Liturgical drama: Medieval studies

Liturgical drama or religious drama is a kind of drama originating in the medieval church and its ritual forms of worship, especially that of the chanted dialogue between the celebrant and the congregation during Mass. Both medieval practitioners and modern historians have described the Mass as a kind of ritual drama, with the setting, impersonation of character, and even comic plot (because it ‘begins in adversity and ends in peace”). The earliest examples of these so-called liturgical dramas were short, vocal, and staged Latin dialogues among the women at the grave of Jesus and an angel announcing the Resurrection.

Secular drama in the form of Passion, Miracle, and Mystery Plays, developed beyond the church in the communities, probably has its roots in liturgical drama. As services were elaborated additional melodies (and tropes, in dialogue form) were interpolated. These plays became more popular, vernacular elements were introduced, and the laity, as well as the clergy, took in them. They are almost certainly the source of the Mystery Plays.

Also read: Book of Common Prayer

Also read: What is Liturgy? Definition and Examples