Thursday, February 10, 2011
What I Learned About Worship at Seminary
In terms of the practice of the worship life at the Seminary, I also learned little. The Springfield guys were black gown types - most of them - and it was a culture shock to end up in Kramer Chapel. The side by side worship life of the first year where Senior College and Seminary co-existed showed that the worship life at CSC was decidedly more liturgical and more, well, "high church" than CTS. But the good thing is that things change. And they have changed for the better.
I am constantly impressed by the chapel services at Concordia Theological Seminary. First of all, I would point to the student led daily offices (Matins, Vespers, and Compline). They are simple, well led, and faithful. It would have been great to have had such wonderful offices to nurture a liturgical prayer life when I was at Seminary. Then the daily campus chapels are very well done and the preaching quite good. I have only been to a couple of the once weekly Campus Eucharists, but, again, they are very well done. The special services (choral Vespers or Evening Prayer) are especially wonderful with the rich vocal tradition of the Kantorei and Chapel Choirs. Musically, I cannot say enough about the leadership of Kantor Richard Resch and the blessing of Kevin Hildebrand who is not only Associate Kantor but also works as composer in residence. Finally, it does not hurt to have as Dean of Chapel the man who spearheaded the work of the Lutheran Service Book, Dr. Paul Grime.
So, if anything was not directly addressed in the classroom, the seminarists have a wonderful example of a rich and well rounded liturgical life in the Chapel, something that enfolds them into the life of the Church as well as nurturing their own spiritual lives as men preparing to be Pastors and women preparing to be Deaconesses.
Most of what I learned about worship came from individual conversation and from my personal association with good teachers and Pastors who were ever so kind to me in guiding this aspect of my education. Now the whole Seminary life revolves around the Chapel and it provides a wonderful supplement to the classroom. The faculty has also benefited from any number of individuals who have written on the liturgy while not always teaching in that area (I can think of my old classmate and friend Dr. Art Just as one of many).
Though I do not know St. Louis nearly as well as the Fort Wayne Seminary, I have the highest respect for Henry Gerike and his musical leadership of the campus worship life there. There have been a few glitches as far as chapels go but if the worship life at Concordia Seminary (what we used to call "801") is anything like the wonderful service of installation for President Matthew Harrison, they too have much to assist the liturgical formation of the Pastoral mind and character and nurture the individual spiritual lives of the seminarists there.