An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church


Liturgical texts and ceremonies of divine worship. The term originally indicated the prescribed words of worship, but it came to include the entire liturgical action and presentation of the rite. The nineteenth-century ritualist controversy in the Episcopal Church included disputes over such practices as the use of processional crosses, altar lights, eucharistic vestments, incense, genuflection before the Blessed Sacrament, and elevation of the consecrated elements at the eucharist. In The Law of Ritualism (1866), Presiding Bishop John Henry Hopkins urged that a wide variety of ritual usage is permissible in the church. James DeKoven also appealed for comprehensiveness and tolerance in worship. He defended the ritualist cause at the 1871 and 1874 General Conventions. He urged that such practices as altar lights, genuflections, and the use of incense do not symbolize the doctrine of transubstantiation. Although DeKoven's position was not upheld in the canonical battle at the 1874 General Convention, his vision of a comprehensive approach to ritual prevailed in the Episcopal Church. See Hopkins, John Henry; see DeKoven, James; see Ritualism.

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.