21 April 2010

A Most Ignored Matter

If anyone studies the rubrics of LSB, it is surely striking that not one single service - not any Divine Service or a single one of the Daily Prayer liturgies or Service of Prayer and Preaching - calls for a final hymn. The benediction in every case ends the liturgy. And yet.... I've never attended, worshipped, or served at any place where that was the case. Invariably there is a closing hymn. St. Paul's ALWAYS has a closing hymn for the Divine Services at least; St. Andrew always had a closing hymn; Redeemer always had a closing hymn. What about the rest of you?

35 comments:

Dan at Necessary Roughness said...

Interesting. I can't think of any church where I've visited that didn't have a final hymn. What a strong custom to not have a rubric.

Zion Columbus has an interesting tradition: after final hymn, the lights go out, and bells play the final line of the tune, then lights go on. It used to bug my daughter. :)

Brian said...

At Messiah we almost always sing a "closing" or final hymn, and most of the places I've attended almost always closed with a hymn. I do remember a time, however, when services somewhere ended with the Benediction, and it seemed really odd. I too have wondered about the lack of final hymns in the services of LSB.

rwentzel said...

My congregation insists on the closing hymn, and I don't mind because I operate on the principle, "The more hymns, the better."

One could, however, sing the hymn before the benediction, as we used to years ago in the congregation in which I grew up.

MDR said...

Do you think the practice of a closing hymn developed with the advent of the "half-mass?" With no communion, you need to do SOMETHING to fill the time.

Anonymous said...

We always use a closing hymn for the Divine Service, but for Vespers and Evening Prayer (during Lent & Advent)we do not close with a hymn, just the benediction.

Rev. Michael Erickson
Pampa, TX

Allen said...

We have a closing hymn on every day but Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

My dad doesn't have one at his (and so when he filled in on New Year's for me he simply cut it out). . . the rational was that this way the Benediction is the last word. . . the last thing heard before people head out is the blessing of God.

I still use a closing hymn and then announcements after that.

Rev. James Leistico said...

I was shocked when I read the rubrics in TLH (both DS and Matins) to see what they said and where about the hymns. For a second my mind pondered trying to follow the hymn rubrics on a Sunday morning, but knew that would not go well with the people... and besides, like you, I can't think of anywhere that we didn't sing a final hymn (except Good Friday.)

Jonathan said...

As an infrequent attendee at Redeemer-Fort Wayne (i.e., I attend whenever I'm in town), I know they do not use a closing hymn; but neither do they use LSB. Every church in which I have worked and attendend as a home church has used a closing hymn. I believe the rubric is absent in LSB because it is not present in the archetype Lutheran masses (the Deutsche Messe or the Formula Missae) or the Latin Mass. Effectively, it's not needed. In my liturgical studies, they taught me to "say what you mean and mean what you say," i.e., if you're going to say the benediction and then the dismissal "Go in peace etc.... thanks be to God" (which appears in the Book of Common Prayer and the pre- and post-Vatican II forms of the Latin Mass, but not in authentic Lutheran books because it ends the service on a note of Law rather than Gospel), you "go in peace..." right away, not sing a hymn about it first. The solution in this case would be to sing the closing hymn before the dismissal but after the benediction.

ANYWAY, while I support "say the black and do the red (and sing the chant)," it is nice to allow the congregation to leave church with a good chunk of orthodoxy ringing in their ears. As Kantor Resch has put it (this quote comes to me secondhand), a closing hymn should be something the congregation will sing to themselves and have in their head the rest of the day, as it is the last thing they hear in the service.

I can imagine that at a most solemn celebration of the Lutheran mass (bells, incense, copes, elevations, the whole nine yards), a closing hymn (nor any congregational hymnody) would not be necessary, but I can't put my finger on why not.

Dennis Peskey said...

We sing a closing hymn during every Divine Service (a good teaching tool during the Triduum where the service begins on Thursday and the closing hymn is sung late Saturday evening.

X said...

Zion has a closing hymn unless it's a special service like Maundy Thursday.

Jeremy Loesch said...

I can't remember not having a closing hymn either, even though it is not found in the hymnal. If you use Service Builder, you have to add a hymn after the benediction. Both churches I have served have always included closing/final hymns. As others have said, the more hymns the better.

Dan @ necessary roughness- is Zion Columbus your home church? My first church was Concordia on the west side of town. Go Bucks!

Jeremy

Rev. Thomas C. Messer said...

We have a closing (or recessional, depending on the season) hymn every Sunday, but end the Divine Service with the Benediction on Wednesday evenings (or on other days when we celebrate Feast Days).

Petersen said...

We don't have a closing hymn at Redeemer, Ft. Wayne. The idea is exactly as Rev. Brown reported. We want the last word to be the Benediction.

Admittedly, though, the people like the sandwich effect. Many would prefer to have the last word be their singing.

