Fortress Press

Embodied Liturgy: Lessons in Christian Ritual

Embodied Liturgy

Lessons in Christian Ritual

Frank C. Senn (Author)


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Embodied Liturgy marks a “return to the body” in thinking about Christian liturgy and sacramental practice. Rooted in phenomenology and incarnational theology, the book gives primary focus to the body as it considers the prayer offices and the liturgical calendar, sacrifices and sacraments, initiation and vestments, ritual theory and play, word and meal, fasting and feasting, penance and celebration, rites of passage, cultural perspectives, and the role of art, music, dance, and drama in worship. The author invites readers to return to the experience of their own body through guided yogic exercises. As a text for students and liturgical practitioners, the volume gives fresh voice to the experience and practice of worship as bodily acts. Embodied Liturgy is a dynamic, accessible new resource in liturgical and sacramental theology from one of the premiere scholars in the field. Frank C. Senn distills an established legacy of expertise in an innovative and inviting perspective on bodily acts of worship.

  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781451496277
  • eBook ISBN 9781506408460
  • Dimensions 6 x 9
  • Pages 440
  • Publication Date June 1, 2016


1. Bodies and Liturgy
2. Earthly Bodies, Earthly Means
3. Naked Bodies, Clothed Bodies
4. Ritual and Play
5. Sacrifices and Meals
6. Penitential Bodies, Celebrating Bodies
7. Young Bodies, Healthy Bodies
8. Sexual Bodies, Dead Bodies
9. Cultural Bodies, Artistic Bodies
10. Breathing Bodies, Singing Bodies
11. Bodies in Motion
12. Performing Bodies
Index of Names
Index of Topics


"Frank C. Senn has been a leading contributor to the field of liturgical studies, with significant contributions to both liturgical theology and history. Here, he challenges any approach to embodied worship that is itself abstract, drawing on his wide knowledge of the full sweep of liturgical history and his synthetic vision of ecumenical liturgical theology. This book is an invitation not only to think about worship more precisely, but also to engage in worship more deeply. Readers from several Christian traditions will be encouraged, challenged, and provoked by the wide range of examples and insights conveyed here."

John D. Witvliet | Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary

"No pun intended, but Frank C. Senn's latest book, Embodied Liturgy will get you in touch with your body—your body as part of the body of Christ, and your body as an integral part of the worshipping assembly. From the breath that came into the first created bodies, bodies that were formed from the earth, to our very bodies that are marked with the promise of the resurrection, Senn takes us on an incarnate journey by which we come to know the One in whom 'we live and move and have our very being.' Through movement and sound, through beauty and play, through myriad cultures and the sweep of liturgical history, and finally through death and into eternal life, Embodied Liturgy will open its readers to worship the one God with heart, soul, mind, and a new strength that only comes from honoring these given bodies that God has made, as part of a life of honoring God."

Amy C. Schifrin | president, North American Lutheran Seminary

"The eminent liturgical scholar Frank C. Senn has helped us to see the obvious: we worship with and through our bodies. The whole person responds to the liturgical encounter with God in Jesus Christ. Thus, the liturgy affirms both the doctrine of the Incarnation and the goodness of our own bodies."

Jeffrey A. Truscott | Trinity Theological College, Singapore

"Frank C. Senn's command of interdisciplinary studies in liturgy is unparalleled. Like vinyasa yoga, his academic and practical discourse flows gracefully from sacramental and incarnational theology to ritual studies, from embodied cognition to the arts, masterfully revealing the interpenetration of the various dimensions of human life. This book will shatter the illusion that one can be a homo religiosus without the body."

Emil Salim | Reformed Theological Seminary, Jakarta, Indonesia

"While many liturgiologists have highlighted the importance of the body in worship, none has done so to the same extent as Frank C. Senn. Drawing on insights ranging from postmodern philosophers such as Merleau-Ponty to ancient sages of the East, the different aspects of the liturgy are interpreted here through the lens of humans as embodied beings. Senn shows how practically every lofty act of worship engages the most ordinary bodily movement. Its comprehensiveness, practical insights, and lucidity make it an ideal introduction to the study of liturgics."

Simon Chan | Trinity Theological College, Singapore