The term "Low Church" denotes liturgical forms lacking overt ritual, iconography, and religious arts. Though originally coined by Anglicans to describe their denomination's fraction into strongly liturgical, mildly liturgical, and aliturgical movements, many now describe divisions within other denominations along High, Broad, and Low persuasions. Demonstrated differences in the role of liturgy in Christian worship illustrate this perennial question: does liturgy exist to cultivate transcendence in the minds of the faithful, or serve as the stark didactic vehicle for the Word and moral instruction? Attempts to reconcile these conflicting
and complementary aspects lead to sects emphasizing one mode over another.
The American tradition of Evangelicalism, given its genesis along frontiers inaccessible to preachers of organized Protestantism, has mutated towards the sermon
instead of ritual as primary liturgical expression. As anyone who has attended a contemporary worship service has gathered, Christian pop and flashy displays flow to create ever changing forms of preaching. Mormonism, by corollary, adopted this adapted aliturgical form of Christianity in its services, dispensing even with ordained clergy.
By contrast, liturgical churches such as the Episcopal (American Anglican), Lutheran, and Catholic churches
contain congregations who disregard many of the rubrics
and traditions integral to normative worship. My neighborhood hosts a wide variety of Catholic liturgies. One iconoclastic church around the corner from my home
has removed most images, with unadorned brick walls focusing all attention to the priest. Five miles away, a Gothic church with intricate wood carvings hosts a full Gregorian Chant schola.
The division between High and Low Churches lies not in how much incense is used. Rather, the "liturgicalness" of a church betrays the circumstances of the development of that faith, its interaction with environment, and the way in which worshippers connect with their God.