Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Explanation of the Common Service — Part 3

by Douglas Lindee

In Part 2 of this series of blog posts, after having introduced the little book, Explanation of the Common Service, and posted its FOREWORD and INTRODUCTION in Part 1, we continued by beginning the Explanation of THE ORDER OF The Service, from the Invocation through the Preparation. With this post we proceed with The Service proper, by posting from the Explanation regarding the first of the two main divisions of The Service: The Office of the Word.

Here are some additional thoughts worth pondering as you read through this Explanation:
    In the INTRODUCTION to this Explanation of the Common Service, posted in Part 1 of this series, the authors draw out the intentions of Zwingli and Calvin as they modified their worship according to the Reformed regulative principle, forbidding all practices that were not commanded in Scripture. They state that, "[Calvin] appeared to think that the spiritual and churchly development of fifteen centuries could be swept away by simply ignoring it."

    As you read this Explanation, notice the dependence our liturgical Lutheran Worship has on Scripture teaching, the way that it thoroughly represents sound doctrine, precisely balances sacramental and sacrificial, and centers on Christ and His Gospel while maintaining a robust catholic continuity with believers of all time. What loss we suffer for not knowing what our worship means! What greater loss we suffer when modern innovators carelessly sweep away twenty centuries of spiritual and churchly practice by simply ignoring it.

    It is interesting to observe the delicate balance of sacramental and sacrificial in the historic Liturgy, as it is described in this Explanation. Is it not a demonstration of the same delicate balance between Law and Gospel for which we Lutherans strive? Indeed, the balance of sacrament and sacrifice in the Divine Service, is the Law & Gospel of liturgical life! What can careless meddling with it accomplish, but to disrupt this balance and lead worshipers into false worship and error? In an article he wrote for Conordia Theological Quarterly, "Religion, Culture, and Our Worship", Dr. Gene E. Veith commented on the scholarship involved in designing liturgical orders, stating that: "Designing a liturgy ...is no light or easy undertaking. It demands the best and most careful work of high culture scholars, theologians, and musicians."
    In an essay entitled "Liturgical Renewal in the Parish," contained in the book Lutheran Worship: History & Practice, Dr. Arthur A. Just similarly states:

      One problem today is that our congregations are generally uninstructed, not only in biblical theology and Lutheran liturgical traditions, but worse, they do not know the Lutheran tradition as a positive unfolding of the New Testament and early post-apostolic church, which in turn comes from the Old Testament as practiced by Jesus himself... Concerned liturgical scholars are well aware of the consequences of lost liturgy and are equally aware of the sad state of biblical knowledge and traditional awareness in our congregations. They recognize that it is disastrous to leave the liturgy in the hands of people who know little of liturgy, theology, or Scripture.

    In constructing home-made orders of service (also known as disposable liturgies), are individual pastors, or laymen, competent enough to produce Christ-centered orders of service that sufficiently balance sacrament and sacrifice, that provide a balanced and thorough Confession of our faith, and that are representative of our confessional unity with those in our immediate fellowship and with the Church of all time and location? I tend to think not.

    In Part 1 of this series, in the INTRODUCTION to Explanation of the Common Service, the authors were very careful to point out the source of corruption in the worship of the Roman Church: sacrament was turned into sacrifice, turning "God doing for us" into "us doing for God," and making Gospel into Law. In this same INTRODUCTION, the authors also emphasize that Protestants outside of Lutheranism maintain a distinctly sacrificial view of worship. Why are we borrowing from them? In fact, they have much to learn from us, not vice versa.

    In a favorable construction, the Church Growth Movement (CGM) in Lutheranism has sprouted from a good thing -- evangelical zeal. Nevertheless, it has succeeded in creating its own imbalance of sacramental and sacrificial in the Divine Service: CGM elevates the sacrificial elements of the Divine Service by holding them up as sacrament. That is, taking their lead from non-Lutheran Protestants, whose theology of worship is distinctly sacrificial, CGM Lutherans have reformulated the sacrificial elements of the Divine Service according to the distinctives of pop-culture, and emphasized them as "sacrament" by pointing out their supposed evanglical utility -- indeed, requiring these reformulations in order for the Church to be evangelically effective -- while eliminating sacramental elements of the Divine Service or otherwise allowing these supercharged sacrificial elements to overshadow them. These changes represent Reformed-Arminian priorities which are incompatible with Lutheran teaching and practice. CGM is corrupting Lutheran Worship by using the Law as a form of Gospel. This is truly "upside-down evangelism," is it not?

    Are we Lutheran laymen well-catechized enough to spot these errors? If not, then we will need to diligently and judiciously seek our own catechesis, not only for our benefit, but for the benefit of our Fellowship as well.

