The Gallican Rite is actually a family of Western Rites which comprised the majority use of most of Western European for the greater part until being displaced by the Roman rite in the eighth century, modifying the Roman rite in the process.
Various rites within the greater Gallican family have claimed various specific lineages, such as an origin from the Alexandrine rite of St. Mark for the Churches of Aquilea and Milan, or origins from the Ephesine rite of St. John the Divine for the Churches of Gaul, Iberia, and Brittania. However, liturgical scholars have yet to discover an Ephesine familty of liturgies, and, as the Catholic Encyclopedia states, "the Ephesine theory has now been given up by all serious liturgiologists." The development of the rite is such it did not likely originate before the fourth century. However, the origin of the rite remains very much an open question.
Many Gallican texts survive, but the survival of the rite is mostly in its influence upon the present Roman and Anglican rites (called Gallo-Roman), as a component of the Ambrosian rite of Milan. It is due to the influence of the Gallican liturgy that the Roman Mass included the Gloria. The longest surviving Gallican rite was the Mozarabic rite of Toledo, Spain, which has been limited to a few chapels for the past few centuries. Both the Mozarabic and Ambrosian liturgies were modified by the Roman, accepting the Roman canon at some point in their development. Following the Second Vatican Council, both the Mozarabic Liturgy of Toledo and the Ambrosian Mass of Milan were altered in a Novus Ordo style.
Whatever their origin, the Gallican rites were more given to ceremonial than the Roman. The surviving Gallican materials also have recognizable concordances with the Eastern and Oriental rites in the form of certain prayers and ceremonial, while sharing many other similarities with the Roman rite. The known elements of the Gallican liturgy are:
- The Ajus (agios) sung in Greek and Latin. Following this, three boys sing Kyrie Eleison three times. This is followed by the Benedictus.
- Old Testament reading
- Epistle reading or Life of the Saint of the Day
- The Benedicite and Ajus (agios) in Latin
- Gospel reading
- Dismissal of catechumens
- Great Entrance and the Offertory chant
- Kiss of Peace
- Sursum Corda, Preface, Sanctus, and Post-Sanctus Prayer
- Roman (Gregorian) Canon
- The Fraction (the host is divided into nine pieces, seven of which are then arranged into the shape of a cross)
- Our Father
- Blessing of the People
- Communion of the People
- Post-Communion Prayer
In the early 20th century, the Russian emigré community in Paris included a number of clergy who were mindful of evangelization in the West. Among that number were a pair of brothers, Evgraph (later Bishop Jean-Nectaire of Saint-Denis) and Maxime Kovalevsky. The Kovaleskys intended to revive the Gallican liturgy based upon the "Letters of Saint Germanus" and various Gallican Missals (Stowe, Bobbio, Gothic, Mozarab, Autun) for Western Rite activity in France. However, so little of the ancient Gallican liturgy remained extant that the Kovaleskys had to supplement the historical material with liberal use of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, so that a large percentage of their Gallican Liturgy originated in Byzantine sources due to the omissions of their Western sources. This rite is still in use with L'Eglise Orthodoxe de France as well as the Union Actuelle Orthodoxe Catholique Francaise, which is now in talks to join the Patriarchate of Serbia. The rite has been used by communities under the Church of Russia, the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, the Church of Romania, and the Church of Serbia.
- "Some Notes on the History and Liturgical Practice of the Orthodox Church of France", by Fr. Francis DeMarais
- L'ECOF article on the origins of their Neo-Gallican rite in French
- L'ECOF article on the Ancient Rite of the Gauls in French
- Neo-Gallican Liturgy used by L'ECOF
- Catholic Encyclopedia: Gallican Rite
- New Catholic Dictionary: Gallican Rite
- Catholic Encyclopedia: Aquliean Rite of Gallican family
- Catholic Encyclopedia: Ambrosian Rite - Romanized Gallican
- Catholic Encyclopedia: Mozarabic Rite - Romanized Gallican
- Liturgica.Com "Gallican Chant"
- Catholic Tradition: "A Short History of the Roman Mass", by Michael Davies