But most importantly, that post emphasized the need not only for rigorous catechesis, but of a broad catechesis that includes more than just Bible study. In that post, Dr. Kretzmann and the Walther League strongly encouraged complementary catechesis in areas of Church History, of Christian Missions, of Distinctive Lutheran Doctrines, Customs and Usages of the Lutheran Church, of Church Art, of Science, and of Literature. And within the category of Church Art was included the very important topic of Liturgics.
In fact, the catechesis of the Lutheran Worshiper was the topic of another recent post on Intrepid Lutherans, The Catechesis of the Lutheran Worshiper: An antidote to the “itching ears” and “happy feat” of CGM enthusiasts?. In that post we drew the distinction between those who favor so-called “contemporary worship,” as those who Congregate before Entertainers, with those who retain a wholesome catholicty and still embrace the distinctive practices of historic Lutheran liturgy, as those who Congregate before the Means of Grace.
But what is such “wholesome catholicty”? What is the “distinctive practice of historic Lutheran liturgy”? Do American Lutherans of the 21st Century even have such a thing? If so, is it at all in general use? Maybe they do, maybe they don't, but one thing is for sure: they certainly had such in the 19th and 20th Centuries, AND they had catechetical materials to go along with it for the purpose of teaching successive generations about Lutheran worship.
Lutherans of these bygone times highly valued the wholesome catholicty of their historic Lutheran worship practices, that served to starkly contrast them with the American sects which surrounded them — which had in many cases been given over to the evangelical revivalism of Charles Finney, and to practices emanating from the Holiness movements within American Methodism (as discussed in our recent post, The Church Growth Movement: A brief synopsis of its history and influences in American Christianity). Even in confessional Lutheran churches in America, the allure of the Anxious Bench became increasingly difficult to resist, and Methodist hymnals were, distressingly, in growing demand (as Dr. C.F.W. Walther laments, in our post, C.F.W. Walther: Filching from sectarian worship resources equals “soul murder”). It was within this environment that the confessional and liturgical movements of the 19th Century grew, and worked toward the establishment of confessional unity among Lutherans in America, and to distinguish and insulate American Lutheranism from the poison of sectarian influences.
In 1908, the General Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America published an Explanation of the Common Service – a harmony of sixteenth century Lutheran liturgies published in 1888, in the English language. This is the same Common Service found in The Lutheran Hymnal, which was published by the Synodical Conference in 1941, and which is still used in many Lutheran congregations even today. It is my understanding that, in many circles, this liturgy of the Divine Service is still referred to as a benchmark of liturgical excellence. Indeed, in our recent post, Lutheranism and the Fine Arts..., Dr. Kretzmann refers to the Common Service as “unsurpassed in the entire history of the Christian Church.” Sadly, however, though many Lutherans still use it, most Lutherans, and nearly all young Lutherans, are completely ignorant of this fine and beautiful liturgy, having never had the privilege of being consistently guided through worship under the rubrics of this Common Service.
Interestingly, the Explanation published in 1908 by the General Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, was dedicated to this very group of people, to the “Young Lutherans who ask the meaning of the beautiful liturgy of the Lutheran Church.” As you read this Explanation, notice its use of language. Consider the fine education and catechesis “Young Lutherans” must have enjoyed a century ago, which was deliberately reinforced by the church in books such as this. Do Lutheran publishing houses have such respect and concern for the youth of today? Certainly, they target young people with a great deal of material, so concern unquestionably exists — but does the quality of these materials generally rise to this level? Does it specifically advocate and reinforce Confessional practice? Does it refer to the liturgy as something “beautiful” and as something to be valued? I don't believe I've seen this sort of thing coming from the main Lutheran publishers.
Therefore, in the interest of those who would otherwise never have the opportunity to know, the following Explanation of the Common Service is offered. It explains Lutheran worship according to what has been considered the definitive Lutheran liturgy yet produced – a liturgy which is nevertheless disappearing under the short-sighted tyranny of “contemporary relevance,” and an explanation whose need has long been disregarded as counterproductive to progress and to the future of Evangelical church practice.
|Note: the reader may recognize this Explanation as having appeared on Intrepid Lutherans in the past. In fact, it was published as a series in the Summer of 2010, as follows:|
Intrepid Lutherans: Explanation of the Common Service — Part 2
Intrepid Lutherans: Explanation of the Common Service — Part 3
Intrepid Lutherans: Explanation of the Common Service — Part 4
Note also that this explanation, though long out of print, is now available in book form from Emmanuel Press, one of the fine confessional Lutheran publishers listed in the right-hand column of this blog.
Board of Publication of the General Council of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America
Young Lutheran who asks
The Meaning of the
Beautiful Liturgy of
The preparation of this little book was begun February 9, 1903. The first edition was issued in four parts, beginning September 29, of the same year. The work was undertaken at the instance of the Luther League of the Allentown District, by the committee appointed for this special purpose. The book was intended for use in the Luther League meetings, as a guide and aid in the study of the Common Service. In its new form it is offered to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, for use in the Luther League, Sunday school and the home. For League and Bible Class study, it will furnish abundant material for a half year's course of twenty-six lessons.
