An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Glossary of Terms


A mournful hymn. It can be a hymn that expresses grief, and it may be a lament for the dead. The term comes from the Latin Dirige, the first word of the antiphon Dirige, Dominus Deus, “Lead me, O Lord God” (Ps 5:8). This antiphon preceded the first psalm in the Office of the Dead […]

Disciple, Discipleship

A follower or pupil of a great master. A disciple is a learner who follows a movement or teacher and helps to spread the master's teaching. The term is used in various senses and contexts in the NT to indicate the followers of Jesus. Although it is used at times relative to the Twelve, it […]

Disciplina Arcani

The term is from Latin for the “discipline of secrecy.” It concerns the secrecy practiced by the early church so that certain teachings and practices were not shared with converts until they were initiated and had begun full participation in the life of the Christian community. Catechumens in the early church were dismissed from the […]

Disciplinary Rubrics

These rubrics are found among “Additional Directions” at the end of the eucharistic services in the 1979 BCP. The rubrics derive from the 1549 Prayer Book and involve the prohibition of communion to those known to be living in major contradiction to the Christian life. The rubrics require notification of the bishop within fourteen days […]


1) In a general sense, the right ordering of Christian life and community. The Constitution, Canons, Prayer Book rubrics, and rules of the church are meant to govern the proper conduct, responsibilities, services, and actions of church life. At the time of ordination, all persons being ordained bishop, priest, or deacon state that "I do […]


A deacon, or the presider if no deacon is present, ends the eucharistic liturgy by dismissing the people. The term comes from the Latin Ite, missa est, “Go, it is the sending.” The Episcopal Church allows the dismissal in Rite 1 and requires it in Rite 2. There are four alternate texts: 1) “Let us […]


(1) The exceptional relaxation of a church law or penalty by the canonical authority owing to the needs of a special case or occasion. The dispensation must be for good cause. The church law remains valid despite the dispensation, but it is not applied to the case or situation specified by the dispensation. Members of […]


A Prayer Book containing the monastic Daily Office, except for the night hour of matins. Anglican versions include The Monastic Diurnal (1932, rev. 1963), with relevant material adapted from the English and American Prayer Books, and The Monastic Diurnal Noted (1952), a plainchant version edited by Winfred Douglas. The term is derived from the Latin […]

Divine Liturgy

A title for the eucharistic liturgy, used primarily by Eastern Orthodox. It is one of six names for the Eucharist given in the Catechism (BCP, p. 859).

Divine Office

See Daily Office.


See Apotheosis; see Theosis.

Dix, Morgan

(Nov. 1, 1827-Apr. 29, 1908). Long-time rector of Trinity Church, New York City, and General Convention leader. He was born in New York City. Dix graduated from Columbia College in 1848 and from General Theological Seminary in 1852. He was ordained deacon on Sept. 19, 1852, and priest on May 22, 1853. He began his […]

Doane College

This school in Crete, Nebraska, had extremely tenuous Episcopal connections. It was founded in 1872. It was not endorsed by the Diocese of Nebraska until 1931, when Bishop Ernest Vincent Shayler (1868-1947) was elected to its board of trustees. It was related in this superficial way to the diocese for twenty years, until Mar. 15, […]

Doane, George Washington

(May 27, 1799-Apr. 27, 1859). High church bishop. He was born in Trenton, New Jersey, and graduated from Union College, Schenectady, New York, in 1818. In 1820 he entered the General Theological Seminary, New York, where he came under the influence of Bishop John Henry Hobart, the leader of the high church party in the […]

Doane, William Croswell

(Mar. 2, 1832-May 17, 1913). Leader of the high church party. He was born in Boston, Massachusetts. Doane graduated from Burlington College in 1850. He studied for the ordained ministry under his father, George Washington Doane, the second Bishop of New Jersey. He was ordained deacon on Mar. 6, 1853, and began his ministry as […]


  A heretical teaching about the person of Christ which holds that Christ, the divine Word, only seemed to assume the flesh of Jesus. The term is from the Greek dokein, "to seem." Jesus' life, suffering, death, and bodily resurrection were considered unreal. It thus undermines belief in the reality of the Incarnation as a […]

Doctors of the Church

See Patristics.


The term is from the Latin docere, “to teach.” It means teaching or instruction in the most general sense. In a theological context the word carries the implication of belonging to a school of thought or a body of believers. Christian doctrine is the rational exposition and illumination of the affirmations of the Christian faith […]

Dod, Robert Stockton

(Jan. 13, 1855-Aug. 27, 1924). One of three founders of the Order of the Holy Cross. He studied at General Theological Seminary. Dod was ordained deacon on June 9, 1878, and priest on Aug. 24, 1880. He and James Otis Sargent Huntington attended a retreat in Philadelphia on Nov. 8-13, 1880, led by the Rev. […]

Doddridge, Philip

(June 26, 1702-Oct. 26, 1751). English independent theologian, writer, and poet. He was born in London and educated at Kingston Grammar School at the Rev. John Jenning's Dissenting Academy, Kibworth, Leicestershire. Doddridge served as minister at the Dissenting Academy after Jenning's death in 1723. The academy was reconstituted at Northampton in 1729 under Doddridge, who […]

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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.