NOTE: Other installments in this series can be found at the following links:IN ADDITION, this entire series was republished as the single blog post,along with the following companion blog posts:

An Explanation of the Common Service (1908)
Board of Publication of the General Council of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America

To the
Young Lutheran who asks
The Meaning of the
Beautiful Liturgy of
His church


ORDER OF The Service OR The Communion: The Service Proper
42. What are the general divisions of the Service?
    I. The Office of the Word
    II. The Holy Supper

The Office of the Word

43. Of what is the Office of the Word composed?
Of three parts, viz:
    I. The Psalmody: Introit to Gloria in Excelsis
    II. The Word: Salutation to Votum
    III. The Offerings: Offertory to The Hymn

Part 1 – The Psalmody

44. With what does the Office of the Word begin?
With the Introit.

The Introit (Christmas)
“Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder. And His Name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God: the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”
Ps. “O sing unto the Lord a new song: for He hath done marvelous things.”
Glory be to the Father, etc.

45. What is the origin of the Introit?
INTROIT comes from the Latin introitus, meaning beginning or entrance. Its is so called, either because originally it was chanted as the Minister entered the church, or because it is the beginning or entrance of the Service.

It takes its rise from the use of the Psalms with which the Service in the Synagogue began, and in all probability the Service of the Apostolic church also. Read Psalm 100.

46. Of what does the Introit consist?
In consists of the Psalm-verse with its Antiphon and the Gloria Patri.

47. What is the meaning of the word Antiphon?
Antiphon means “voice answering voice,” and refers to the responsive singing of verses, as was common in the ancient Church.

48. What is the office of the Antiphon?
The Antiphon announces, in a brief passage of Scripture, the leading thought of the Day, and brings the Psalm into proper relation with the Day's Service. For example, in the Introit for Christmas, the Antiphon announces the birth of Christ.

The thought of the Day is emphasized by the repetition of the Antiphon after the Gloria Patri, when the Introit is sung.

49. Explain the use of the Psalm-verse in the Introit.
It is a single verse which has survived the ancient custom of singing and entire psalm at the beginning of the Service. In it the Church appropriates and celebrates, in psalmody, the Gospel fact which is proclaimed for that day in the Antiphon.

50. Why does the Introit include the Gloria Patri?
Because most of the Introits are from the Psalms, and the addition of the Gloria Patri fundamentally distinguishes the use of the Psalter in the New Testament Church from its use in the Synagogue. The Messianic reference in the Psalms Jesus declares to have been written concerning Himself (Luke 24:44); and in the confession of the truth, the Christian Church has always concluded the Psalms with this ascription of praise to the Holy Trinity.

Thus the Church perpetuates the confession of the co-eternal Godhead of our Lord and the Holy Ghost, with the Father, which was denied in the controversies of the fourth century.

The Kyrie
“Lord, have mercy upon us. Christ have mercy upon us. Lord, have mercy upon us.”

51. What is the meaning of the word Kyrie?
It is a Greek word and means, O Lord.

Note: Such titles as Gloria Patri and Gloria in Excelsis from the Latin, and Kyrie from the Greek, are the first words in those languages of the parts of the Service which they name. Psalms and even books, in ancient times, were named by the first word or words.

52. What is the office of the Kyrie?
The congregation, realizing its infirmity from indwelling sin, calls upon God for that grace which has been announced and offered in the Introit.

53. Why is the prayer thrice uttered?
Because the grace for which it asks is from God the Father, through the Son, by the Holy Spirit.

54. By what is this cry for mercy succeeded?
By the Gloria in Excelsis.

This part of the Service strikingly reproduces the order of events related in Luke 18:35-43.
    - There the blind man in his misery cried for mercy. So do we in the Kyrie.
    - He cried persistently. We utter the same prayer three times.
    - His prayer was answered. Our petitions are likewise granted.
    - Then he and “all the people with him” glorified and gave praise unto God. So our Kyrie is followed by Gloria in Excelsis.

The Gloria in Excelsis
“Glory be to God on high, and on earth peace, good will toward men. We praise Thee, we bless Thee, we worship Thee, we glorify Thee, we give thanks to Thee for Thy great glory, O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty.

“O Lord, the Only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ; O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, that takest away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us. Thou that takest away the sin of the world, receive our prayer. Thou that sittest at the right hand of God the Father, have mercy upon us.

“For Thou only art holy; Thou only art the Lord; Thou only, O Christ, with the Holy Ghost, art most high in the glory of God the Father. Amen”

55. What is the Gloria in Excelsis?
It is one of the oldest morning hymns of the Christian Church – a hymn of adoration, celebrating God's glory as manifested in the merciful gift of His Son. It is so called from the first words of the Latin version, meaning literally, “Glory in the Highest.”

56. By whom and when were the opening words sung?
By the Angels at the birth of Christ (Luke 2:14).

57. What does Luther say of this part of the Gloria?
“It did not grow; nor was it made on earth; it came down from heaven.”

