Histoty of Liturgy

A Brief History

From the very beginning of Christianity in this country the sacred Christian mysteries were celebrated depending on the arrival of Missionaries since 18th Century. There was no unity among the very few missionaries country- wise. Each would celebrate Liturgy according to the country homeland tradition. The protagonists were the Holy Ghost Fathers, then followed the White Fathers, Benedictine Fathers and slowly others came: Capuchin Missionaries, Consolata Fathers and Passionists etc.

Dioceses were created in 1948. Slowly Bishops were coming together now and again to discuss important issues of pastoral concerns like  Education,  Health,  Catechesis,Liturgy etc.

1963-1965 The Vatican Council II brought up Liturgical Life with vivacity especially the idea of inculturation where the major part of it was the translation of the Roman Missal and the Bible from Latin , Preparation of the Lectionaries  in Kiswahili. A very big innovation in the Catholic Church= aggiornamento a term used by John XXXIII, which properly understood, meant studying from the old and the new sources to be  able to have a proper  and up to date Liturgy. Hence the creation of National Liturgy Commissions were enforced from the Sacrosanctum Concilium.

The protagonist we remember  in this country was the Most Reverend James Y. Komba the first chairman of the national Liturgy commission. He was among the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council. He pushed much as peritus and Father of the Council for active participation of the faithful in liturgical celebrations. Liturgy is the life and culmen of all activities of the Church. Without Liturgy there is no Church. In 1994 the commission was raised to a Department. Rt. Rev. Tarcisius Ngalalekumtwa was elected  chairman and Rev. Fr. Julian Kangalawe as Executive Secretary.

The task of the Department is to help proper understanding of Sacrosantum Concilium and the Post Conciliar Documents thus properly celebrate the mysteries  for the glory of God and salvation of man, as per the adage of the Fathers ‘Gloria De homo vivens’.  To this end, inter alia, liturgical books are the necessary tools and singing in cultural music took its high role. We very quickly started getting cultural songs composed. For the sake of unity and control finally books Nyimbo za Liturujia were composed.  Nyimbo za Liturujia vol 1 and 2 by the hard work of Music Committee with Fr.Dr.Thomas Eriyo  of Mtwara as chairperson, have been printed

Structure of the Department

In every diocese there is a Liturgy Committee, Music Committee and Inculturation and in some there is also Sacred Art Committee. The Chairman of the Liturgy committee from each diocese is a member of the National Liturgy Committee. Normally we  hold national meetings yearly or once every two years depending on the availability of funds.


1.With the recognitio

  1. Ordo Matrimonium
  2. De Ordinatione Episcopi, Presbyterorum et Diaconorum
  3. Ordo Dedicationis Ecclesiae et Altaris,
  4. Ordo Unctionis Infirmorum earumque Pastoralis Curae”.
  5. De Exorcismis Et Supplicationbus Quibusdam.
  6. Institutio Generalis Missalis  edition tertia 2002 The GIRM was translated and printed in 2006; it is being amended suite the RM 2008 emendata to be I  use the First Sunday of Advent 2012

Without recognitio

  1.  Liturgy of the Hours has been  translated without the Office of the Readings.  That`s why we have not yet submitted to the Dicastery for recognitio. It is, however, highly and extensively used by people of all walks of life.  The laity, catechists like the prayer so much especially Morning Lauds, Midday Prayer and Vespers, Night Prayer. The Department is working to have fully  and correctly translated.
  2.  Jerusalem Bible: Biblia Takatifu  is an excellent translation  used by TEC is the official text. The recognition was requested but from the end there has not been any reaction even after a second request. It may be it is not required. It is used in all dioceses and outside Tanzania so much needed it has undergone several  reprints as from 1997.   The last reprint has been effected through the Bible Society in Hong Kong 2012.  It is available at Bible Society – Dodoma.
  3. We have managed, through the Benedictines monks to prepare and publish “Liber Evangeliorum

We are aware of the following Books

  1. Missale RomanumEditio typica Tertia 2002, emendata 2008 to be worked upon
  2. The Martyrologium Romanum and the Directory on the popular piety and the Liturgy to be translated.
  3. The fifth Instruction on the translation of Liturgical textsLiturgiam authenticam of 2002which demands proper translation as close to Latin as possible.
  4.  Eucharist: Communion with Christ and with one another of the 50thIEC text has been translated and disseminated to all Dioceses.There  has been three National Eucharistic Congresses celebrated at Iringa and at Dodoma. The 3rd Congress was celebrated June 9th – 11th 2016 at Mwanza.


During our annual national meetings of diocesan Liturgical Coordinators

inter alia we have a seminar on one chosen theme. We have already done on International Eucharistic Congresses, The Sacrament of Penitence and Reconciliation., Sacrament of Matrimony, the CCC and the Liturgy, Ceremonial of Bishops, the Bible. We conduct  now and again such  seminars in their respective dioceses.

Liturgy at large is alive! What we still have to do is the approach in pastoral, catechetical and spiritual spheres for the benefit of all those involved in the celebrations, first and foremost the clergy.

Liturgy is to teach more that it does not loose the vertical dimension of what God is doing for our Salvation and what we should do to profit.

There is too much domain on a horizontal dimension that it becomes pro dolor  like amusement and entertainment.

 This is the problem with uncatechized choirs and other agents including the ordained ministers.

The sense of the sacred should never be compromised and never be  weakened by the current secularization to make the Church bankrupt of spiritual things. The public media such as Radio and Television etc. are used to teach Liturgy that it be better understood, treasured and celebrated fruitfully.

As regards singing in liturgical celebrations SC speaks of Sacred music. The sacredness of music remains almost undefined, thus anybody can compose any song and sing. We don’t have at present any school of Church music where one can learn what sacred music is all about. About Gregorian music there is little done by the elderly people. The Church however often reminds us not to throw away Latin hymns, songs in the Gregorian chant however simplified.

We are happy that the challenging task of the translation of the Missale Romanum, Editio typica tertia 2002, Emendata 2008 that began 2011 has been completed and is due to be sent to the Congregation of Divine Worship and the  Discipline of Sacraments for approval.