Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann
On the Origins of Christian Worship:
“The Problem of the Origin of the Ordo”
[i.e., of the Church’s Liturgical Typikon]
Chapter Two of
Introduction to Liturgical Theolog
y(St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Crestwood, NY;2d ed. 1975) pp. 40-71.
If we are correct in seeing the basic structure or ‘form’ of the Ordo in the connection of the Eucharist with the liturgy of time, then the first question which we must attempt toanswer is the question of the origin of this form. Contemporary liturgical scholarshipdoes not give a simple and unanimous answer. The genesis of what we have called the‘liturgy of time’ presents the main difficulty. Some historians simply deny its primitivenessin the liturgical tradition of the Church. They even deny the presence of the daily cycle inthis tradition. The early Christian cult, in their opinion, was limited to the Eucharisticassembly, and all its other ‘expressions’ (preaching, Baptism, the Laying on of Hands)were simply bound up with the Eucharist as its indispensable elements. ‘The earlyChurch,’ writes O. Cullman, ‘knows only the following two forms of cult: the commonmeal, after which there follows always the preaching of the Gospel and Baptism.’
G. Dixis even more radical. In his opinion even the night vigils, whose existence in thepre-Nicene Church was never before open to any special doubt, are nothing but the‘invention of liturgical textbooks.’
also deny the presence of thedaily cycle in the early Church.How then did this liturgy of time arise and how did it become the all-embracingframework of the Church’s prayer? The historians mentioned above connect itsbeginning with the rise of monasticism in the second century, which is described as
Le Culte dans l'Eglise primitive
, Neuchatel and Paris, Delachaux, 1944, p. 30.
The Shape of the Liturgy,
Westminster, Dacre Press, 1945, p. 325; cf. p. 319f.
Origines du culte chretien,
Paris, E. de Boccard, 1925, p. 469.
Histoire du Breviare Romain,
Paris, Gabalda, 1895, pp. 28ff.