58. How may the contents of this hymn be outlined?
    I. Adoration of God the Father,
      (a) In the words of the Angels,
      (b) In a rich outburst of praise and thanksgiving in the words of the Church.
    II. Adoration of God the Son,
      By acknowledging Him as the Lord, the Only-begotten Son, the Christ, God, the Lamb of God.
    III. Petition to God the Son,
      (a) As the One Who procures mercy, by taking away the sin of the world;
      (b) As the One Who dispenses mercy, sitting at the right hand of God, the Father.
    IV. Praise to God the Son,
      In a three-fold ascription of equal holiness, power, and glory with the Father and the Holy Ghost, as the reason for our prayer and praise.

Part II – The Word
59. What is the nature of Part II?
In this part we have, through the administration of the Divine Word, the actual bestowal of the grace which, in the first part, has been announced in the Introit, invoked in the Kyrie, and celebrated in the Gloria in Excelsis.

The Salutation and Response
“The Lord be with you. And with thy spirit.

60. What is the significance of the Salutation at the opening of this part of the Service?
It marks the transition to the second part, and introduces the Collect of the Day. Pastor and people pray for each other, invoking the presence of the Lord Who comes to men through His Word. In the Church of the Middle Ages the Salutation and Response introduced every main part of the Service.

The Collect (Christmas Day)
“Grant, we beseech The, Almighty God, that the new birth of Thine Only-begotten Son in the flesh may set us free who are held in the old bondage under the yoke of sin; through the same, Thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.”

61. What is the Collect of the Day?
It is a brief prayer which varies with the festivals and seasons of the Church Year.

62. Why is the Collect so called?
Probably because it is the united or collected prayer of the entire congregation, or because it collects and concentrates the thought of Gospel and Epistle. The term is derived from the Latin Collecta and Collectio.

63. What is the structure of the Collect?
In its full form it has five parts: (a) The invocation. (b) The antecedent reason. (c) The petition. (d) The benefit desired. (e) the doxology. The antecedent reason and the benefit desired are often wanting.

64. Cite examples.
...Ash WednesdayVIII TrinityVII TrinitySunday After Ascension
InvocationAlmighty and Everlasting God,Lord,O God,Almighty, everlasting God:
Antecedent ReasonWho hatest nothing that thou hast made and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent:
Whose never-failing Providence ordereth all things both in heaven and earth:
PetitionCreate and make in us new and contrite hearts,Grant to us, we beseech Thee, the Spirit to think and do always such things as are right;We humbly beseech Thee to put away from us all hurtful things, and to give us those things which be profitable for us;Make us to have always a devout will towards Thee, and to serve Thy Majesty with a pure heart;
Benefit Desiredthat we, worthily lamenting our sins, and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of Thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness;that we, who cannot do anything that is good without Thee, may by Thee be enabled to live according to Thy will;

Doxology through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.through Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord, etc.through Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord, etc.through Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord, etc.

65. By whom should the Collect be said?
The rubric directs the minister to read it; but since it is the prayer of all, the congregation should join the Minister either silently or in a subdued voice. This is indicated by the summons, “Let us pray,” and by the Amen, which the congregation is directed to sing or say at the end of the Collect.

66. What is the office of the Collect of the Day?
It serves to prepare the congregation for the reception of the special Word of the Day, now about the be read. In it pastor and people pray for the particular grace which that Word offers and conveys.

67. When was the entire series of Introits, Collects, Epistles, and Gospels, as retained in the Lutheran Service, completed?
In the reign of Charlemagne (800 A.D.)

68. How long have our Collects been in use?
There are few, if any, that have not been in use for more than twelve hundred years.

69. What is to be said of the wide use of these Collects?
Most of them are now in use in the Lutheran Churches of Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, the United States and throughout the world; in the Church of England throughout the British Empire; in the Protestant Episcopal Church in America; and (in the Latin language) in the Roman Catholic Church.

The Epistle (Christmas)
Titus 2:11-14
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”

70. Where do we find the petition of the Collect answered?
In the Epistle and the Gospel of the Day, which, with the Sermon, constitute the chief part of the Office of the Word.

71. May other Scripture lessons be read?
Yes. But they should be in harmony with the Gospel of the Day, and, as the rubric directs, they should be read before the Epistle. The Epistle and Gospel should always be read.

72. What is the meaning of the word Epistle?
An epistle is a letter. The first Scripture of the Day is called The Epistle, because it is usually taken from the Letters of the New Testament.

73. What is The Epistle?
The Epistle is the Words which the Holy Spirit addresses to believers through the Apostle, and in which are set forth the faith and life which should characterize them. In the Epistle for Christmas, Paul tells us what the birth of Christ means to us, and describes the manner of life which should follow from our knowledge of this great fact.

The Hallelujah
74. Why is Hallelujah sung in response to the Epistle?
Hallelujah is a Hebrew word meaning “Praise the Lord.” It is the expression of joy with which the people of God have always received from His Word.

Note: Hallelujah occurs frequently in the Book of Psalms from Psalm 104 onwards, and four times in Revelation 19. It was in frequent and general use among early Christians. Plowmen shouted it while at work. Sailors used it as a word of encouragement while plying the oar. Soldiers used it as a battle-cry. When Christians met on Easter morning, “Alleluia, the Lord is risen!” was their salutation. It passed early into frequent liturgical use in all parts of the church, especially in connection with psalms and hymns.

