Friday, August 5, 2011
Lutheran Service Book at Age 5
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!