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.
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It is a most curious thing. The people sing, the pastor speaks. This was reinforced by The Lutheran Hymnal, published in the 1940s, which provided the music for the people, but left out the music for the pastor in the liturgy. The old German LCMS hymnals had no music and yet the liturgy for the Divine Service clearly indicates "The pastor sings." TLH was the hymnal that really goobered this all up by removing the pastor's chant tones and leaving in the people's. Kind of like the goofy Divine Service without Communion thing, a problem that still persists, but at least now when you do it you have to literally page over the liturgy of the Sacrament, rather than having a separate "Service of Holy Communion Without Communion" ... another bad move on TLH's part.
The word "chant" derive from the Latin word for singing. It's just singing. The pastor get to sing, why not the pastor?
It is an odd, irrational and wholly a-historical thing to be averse to the pastor singing, whereas the same folks with his odd point of view thinking nothing of the fact that they are chanting their parts.
As Augustine said, "Qui cantat, bis orat." He who sings, prays twice.
Very odd indeed. I suspect, again, we can chalk yet another weird deviation from well accepted church tradition to the American Protestantism/Romaphobic traditions that took deep root in The LCMS in the 30s and into the 40s and 50.
I pity the person who has never experienced the Order of Matins conducted without pauses, breaks, announcements or with out all the other clutter often used when Matins is sung in our parishes when it is used instead of the Divine Service. A Matins sung from start to finish is a wonder to hear and be a part of.
Chanting means singing. It's just that simple.
I have no problem with chanting when it is done well. Too often the pastor affects an off-putting "holy" voice (sometimes with a British tinge) instead of actually singing in their own voice - or they sound like Kermit the Frog. Neither is good, and both are distracting. Finding pastors who can and do actually chant without falling into either ditch is rare.
I suppose it is a simple matter of upbringing. I was brought up in a Lutheran church where the Pastor wanted the focus to be on the worship of God, and not focused on the movements and motions of the Pastor.
He wore a simple alb with a stole. No chasubles, no chanting, not even a genuflect. With all the chanting, bold-colored chasubles, and watching what the Pastor is doing, I have to believe that attention is mis-focused on the Pastor instead of on the purpose of worship. I especially am concerned about the children who absorb everything like a sponge. Do they think that "we are going to church to watch the Pastor." I hope not.
Just so you don't feel singled out, I feel the same way about extra musicians (yes, those brass bands and soloists) and praise bands. The focus is diverted to the performers and not on the purpose of worship.
Specifically to the practice of chanting the Words of Institution, I find no place for it. I have a hard time imagining Christ "singing" to his disciples on Maundy Thursday.
When chanting starts, the hairs on the back of my neck raise. When chanting started with the Words of Institution, my knuckles turned white from gripping the pew to force myself not to leave. Thank goodness, that practice has ended...at least for the time being.
During the Words of Institution, the focus should be on understanding what is happening and preparing one's self to receive the Body and Blood of Christ, the most precious of all gifts...not on whether the Pastor is off key or on key in his chanting.
This is probably not what you want to hear, and I'm sure this is all some misguided exercise to appear ad if you truly want to understand your readers' disdain of chanting. But, we all know, you are not going to change and the best we can hope for is it will not get any worst in your insatiable pursuit of attention.
Pastor Peters, I had an interesting experience as a parish pastor. Our congregation had pastors who chanted for many years before I arrived. A new family joined, from the WELS, and the man in the family had fits about chanting, until I st down and showed him our first hymnals, "Der pastor singt" and patiently explained to him that "chanting" just means "singing" (as an earlier comment here rightly "notes-hah).
I chanted as much of the Divine Service on High Festival Days and the people really enjoyed it and I had a comment as people left that day that stuck with me.
"Oh pastor, I love when you chant like that, it reminds me of going to Hauptgottesdienst with my grandfather as a little girl." Bingo!!
Cordially, in Christ,
Rev. Paul McCain
It was revealed in a vision/angelic visit to an Orthodox saint that chanting is the language of Angels and of the worship in heaven. What will those do who can't stand it?
This is a textbook case of invincible "do not confuse with facts" ignorance that refuses to be taught. Ridiculous and absurd.