75. What may be used in addition to the Hallelujah at this point of the Service?
As suggested by the rubric, the proper Sentence may be sung with the Hallelujah, or after it a hymn may be sung by the Congregation. Or, after the Hallelujah Sentence, special choir music may be sung; but it must be in harmony with the thought of the Day. Such music, at this place, serves the purpose of a gradual, which anciently was a Psalm sung from the steps (gradus) of the pulpit, or of the altar, as a response to the Epistle. Special music at any other place in the Service should be discountenanced.

76. It the Hallelujah ever omitted?
As the rubric states, the Hallelujah is to be omitted in the Passion Season (Septuagesima to Good Friday).

The Gospel (Christmas)
Luke 2:1-14
“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

77. What point of the Service do we now approach?
The summit of the Office of the Word, namely the Gospel of the Day.

78. How is this prominence of the Gospel emphasized?
By the Sentences with which the reading of the Gospel is accompanied, and by the rising of the congregation to hear it.

79. Why does the congregation sing “Glory be to Thee, O Lord” after the Gospel is announced?
In order to express its joy over the prospect of hearing the blessed Word of Christ Himself.

80. What is the Gospel of the Day?
It is the Good Tidings proclaimed by the Holy Spirit through the Evangelist, in which the saving word and work of Christ, commemorated that day, are set forth. As Christmas commemorates the birth of Christ, the Gospel of that day is the account, from St. Luke, of the Nativity.

81. How does the congregation receive the Gospel?
By singing “Praise be to Thee, O Christ” it glorifies and praises Him for the blessed news.

The Creed
    “I Believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, And of all things visible and invisible.

    “And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only begotten Son of God, Begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of very God, Begotten, not made, Being of one substance with the Father, By whom all things were made; Who, for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, And was made man; And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered death and was buried; And the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; And ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of the Father; And He shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end.

    “And I believe in the Holy Ghost, The Lord and Giver of Life, Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, Who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, Who spake by the Prophets. And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins; And I look for the Resurrection of the dead; And the life of the world to come. Amen.”

    “I Believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

    “And in Jesus Christ His only Son, our Lord; Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, Born of the Virgin Mary; Suffered under Pontius Pilate, Was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into Hell; The third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

    “I believe in the Holy Ghost; The holy catholic Church, the Communion of Saints; The Forgiveness of sins; The Resurrection of the body; And the Life everlasting. Amen.”

82. What is a Creed?
A statement of what one believes. The word is derived from the Latin Credo, which means, I Believe.

83. Why have we a Creed in the Service?
Because it is necessary to state publicly our acceptance of the truths of God's Word. The most appropriate place for such a confession of faith is in the principal Service. Matt. 10:32; 16:15-18; Rom. 10:9.

84. Why is a Creed recited at this point in the Service?
In it the congregation owns it acceptance of the Word of God just read, and recalls and confesses in a brief summary the whole faith of the Gospel, a part of which is brought to its attention on that day.

85. How does the congregation confess its faith?
By the use of the Nicene or Apostles' Creed – the most ancient creeds of the Christian Church. The Nicene Creed is preferred because it is a fuller statement of the faith, especially respecting the Person of Christ. For this reason it is required when the Communion is administered.

86. What is the Nicene Creed?
It is that confession of faith or summary of Gospel teaching which was developed in the Eastern Church from the baptismal commission – Matt. 28:19.

Note: The first and second articles of the Nicene Creed were adopted A.D. 325 by and assembly of 318 bishops, at Nicea in Bithynia, Asia. The third article was adopted by the Council of Constantinople in 381 A.D. The second article was formulated for the express purpose of defining the true doctrine concerning the divinity of Christ, over against the teaching of Arius that Jesus was not the eternal Son of God, co-equal with the Father.

87. What is the Apostles' Creed?
It is that confession of faith or summary of Gospel teaching which was developed more especially in the Western Church.

Note: It took its name from an old tradition that it was composed by the Twelve Apostles, each contributing a sentence. This theory is rejected by all but Roman Catholics. Like other early creeds, the Apostles' Creed grew into its present form from the baptismal commission (Matt. 28:19), until about the year 750 A.D., after which no more changes were made. It has been commonly accepted from the most ancient times. It is call the Baptismal Creed, because it is universally used in the Baptismal Service.

The Sermon

88. Why may a hymn precede the Sermon?
To prepare the hearts of the people for the preaching of the Word.

89. What should be the character of this hymn?
It should be appropriate to the Day, and accord with the Sermon.

90. What is the Sermon?
It is the explanation and application of the Word which has been read.

91. Why should the Sermon harmonize with the Lessons?
The unity of the Service demands it. To introduce any other topic that one suggested by the thought of the Day throws the whole Service into confusion.

