Liturgy has been an important part of the life of the church since the very beginning. Because of this, the study of liturgy provides unique access for understanding the ancient church and its worship. These two volumes by C. E. Hammond and F. E. Brightman make available a thorough coverage of the ancient liturgies of the church from a variety of ecclesiastical backgrounds in the East and the West.
Brightman and Hammond's volumes provide introductory discussion, texts, and translation for a number of Christian traditions, including the Roman Church, the Byzantine Church, the Nestorian Church, the Coptic Church, the Ethiopic Church, and Armenian Churches. By including the liturgies of both orthodox and heretical Christian groups, Brightman and Hammond make it possible to more clearly follow the development of doctrine and scriptural interpretation. Strikingly, the language of the orthodox liturgy changes over time more than that of heretical sects. While the Orthodox Church adapted their liturgy in response to controversy, making ambiguous language more clear, the heretical sects, in contrast, tend to be more conservative in their willingness to change the liturgical language. For them, the ambiguity was simply interpreted in light of their own beliefs. Thus the liturgies of heterodox groups become a portal for seeing the worship of the ancient church before controversy created the divide. Liturgies Eastern and Western makes available the liturgical practices of the church of the first five centuries and beyond.
Moreover, access to ancient liturgical texts has traditionally been limited to individual Christian groups of which they are a part. For example, the Roman Catholic Church has its own liturgy and it does not mix with that of the Eastern Orthodox Church. With the Liturgies Eastern and Western Collection, you can find all of these resources in one place with original texts and often translations. Both volumes function as handbooks on ancient liturgy for the beginning student who is looking for high quality resources, but is not prepared for more specialist monographs. And while the blossoming of liturgical study in the nineteenth century created a need for such volumes, nothing similar in terms of an introductory text on ancient liturgy has been published since these two volumes at the turn of the twentieth century.