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From Late Latin offertorium, from the participle stem of offere (to offer).



offertory (plural offertories)

  1. (Christianity) An anthem formerly sung as part of the Roman Catholic Mass or during the corresponding part of the Anglican Communion. [from 14th c.]
    • c.1390, Geoffrey Chaucer, Canterbury Tales:
      But alderbest he sang an offertory: / For well he wiste, when that song was sung, / He muste preach […].
    • 1922, Sinclair Lewis, Babbitt:
      There was an impressive musical program, conducted by Sheldon Smeeth, educational director of the Y.M.C.A., who also sang the offertory.
  2. (Christianity) The part of the Eucharist service when offerings of bread and wine are placed on the altar and when any collection is taken; also, the money or other things collected. [from 15th c.]
    • 1914, Stephen Leacock, Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich:
      Before a month had passed the congregation at the evening service at St. Asaph's Church was so slender that the offertory, as Mr. Furlong senior himself calculated, was scarcely sufficient to pay the overhead charge of collecting it.
    • 1922, Upton Sinclair, They Call Me Carpenter:
      I sat through the sermon, and the offertory, and the recessional.
    • 1971, Keith Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic, Folio Society 2012, p. 30:
      Even the coins in the offertory were accredited with magical value; there were numerous popular superstitions about the magical value of communion silver as a cure for illness or a lucky charm against danger.
  3. (Christianity, historical) A linen or silken cloth anciently used in various ceremonies connected with the administration of the Eucharist.

Related terms[edit]