I like the idea of the Benediction being last, but it is not that valuable. If the people really want to sing a closing hymn, and are willing to sing solid hymns, I would just leave it alone.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy singing hymn #805.

cody said...

I really like 488 as the congregation closing hymn.

Shelby said...

My favorite closing hymn is "On My Heart Imprint Your Image."

Chase said...

I am glad that we have a closing hymn at St. Paul pastor.

Anonymous said...

connor likes hymn #805 too!

Anonymous said...

Chase likes #488 too!

Brooke said...

I enjoy singing "The Lamb" in church.

Anonymous said...

Chase likes #488 too!

Past Elder said...

I would just leave it alone too.

Hymns are insertions to assist with congregational understanding and participation. The are not part of the liturgy per se.

The Introit is, though, and its complement is not an Extroit, so zu sagen, but the Dismissal and Benediction.

So, while an Opening Hymnn, or Processional, partakes of the nature of the Introit, as it were, the Closing Hymn or Recessional does not have a liturgical part of whose nature to partake.\

Which is in no way to argue against having them. They can be an extension of the Dismissal and Benediction.

What the hey -- growing up, you weren't done at the "end", there was still the first chapter of the Gospel according to John, and prayers for the conversion of Russia (then the Soviet Union)!

George said...

So, every congregation I've been to (possibly excepting the one Sunday I visited Redeemer?) had a closing hymn.

But what I found particularly interesting about this post in in connection with my Liturgics class at seminary. We had to choose a "moment" in the divine service and write a paper on it. I chose the benediction and in studying it, I came across Luther Reed's discussion in which he suggests that the benediction be followed neither with a hymn or a loud postlude, but that the congregation leave reverently. (I don't have a copy of Reed with me, so forgive my memory if I'm wrong about what he said)

The "sandwich effect" is that we start with a trinitarian invocation and end with a trinitarian benediction, which serves as the invocation for your baptismal life outside the service.

You also notice that "a hymn of invocation MAY be sung" is the rubric at the beginning of the service. :)

Oh well, for that paper, which included (if I say so myself) a nice exegetical treatment of Numbers 6, I got my lowest seminary grade (excepting the time I handed in 1 single-spaced page for an assignment which was supposed to be 2 double spaced pages... clearly I hadn't written the required quantity).

The professor basically said "they have to have their closing hymn. don't write anything contrary." :) Ironically, my prof was on the liturgy committee for LSB.

That all said, at my church we still have an "opening" hymn and a "closing" hymn. I'm just lucky that the congregation finally got rid of their contemporary service and "The Other Song Book" has left the building.

yours in Christ,
George

rwentzel said...

I found the following note in "Lutheran Worship: History and Practice," p. 434:

"The service ends with the blessing, without a closing hymn. The Lord's word of benediction to his people concludes the liturgy. If a local custom favors a musical response in addition to the Amen, the singing of the Doxology or a short hymn stanza is to be preferred to singing a hymn."

Or, to paraphrase one of my favorite sem profs: "Bless'em and kick 'em out the door to live out their vocation."

Dan at Necessary Roughness said...

Jeremy Loesch: Yes, Zion is my home church. I haven't visited churches on the west side much, but I've had more than my share of the east side. :)

BrotherBoris said...

I know of ONE Lutheran Church that doesn't have a closing hymn: Trinity ELCA in Greenville, SC. Their service ends with the benediction and dismissal. They have no postlude either. Once "Go in peace" is said, their service is over.

J.G.F. said...

Yep. Every Church I've ever attended and the two where I have served always had/has a closing hymn.

Dixie said...

At my last Lutheran church, the pastor would process out of church (at least to the very back) to an accompanying hymn. When the song was over, from the back of the church, the pastor would give the benediction. I gather from my reading here that's an innovative way to go. But it does put the benediction at the end.

Past Elder said...

Hah, your Dixinity, you have reminded me of one of the standing jokes of long ago in a galaxy far, far way:

Ite missa est (Go the mass has ended)
Deo gratias (THANKS BE TO GOD!)

Yeah, yeah, let the chattering begin about whether missa est really means the mass is over, just a little preconciliar humour here for all flying and Immelmann turning Judas H Priest's sake.

Let those who can join me in the chant without looking it up, or looking up what is an Immelmann turn or who is Immelmann, chat the first chatter!

mlorfeld said...

I'm guessing that's in the LSB Desk Edition ;) Kind of like all those apocryphal sayings that are in the book of Hezekiah.

Randy Asburry said...

Hope, St. Louis, does indeed have the "Departure Hymn" after most services. However, our Wednesday evening Divine Service follows the LSB "hymnless ending" rubric.

Past Elder said...

Andeutung: Blauer Max.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that the closing hymn is at the same place as the Last Gospel in the traditional Tridentine Mass.

Anonymous said...

same place, that being AFTER the benediction... (not before)