The text of the Common Service, as it appears in this book, is that of the Standard Manuscript adopted by the Joint Committee of the several General Bodies uniting it its preparation. [For a list of variations in the published editions see article by the Rev. L. D. Reed, Lutheran Church Review, July, 1901.]
In the preparation of this Explanation the standard sources and authorities have been consulted. It has been deemed unnecessary to give particular credit for whatever has been adopted from these sources, as the only pretension which the book makes is to a certain unique fitness and convenience for popular use. Whatever seemed well adapted to explain the meaning and the connection of the several parts of the Services of the Church was freely used.
In order to give completeness to the work, and to bring out more clearly the beautiful harmony of the parts of the Service which are appointed for the particular Festival or Day, the propria for the Festival of Christmas were selected and have been inserted and examined in their appropriate places in the Service.
The Lutheran Church may justly claim that, in the Common Service, she possesses and uses "the completest embodiment of the Common Service of the Christian Church of all ages;" a Service "which may be tendered to all Christians who use a fixed Order, the Service of the future as it has been of the past" (Preface to the Common Service). Should this book be of assistance to any one, in awakening interest, or in developing a better understanding, a more intelligent use, as a higher appreciation of the forms of Divine Worship, as the Church of the Reformation conceives and orders it, the very considerable time and labor which its production has cost will not have been spent in vain.
1. What is Divine Worship?
Divine Worship in its widest significance includes the observance of every rite or ceremony whereby man believes that God communes with him, and he with God.
2. Distinguish between the true and false worship of God.
True worship of God is only such as conforms in spirit and expression with God's revelation of Himself. Read John 4:24.
All worship is false which seeks communion with God in ways other than those He has appointed. False worship is either
- (a) The paying of divine honors to false gods, such as idolatry (the Hindu), nature-worship (the Greeks), ancestor-worship (the Buddhist), or
(b) The false worship of the True God. Such is the worship of the hypocrite. Read Matt 15:7-9; Matt 7:21-23. Such has become all Jewish worship which was abrogated by the Advent of our Lord.
Before Christ, the true worship was that of the Jews, temporary, typical, a shadow of good things to come. Since Christ, the true worship is that of the Christians, final, perfect, and the very substance of those things. Read Heb. 1:1-2; John 1:17 with Heb 7:18-19. Also Luke 16:16; Heb 9:11-12, 23-26, and Heb. 10:9.
4. What is Christian Worship?
It is the outward expression, by the power of the Holy Ghost, of the communion of man with God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
5. Of what elements does Christian Worship consist?
Christian worship consists of two elements — the sacramental and the sacrificial.
In the sacramental acts of worship, God speaks to us. In the sacrificial acts, we speak to God. In the sacramental acts, God's grace is exhibited, offered and conveyed. In the sacrificial, man offers to God the service which is due Him.
6. Which are the chief sacramental acts in The Service?
- The declaration of Grace
The Distribution of the Holy Supper
The Benedictions (The Votum, The Pax, "The body of our Lord," etc., "The Lord bless thee," etc.)
- The Confession
The Hymns and Canticles
8. In view of the above, what is the proper attitude of the Minister when he conducts the various parts of the worship?
While conducting the sacramental parts of worship, the Minister should face the people, because at such times he stands as the Lord's ambassador and addresses them in His Name. Read II Cor. 5:20.
While conducting the sacrificial parts, the Minister should face the altar, as do the people, since he now addresses the Lord on their behalf and as their leader.
9. Distinguish between private and public worship.
Private worship is the communion of the individual soul with God. Public worship is the common and united worship of believers in the unity of the Body of Christ, as they are assembled in church.
10. Is this distinction important?
Yes, for there are indispensable elements of true worship in which no one can engage except in common with others. Public worship is, moreover, an Apostolic rule, a permanent institution, and accords with the universal practice of the Church. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews most beautifully exhorts the common worship in chapter 10, verses 19 to 25.
11. How did Christian worship become corrupted?
As the teaching of the Church became corrupted, the worship of the Church naturally shared in that corruption. Men were taught that their works and prayers, their pilgrimages and fasts atoned for their sins. Christ's work of atonement, and faith in Him were lost to sight. This inevitably led to the perversion of the sacramental element of worship, and the undue exaltation of the priesthood; and the whole service, even the Lord's Supper, came to be regarded as a sacrifice offered to God by the priest on behalf of the people. This was the fundamental error of the Romish Church of the Middle Ages.
12. How did it come to be purified?
The Lutheran Reformers led the way in this work. Just as false teaching developed a corrupt worship, so the restoration of pure doctrine effected the restoration of pure worship. The New Testament teaches that we are saved by grace, not by works. Therefore, as Luther maintained, in true Christian worship, Divine Words and the Holy Supper are not a sacrifice which man offers to God, but a means of grace in which God comes to man. Hence the sacramental should be the chief element in the Service, as it is with us.
