Whenever the divine service once again follows the old Evangelical-Lutheran agendas (or church books), it seems that many raise a great cry that it is “Roman Catholic”; “Roman Catholic” when the pastor chants “The Lord be with you” and the congregation responds by chanting “and with thy spirit”; “Roman Catholic” when the pastor chants the collect and the blessing and the people respond with a chanted “Amen.” Even the simplest Christian can respond to this outcry: “Prove to me that this chanting is contrary to the Word of God, then I too will call it ‘Roman Catholic’ and have nothing more to do with it. However, you cannot prove this to me.” If you insist upon calling every element in the divine service “Romish” that has been used by the Roman Catholic Church, it must follow that the reading of the Epistle and Gospel is also “Romish.” Indeed, it is mischief to sing or preach in church, for the Roman Church has done this also. . . Those who cry out should remember that the Roman Catholic Church possesses every beautiful song of the old orthodox church. The chants and antiphons and responses were brought into the church long before the false teachings of Rome crept in. This Christian Church since the beginning, even in the Old Testament, has derived great joy from chanting. . . For more than 1700 years orthodox Christians have participated joyfully in the divine service. Should we, today, carry on by saying that such joyful participation is “Roman Catholic”? God forbid! Therefore, as we continue to hold and to restore our wonderful divine services in places where they have been forgotten, let us boldly confess that our worship forms do not tie us with the modern sects or with the church of Rome; rather, they join us to the one, holy Christian Church that is as old as the world and is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets.
— C. F. W. Walther, Der Lutheraner, vol. 9, No. 24 (July 19, 1853), p. 163
Clearly the things that make some, perhaps many Lutherans uncomfortable (vestments, chanting, ceremony, etc...) are the things that were once routine and normal among Lutherans. While no one in their right mind makes this an issue of the thing itself (vestments, chanting, ceremony, etc...), how has our doctrine changed because our practice has become decidedly more Protestant and how has our identity changed because the things once ordinary have become exceptional? That is the hitch. Ceremony and church usages are not indifferent things but simply things about which man may not bind the conscience to be saved. They are not indifferent at all but are the practice or public shaped of our belief, confession, and dogma. For those who disagree, why do we Americans get so excited when someone burns our flag? When a football player refuses to stand at the national anthem? Only a fool says ceremonies don't matter. Only a legalist insists that they matter enough to require them in order to be saved. A Lutheran loves the ceremonies and church usages (our confessional terminology) that mirror in action what we believe in words.