Grand Entrance

Worship on Earth as in Heaven

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"With eloquence and ecumenical hospitality--as well as laser-like insight--Edith Humphrey has given us a much-needed biblical and practical theology for entering into the worship of the Triune God."--Michael J. Gorman, The Ecumenical Institute of Theology, St. Mary's Seminary & University

Can we understand worship in a way that transcends style, relevance, and aesthetics? Taking into account the most contested issues of the "worship wars," prominent New Testament scholar Edith Humphrey shows how the act of entering into God's presence is central to all true Christian worship. Regardless of worship style, when we come into God's presence, we praise God alongside angels and with the whole of creation.

Seeking to reclaim the forgotten theme of worship as entry into God's presence, Humphrey shows its prominence in the Bible, providing an accessible but thorough study of the Old and New Testaments. She analyzes key moments in church history to show how worship developed in Eastern and Western churches. She also draws insights from healthy worshiping communities around the globe. The book offers practical guidance to worship directors, pastors, thoughtful lay readers, and students with regards to balanced and faithful worship.

Introduction: The Crisis of Corporate Worship and the Life of the Church
1. "Teach Us to Pray": What Is Worship, and Where Does Corporate Worship Fit?
2. "Praise God in His Sanctuary": Worship as Entrance in the Old Testament
3. "In Spirit and in Truth": Entrance in the New Testament
4. "From You Comes . . . Praise": Traditional Liturgies of the East
5. "In the Great Congregation": Traditional Liturgies of the West
6. "Your Church Unsleeping": Expressions of Worship Today
7. "That Your Prayers Not Be Hindered": Avoiding Pitfalls in Corporate Worship
Conclusion: "To Sing Is a Lover's Thing"


"With eloquence and ecumenical hospitality--as well as laser-like insight--Edith Humphrey has given us a much-needed biblical and practical theology for entering into the worship of the Triune God. Anyone who participates in worship and especially anyone who leads in worship, whether traditional or contemporary, liturgical or free, should read this timely book now."

Michael J. Gorman, St. Mary's Seminary & University

"In a study that is at once biblical, theological, historical, and practical, Humphrey explores the essence of true Christian worship: awed entrance, body and soul, into the presence of the Triune God. Although Humphrey speaks with the accent of the Eastern Church, her insights illumine a wide range of traditional and contemporary practices, and she poses probing questions that often challenge popular wisdom about liturgy. This is a book not only for worship leaders but also for the whole congregation to study together."

Ellen F. Davis, Duke Divinity School

"Worship, like Bible reading, is not about finding something new but about entering into the Old Story--something so old it overwhelms what is new, something so old it expands our future, and something so old it reframes who we are so that we become who we are meant to be. Don't expect Edith Humphrey's book to settle the worship wars. Expect it to go behind the wars into the great tradition where worship was about entrance into the presence of God."

Scot McKnight, Northern Seminary

"Grand Entrance is a monograph, a memoir, and much more. Through Scripture, the early church fathers, and the author's own personal experience, it examines the centrality of liturgy in biblical religion and the Christian tradition, bearing witness to the rites of East and West in the process. We are caught up in the author's life story, too, as she traces her movement from an evangelical background very much opposed to ritual worship toward the biblically saturated liturgical tradition of the ancient church. A lively book and a journal of shared discovery."

Scott Hahn, Franciscan University of Steubenville

"This book offers a compelling account of the way that God's Spirit works through public worship to lead us from the claustrophobia of our own narcissism into the spacious, luminous reality of the Triune God--a place so expansive that we find ourselves in communion with God's people across centuries and continents and in transformative encounter with the Holy Trinity. This breadth of vision is evoked through discussions of a wide range of biblical and historical scholarship as well as Professor Humphrey's experiences in Salvation Army, Anglican, Presbyterian, Catholic, and Orthodox communities. The book is an especially welcome tonic for all of us exhausted by the quest for endless innovation in church life--a quest that often reinforces rather than challenges the small, isolated spiritual world we occupy. Fittingly, this is not a feel-good book; rather, it is a book of prophetic insight that you will wrestle with, talk back to, argue against, and sing along with."