13. What was the attitude of the non-Lutheran Reformers in revising the Service?
Zwingli, in his first Order of Worship, which he introduced at Zurich, followed Luther's form of the Mass rather closely; but later he aimed at eliminating from the service all forms which were not directly traceable to New Testament usage. Calvin sought in every way to simplify the Service. He appeared to think that the spiritual and churchly development of fifteen centuries could be swept away by simply ignoring it. His aim was to go back to the foundation principles of the Church as it existed in the days of the Apostles. With this in view, he abandoned everything that could not be justified from Holy Scripture as Apostolic or early Christian. Accordingly, he made of the church a mere house of prayer; the altar became a simple table; statues, pictures, and even the cross had to disappear from the church; music was barely tolerated in the form of simple psalm-singing. Thus, besides the Lord's Supper, the only component parts of the Service were psalm-singing, preaching and prayer. John Knox prepared "The Book of Common Order" for the English congregation at Frankfort, and it afterwards became the established order of worship in Scotland, and remained such for nearly a century. This order was approved by John Calvin, and was used by the English congregation at Geneva.
14. Is the Lutheran conception of worship held by the other Protestant churches also?
No, for in those churches chief emphasis is laid upon the sacrificial element. This is done to such an extent, that even such sacramental ordinances as the Lords' Supper and Baptism are regarded as the Christian's own acts of worship, rather than as means through which God offers and bestows His grace.
15. What is the Anglican (Episcopal) conception of worship?
It varies with the High and Low Church tendencies. The High Church conception is Romish, while the Low Church is Calvinistic.
16. What was the relation of the English Reformers to the Lutheran in the work of revising the ancient Service?
The Lutheran revision of the Service, issued in many editions in many states and cities, had been fully tested by more than twenty years of continuous use before the revision made by the English Church, first issued in the Prayer Book of Edward the Sixth, 1549. The Latin Missals, from which the English translations were made, agreed almost entirely with the Missals from which the German translations had been made. Archbishop Cranmer, the head of the commission which prepared the First English Prayer Book, spent a year and a half in Germany in conference with Lutheran theologians and princes, and was thoroughly familiar with the Lutheran Service. Two Lutheran professors, who were called to the English Universities, took part in the formation of the Prayer Book. During the years 1535 to 1549 there had been many embassies and conferences between the English and Lutheran rulers and theologians concerning these matters.
17. In the reformation of the Service, who led the Lutheran movement?
Luther, who in the year 1523 published his treatise "Of the Order of Divine Service in the Congregation," and later in the same year, his "Form of the Mass;" and John Bugenhagen, chief pastor at Wittenbrg, who published an "Order of Christian Mass," in 1524. For other early Lutheran Orders, see the Preface to The Common Service.
18. What were the principal changes which the Lutheran Reformers introduced?
While the Lutheran Reformers retained all that was deemed sound and Scriptural in the Latin Mass, the work of purification required some radical changes. The chief change was in the view which was taken of the Mass. What had been wrongly regarded as sacrifice, was now understood in its true significance as a sacrament. The Liturgy was translated into the language of the people; the Sermon was assigned greater importance; all that was contrary to Scripture was removed; church song was given a new and higher place; a few things were added, such as the General Prayer and the Exhortation before the Communion.
19. What is the Common Service?
It is the typical Lutheran Service of the Sixteenth Century, adapted for the use of English-speaking Churches.
20. Why is it called the Common Service?
- (a) Because it embodies the common worship of the pure Christian Church of all ages
(b) Because of the rule which governed its preparation, namely, "The Common Consent of the Pure Lutheran Liturgies of the Sixteenth Century."
(c) Because it was prepared in common by three of the general bodies of the Lutheran Church in America, namely, The United Synod of the South, The General Synod, and The General Council. It is also used in common in all parts of the English Lutheran Church.
According to the Lutheran Confessions, there can be no binding obligation, but there is a strong moral and churchly obligation; for these same Confessions say: "It is pleasing to use that, for the sake of unity and good order, universal rites be observed."
22. What forms of worship are included in the Common Service?
- The Service or The Communion
The Communion is the chief Service of the Lord's Day, and by common consent its most appropriate time is near the middle of the day. Matins for the morning, and Vespers for the evening, are minor services for daily use.
The Communion we trace directly to our Lord's institution of the Holy Supper, and to the obedience of the first believers as "they continued steadfastly in the Apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in the breaking of bread, and in prayers" (Acts 2:42). Matins and Vespers we trace to the daily worship of the early Christians, which they in turn inherited from the Synagogue of the Jews.
The Preparation, or Confession of Sins
24. What name is given to our principal Service?
Order of The Service or The Communion. German: Haupt-Gottesdienst (Chief Service). Swedish: Högmässa (High Mass). Norwegian and Danish: Höimesse (High Mass). The term Mass is authorized by the Augsburg Confession (Art. XXIV).
25. Should it be used at any other than a morning hour?
Certainly. It should always be used when only one service is held on Sunday; and also whenever the Communion is administered.
26. What private preparation should the Christian make before attending the Service on the Lord's Day?
He should devoutly read the Introit, Collect, Epistle and Gospel, of the Day.