The Votum
“The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep you hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

92. Where in the Scripture is the Votum found?
In St. Paul's Epistle to the Philippians, chapter 4, verse 7.

93. What is the Votum.
It is the benediction after the Sermon, assuring the believing worshipers that the peace of God, in Christ Jesus, offered and bestowed in the preached Word, will keep their hearts and minds in true faith unto everlasting life.

The Votum appropriately concludes and sums up Part II of the Office of the Word.

Part III – The Offerings

94. Of what does the third part of the Office of the Word consist?
Of our offerings to God.

95. Why should the Offerings form a part of The Service?
Our faith must show itself in works. The reception of God's richest gift constrains us to give Him what we can.

96. What can we give Him?
Nothing that will atone for our sins. But if we have received through faith the great Atonement which Christ has made by offering Himself for us, we shall have grace to offer ourselves, our substance, and our sacrifices of prayer, praise, and thanksgiving. With such offerings God is well pleased.

The Offertory
    I. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise. Do good in Thy good pleasure unto Zion: Build Thou the walls of Jerusalem. Then shalt Thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness: with burnt-offering and whole burnt-offering.”

    II. “Create in me a clean heart, O God: and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Thy presence: and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation: and uphold me with Thy free Spirit.”
97. Whence are the Offertories in the Common Service taken?
From the 51st Psalm.

98. What is the purpose of the Offertory?
It is an evidence that the Word, just heard, has been appropriated by us and has become effective in us. In the Offertory we offer ourselves to God that He may cleanse our hearts from sin, deepen our faith, and prepare us for the reception of the Visible Word in the Holy Sacrament.

Offering of Gifts

99. What act of worship follows the singing of the Offertory?
The offering of the fruit of our labors in the money which we give for the support of the Church and her Ministry, for the Poor, for Home and Foreign Missions, for Education, for Orphanages and other forms of Christian benevolence.

General Prayer
"ALMIGHTY and most merciful God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: We give Thee thanks for all Thy goodness and tender mercies, especially for the gift of Thy dear Son, and for the revelation of Thy will and grace; and we beseech Thee so to implant Thy Word in us, that, in good and honest hearts, we may keep it, and bring forth fruit by patient continuance in well doing.

"Most heartily we beseech Thee so to rule and govern Thy Church universal, with all its pastors and ministers, that it may be preserved in the pure doctrine of Thy saving word, whereby faith toward Thee may be strengthened, and charity increased in us toward all mankind.

"Grant also health and prosperity to all that are in authority, especially to the President [and Congress] of the United States, the Governor [and Legislature] of this Commonwealth, and to all our Judges and Magistrates; and endue them with grace to rule after Thy good pleasure, to the maintenance of righteousness, and to the hinderance and punishment of wickedness, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty.

"May it please Thee also to turn the hearts of our enemies and adversaries, that they may cease their enmity, and be inclined to walk with us in meekness and in peace.

"All who are in trouble, want, sickness, anguish of labor, peril of death, or any other adversity, especially those who are in suffering for Thy Name and for Thy truth's sake, comfort, O God, with Thy Holy Spirit, that they may receive and acknowledge their afflictions as the manifestation of Thy fatherly will.

"And although we have deserved Thy righteous wrath and manifold punishments, yet, we entreat Thee, O most merciful Father, remember not the sins of our youth, nor our many transgressions; but out of Thine unspeakable goodness, grace and mercy, defend us from all harm and danger of body and soul. Preserve us from false and pernicious doctrine, from war and bloodshed, from plague and pestilence, from all calamity by fire and water, from hail and tempest, from failure of harvest and from famine, from anguish of heart and despair of Thy mercy, and from an evil death. And in every time of trouble, show Thyself a very present Help, the Saviour of all men, and especially of them that believe.

"Cause also the needful fruits of the earth to prosper, that we may enjoy them in due season. Give success to the Christian training of the young, to all lawful occupations on land and sea, and to all pure arts and useful knowledge; and crown them with Thy blessing."

Here special Supplications, Intercessions, and Prayers may be made.

"These, and whatsoever other things Thou wouldest have us ask of Thee, O God, vouchsafe unto us for the sake of the bitter sufferings and death of Jesus Christ, Thine only Son, our Lord and Saviour, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end."

Then shall the Minister, and the Congregation with him, say
The Lord's Prayer.

100. What announcement may be made before the General Prayer?
The Minister shall make mention of any special petitions, intercessions or thanksgivings which may have been requested. He may also make mention of the death of any member of the congregation. (Rubric.)

101. What is offered in the General Prayer?
The fruit of our lips in thanksgiving and petition.

102. Why is it called the General Prayer?
Because in it we pray for all possible blessings to be bestowed not only upon us, but upon all sorts and conditions of men.

103. How long has this prayer been in use?
It was used in almost its present form in 1553. Its origin may be found in the Apostolic injunction that supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks be made for all men. I Tim. 2:1-2.

