year on the same day. For example, feasts celebrated on fixed dates such as All Saints' Day (Nov. 1) or the feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle (Nov. 30) might occur on Sundays. The calendar of the church year provides rules […]


Celebration of a feast over an eight-day period, beginning with the feast day itself as the first day. The term is from Latin for “eighth.” The term may indicate the entire eight-day celebration or the eighth day of the celebration (also known as the octave day). Celebration of saints' days with octaves were numerous during […]

Odium Theologicum

The term is from the Latin, “theological hatred,” and indicates the bitterness and hostility that may accompany theological controversy.

Oertel, Johannes Adam Simon

(Nov. 3, 1823-Dec. 9, 1909). Priest and artist. He was born in Furth, near Nuremberg, in Bavaria, Germany. Oertel studied art in Nuremberg and Munich and spent much of his time engraving until 1848, when he came to the United States. He lived in Newark and then Madison, New Jersey. In 1861 he moved to […]

Offering, Offerings

Gifts presented at a church service or other gathering. At the offertory, prior to the eucharistic prayer, representatives of the congregation bring the people's offerings of bread and wine, and money or other gifts, to the deacon or celebrant (BCP, p. 361). An offering (typically of money) may be presented at the offices of Morning […]

Offertory, Offertory Procession, Offertory Sentence

The first action of the second part of the Holy Eucharist-the liturgy of the table, called The Holy Communion by the BCP (pp. 333, 361). It consists of bread and wine, along with money and other gifts, which are presented to the deacon (or celebrant) who then sets the table for the feast. The procession […]

Office Hymn

An office hymn has formed a part of the Daily Offices of western Christians since the time of St. Ambrose in the fourth century. Ambrose is credited with beginning the practice of singing hymns in his cathedral, and the earliest surviving Latin office hymns are attributed to him. The office hymns at noonday and compline […]

Office of Institution

American Prayer Books preceding the 1979 BCP included “An Office of Institution of Ministers into Parishes or Churches.” After the 1844 revision, this rite only provided for the induction of the rector of a parish. Prior to the 1928 BCP, the service included Morning Prayer with proper lessons and psalms appointed, the ceremony of induction, […]


The person who leads the Daily Office or another church service. The term may indicate a member of the clergy or a lay person. The BCP uses the term to identify the person who leads the Daily Offices of Morning Prayer, Noonday Prayer, Order of Worship for the Evening, Evening Prayer, and Compline; the Great […]

68 records

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.