Liturgical Sense

The Logic of Rite

Louis Weil

Apr/2013, 160 Pages, PAPERBACK, 6 x 9

ISBN-13: 9781596272439



  • A premier Anglican liturgical theologian reviews the history of the liturgical movement in North America and anticipates next steps in liturgical “sensibility”

Louis Weil looks back on his work shaping the liturgical life of the Episcopal Church through his involvement with the development of The 1979 Book of Common Prayer — and looks forward to the future of the church and its liturgical life. Through stories and first-person anecdotes, Weil does "narrative theology" as only he can.

Although most points of reference are to the 1979 BCP, the book is aiming at a more fundamental level — not just Episcopal or even Anglican liturgy, but liturgical rites as such: how do they "do what they do?" — or NOT do when they are done badly! "Liturgical Sense" is two dimensional: both the "common sense" of liturgical rites and also their "aesthetic sense."

It is Dr. Weil's contention that in American culture we have an inherent inability to "think symbolically." Dr. Weil seeks to encourage a return to "liturgical sense" across the church.

Louis Weil was the James F. Hodges Professor of Liturgics at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California. His ministry included missionary and academic work in Latin America. In his work as a teacher of liturgy, he lectured on five continents. He was a member of the Standing Liturgical Commission from 1985-1991. He died in 2022.

While he takes English liturgical history and Anglican and Episcopal practice as his subjects, the wisdom and common sense that Louis Weil offers here are ecumenically important. His call for critical thought about what we do in worship and for cohesion and restraint in any liturgical act will matter immensely for all Christians who care about liturgical integrity and meaning in our time. Especially presiders at worship will find themselves urged to see that the major insight of the liturgical movement—that a faithful liturgical event is always corporate—makes a great difference to what they do with their own bodies as they lead an assembly. Future writers of rubrics and of liturgical manuals will need to attend to the method and the basic conclusions of this book.
—Gordon W. Lathrop
Lutheran pastor and liturgical theologian
President, Societas Liturgica

Wisdom. That is what you will find between the covers of this book. Wisdom. Born of decades of making sense of liturgical celebration in the Anglican tradition from ritual, historical, theological, and pastoral perspectives. If you do not care to have your assumptions challenged, do not read this book! Wisdom may not be for you! Louis Weil is an acute observer of ritual behavior and a reliable historian of the church's liturgical practice. His theological and pastoral insights are worthy of serious reflection by all who preside at the church's Eucharist. This is essential reading for all students in formation and an excellent review for seasoned clergy.
—J. Neil Alexander
Dean of the School of the Theology, the University of the South
Professor of Liturgy and Charles Todd Quintard Professor of Dogmatic Theology

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