A liturgical language or sacred language or holy language is any language that is used in the religious service, by people who speak another primary language in their daily lives.
Some of the examples of the sacred languages are given below:
- Arabic - Islam and Tanwirism (pre-Islamic Arabian polytheism)
- Sanskrit and Tamil - Hinduism
- Latin - Roman Catholicism
- Classical Meitei - Sanamahism (Meitei religion) and Manipuri Vaishnavism
- Koine (common language version of Ancient Greek) - widely used in Christianity at various times and places.
- Irish - Neo-paganism (especially Celtic polytheism)
Christianity is something of a special case, because it has a long history of using sacred languages. In the first place, the early texts which were the basis of the Bible were in Ancient Greek, not in Hebrew. Of course, the Hebrew books in the Bible were originally in Hebrew, but they were translated into Greek when the Bible was put together. These were later translated into Latin by the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church used Latin in its services until recently, and there are still what are called "liturgical rites" held (spoken) in Latin. In the Bible, Luke says “And an inscription also was written over Him in letters of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS” (23:38). There was a pre-Bible translation of the Hebrew Bible into koine Greek called the Septuagint.
All the countries which use the Bible as the basis of their Christianity use some liturgical versions of their own language. This is very clear in the Coptic churches, because Coptic is no linger spoken as a working language in the countries concerned. Egyptians speak Arabic but, in its Coptic churches, Coptic is used, not Arabic.
- Languages of the Cross.