27.What should be the first act of the worshiper upon entering the House of God?
He should bow his head in silent prayer, asking God to prepare his heart for worship.
- A FORM OF SILENT PRAYER
O God, Send Thy Holy Spirit into my heart, that He may enable me to receive the gift of grace which Thou hast for me this Day, through Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen.
Because it is only by the Holy Ghost that we can render worship to God through Christ. I Cor. 12:3; Eph. 2:18.
"In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."
29. Why does the Service begin in the name of the Triune God?
Because God has revealed Himself as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and it is by His authority that the Minister proclaims the Gospel, and for His worship that a Christian congregation assembles. Compare Ex. 3:13-14, and Matt. 18:20.
30.Why does the congregation respond, Amen?
Amen means, So be it. By its use here the congregation accepts and confirms the words of the Minister.
The Preparation: The Confession of Sins
31. What is the purpose of the preparatory Confession?
It prepares the hearts of both Minister and congregation for communion with God. Without sincere confession of sin, God does not bestow His grace upon us; nor does He accept our sacrifices of prayer, praise and thanksgiving.
32. Name the several parts of the Preparation.
- I. The Exhortation
II. The Versicle
III. The Confession of Sins
IV. The Prayer for Grace
V. The Declaration of Grace
“Beloved in the Lord! Let us draw near with a true heart, and confess our sins unto God our Father, beseeching Him, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to grant us forgiveness.”
33. What is suggested in this Exhortation?
“Let us draw near,” i.e., The entrance to the Divine Sanctuary is always open to us, our great High Priest and Reconciler being there to receive us. This approach is the mark of a true believer. Read Heb. 10:22
“With a true heart,” i.e., Properly prepared to confess; not hypocritical or double-minded; conscious of our depravity and failings. Read Psalm 32:5 and I John 1:8-9.
“And confess our sins,” etc. This we do in the following Confession.
“Beseeching Him ...forgiveness.” This we do in the Prayer for Grace.
“Our help is in the Name of the Lord. Who made heaven and earth.
I said I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord. And Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.”
34. What is the office of a Versicle?
Versicles are short passages of Scripture intended to incite the worshipers to devotion and to suggest the central thought of what follows. Here the Versicle encourages us to approach.
35. Where is this Versicle found?
In Psalms 124 and 32.
36. What is indicated in the Versicle?
- 1. From Whom our help comes
2. God's power to help
3. The condition on which help is granted
4. A word of God assuring help
- I. A confession to God by the Minister for himself and the congregation,
- 1. Of original sin,
2. Of actual sin in thought, word, and deed.
The Prayer for Grace
“O Most merciful God, Who hast given Thine Only-begotten Son to die for us, have mercy upon us, and for His sake grant us remission of all our sins: and by Thy Holy Spirit increase in us true knowledge of Thee, and of Thy will, and true obedience to Thy Word, to the end that by Thy grace we may come to everlasting life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
38. What is contained in the Prayer for Grace?
- I. The ground of this prayer – the death of Christ.
II. The petitions of this prayer,
- 1. For mercy
2. For grace
3. For an increase:
- (a) of the knowledge of God and His will, and
(b) of true obedience to His Word
The Declaration of Grace
“Almighty God, our heavenly Father, hath had mercy upon us, and hath given His Only Son to die for us, and for His sake forgiveth us all our sins. To them that believe on His Name, He giveth power to become sons of God, and hath promised them His Holy Spirit. He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved. Grant this, O Lord, unto us all. Amen.”
39. What is contained in the Declaration of Grace?
- I. That God has always had mercy upon us, and therefore gave His Son to die for us.
II. That for Christ's sake He now forgives us all our sins.
III. That to those who believe He grants the increase of knowledge and obedience for which they pray, by giving them power to become the sons of God, and by giving unto them His Holy Spirit.
With the prayer that the Holy Spirit may work this faith in us, and thus apply to each heart the forgiveness which Christ has obtained for it.
These words (“Grant this, O Lord, unto us all”) resolve what precedes into a prayer for the forgiveness of the confessing penitent, which was the earliest form of the Absolution (precative). The form in the Order of Public Confession is declarative (“I declare unto you,” etc.). The form used in the Roman Church is indicative (“I absolve thee”).
41. What is the significance of the Amen here?
It affirms our belief that God has forgiven our sins. Amen: Yea, yea, it shall be so.
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
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
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.
“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.
- By acknowledging Him as the Lord, the Only-begotten Son, the Christ, God, the Lamb of God.
- (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.
- 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.
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)
“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 Wednesday||VIII Trinity||VII Trinity||Sunday After Ascension|
|Invocation||Almighty and Everlasting God,||Lord,||O God,||Almighty, everlasting God:|
|Antecedent Reason||Who 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:|
|Petition||Create 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 Desired||that 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)
“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.
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)
“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 NICENE 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.”
THE APOSTLES' CREED
“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.
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 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.
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.
- 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.”
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.
"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."
"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."
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.
- -- Rulers, Legislators and Judges.
