Maybe something good happens, and you just lift your hands and face and say, “Hallelujah!”
Or, you agree with what somebody said, and you just say, “Amen” (Hebrew for, “OK by me !”)
Our less-churchy friends may think we’re some kind of holy rollers, for uttering such weird old words, but people who frequent worship services at least sort of know what we’re talking about.
I hope the following list of churchy terms clears up the meaning of some of the things we say but don’t necessarily understand. Most of these words came to English usage from other languages.
Here’s a key:
H= Hebrew / G= Greek / L= Latin / OE= Old English / F= French
Handy-Dandy Churchy Word List
From our Worship bulletin:
Prelude (F): Music played before the service.
Invocation: (L) “Calling-in”: we ask God to make His presence felt among us.
Introit (F): when the choir starts our worship.
Postlude: Music played after the service.
Scripture: (L) “writing”: for Christians,
words that come straight from the Bible.
hymn: (G) a song sung to God (rather than about God).
Or, God’s words to us !
Lord: (OE) the boss, the one who’s in charge. When
used toward God or Jesus, the ultimate Boss.
Note: when it is capitalized like this— “LORD” –
it is substituting for the Name, “Yahweh.” In Hebrew, “Yahweh” means something like “I WAS–I AM–I WILL BE.” This is what God told Moses when Moses asked Him what His Name is; in the Ten Commandments, it is the Name that no one should “take in vain.”
tithe: (OE) “10%” – of income or possessions
pastor (L): the “shepherd” of this flock, working for
the Good Shepherd, God in Jesus Christ.
doxology: (G) “praise-words”: We tell, in a song,
how we feel about God.
anthem: (G) Literally, “a flower”: in practice, ‘a pretty, ornamental thing.’
In a worship service, it’s a song presented as a special gift.
sermon: (L) “Better than a sleeping pill” (only half kidding!).
Actually, it originally meant “speech” or “conversation.”
What the preacher preaches.
benediction: (L) “good- saying”: a positive note to go out on:
the pastor blesses the people.
bless / blessing: (OE) to wish someone well,
or pray that God will do good for them;
the opposite of “curse.”
Related churchy words:
Hallelujah: (H) “Praise Yah!,” as in ‘Yahweh’ (see LORD, above).
The Greeks didn’t have a letter H,
so in Latin and Greek they wrote “Alleluia” when they copied this.
Hosanna!: (H) “O Save (us)!” What people yell when the hero rides into town to rescue them from trouble.
This is a good Palm Sunday word.
gospel: (OE) “God-talk” or “good talk”: it translates
the Greek word evangelion, meaning Good News.
Communion: (L) “in common”: what people share:
in the church: a ‘meal’ we have together as the Body of Christ, to remember Jesus—usually, a little bread and a little juice.
Redeemer: (L, OE) Someone who pays, so another can be set free from jail or debt: in church, a title for Jesus.
redemption: the price which the redeemer pays.
salvation: (L) “getting rescued” from any bad situation— including hell.
Savior (L, OE): a title for Jesus Christ, who rescues us from eternal death.
Maundy (Thursday)(L, OE): from Latin, mandatum, “command”:
Jesus said, “Eat this bread
Drink this cup… Do this in remembrance of me.”
That’s an order, for all who love Jesus.
Good Friday: The day when Jesus was crucified.
In human terms, it was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Friday. We can only call it “good” because of the amazing grace of God:
it’s GOOD for Jesus’ followers to remember
how much God loves the world.
Passion (H,G): We use this term in church to refer to the suffering and death of Jesus Christ.
This is the time of the Jewish Passover,
which in Hebrew is Pesach, and in Greek,
the holiday we call Easter is Pascha.
Holy Week: this week !
Worship, pray, and share your faith in fellowship, remembering the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.