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

"This is a great book--a must-read for anyone interested in a scholarly yet accessible treatment of Christian worship. Edith M. Humphrey frames her discussion of liturgy as 'grand entrance' and in so doing focuses on a fundamental motive for gathering for public prayer. In ways reminiscent of ancient Egeria, Humphrey describes a variety of Christian churches from the East and the West, noting both strengths and weaknesses in a clear and engaging narrative. Her meticulous scholarship, accessible writing, insightful questions, and balanced critique highlight the radical nature of what it means to enter--together--into God's presence for worship."

Judith M. Kubicki, Fordham University

"Instructed by the great biblical categories of redemption, covenant, worship, and assembly, Edith Humphrey has written a book rich in theology, contemplative wisdom, and practical insight. When I recall the ignorance, insensitivity, and intellectual morass attendant on so much of modern 'liturgical renewal' during almost my whole lifetime, I wish Dr. Humphrey were old enough to have written this excellent work a half century earlier."

Patrick Henry Reardon, author, Chronicles of History and Worship; pastor, All Saints Orthodox Church, Chicago

The Author

  1. Edith M. Humphrey

    Edith M. Humphrey

    Edith M. Humphrey (PhD, McGill University) is the William F. Orr Professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is the author of several books, including Grand Entrance: Worship on Earth as in Heaven and...

    Continue reading about Edith M. Humphrey


"Humphrey enters the fray of competing theologies of Christian worship with a genuinely interesting thesis. . . . I believe she does succeed in reframing the conversation. . . . [I] am thankful for the broadly ecumenical nature of her approach."

Clint Schnekloth,

Word & World

"The exegesis and the analysis are scholarly; the tone throughout is conversational and utterly authentic. . . . Each chapter ends with questions for discussion, and this is certainly a book that could be used by a group wanting to take stock of its worshipping life. . . This diary of a pilgrimage will help God's people to re-examine what they do--and why they do it."

Nicholas Papadopulos,

Church Times

"The uniqueness of this work lies in its elucidation of a neglected motif in worship: entrance. Humphrey writes as one who has worshipped in various traditions . . . which allows her to draw upon different worship experiences to offer helpful insights and constructive criticisms. . . . The work's greatest strength is the re-found emphasis on worship as entrance. Whereas entrance was traditionally relegated to a preparatory role for worship, Humphrey is correct to argue that entrance is worship. Another strength is her scriptural demonstration of how entrance is a biblical teaching that should always inform the church's worship."

Bradley M. Penner,

Expository Times

"An astute analysis of the biblical roots and contemporary obstacles to celebrating 'worship on earth as in heaven.'. . . Humphrey's book, written as she was herself leaving the Anglican Communion for Orthodoxy, is a helpful one for parishes and congregations seeking to move beyond the worship wars. She is not arguing for a specific style of worship out of personal taste. Rather, through a robust Scriptural theology of worship, we come to see with Humphrey that worship is not about self-cultivation or entertainment but accepting God's own song into our lips, a hymn that transforms us. I recommend this book in particular to liturgy committees seeking a deeper background in their own planning of the liturgical life of the parish."

Timothy P. O'Malley,

Church Life: A Journal for the New Evangelization

"In this graceful and inspiring volume, Edith Humphrey . . . celebrates the central theme of liturgical worship throughout Christian history: entrance into the presence of God. . . . This is [a book] for the thoughtful and devout cleric or layman who delights in worshiping the Lord 'in the beauty of holiness.' Clearly, Humphrey does. Her love of the liturgy, of the Church, and of the God of Israel, expressed in erudite, elegant diction, suffuses every page. This is a book to be savored. . . . Here is refreshment for a weary church in a weary world. Take and read."

Daniel Muth,

Living Church

"The appearance of this book in Russian deserves attention, because it offers Orthodox, Catholic, and especially Protestant believers in our nation an opportunity to look at their own traditions through the eyes of an outside but not indifferent researcher. . . . Humphrey is a good observer of nuances in the practical conduct of worship in different denominations. This view from the outside, especially of one's own tradition, will likely be of value to readers of different churches, including clergy. . . . Humphrey's book will be edifying to all readers who are interested in comparing Christian traditions. . . . The book is especially to be recommended to Protestant readers for whom it may serve as a bridge to revelation of the biblical practice of worship in traditional churches."

Kievan Rus (translated by John Burgess)