Hi so I'm a Latin student and I was just wondering.

  • My Father was a member of the Anglican Church in Michel British Columbia later incorporated as Sparwood BC. He told me the church he attended used latin in certain parts of its service. So, I'm wondering and puzzled how this can be if there were articles in this church that Latin was not allowed. Can some one enlighten me on this? Thank you. Milton Lowe.
    – Milton
    Sep 7, 2021 at 3:55

3 Answers 3


Anglicans do not use Latin for any form of normal worship service or for any normal purposes.

The 24th article of the foundational articles of the Anglican church states:

It is a thing plainly repugnant to the Word of God, and the custom of the Primitive Church, to have public Prayer in the Church, or to minister the Sacraments in a tongue not understanded of the people.

In other words, services should be in a language the people can understand. There are pretty much no communities where Latin is understood by most people. People who disagreed with this mostly left the Anglican church for the Roman church decades if not centuries ago.

The only exceptions I am aware of are when Choral Masses are sung as a service, particularly Requiem Masses, which use the Latin text.This only happens in churches with professional choirs.

Having said that, Latin is not entirely useless in the Anglican church. Many churches are old enough to have Latin inscriptions on the walls and windows, and some traditional prayers and psalms are still known by the first two words of their Latin version, for example "Venite, Exulatamus Domino", and some might still refer to the Lord's Prayer as "Paternoster".

  • Although, the Book of Common Prayer was published in a Latin Edition into the 20th Century primarily for use by scholars at universities (in particular Oxford and Cambridge) who would have been expected to be familiar with Latin
    – eques
    Nov 26, 2019 at 14:25
  • Another curiosity is that the 39 Articles, the 24th of which is referred to in the answer, were originally published in both Latin and English, and it remains the case, in England at least, that only the Latin version is authoritative. Very occasionally the Latin may be quoted to clarify any ambiguity or nuance in the English. This however seems unlikely to provide the OP with much opportunity to employ his Latin skills.
    – davidlol
    Nov 26, 2019 at 15:24

The first Book of Common Prayer (1549) contained an explicit exception to the English-only rule:

Though it be appointed in the afore written preface, that all things shall be read and sung in the church in the English tongue, to the end that the congregation may be thereby edified: yet is is not meant, but when men say Matins and Evensong privately, they may say the same in any language that they themselves do understand.

This was probably written with Latin and Greek specifically in mind.

Many Anglican choirs will sing anthems in Latin. It is not considered "repugnant" as long as a translation into the vernacular is provided.


Services are usually in the language of the people attending the sermon, so they can understand it. However, the preacher may refer to the ancient hebrew/ greek/ latin to give extra understanding of the meanings of words and phrases, or connotations that might be missed in English.

Hymns by the choir are sometimes in latin, usually because they are very old. Contemporary Christian worship (at least for anglicans) is usually in English. Even in these, a translation is usually given, or at least a description of the meaning of the song.

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