Thursday, September 2, 2010

Not Enough Change

Now that I have alienated some of those who read my blog, I guess it is time to alienate the rest of you.  I grew up in a parish in which nothing changed.  Never.  The liturgy was the same whether it was Christmas or Septuagesima or Trinity 16.  Nothing changed.  Even the hymns sounded the same, even if they were not actually the same every week.  But then, that was page 5 and page 15 in the merely immortal The Lutheran Hymnal.

Now a number of congregations who were like my home church have purchased the new hymnal -- no, not Lutheran Worship but Lutheran Service Book.  Yet many of them have moved to a new book while preserving as much as possible everything from the old.  It is as if the book changed but no one is really sure where.  I suggest that it would a good thing to introduce those congregations to other settings from LSB.  No, you do not have to change from week to week, but a little change is good and when that little change means becoming familiar with what is the ordinary service of most Lutherans within out Synod, then it is an even better choice.

One of the marks of the Church's unity is that we know a common song and we worship according to a common form (common meaning known by all).  So even if those parishes love page 15 and believe that no hymnal could possibly replace TLH, it is a good thing for the sake of unity to learn one of the other settings of the Divine Service.  Maybe not a different setting each week, but how about trying one of the other settings of the Divine Service over the course of 6 months to a year so that people can become as familiar with this form as they are their favorite one?  Surely this is a small cost to pay for the sake of our unity.  No, learning a new musical setting will not create unity of heart and confession but it is surely a good reflection of our unity that we do not demand everyone does it the same even if everyone does learn to know the same song.

So if you purchased LSB and have not veered off the page `15 path, I would suggest you venture into the unknown territory of diversity -- if not for you then for your brothers and sisters within this church body.  A little change is a good thing when that change reflects the diversity fostered by the hymnal and not against it...


Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Sometimes that can be slow going. I tried matins for the non-communion Sundays, and there was wailing and nashing of teeth. Perhaps in a few years - but no, this is a good goal.

If one of my members visits another congregation in the LCMS, the service should not be foreign to them. This means both that it shouldn't be something made up, nor should my own not know the services in the hymnal.

Judy said...

For me it's not changing that's the problem, it feels like I'm in an ELCA service when we use the other settings of the Divine service from the LSB. Rev. Brown, I do remember the old matins and loved them!

Pr. Chris Hinkle said...

We do the "page 15" service 4 times a year for precisely the reason you gave: so that it will be familiar if the visit a church that uses it.