104. Outline the contents of the General Prayer.
    - The Address, to God, as our Father in Christ.
    - A General Thanksgiving for all blessings.
    - A Special Thanksgiving for the gift of Christ and of theWord.
    - A Petition that the Word may be fruitful in us.
    - For the Church.
      -- Pastors and People.
      -- Purity of Doctrine.
      -- Strengthening of Faith.
      -- Increase of Love.
    -For the State.
      -- Rulers, Legislators and Judges.
      -- Good Government and Social Order.
    - For Enemies.
      -- Reconciliation.
    - For the Afflicted.
      -- All Sufferers.
      -- Especially those who suffer for Righteousness' sake.
      -- That all may recognize God's Providence in their Afflictions.
    - For the Forgiveness of all Sins, and Preservation against all Evil, Spiritual, Moral, and Bodily.
    - For
      -- The Products of Nature.
      -- Christian Education.
      -- Every proper Occupation.
      -- Pure Arts, and useful Sciences.
    - Special Petitions. (See Question No. 100.)
    - Conclusion.
      -- All the Thanksgivings, Intercessions and Petitions of this Prayer are offered through Jesus Christ our Saviour.
105. May other prayers be used?
If there be no Communion, the Litany, or a selection from the Collects and Prayers may be used (Rubric).

In the Liturgy prepared in 1748, by Muhlenberg and his co-laborers, this rubric appears: "The sermon being concluded, nothing else shall be read than the appointed Church-prayer here following, or the Litany instead of it by way of change; and nothing but necessity shall occasion its omission." This same rubric appears in the printed Liturgy of 1786.

106. Are the prayers of the Common Service preferable to free prayers?
Yes. Because they are not the prayers of the Minister, but of the Church; not of a single congregation, but of the whole Church; and because each person may readily take part in them.

The needs of God's people are ever the same, and the beautiful forms, which the Church has developed in her experience through the ages, give full expression to the believer's wants at all times.

107. Why is the Lord's Prayer used in addition to the General Prayer?
Because no act or service of prayer is complete without it. Christ's direction to His disciples was, "When ye pray, say, Our Father," etc. (Luke 11:2). Luther says, "It is a prayer of prayers, wherein our Lord has comprised all spiritual and bodily need."

108. In the making of announcements, which is allowable at this point, what care should be exercised?
The Minister should avoid making announcements which would suggest thoughts out of harmony with the worship.

The Hymn

109. What is offered next?
The fruit of our lips in a hymn of praise, which properly concludes the Office of the Word.

110. What should be the character of this hymn when the Holy Supper is administered?
It should serve to prepare the hearts of the people for the Service of the Holy Supper, which is now at hand.

111. Should the Holy Supper be omitted?
The Holy Supper should not be omitted. The entire Service is a unit. The omission of the second renders the first part incomplete, since the Holy Supper is the personal application and seal of all that is offered and given in the Office of the Word. The Service without the Holy Supper is like an elaborate feast, during the course of which the guests leave the table before the richest favors are distributed. Very properly is the Service as a whole entitled The Communion.

112. With what should the Service close when the Holy Supper is omitted?
With the Doxology and the Benediction.

113. What is the Doxology?
The term is derived from two Greek words, doxa: glory, and logos: a saying. Every ascription of praise to the Triune God is a doxology. The Gloria in Excelsis and the Gloria Patri are known respectively as the Greater and the Lesser Doxology. Following the ancient practice of concluding the Psalms with the Lesser Doxology, we sing at the end of the closing hymn an ascription of praise to the Trinity in a form of words corresponding with the metre of the hymn.

114. What should be the last act of the worshiper before he leaves the Sanctuary?
He should offer a silent prayer, thanking God for the gift of His grace in this Service, and asking to be kept steadfast in the faith, and to be made fruitful in good works.


O God, I thank Thee for Thy gifts of grace; strengthen me, through the same, in faith and in all good works; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.


Lisette Anne Lopez said...

Douglas Lindee,
Thank you for the message. I do want to make a comment, however.
You said, "In constructing home-made orders of service (also known as disposable liturgies), are individual pastors, or laymen, competent enough to produce Christ-centered orders of service that sufficiently balance sacrament and sacrifice, that provide a balanced and thorough Confession of our faith, and that are representative of our confessional unity with those in our immediate fellowship and with the Church of all time and location? I tend to think not."
I do think that when families or members of congregations in the WELS, who are dealing with church services that are not following the Common Service and which are disorderly- in this case- I do believe that those individuals who worship at home, they can have sacrament and sacrifice with confessional unity. If the Common Service is used at home, I do believe there can be a Christ-centered worship. I do leave it for God to judge, but I also do acknowledge God's words- "Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." Matthew 18:19-20.
Of course, I think the main point is that we don't want to have anyone worship at home. Hopefully, we all want to worship in church, using the Common Service and such.

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

Pr. Lillo,

I am truly baffled. The argument in your last post was basically, "Lutherans have been using the liturgy for 500 years because they were stuck with it. Now we're not stuck with it anymore, because we can turn to the sects and easily copy their material and their methods. Hooray!"

