Methodist Liturgy and Worship

Authored by: Karen B. Westerfield Tucker

The Ashgate Research Companion to World Methodism

Print publication date:  February  2013
Online publication date:  March  2016

Print ISBN: 9781409401384
eBook ISBN: 9781315613789
Adobe ISBN: 9781317040996


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Because of the relative ease in collecting worship books and hymn books, and on account of the long-standing philological methodology used in liturgical studies, research on Methodist liturgy and worship until the mid-twentieth century tended to focus on printed texts: worship-related books and pamphlets produced by John Wesley and his brother Charles, authorised or official worship resources approved at the highest level by Methodist or Wesleyan denominations, and materials produced by a denomination’s publishers but without the denominational imprimatur. Such an approach to research is limited in its ability to capture the actualities of Methodist worship since not only does it assume that worship is done ‘by the book’ but it also ignores matters such as ethos, performance and setting as well as the participation and response of the congregation (both as individuals and as corporate body) in the liturgical event. The application of social science methodologies and various performance theories to liturgical investigations from the 1980s onward has started to expand the range of research, as has the realisation (and recovery) that worship is an articulation of theological claims. Much work remains to be done in examining published and unpublished theological statements about worship written by Methodists in various locations and time periods, and in uncovering historic eyewitness accounts of Methodist worship recorded in the personal diaries and journals of Methodists and non-Methodists, depicted visually, circulated in denominational and other periodicals, and contained in manuscript documents of various types. Much research on present-day worship practices draws upon multiple methodologies, but given the complexity of such work, the majority of studies produced have focused in general on single congregations; much more synthetic works remains to be done.

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