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Play acted in or near the church in the Middle Ages. The form probably dated from the 10th century, when the Quem quaeritis (Whom do you seek) section of the Easter mass was performed as a small scene in the service. The plays gradually increased in length, with themes derived from biblical stories (particularly those of Easter and Christmas), and they flourished in the 12th–13th centuries. Their Latin dialogue was frequently chanted to simple melodies. They continued to be written into the 16th century, but the connection with the church eventually ended as the plays came under secular sponsorship and were acted in the vernacular. See alsomiracle play; morality play; mystery play.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on liturgical drama, visit Britannica.com.
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