I'll grant that 50 years ago there weren't sectarian websites like lifechurch.tv where "Lutheran" pastors could copy their sermon themes from. They were "stuck" with that pesky thing called the Church Year and the Lectionary, the sole purpose of which is to run us through the life of Christ year after year with the timelessly relevant truth: "It's all about the life of Christ!" Sectarian (or as you call it, "contemporary") worship almost exclusively abandons any of the common Lectionaries to focus on topics that the pastors consider more "relevant." It's even sadder when the pastor decides what's "relevant" for his people based on what some sectarian pastor somewhere offers on his website.

Do you really think the Lutheran Church has always been so shallow? No, it's just that the shallowness of our culture has finally caught up with us.

Anonymous said...

"One pastor, he noted, liked to preach sermons close to an hour in length and liked to keep the order of service as minimal as possible. Others objected to the Anglican chant in the order of service and thought it was to "high falutin'" for worship in a WELS congregation."

Yes, but why did those pastors feel that way? It's because Wisconsin Synod pastors in those days were still heavily influenced by Pietism, which rejected or downplayed the use of the Western Rite in favor of Reformed-style services. Plus, it made it a lot easier for pastors to conduct the service at their Lutheran congregations and then go across the street to conduct the service at their Reformed congregations. That's the sad truth about the origin of our synod.

Only through much hard work and education did the Wisconsin Synod regain the rich legacy of Lutheranism which it hadn't had for the first decades of its history.

That's why it's so sad that some in the Wisconsin Synod are now giving up these rich, hard-won blessings and reverting back to services that come from pietistic/reformed doctrine. These pastors and congregations think that they are being modern and progressive in what they do, but they are actually taking a huge step backwards.

Mr. Adam Peeler

Lisette Anne Lopez said...

Mr. Joel Lillo,
You say, "I know that many people who write here write out of a genuine love for the historic liturgy."
Yes, I love the historic liturgy. It is my safe haven where I find God's Word present and active, where I find the work of the Holy Spirit, and where I find sacrament and sacrifice present and where I have fellowship with fellow believers. It is where God's love is given and exists through faith and worship in Him.
The historical liturgy, since it is historic, is preserved for those who are true believers. Many will lose their way, but never those who fear God and practice sound doctrine, even if at some point it might have to be in someones home.
The historic liturgy stems from Scripture, (I'm repeating this with purpose) and many died trying to preserve and proclaim it.
If you wrote up a liturgy, or a "Common Service" in which you liked best, please share it with me. I would be very interested in what it would consist of. Either it would stem from Scripture, as our Common Service does, or it perhaps wouldn't. If you do this, God be with you. But I will stick to Scripture, which again, historical liturgy is based on. Period.
I will have no further discussion regarding comments in which you confess vaguely that there is nothing good, no hope for anyone or anything, and that there never was anything good- that there was never any hope. Blah!

WELS church lady said...

Pastor Lillo, you state that Christians died defending God's Word and not for the liturgy. Is that correct? The liturgy is how we confess God's Word. Proclaiming the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is saying that we are trinitarians. False teachers want to hide or get rid of creeds. Jesus rose from the dead. Sects that want to teach the opposite will not recite the Nicene Creed. Here is what the Book OF Concord has to say about Church Practices:
Affirmative Staements from Article X-"Nevertheless, all frivolity and offense should be avoided in this matter. Special care should be taken to exercise patience toward the weak in faith(1 Corinthians 8:9; Romans 14:13)."
"We believe, teach, and confess that during a time of persecution, when a plain confession is required of us, we shouild not yield to the enemies in such matters of adiaphora."

Lisette's comments were spot-on! Contemporary worship hides the true Gospel and gives in to our adversaries. Did Mr. Lindee note,in his fine explanation of the Common Service, the part where it states that the pastor is to hide the Holy Communion? I have a WELS pastor friend(a weak brother who needs guidance) who does this. His church does not have "Lutheran" in its title. We have to have Confessional Unity. The confessions on this blog have been an answer to my prayers.

In, Christ
Rebecca Quam

Anonymous said...

"Dying for an order of service, emphatically no."

I'm not so sure about that. There are plenty of examples from the past five centuries of Lutheran churches being forced by penalty of law to change their "order of service", either to make it more Roman or more Reformed. This didn't necessarily mean changing their doctrine, but simply changing what they did in worship.

In each of these cases, Lutherans resisted these laws. I don't have a specific example of anyone being killed for such resistance, but it's not outside the realm of possibility and they were certainly willing to die for such a cause.

The founders of the Missouri Synod came across the ocean to escape just such a forced change in the way they worshiped as Lutherans. You have to imagine that lives were lost in such a trek.

I realize that this point of conversation is going far afield of the point of this thread, but I just wanted to question whether you should be so emphatic about your "no".

Mr. Adam Peeler

Anonymous said...

