Saturday, March 31, 2012
A terrible confession. . .
Not a few Lutherans insist that we should feel the same way. Some of those who comment here lament the loss of the introit as the standard "entrance hymn" as well as the loss of the pericopes appointed for gradual, verse, offertory, etc. Most Lutheran parishes probably do not use them or do not use them regularly. Even the Psalm of the Day is often replaced by other texts or hymns or music. Some credit this to the adoption of the three year lectionary system learned from Rome after Vatican II. Some insist that we tend to follow Rome no matter how much we protest otherwise. Some believe that it is the Protestant ideal to have hymns replace these texts usually sung by cantor, choir or celebrant.
I have not gotten into this debate much because I am torn. The great Lutheran chorales and the sturdy hymns of old have become central to my piety. I shudder at the thought of a Divine Service sans music. I hear the complaints of folks who say we sing too much and I think to myself "why don't we sing more hymns." I confess that the great Lutheran chorales and the marvelous legacy of hymns that we have borrowed from others are two big reasons why it would be swimming against the current for me to head to either Rome or Constantinople (along with some other things). I do not advocate the regular substitution of hymnic paraphrases of the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus Dei but neither do I insist upon the appointed introit instead of an entrance hymn. I like and see advantages to both. I guess in this way I am a child of my age. Though a definite conservative when it comes to such liturgical matters, I am not a radical conservative.
It is in this area that adiaphora seems most applicable -- not whether you use the form of the Divine Service (in any one of its derivations in the hymnal) but how you apply the details in the options inherent in the liturgy and in the use of chorales and hymns judiciously to replace some of the appointed texts (after all, the Deutsche Messe is the father of hymnic substitutions which are hardly close paraphrases, i. e. Sanctus). I am happy to allow freedom and diversity here (most of it falls well within the rubrics) even though I am highly agitated about Lutheran parishes which have abandoned the Divine Service and Lutheran people who know not one or more services from our official hymnal(s).
If I were Roman Catholic, I would bristle at the loss of the ecumenical and catholic treasure of hymns and as a Lutheran I resist the impulse of some to insist upon only the liturgical texts appointed. I guess in this I am a fence straddler. Oh, my, that is a terrible confession, indeed.