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Sursum Corda: ritual and meaning of the liturgical command in the first five centuries of the Church

FOSTER, JASON,DARRELL (2014) Sursum Corda: ritual and meaning of the liturgical command in the first five centuries of the Church. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This dissertation explores the ritual and meaning of the Sursum Corda in the first five centuries of the Church. The original text and structure was forceful and abrupt - reminding those gathered of their heavenly position in Christ via their baptisms. When the priest shouted the command, those assembled assumed the orans position of prayer in the same manner as they did the first time they prayed the ‘Our Father’ after being baptized. In turn, the Sursum Corda brought spiritual and social order to often troubled Eucharistic assemblies. Certain third through fifth century Fathers employed various meanings of the command as they related it to the rites of entrance into the Church. When the initiated had their ‘hearts on high’ it resulted in the ability to ward off the attacks of the devil (evidenced by earthly concerns, attitudes, actions and perceptions) and, therefore, properly perceive the liturgical service as well as the Eucharistic gifts as the Body and Blood of Christ. In the sixth to eight centuries, the Great Entrance, coupled with its accompanying hymns the ‘Cherubikon’ and ‘Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence’ that contained exhortations to ‘lay aside all earthly cares’ (previously connected to the Sursum Corda), replaced the original meaning of the command as the gathered understood the entrance to be that of the Consecrated Gifts. This liturgical evolution resulted in the Sursum Corda transitioning textually and thematically to the exhortation ‘Let us lift up our hearts’ whereby the assembled ascended to the New Jersualem. When the heart made this journey it united with God in the Eucharist: the end result being a realized eschatology. Thus, the Sursum Corda evolved from a command to remember or realize one’s heavenly identity in Christ via baptism to that of a spiritual ascent to the heavenly city of God in the Divine Liturgy.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Sursum Corda, Great Entrance, Eucharist, catacomb, orans, orant, opening dialogue, eucharistic prayer, Anaphora, Augustine, Cyril of Jerusalem, Theodore of Mopsuestia, Cyprian, Chrysostom, Church behavior
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2014
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:09 Jul 2014 16:17

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