Just some comments on the service. The contrast with what we were offered up in Houston for the opening Divine Service of the convention and this could not have been more pronounced. Yesterday there was nothing of a charismatic praise service, nothing of a rock concert, just an unquenchable joy in the receiving of the Lord's saving gifts.
The service made use of the appointed propers for Proper 19, Series C. The Divine Service used was Divine Service, Setting One. It is not my favorite, but it is likely the most wide-spread liturgy in use in the Synod. Preservice music provided was Bach's Prelude in E-Flat Major and Chorale Variations on Veni Creator by Durufle. (I'm happy to report our organist plays both for St. Paul's - so it's not just special occasions such as this I get to hear them anymore!)
The Processional Hymn was "Come, Holy Ghost, Creator Blest" - the choir using the lovely plain chant setting alternating with the congregation singing the sturdy chorale version. The confession and absolution were right out of the book, as was the Introit, Kyrie, and Hymn of Praise - Hillert's festival setting of "Worthy Is Christ." Salutation and collect were spoken. After the OT reading, Monique Nunes gave us Richard Smallwood's setting of Psalm 121 - offered in the full enthusiasm and joy of the Gospel music tradition. I think it would have been even stronger if she and her choir were upstairs with the other musicians. Some folks broke out into applause afterwards; most folks didn't, appreciating that she was singing not to entertain us but to extol the Lord. After the epistle, the Alleluia Verse was introduced and the Gospel book carried to the center of the nave, where it was read.
Significantly, the Hymn of the Day was "Lord Jesus Christ, With Us Abide." This was not the prescribed Hymn of the Day - that would be (in series C): "Jesus Sinners Doth Receive." But "Lord Jesus Christ, With Us Abide" was - as Pr. Baue pointed out to me - Dr. Sasse's signature hymn. He constantly turned to it for solace and to offer solace to the Church in her troubles. "That we keep pure till life is spent Your holy Word and Sacrament!" President Harrison is, of course, a Sasse scholar - and I couldn't help but see Dr. Sasse beaming down upon the assembly as we prayed that hymn together. The singing of all the hymns, by the way, was THUNDEROUS. I've never heard it so loud in the chapel - the joy was palpable.
After Archbishop Obare's homily with his clear Law and Gospel spoken to us, we confessed our faith in the Nicene Creed. The installations proper began with singing of Luther's great Holy Spirit hymn: "Come, Holy Ghost, God and Lord." And you thought the music couldn't get louder? Amazing! It was beautiful to watch so many gather around our new president as he was placed into office and lay on their hands as we all prayed a mighty "Our Father" for him. And then the installation of the other vice-presidents and boards. At the conclusion of all the installations, the choir sang a fabulous Mark Bender setting of a Franzmann piece: "Thee, Lord, would I serve."
After recognizing public officials (including Congressman Shimkus and a Monsignor representing the Archbishop of St. Louis and all our international Lutheran guests), the prayer of the Church was offered. It was framed entirely toward our Lord Jesus, the Good Shepherd. I was reminded of how Dr. Nagel taught us that prayer is pulling things out of the name of God and receiving the gifts He has for us in that name. So this prayer did. After the prayer concluded and before the offering was received we had the greeting of peace.
Bishop Stechholtz presided with grace and reverence at the Lord's table. The right column option was used - so after the prayer of thanksgiving, directly into Our Father (which participants were all invited to pray in their native languages) and then to the Holy Words of Christ. I couldn't see what he did at the altar for much of this, but I do believe he genuflected in front of the altar and celebrated ad orientem. One person online criticized that there was no fraction during the Verba - but Bishop Stechholtz certainly knows the Lutheran history on that question wisely refrained from any fraction at the consecration.
After the Pax and Agnus, distribution began. The first hymn was another signature piece. I'm guessing that President Harrison translated it, but the bulletin does not indicate. It was a communion hymn by one of President Harrison's favorite theologians of yesteryear - Valentin E. Loescher - a mighty defender against pietism and teacher of Lutheran orthodoxy. This was followed by "O Lord, We Praise Thee" - the classic and standard Lutheran communion hymn, with stanzas 2 and 3 from Luther's own pen. "Lord Whose Love through Humble Service" was next, and this highlights President Harrison's deep concern for the Church's mission of mercy in this world. "Thine the Amen" wrapped up the communion hymns.
The youth choir sang a peaceful and beautiful setting of Nunc Dimittis by Martin How. The third prayer was used for post-communion ("Gracious God, heavenly Father, You have given us a foretaste..."). The benediction was given and the procession out of the Church was during the singing of "We are Called to Stand Together." This strong text seems a perfect summary of President Harrison's challenge to us as a Church:
We are called to stand together
With the saints of ages past,
With the patriarchs and prophets
In the faith they once held fast;
Promises and hopes they treasured
Now we find fulfilled at last!
Those whom Jesus called apostles
Journeyed with Him side by side,
Heard His teaching, felt His power,
Saw the way He lived and died;
Then the news of resurrection
They delivered far and wide.
Through the intervening ages
Round the world the Gospel spread;
Faithful heralds took the message,
Guided where the Spirit led;
So the body grew in stature,
Serving Christ, the living Head.
Now in many tongues and cultures
Songs of celebration ring;
Millions who confess our Savior
Honor Him as Lord and King
And, for courage, grace, and guidance
Ev'ry day their prayers they bring.
To each coming generation
Tell the truth, persuade, explain.
Till the time when time is ended,
Till the Savior comes again --
Till the saints are all united
Under Christ's eternal reign!
P.S. Thanks be to God also that instead of just using that hopelessly hideous cross that the Seminary has (and that takes a body builder to carry), another more tasteful processional cross was also used immediately in front of those to be seated in the chancel and for the reading of the Holy Gospel. Wouldn't it be wonderful if some wealthy donor would bless the Seminary with funds to replace that monstrosity?