@ Anon 9:15
So, the Pastor of the writer's youth was wrong in how he led and conducted the service? Can we infer that this Pastor from days gone by misled his flock? Can we stretch it so far as to say that this Pastor threatened the very salvation of his congregation's members?
Hey let's play the game of "Put words in other people's mouth and then make-believe you are making a point."
"So, the Pastor of the writer's youth was wrong in how he led and conducted the service? Can we infer that this Pastor from days gone by misled his flock? Can we stretch it so far as to say that this Pastor threatened the very salvation of his congregation's members?"
It is not the pastor of the writer's youth who was wrong, it is the writer, getting his knickers knotted up over chanting based on the false/silly/foolish notion that the reason pastors chant is to "draw attention to themselves" as if a pastor wearing a long gown is not drawing attention to himself, I mean, if you want to be consistent and all.
Did the pastor mislead his flock? If he taught them that chanting was wrong or harmful, yes, he did. But I have no reason to think he did, only the stupid comment from Anony.
Can we stretch it so far....? You apparently can, so have at it. Yes, if a pastor does not chant, he is leading his people to hell. There you go.
Now, unless you have nothing more intelligent to offer by way of response, best to go to your room and play with your toys while the growns up have a conversation.
@Bragg, if your comment was made in jest, I got a chuckle out of it.
If serious, you'll understand that Lutherans regard such fantasies as quaint if not delusional accounts.
And it adds nothing to this post.
Anonymous to Bragg; I know. Just one more example of how Lutheranism has departed from the Faith and Life of the Church.
"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."
"One cannot simply be Lutheran. That actually goes against Lutheran theology and doctrine. What people are or identify as is not the issue. Rather it is the substance of what is believed and confessed that should be the focus of our attention. One cannot have Lutheran hair, Lutheran eyes, or Lutheran toes. “Lutheran” medical care, banking, and insurance is impossible. Lutheranism cannot course through the veins of a person and act like magic pixie dust on all their actions, even if one's family was raised in the Lutheran church for generations and possesses a really Germanic or Scandinavian name. Neither can a publishing house or human institution simply be Lutheran for all time. The label of “Lutheran” applies most accurately to particular words and teachings that tell the saving truth of God. Lutheran is not a static category, like good or bad, rich or poor, black or white. To embrace the Lutheran doctrine is to continually fight to hold and maintain the pure truth."
@July 1, 2019 at 2:05 PM
Obviously, if we are to believe what one chap wrote here earlier today, those pastors who chanted, etc. were just putting on a show and were intending to put the focus on themselves.
That being said:
Crucifix = Lutheran
Pastoral Spoken TLH liturgy = Lutheran
Pastoral Pre-microphone days sung liturgy = Lutheran
Cassock and surplice = Lutheran
Alb and stole = Seminex, LBW ELCA and LW LCMS Lutheran
Handbell choir = unfortunately LW LCMS Lutheran
Pictures/Statues of Jesus = Lutheran
Pictures of Saints = as long as you don't take off your hat to them, Lutheran
Incense, Chrism, and Holy Water = Not Lutheran
Chasubles = tolerated on Scandinavian LCMS Lutherans
Genuflecting AKA liturgical gymnastics = Lutheran when consisting of a simple bow to the altar, usually after rising from kneeling for communion, otherwise Not Lutheran.
Pointy hats = Not Lutheran
Pyxes = Not Lutheran
Pomp = Not Lutheran
"How Great Thou Art" = unfortunately Lutheran
Ringing a bell at communion = strangely, no one really gets worked up over this one
Candles = Lutheran
A friendly dog in the narthex = Lutheran
A bare cross = 1950s "Rocket Age" streamlined design Lutheran
A bare, freestanding altar = Luther's German Mass Lutheran
Signing social and theological statements with Catholics, Reformed, and Muslims = *sigh* Lutheran
So anonymous above, chanting ended for Lutherans with PA systems?? Now that is novel.
Your list is a either a humorous look at Lutheran practices or else it is an occasion for tears at how Lutherans have forgotten their identity and taken up a bare minimum as the new Lutheran maximum. Not sure whether to smile or cry.