-- Good Government and Social Order.
- -- Reconciliation.
- -- All Sufferers.
-- Especially those who suffer for Righteousness' sake.
-- That all may recognize God's Providence in their Afflictions.
- -- The Products of Nature.
-- Christian Education.
-- Every proper Occupation.
-- Pure Arts, and useful Sciences.
- -- All the Thanksgivings, Intercessions and Petitions of this Prayer are offered through Jesus Christ our Saviour.
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.
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.
NOTE: We now come to the most sacred, and solemn act of all Christian worship — the personal communion of the living Saviour with each individual heart. The parts which precede are preparatory to what is about to take place.
The first part, called the Office of the Word, of which the Gospel is the center, is not an independent service. It is the Good News, the forgiveness of sins, proclaimed to all; while in the second part, the Holy Supper, the Good News is applied to each soul.
115. How did the ancients emphasize the peculiar sacredness of this part of the Service?
The first part, a service of teaching, was known as the "Mass of the Catechumens." At its conclusion the Catechumens were dismissed with special prayers. The second part was known as the "Mass of the Faithful." To this, none but communicants were admitted. The doors were closed and guarded, so that no profane eye might behold the sacred Mystery. An old liturgy tells us in what spirit the people must approach the Holy Table: "Let no one have aught against anyone; let no one come in hypocrisy; let us stand upright before the Lord with fear and trembling."
116. What shall be the attitude of the Minister and the Congregation at the beginning of the Holy Supper?
While the hymn is sung, the Minister shall go to the Altar, make ready the Communion vessels, and prepare for the administration of the Holy Communion. The hymn ended, the Congregation shall rise, and stand to the end of the Agnus Dei.
117. What are the main divisions of the Office of the Holy Supper?
- Part I. The Preface.
Part II. The Administration.
Part III. The Post Communion.
A foreword, an introduction — from the Latin praefatio, a saying beforehand.
119. What is the nature of the Preface?
It is a High Thanksgiving.
120. What are its divisions?
- 1. The Salutation and Response.
2. The Prefatory Sentences.
3. The Eucharistic Prayer.
- (a) The Common Preface.
(b) The Proper Preface.
The Salutation and Response
The Lord be with you. And with thy spirit.
121. Where in the Scriptures are the Salutation and Response found?
The Salutation is found in Luke 1:28, and in Ruth 2:4;
The Response, in II Timothy 4:22.
122. To whom is the Salutation spoken?
To the Congregation.
123. What is its purpose?
To greet the worshipers with a blessing; to invite attention; to incite to devotion; and to suggest the coming act of worship.
124. What does the Salutation further imply?
That the Lord must first come to us before we can go to Him; as much as to say, "The Lord be with you and in you and help you to pray." Read Romans 8:26.
125. What is the meaning of the Response?
The people ask a blessing upon the Minister, and pray that the Lord may give him a devout mind, and guide him in the coming ministrations.
The Prefatory Sentences
"Lift up your hearts. We lift them up unto the Lord.
Let us give thanks unto the Lord our God. It is meet and right so to do."
126. What is the significance of these Sentences?
From the most ancient times these Sentences opened the Service of the Holy Eucharist. They stand in close connection with the Salutation and Response, and give specific direction to the Congregation's devotions which, in view of the exalted nature of the acts of worship which follow, should be full of joy and gratitude.
127. What is the meaning of the first Sentence?
"Lift up your hearts" (Latin, Sursum corda) that is: Think of nothing earthly, but arise, go to the very throne of God and offer prayer and praise; for, not only is Christ present in the Sacrament, but He also sits at the right hand of God. This lifting up of hearts finds its fullest expression in the words of the Sanctus.
128. How do the people respond to the Sursum Corda?
They accept the Minister's summons, and answer with assurance, "We lift them (our hearts) up unto the Lord."
129. What is the meaning of the second Sentence?
"Let us give thanks unto the Lord our God" (Latin, Gratias agamus), that is: After leading the people to the throne of God, the minister rouses their minds to a sense of His benefits and suggests the nature of the prayer they are to offer.
130. And how do the people take this?
In the Response, "It is meet and right so to do," they accept the thanksgiving thought, and declare their readiness to join in the great Eucharistic Prayer which follows.
The Eucharistic Prayer
"It is truly meet, right, and salutary, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O Lord, Holy Father, Almighty Everlasting God:
"For in the mystery of the Word made flesh, Thou hast given us a new revelation of Thy glory; that seeing Thee in the Person of Thy Son, we may be drawn to the love of those things which are not seen.
"Therefore with Angels and Archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify Thy glorious Name; evermore praising Thee, and saying:"
131. What is the nature of the Eucharistic Prayer?
It is a prayer of Thanksgiving — in imitation of our Lord who gave thanks when He took the bread and the cup to institute the Holy Communion. The Church has always said grace, or rendered thanks before partaking of the Holy Supper (I Cor. 10:16). This Thanksgiving was called by the Greeks Eucharistia, hence the term Eucharist used for the whole office. The Eucharistic Prayer is the principal division of the Preface, and gives it its chief significance.