One other thing, Pastor Lillo. Like Pastor Rydecki, I too am baffled about the point you're trying to make by saying that WELS pastors of the past would have made more changes to the liturgy if they could have. What exactly is that supposed to prove? I've already pointed out that the history of worship in the WELS is a sad, sad story. So why should we follow their lead? If they, in their ignorance of worship and their acceptance of pietism, would have discarded the liturgy if they could have, wouldn't that indicate we should do the exact opposite of them and cling to the liturgy?

Mr. Adam Peeler

Lisette Anne Lopez said...

Joel Lillo,
Go, do as you will, it sounds that nothing stops you.
May God be with those who desire His true presence in their church and heart- who wish to worship Him humbly, with reverence and honor. God bless all who need Him and want Him; who call upon Him, especially in times of trouble.

Rev. Paul A. Rydecki said...

Pr. Lillo,

It's almost like you're intentionally muddying the waters here. I don't know what else to make of your arguments. You're treating liturgical variety as if it were the same thing as the complete abandoning of the liturgy in favor of sectarian forms. Liturgical variety is one thing. Sectarian variety is another.

The fact that you thought the word "relevant" was targetting any one church reveals how little you've opened your eyes to what's going on in the world out there. "Relevancy" is the mantra of EVERY church that promotes sectarian worship. It's all about relating to the people of our culture, using a certain style that is perceived to be more relevant to a certain target "mission field," and therefore, MORE EFFECTIVE at reaching them. The fact that the church you attend has grabbed on to that relevancy mantra is not unique, just tragic, because people are fooling themselves if they believe that the people of the 21st century are somehow made up of different stuff than the 20 centuries' worth of people who went before them. How Satan has sold that lie, I'll never be able to figure out.

Now, the reference to lifechurch.tv and sermon series downloaded from sectarian websites - that I'd be interested to hear your opinion about.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Lillo,

I'm assuming that you were responding to me, even though you addressed me by the wrong name.

I'm saddened that you would accuse me of purposely distorting your words. I was simply struggling to understand your point, and I still am. I would have hoped that a pastor of all people would be willing to take the words of others in the kindest possible way.

You seem to be talking about two different things. I see a huge difference between using technology to insert a different setting of a liturgical song or a gathering rite and a wholesale rejection of the liturgy in favor of purely sectarian worship forms. You can't simply lump both together under the heading of innovation, claiming that you're for it and I'm against it. Not all innovation is good. And besides, as I noted before, contemporary worship is neither contemporary or innovative. It's simply a rehash of revivalist services of a century ago.

Why do you see it as such a bad thing for a church body to have uniformity in its worship practices? In fact, the Lutheran Confessions strive for such uniformity for the sake of unity. When you take to heart the mantra lex orandi, lex credendi, you will naturally expect that churches which are united in doctrine will also be united in practice. In fact, churches that aren't united in practice won't be united in doctrine for very long.

You speak of a congregation that rejects the liturgy and the church year and only celebrates the Lord's Supper once a month and you call it Lutheran. According to the Lutheran Confessions, which, by definition, determine what is Lutheran and what is not, such a congregation is not Lutheran.

I don't understand why such congregations don't simply admit that they do not hold to the description of the Lutheran church found in the Confessions and leave Lutheranism behind. I think that both the Lutheran church and those congregations would be much happier that way.

Finally, your last paragraph reminds me of the attitude of many WELS pastors I've dealt with. Rather than thinking or studying or speaking seriously about these issues, it's too easy to blow them off and claim they're no big deal. I understand exactly why you would say this. If you can convince yourself (and your conscience) that these things are no big deal, it means you don't have to stick your neck out or rock the boat. You can maintain an outward peace with your brothers in the ministry. It's much easier that way.

But I can assure you, sir, these are very serious issues. Sectarian worship is a very serious danger. I applaud the pastors (and the laymen) who are willing to stand up and speak about these things openly and honestly, rather than shrugging them off with jokes.

Mr. Adam Peeler

David Garner said...

Pr. Lillo wrote:

"Adam (Sorry, I don't remember names very easily and shouldn't have trusted my short term memory which also isn't very good),

How often does a church need to celebrate the Lord's Supper? We celebrate it twice a month. Is that enough? I do not believe that you will find a biblical mandate about how often to receive communion. You might think that every Sunday is the ideal (personally, I wouldn't mind), but does celebrating it less often than that mean that a congregation is no longer Lutheran?"

I am not Mr. Peeler nor do I play him on TV, but I cannot help but respond to this question. The answer is simple:

It depends on whether one accepts Apology XXIV as authoritative, to wit, "among us masses are celebrated every Lord's Day and on the other festivals, in which the Sacrament is offered to those who wish to use it, after they have been examined and absolved."

If so, then no, "that" which you have described is not enough. If not, your mileage may vary.

It saddens me the extent to which too many who call themselves "Lutheran" no longer find the Confessions to be authoritative in such matters. When everything is adiaphora, then nothing is confessed, and no subscription to the Confessions is made. I am pleased to see this blog making an effort to counter such weak confessional subscription.

David Garner

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