You can smile that some Lutherans have a sense of humor and realize that beyond pure Word and Sacrament ministry, everything's adiaphora, "as long as it pleases us," as Luther said. Look, all Lutherans are raised knowing what adiaphora is. Visit a creepy Reformed church with no stained glass or crosses and you know the difference. Visit a Catholic church with candles in front of a statue of the Virgin Mary, and parishioners superstitiously dipping their fingers into bowls of "holy water" and clutching rosaries and you know the difference.
This notion that Lutherans don't know who they are is hogwash, fabricated by the empowered high church crowd to "move the needle" further to the right in the LCMS. Luther deliberately eschewed incense and and holy water at the Torgau dedication. No amount of hand waving that Lutherans uncritically preserved all medieval church practices squares with a fair reading of Reformation history. Lutherans adopted a middle path then, as we do now. If your church in 1530 had a giant altarpiece of the Virgin Mary, great. We're not in the business of destroying church art. But the Lutheran doctrinal attitude is different. Art becomes didactic, as indeed the liturgy is didactic in "teaching us to be Christians." The Lutheran attitude is NOT "that altarpiece is something we'll cling to passionately and deride those who do not cherish our customs in the future, because we're really just perpetual medieval Catholics, with a dash of justification thrown in." There is no "forgetting of Lutheran identity" in abandoning chant or anything else that pleases us, because Lutheran identity is not tied to pomp and circumstance, but to Word and Sacrament. How often the confessions say this over and over!
In other words, I'm upset that we are not doing page 5 and 15 as I remember it from my childhood, and anything else is pomp!
Bronze agers are hopeless.
everything's adiaphora, "as long as it pleases us," as Luther said.
Uh, that is NOT what adiaphora means or what Luther said or what the Confessions speak of when it comes to such things. I don't know where you got the idea that adiaphora means whatever makes us feel good but that is the worst possible definition you could come up with.
"Now, in the administration of the Holy Supper the words of institution are to be publicly spoken or sung before the congregation distinctly and clearly, and should in no way be omitted [and this for very many and the most important reasons..."
Solid Declaration, Formula of Concord, AKA the Lutheran Confessions.
"Spoken or sung." Either one is fine. Neither is better or more Lutheran.
Again, from the Lutheran Confessions.
@Anon at 12:42 in the wee hours
You are deliberately missing the point of Pastor Peters post, of course either is fine, he is addressing the folks who think that is not true, who have a bizarre emotional non-Biblical and non-Confessional aversion to chanting.
Here is what I don't like about chanting. It is clumsy. Squeezing English words into melodies and rhythms where they do not fit.
Anon at 9:16
That's a remarkably silly comment.
Because chanting is notated doesn't make it music. It has musical qualities but chanting is better thought of as elevated speech, in keeping with the elevated nature of the subject matter. The divine Word.
I share the sensibilities of the person earlier in the comments who disliked the affected nasal, even British sound of chanting, and its nasal breaks. Repristinating a former version of chanting is not required. If you want to learn how to chant well go to an EO church where it is totally natural.
Nonwtheless if the pastor is a bad chanter he should tell the complainer: "This is the voice of your father, learn to love it."
There is another advantage to chanting: it puts distance between Lutherans and Fundamentalists / Evangelicals. That is probably needed. It raises the ecclesiastical bar. That is probably needed.
Chaplain 7904, please elaborate on your comment:
"There is another advantage to chanting: it puts distance between Lutherans and Fundamentalists / Evangelicals. That is probably needed. It raises the ecclesiastical bar. That is probably needed."
So we need to put distance between Evangelicals, who teach faith alone, scripture alone, grace alone, in order to slide closer to RC/EO, who teach earned grace, love, and works for salvation; that Mary is co-Redemptrix with Christ, that the pope is divinely infallible, that priests confect and re-present the sacrifice of Christ as a work each day, and who condemn the chief article of justification by faith alone?
Sounds about right.
No, does not "sound about right" ... sound like you, Anon at 10:49 suffer from an incurable case of "Roma Phobia" when you are eager to identify with non-Lutheran Evangelicals, dismiss the history of your own church, and claim "Romanism!" on this subject.
Sad, and pathetic.
In removing comments from another post, somehow a few of these comments also were removed. I apologize and am not sure if they are permanently gone. I would urge readers to read what I posted on the July 6 post.
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