Sunday, July 24, 2011
The More Things Change. . .
From time to time the Lutheran Church has grown weary of its own worthy heritage and chosen instead the lesser song. Buszin noted in the 1965 a circumstance which has not changed all that much “...never were we greeted [by the Roman Catholics] with shaking heads, cynical smiles, and vocal boos, as we have been in our own circles while speaking of great Lutheran traditions and the superb character of our heritage [of church music].” It seems that no prophet is without honor except in his own hometown. Or this from Buszin: “ I cannot help but hold my breath when I think of this, fearing that they will catch on to what the situation is among us Lutherans before we make an honest and prompt attempt to remedy matters.” (1948) Another most timely quote from about 5 years earlier: "By seeking today to introduce revivalism, the gospel hymn, and other features commonly identified with religious zealotism, the [Lutheran] churches show that they are at least a generation behind times and show likewise that they have not learned from the tragic mistakes made by others in the past..."
I could go on and on but... the point is this. The battle for the church's music and liturgy is not a new battle nor are the parameters changed much over the years. We as Lutherans hold our own heritage in low regard and look to other churches with great envy and covetousness. We are so casual about our treasures and treat them as of dubious worth and value. It is a little like the Antique's Roadshow in which an item esteemed to be junk and used as a door holder turns out to be of great value to the shock and consternation of its owner. Buszin reminded us once that the hymnal, agenda, liturgy, lectionary, and missal are the holy books of our Church which accompany the holiest of books, the Bible.
We Lutherans are so often our own worst enemy -- disdaining what others recognize as our heritage, legacy, and treasure. Again, Buszin: "We are often so ignorant, so bigoted, so wise in our own conceits [for the present moment], so prejudiced against the past and against tradition... that we actually rebel when someone suggests that we might be wrong and that we can learn... even from the distant sixteenth and seventeenth centuries." As Buszin noted, great liturgy like great hymnody and great church music should be received with thanksgiving and affirmed because it is the gift of God, whether or not our minds may fully grasp it in this moment, and I would only add that we run the great risk in every generation of not esteeming the value of what has been handed down to us and discarding what are our greatest treasures...