Friday, August 5, 2011

Lutheran Service Book at Age 5

Anniversaries are usually observed in increments of 5 (at least after the particular dangerous first couple or so) and now LSB is approaching 5 years old (in production it is already 5 and soon will be 5 in actual parish usage).  So what do we think about this book?  Let me offer a couple of points...

For all those who love to spout off against LW I will say one thing.  We would not have had LSB nor its depth of penetration into the parishes of our church body without LW to pave the way.  To tell you the truth, I get a little touchy about all those who pile on complaints about LW (everything from liturgy to hymnody gets trashed in common talk among Pastors and lay folk alike).  LSB had nearly a decade to be put together and a trial run in the Hymnal Supplement 98.  LW had about 18 months.  LSB had a church body pretty ready for a new book.  LW faced a fractured church body which had rejected LBW and was not yet healed from its own wound and loss of people, parishes, and Pastors.  LSB had Schwan money to help in the preparation and a great number of willing participants in the process.  LW had a tight budget and a tightrope to walk with people and whether or not it should even be done.  I spent 28 years in TLH, 24 years in LW, and now 5 in LSB (with a few extended stints in LBW along the way).  Like Obama complaining about Bush, some folks just won't stop complaining about LW.  We would not have had such a fine book in LSB without LW and I for one applaud those whose names and energies came to bear when our church body needed them.

Back to LSB.  I have said many different times that the quality of the book is not simply in its content but in the overall execution of the book as well.  It is well laid out and well thought out and it shows.  I have so many positive things to say about it, that I will limit myself to only a few complaints.

In production terms, the Altar Book is just too darn thick.  Pages should have been made taller and, perhaps, wider, so that the book was not so think.  It is a costly problem to use that book and have the pages lay down well without breaking the binding.  This was the one volume with which I am disappointed.

The Lectionary Books are also a bit of a disappointment since they do not fit existing book covers (I am thinking the metal ones here) that might be suitable for procession (and for holding up the book as I do after reading the Gospel).  I was told that CPH was working on such covers (Paul McCain where are you) but I have not heard a word since I brought it up in St. Louis in August of 2006.

The Hymnal itself should have included a listing of the Psalm and the full Collect with the propers.  This was a problem that has only gotten bigger over time.  I understand the space limitations but this has proven to be one place in which the need for these in the home and on the go far exceeded the spacial cost to the book

Service Builder should have included ALL the hymns from TLH, LW, WS98, etc. that were not included in the pew edition so that it would have been easy to insert them and deal with copyright issues.  This could still be done.  Without a Commission on Worship, I doubt that it will.  But it should be done.  Period!

Liturgically I feel it was foolish, short sighted, and robbed us of a very important word to derail "catholic" in the creed at the convention floor.  I know that TLH received the most complaints of all over the word "catholic" in the Athanasian Creed but for pete's sake, Missouri, grow up and get over it.  Methodists and Presbyterians must be much smarter and sophisticated than us pedestrian Lutherans who still cannot see the difference between small "c" and big "C" -- unlike our for bearers who understood it and got it without a problem.  Christian is not a synonym for catholic and neither is universal.  Why we insist that our folks be conversant with some specific terminology but not this ancient and laudable term is mystifying to me.

I will die complaining about the reluctance to have a real Eucharistic prayer.  I could post for hours on this one point alone but Luther's excision of the bulk of the canon was notable in that most of it was already unheard by the people and they did not notice it (unlike his use of the Gospel tone for the Verba which punched up those words big time).  The Eucharistic prayer has historical and ecumenical significance beyond words.  We did not have to use the Roman canon with its sacrificial language and we already had Synodically approved Eucharistic Prayers to use (see Worship Supplement 1969, Peter Brunner's Worship in the Name of Jesus, El Culto Cristiano, etc.).  We also cut up and interspersed Eucharistic prayers from our Scandinavian and German cousins and could have reassembled them as they were written.  I am sure I will get a host of comments on this point.  But, heck, it is my blog.

Over time I think that having several different orders (where does the creed go -- all depends upon the Divine Service), especially the canon (Our Father first or Verba) will be hard on us.  We should have made them uniform.  Just like a common response to "The Lord be with you" (whether And with your spirit or And also with you).  I do not mind have five Divine Services to choose from or to use but I do mind the lack of uniformity with respect to the response, the placement of the creed, and the canon.  That is why when we use different Divine Services, we follow the same uniform placement of creed and canon.  This is not about words but about the framework of the service.  Speaking of different orders, I regret the complete loss of a chant setting of the ordinary and wish we had gone back to SBH (Service Book and Hymnal) and used Fryxell's very fine setting (adapted for LBW).

I was wrong.  You heard it here, folks.  I agitated against "And with thy/your spirit."  I was wrong.  We should have bucked the trend, sucked it up, and said "And with your spirit."  The Romans are going back to it.  We should have brought it back five years ago.  I wish I had never sent Paul Grime that email about the ecumenical consideration and the practiced usage of the "And also with you."  Since I cannot take it back, I repent of my wrong.  I have seen the light.

Say the black.  Do the red.  The rubrics of LSB are growing on me and I am more and more appreciative of them -- even though they are probably hardly ever read by clergy or lay folk alike. (corrected)

Companion volumes abound and more are on the way.  All I can say is WOW!  This book has a depth of support not often accorded to hymnals and the Service Builder leads the way.  When Missouri shines, she really shines.  Here she shines!

But, on the whole, a good book, make that a great book.... with a stellar hymn selection!  Yes this is where the multifaceted book shows its stuff.  The hymns continue to shine brighter and brighter.  ELW (successor to LBW) is a much, much weaker book simply on the basis of hymnody (and far less Lutheran!).  We have the best body of Lutheran hymnody (whether or not written by Lutherans, or, more accurately, written by people who did not realize they were writing a Lutheran hymn).  I have a few picky points.  Two tunes for "Take My Life and Let It Be???"  Some of the stanzas were shortened too much (hey, a dozen stanzas barely warms you up!).  But I continue to find this part of the book exemplary!