132. What should be the posture of the Minister during this prayer?
While offering this prayer, he should by all means face the altar. No one turns his back to the table when he asks the blessing.
133. To whom is the Eucharistic Prayer addressed?
To God the Father.
134. What are the parts of this beautiful prayer?
It is composed of:
- 1. The Common Preface, which consists of two minor parts —
- (a) The General Thanksgiving: "It is truly meet," etc.
(b) The Conclusion: "Therefore with angels," etc.
It is a testimony or acknowledgment to God for all His blessings, natural and spiritual. In olden times it was very lengthy, the thought beginning with creation. Read Psalm 26:6-7.
136. Explain the Proper Preface?
The Proper Preface is a special thanksgiving to our heavenly Father for the blessing of redemption in Christ Jesus.
137. How does the Proper Preface vary?
With the season of the Church year. It thus brings the Communion Office into close connection with the Service of the Day, and makes each of the chief elements of redemption, in turn, the reason of the Eucharistic Prayer. For example, in the Proper Preface for Christmas, given above, the Incarnation of our Lord is made the leading thought of the Prayer.
138. How do you explain the conclusion of the Eucharistic Prayer?
The conclusion of the Eucharistic Prayer is also the introduction to the Sanctus. Although addressed to God in prayer, it also serves as a summons to all who have "lifted up their hearts" to join heaven's worshipers in singing, as one family, the Seraphic hymn. Read Ephesians 3:14-15.
"Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth; Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory; Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest."
139. What does the word Sanctus mean?
It is the Latin for Holy. Other titles of this hymn are Ter Sanctus and Trisagium, both meaning Thrice Holy.
140. What is the Sanctus?
It is the great hymn of the Communion Service – the very climax of the Thanksgiving.
141. What are its divisions and whence derived?
It consists of two verses, of which —
- The first is from Isaiah the prophet, who heard it sung by the Seraphim before the throne of God. Read Isaiah 6:2-3.
The second was sung by the multitudes which went with Christ on His triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:19). The same words are in the hymn (Psalm 118) which our Saviour is supposed to have chanted with the disciples at the institution of the Holy Supper.
The first is heaven's hymn of praise. The second is earth's hymn of praise. Thus is fulfilled, "Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory."
Each verse closes with Hosanna in the highest.
It is an exalted strain of praise, in which the saints on earth join the angels in heaven in declaring God's perfection, and in proclaiming that His glory as manifested in Creation and Redemption fills all things. This verse recalls the words of the Eucharistic Prayer, "At all times and in all places."
143. What is suggested by the second verse of the Sanctus?
In the second verse — also called Benedictus — we hail Christ as our Saviour and Deliverer. These words resolve the whole Sanctus into a hymn of praise to Christ as God (John 12:41). We here look forward to the Administration, in which the Lord comes to each one.
144. What is the meaning of Hosanna in the highest?
- Hosanna means, Save, I pray.
In the highest, in high heaven.
This expression is an exclamation of the most intense feeling and gives utterance to the loftiest praise.
It is also explained as a cry similar to God save the King!
What a welcome to Christ our King!
Because it makes a break in the Service, and this is not the place for preaching.
146. What was the original purpose of the Exhortation?
It was prepared by Volprecht of Nuremberg (1525) for the purpose of teaching the people, who had been reared under Romish error, the true meaning of the Lord's Supper.
147. Why may it be regarded as belonging to the Preface?
- Because it is preparatory in character;
Because in some Lutheran Church Orders it took the place of the Preface; and
Because like some of the ancient Prefaces it serves the purpose of teaching.
- 1. The Lord's Prayer.
2. The Words of Institution.
3. The Pax.
4. The Agnus Dei.
5. The Distribution and Blessing.
The Lord's Prayer
"OUR Father, who art in heaven; Hallowed be Thy Name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven; Give us this day our daily bread; And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; And lead us not into temptation; But deliver us from evil; For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen."
149. Why does the Minister precede the Lord's Prayer with the words "Let us pray"?
For the reason that, although the Lord's Prayer is recited by the Minister, it is the self-consecratory prayer of all the people, as they declare and confirm by singing Amen at the close.
150. Why did the early Church introduce this prayer into the Communion Service?
- On account of its sacredness.
- (a) From ancient times it has always been regarded as a divine and spiritual form of prayer, which can never fail to move our heavenly Father, because His Son taught us thus to pray. On this Cyprian says beautifully: "What prayer can be more spiritual than that which was given us by Christ, by Whom also the Holy Spirit was sent? What petition more true before the Father than that which came from the lips of His Son, Who is the Truth?"
(b) Its use was esteemed the peculiar privilege of true believers. Hence it was said, not in the first part of the worship, where we usually have it, but in the Communion Service, from which the heathen and the catechumens (the unbaptized) were excluded. The latter were strictly forbidden to utter it. Chrysostom explains thus: "Not until we have been cleansed by the washing of the sacred waters are we able to call God, Father."
