Monday, July 1, 2019
A curious aversion. . .
Perhaps you are like her. Perhaps you also have some sort of visceral reaction to chanting. I am very curious as to why Lutherans, even Lutherans who tolerate or love high church worship, detest chanting. I have my suspicions as to possible reasons but I am not ready to give them. If you are such a person, please let me know why. NOTE I am NOT interested in people who simply prefer spoken liturgy. I am only interested in those for whom this has reached a higher level than dislike.
Chanting is as old as Christianity and even older. Read the Psalms and see the remnants of pointing for the singing of those Psalms. Even more the Psalms urge us to sing to the Lord your praise, your new song, and your thanksgiving. Christians simply adopted the practice of synagogue and Temple to make chanting normative for Christian worship. It only expanded from there into Gregorian chant, polyphonic choral music, and modern style hymnody.
Chant is also the Lutheran practice. Pastor sings, the people sing. Pastor speaks, the people speak. What I find extremely odd is when the pastor speaks and the people sing. Am I the only one who finds that the strangest of practices? I suppose that some have grown up to that practice and find it normal and the pastor chanting the oddity. How odd it is that Lutherans would become enamored with the Low Mass form -- no assisting clergy, no chanting, and spoken service. Low Mass is not distinguished by ceremonial but by the presence or absence of chanting. For those who think chanting is Roman, have you been in a typical Roman Catholic parish recently? The vast majority do not have any chanting and, if there is music, it is more often supplied by a praise band and led by a worship leader who raises his or her hands to invite people to join in and puts the arms down to let them know this is a solo. So it is even more odd to say chanting is Roman Catholic. Chanting the Words of Institution is even more Lutheran, almost exclusively Lutheran. Those who think that this is alien to Lutheranism have either forgotten their history or don't know it. It was Luther who made the Words of Institution audible and who assigned the Gospel tone to the words.
I am sure that there will be more than a few comments by those who find the practice of chanting distasteful and I hope to figure out what it is that irritates some on such a gut level. So, have at it and be sure and tell me how wrong I am about chanting being normative for Lutherans. I love hearing that idea (so contrary to fact). Strangely enough I grew up in a very anti-Roman Catholic Lutheran parish but the pastor chanted, the church bell was rung during the consecration and Our Father, and we had a crucifix and a statue of Jesus on the altar. So did nearly ever other old Lutheran congregation around Nebraska. So be sure and tell me that these things are also not Lutheran also.