The grade over 5 years has improved -- not that it has changed but my appreciation has.  When the time comes for a successor, it will be a tough go to make one worthy of this very fine, very Lutheran, very well laid out service book and hymnal!

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

For most of the larger LCMS parishes
the new LSB hymnal remains in the
pew racks. Our larger congregations
simply have worship folders with
the entire service printed out. So
the laity never have to crack a book.

What this means is that our lay
people do not see the inside of a
hymnal or know its contents. The
reasons for worship folders can be
valid, but it is still sad.

christl242 said...

Anonymous, I agree. Another reason why few of the laity use the hymnal in the home. Most of them don't even use it in their parish church.


Christine

Terry Maher said...

Quite so, Anon. I am the only one who bothers with it in my parish, because I like to sing the bass line, although there too most everyone else sings in unison postconciliar RC style except a lone basso grosso. Otherwise even I do not bother with it -- the service is not only in the folder but on the screen!

"And with thy spirit" is not at all an older way of saying "And also with you". The spirit the people pray the Lord will be with is not the priest personally by that of Christ imparted to him by his ordination as he stands in persona Christi in the Mass, That's why it was written that way, et cum spiritu tuo.

Likewise, it was not the silence of the canon that was the abuse but the canon itself, and that is why it was removed and should remain so in anything claiming to be a Divine Service. The canon was said inaudibly precisely because of what the canon is: the Mass is conformed to the life of Christ, first verbal teaching, then action, in which Christ did not even speak in his own defence, thus first readings and preaching, then the action of Christ in the Eucharist.

An entirely different idea that the Power of the Word to do what it says. Which is why all that has a place there is those words, the Verba Christi and the rest is just human clutter, however venerable the pedigree of the clutter -- as if Christ said the Verba at that first Divine Service then said "Would you guys dress this up a bit later, I'd do it but I'm a little pressed for time right now".

LSB stands head and shoulders above the recent service books of any liturgical church, including Rome, yet does not escape their nature, deriving from the cut and paste crazy quilt approach of the novus ordo itself, which began its sorry intrusion into American Lutheran liturgical life with LBW which, when I first saw it, presented to me by someone in its credits with whom I was working, put off any consideration of Lutheranism for me personally for years -- if that's all the Lutherans have might as well stick it out with the novus ordo.

Chop out all the Vatican II For Lutherans in LSB coming from the whole LBW/LW strain of infection, and there's be plenty of room for the collects! The result might even be The Lutheran Hymnal in our time, as the outstanding version of the Common Service is in LSB though forced to live incognito as DSII amongst the rest thus we have no common service either literally or figuratively.

Jerry Roseleip said...

I overheard my wife on a phone conversation the other day-"yes, I am catholic with a small 'c'. The comment required an explanation. All in all, I have heard no complaints about the LSB in any of the congregations we have visited or attend (all LCMS). One comment by an elderly woman was that it is a little smaller and easier to hold. I much prefer to hold the hymnal and follow the Order than follow a "Worship Folder."

Dr.D said...

"Do the black. Read the red."

Really? That is the exact reverse of the way the rubrics appear in my Anglican Missal. -- Fr. D

christl242 said...

Methodists and Presbyterians use the word "catholic" and then go right on adopting practices have have never been so. Ordaining women, blessing and approving gay marriage, deconstructing the Scriptures in favor of social justice paradigms. As Marty Haugen wrote in that obnoxious song "Gather Us In", we should not be looking to "some heaven far away" -- no surprise it is popular in Roman and mainline Protestant circles.

Well, I'd have no problem with the LCMS returning to the use of the word "catholic" as I consider myself firmly in the evangelical catholic wing, but that venerable word is no longer "universally" or "historically or ecumenically" valid as a mark of Christian orthodoxy.

Christine

Rev. Allen Bergstrazer said...

"I do mind the lack of uniformity with respect to the response, the placement of the creed, and the canon." I would add like to see uniformity of offertory.
I've said for years that TLH was a hymnal we as a church loved but didn't like very much anymore and LW was a hymnal we liked but didn't love. I was blessed to have used both as a pastor. TLH suffered from the excruciatingly small print, hymn tunes that had fallen into disuse, archaic language (I've lost count how many times I had to explain "hoary hairs" re; #426 verse 6) and a lack of ancillary books. LW was thorough and fresh, but had its own difficulties most particularly too many options in the liturgy, and I think this is where the use of service folders came into practice out of necessity. What is remarkable about LSB is how easily it found its place. That is as you rightly point out due to how much time was taken to prepare and introduce it. Thanks again to all the members of the COW! I don't think you'll find too many pastors who won't agree with your comments on the Altar book. I would prefer it be similar to the one for LBW, overall larger page dimensions, with the liturgies in the middle, Psalms and propers on either side. None the less if you look at the price of the Altar (Ritual) book for ELW you cannot say CPH did not give us a lot for our money.
As for ELW, I truly pity congregations that have had it inflicted upon them. It has so many options I thought it should have been calle "OR." It reminds me of a college term paper that was started early with careful work and layout and then was neglected till the night before it was due and was hastily thrown together. It has a whopping ten service variations, pages are wasted on artwork that is dissimilar in style and adds nothing to the utility or comprehension of the texts, and the hymnody is a complilation of LBW, WOV and a few Marty Haugen faves. As one ELCA pastor commented to me upon its release 'I suppose I can make something out of all these options.' Happy 5th LSB, and many more!