No. Because such a use does not agree with the nature of the Lord's Prayer, nor with the proper nature of a prayer of consecration, nor with the view of the Ancient Church.
The Words of Institution
"Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the night in which He was betrayed, took bread; and when He had given thanks, He brake it and gave it to His disciples, saying. Take, eat; this is My Body, which is given for you; this do in remembrance of Me.
"After the same manner, also, when He had supped, He took the cup, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; this cup is the New Testament in My Blood, which is shed for you, and for many, for the remission of sins; this do, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me."
152. Where are the Words of Institution recorded?
In the Gospels according to St. Matthew 26:26-28, St. Mark 14:22-24, St. Luke 22:19-20, and in St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians 11:23-25.
153. What does our Lord here teach?
- I. The Sacramental Use – "Take, eat," "Drink ye all of it."
II. The Sacramental Presence – "This is My body," "This cup is the New Testament in My blood."
III. The Sacramental Benefit – "Which is given for you," "Which is shed for you and for many."
IV. The Sacramental Institution – "This do in remembrance of Me," "This do, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me."
Our Lord's words "Take, eat" and "Drink of it" plainly teach that the Sacrament is not complete until used as He directed. As Luther in the Small Catechism says, "The bodily eating and drinking are among the chief things in the Sacrament."
155. What may be said of the Sacramental Presence?
When our Lord said "This is My body" and "This is My blood," He declared unmistakably that when His people eat and drink the sacramental bread and wine, He gives them His true body and blood.
156. What may be said of the Sacramental Benefit?
The words "Given for you" and "Shed for you for the remission of sins" teach:
- – That Christ takes our place. He suffered death in our stead.
– That we take His place. We are counted righteous for His sake.
– This is the taking away or "remission of sins" - the sacramental benefit which belongs to every communicant who believes Christ's words.
When Jesus said "This do in remembrance of Me," He commanded His people to follow His example by observing the Sacrament, that is, by taking bread and wine, asking a blessing, giving and eating, and thus showing His death till He come.
158. What does St. Paul say about the Sacramental Fellowship?
He teaches that by our communion with the one Lord in this Sacrament we are also brought into the closest fellowship with one another. "For," says he, "we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread." I Cor. 10:17.
This same thought is beautifully brought out in an ancient Christian writing, called the "Teaching of the Twelve Apostles," belonging to the middle of the second century, as follows: "Even as this broken bread was scattered over the hills, and was gathered together and became one, so let Thy Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into Thy Kingdom, for Thine is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ forever."
159. Were not Christ's Words intended only for the first administration?
The words which Christ uttered at the Institution made the Holy Supper a sacrament not only for that time, but they endure, have authority, and operate for all time, i. e., "till He come."
160. Why is the recitation of Christ's Words called the Consecration?
Consecration signifies a setting apart for a holy use. It is by means of Christ's words that the bread and wine on the altar are set apart for a sacred use; and that the eating and drinking of the bread and wine become a holy ordinance – a sacrament.
161. Why do the rubrics direct the Minister to take the Plate and the Cup when he recites the Consecration?
It is done in imitation of the action of our Lord, Who took the bread and the cup and blessed. Also to show the people that this bread and this wine are now being consecrated for this administration of the Sacrament.
"The Peace of the Lord be with you alway."
162. What precedes the distribution?
A short benediction called the Pax (Latin for Peace). It is the greeting of our risen Lord to His people who are about to approach the altar to partake of His glorified body. Read John 14:27; 20:19-21.
The Agnus Dei
"O Christ, Thou Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us.
O Christ, Thou Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us.
O Christ, Thou Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the world, grant us Thy peace. Amen."
163. What is the Agnus Dei?
It is an ancient morning hymn – a modified form of a part of the Gloria in Excelsis, founded on John 1:29. Since about the year 700 it has been in use in the Communion Office.
The title of the hymn is taken from the opening words of its Latin form, Agnus Dei, that is, Lamb of God.
164. When should it be sung?
It may immediately precede the Distribution, or more properly, it may be used at the beginning of the Distribution.
165. How is this hymn related to the Sacrament?
In the Words of Institution, which Christ spoke after the supper of the Passover lamb, He announces that through His death He becomes the true Paschal Lamb that takes away the sin of the world. As such we thrice confess Him in the Agnus Dei (John 1:29). Read also Exodus 12:21-23; I Cor. 5:7; I Peter 1:19-20.
166. For what benefit do we ask in this hymn?
We pray here to the Lamb of God, Who is about to impart His body and blood, that He would grant us the mercy and peace which He has obtained for us through His death. Read Ephes. 2:13-17.
The Distribution and Blessing
"Take and eat, this is the Body of Christ, given for thee.
Take and drink, this is the Blood of the New Testament, shed for thy sins.
The Body of our Lord Jesus Christ and His precious Blood strengthen and preserve you in true faith unto everlasting life."
167. Is this part of the Service important?
It is the most important act in the whole Service, because in it takes place the closest communion between Christ and His people. The believer now reaches the loftiest summit of all worship. He is as near heaven as he can be in this life.
168. What takes place in the Distribution?
The body and blood of Christ are given to the communicants with the bread and wine.
169. What is the purpose of the words used at the Distribution?
The minister thereby calls to the mind of each communicant:
- That he is now receiving Christ's body and blood;
That this body and blood were given for his redemption;
That the Gospel promise of forgiveness is now applied.
The Distribution closes as it began, with a benediction. This blessing also ends the Administration.
171. What is the significance of this benediction?
It is an assurance that the blessed Lord, who has just imparted Himself to His people, will strengthen and preserve the faith with which they received the Sacrament, and without which it would become not a blessing but a curse.
172. If it should happen that the bread and wine on the altar be spent before all have communed, what shall be done?
If the consecrated Bread or Wine be spent before all have communed, the Minister shall consecrate more, saying aloud so much of the Words of Institution as pertains to the element to be consecrated.
The Post Communion, literally, the After Communion, consisting of
- I. The Nunc Dimittis.
II. The Prayer of Thanksgiving.
III. The Benediction.
To express our grateful joy for the heavenly food received in the Holy Supper. It is therefore unseemly to leave the House of God, as is frequently done, before offering this Thanksgiving.
The Nunc Dimittis
"LORD, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace: according to Thy word; For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation: which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles: and the glory of Thy people Israel. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son: and to the Holy Ghost; As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen."
175. What is the Nunc Dimittis?
It is a hymn of joyful thanksgiving for the salvation manifested and bestowed in Christ Jesus. It was first used by the aged Simeon when he saw the infant Saviour in the Temple (Luke 2:29-32). It derives its name from the first words of the Latin version.
176. What is the significance of the Nunc Dimittis here?
It is the closing hymn of the Communion and accords with the practice of our Lord (Matt. 26:30). That for which the believer has come into the Sanctuary has been received in all its fullness, and he now feels himself at peace with God and declares his readiness to depart.
The Prayer of Thanksgiving
"O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good. And His mercy endureth for ever."
"WE give thanks to Thee, Almighty God, that thou hast refreshed us through this salutary gift; and we beseech Thee, that of Thy mercy Thou wouldst strengthen us through the same, in faith toward Thee, and in fervent love toward one another, through Jesus Christ, Thy dear Son, our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee, and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen."
177. How is the Prayer of Thanksgiving introduced?
By the Versicle and Response, taken from the opening verses of Psalms 105, 106, 107, 118 and 136.
178. What is the significance of this Versicle?
It is a bidding to the people to unite in the Prayer of Thanksgiving which follows.
179. What is the purpose of the Prayer of Thanksgiving?
Just as we offer thanks after meat, we here express our gratitude to God for the refreshment we have experienced by partaking of His heavenly food. Read John 6:30-34,47-58.
We then pray, that this food may enable us to have a right faith toward God and an ardent love toward our fellow men.
- The Benedicamus
"The Lord be with you. And with thy spirit.
Bless we the Lord. Thanks be to God."
It introduces the Benedicamus, and serves to prepare the hearts of the people for the final blessing.
181. What is the significance of the Benedicamus and Response?
The Service now draws to a close with a strain of praise and thanksgiving for the fullness of God's grace which has been unfolded throughout the worship.
Note. — In the mediaeval church the words "Bless we the Lord" were sometimes used in place of "Go, you are dismissed" as a formula of dismissal. The same formula closed the Matins when not conducted by an ordained Minister, the benediction being omitted. We also find "Bless the Lord" as a doxology at the close of each book in the Psalter. See Psalm 41:13; 72:18-19; 89:52; 106:48; 150:6.
"The Lord bless thee, and keep thee. The Lord make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee. The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace."
182. What is the Benediction?
It is the final blessing of the people, commanded by God (Num. 6:22-26), and always regarded by the Church as one of the most solemn parts of the Service. Says an ancient writer: "When the Benediction is pronounced, you should incline both head and body, for the blessing which is given you is the dew and rain of heaven."
183. What is the nature of the Benediction?
It is not a mere pious wish, but is the actual impartation of a blessing from God to the believing congregation, as we are assured in Numbers 6:27, "They (the priests) shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them."
Because of the singular pronoun "Thee," it is highly appropriate as the conclusion of the Communion, in which through the Sacrament, the Lord has bestowed His grace upon each believer.
184. Explain more fully the meaning of this solemn blessing.
- The first verse – "The Lord bless thee," etc. – offers God's blessing and watchful protection.
The second verse – "The Lord make His face shine," etc. – announces the blessed favor and mercy of God. Our sins have invited the displeasure and frowns of our heavenly Father, but through forgiveness in Christ Jesus communion is restored and God now smiles upon us. Read Isaiah 59:2.
The third verse – "The Lord lift up," etc. – assures us of God's own love. "Lifting up one's countenance or eyes upon another" is an ancient form of speech for "bestowing one's love, for gazing lovingly and feelingly upon another, as a bridegroom upon the bride, or a father upon his son." Having received God's grace in Word and Sacrament, we are now assured of the peace that passeth all understanding.
This we believingly accept in the final.