07 February 2011

More on Magdeburg

Two years after the cathedral's choirbook was published, an Agenda came out.  It provides even more details about the way the services were conducted.  The following is a summary from Dr. Herl's research, which he kindly shared with me some years ago:

The choir sings an Introit of the day, then the Kyrie; the Deacon intones the Gloria and the choir sings the Et in terra.  Then the Deacon sings a German Collect for the day, then the Lector sings the Epistle in Latin, then a choir member reads the same in German.  Then 2 boys from the choir sing the Alleluia, and the choir sings the verse, followed by the Sequence, Prose, or Tract.  Then the Lector sings the Gospel in Latin, and a choir member reads it in German to the people using the same melody.  Then the Nicene Creed is intoned by the Deacon and the choir sings the Patrem up to the words "Et incarnatus est de Spiritu sancto, ex Maria virgine, Et homo factus est."  These words are sung by 2 boys very slowly.  Then the choir completes the Creed, and the congregation sings "We All Believe in One True God."  The pulpit service is next, with the standard opening hymn, sermon and general prayer.  The elements are then processed to the altar with incense, during which two choir boys sing "Grant peace, we pray, in mercy, Lord."  The Latin preface and Sanctus by the choir, and then the Deacon sings the Lord's Prayer in German and then the Words of institution.  During the distribution, the choir sings "Jesus Christ, Our Blessed Savior" and if there is a longer communion also the Latin Agnus Dei or the German "Lamb of God, Pure and Holy."  The collect: "We thank you..." and the Aaronic benediction bring the service to a close, with the choir singing a stanza or two of "O Lord, We Praise Thee" after the communicants have departed the chancel.

A few points are striking:

1.  The use of a Lector to sing the readings in Latin (I am presuming a clergyman, but not that's not entirely clear).
2.  The use of a CHOIR MEMBER to chant the same readings in German to the people - clearly NOT a clergyman.
3.  The fact that "read" was not understood as anything other than "chant" - note "reads it in German using the same melody!"
4.  The title deacon for the chief cleric at the Cathedral - clearly an ordained pastor.
5.  The use of incense as the elements are brought in procession to the holy altar.  Processed from where?  The Credence?  From the back of the Church?
6.  As in Luther's German Mass, the only piece of music actually assigned to the congregation is the German "We All Believe" - the rest of the music is explicitly reserved to the Choir.


Past Elder said...

To pick up on the idea in the earlier thread of "OK they did this stuff but did it really catch on" -- catching on was not then what it is now. You didn't just go to the place with the most outreaching services.

Two years after the choirbook would be 1615. The Magdeburger Dom is just that -- a cathedral, which means the church of bishop in which his chair (cathedra) is. There had not been a bishop in Magdeburg since 1545. Lutheran services were held there since 1567, 48 years earlier. The church had been outlawed by the (Catholic) Holy Roman Emperor. And just three years later, the Thirty Years War broke out, during which Magdeburg nearly exterminated, the cathedral made Catholic again, then looted and vandalised when the Catholic forces left, remaining that way until Napoleon, ending up a storage depot and horse barn. In the 1800s the Prussians began a restoration, which was significantly damaged in WWII and the place did not reopen until 1966 in what was by then a Communist state.

Not exactly a picture of a worship committee wondering what is going to be seeker friendly. The Lutheran worship at Magdeburger Dom should be judged by its fidelity to the liturgical aims of the BOC, not the attendance results of a contemporary liturgy focus group's recommendations.

Hell, the Lutheran worship anywhere anytime should be judged by its fidelity to the liturgical aims of the BOC rather than a focus group's recommendations.

William Weedon said...


I think the sad history of the massacre of Magdeburg testifies to what the Lutherans were up to: preparing a people to face the atrocities of this life head on in the confidence of Christ's gift of forgiveness and eternal life. That is what breathes through the liturgy. There is so much a feel of "nothing new here; nothing titillating; just the same old catholic and apostolic faith - the willingness to die for it."

Past Elder said...

Exactly. Would that we would stand for the same old catholic and apostolic faith, rather than chase after what seems titillating whether from Willow Creek or Rome or wherever, against the ravages of our time.

And, as somehow the 5 and 6 on my keyboard got switched around, the reopening was 1955 not 1966.

William Weedon said...

15 years later...and it was all gone. That is what is striking. Old Sasse talked about how the Third Article is never finished in this age. How true. 15 years later and almost everyone of them died; yet even today we look at how they worshipped and we are blessed. "Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly."

Past Elder said...

I think of our brothers now who struggle to maintain, even establish, a Lutheran identity and presence in the face of hostile and/or repressive societies and governments, even as we who can freely worship barter away that same identity as we mistake evangelism for marketing and mistake that God is the real seeker, not people.

William Tighe said...

Magdeburg had a curious history during the Reformation. The bishop until his death in 1545 was Cardinal Albrecht von Brandenburg, (who was also Archbishop-Elector of Mainz) brother of the anti-Lutheran Elector Joachim I (d. 1535) of Brandenburg, whose son and successor Joachim II (d. 1571) introduced that miost liturgically conservative of Lutheran reformations in 1539-40. The city of Magdeburg itself, which became Lutheran in 1524, was in practice independent of the bishop.

When the Cardinal died in 1545 he was succeeded by a cousin, Johann Albrecht of thr Ansbach line of the Hohenzollern family (one of his brothers was Archbishop of Riga and the other was the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order who has embraced Luther's views in 1525 and turned East Prussia into a duchy with himself as its first duke).

When Johann Albrecht died in 1550, he was succeeded by Friedrich the twenty-year old second son of Joachim II, and when he died he was succeeded as bishop by his younger brother Sigismund (1538-1566), who also became Bishop of neighboring Halberstadt. Despite their father's ambiguous embrace of the Reformation (he remained neutral during the Schmalkaldic War), both Friedrich and Sigismund affirmed their continued allegiance to Catholicism in order to win, as they both did, papal and imperial confirmation of their appointments.

Friedrich was never consecrated a bishop; and the sources I have consulted give contradictory statements about whether Sigismund was. After 1558, in any case, he became openly Lutheran. But because the cathedral, although located in the city, was under the bishop's control rather than the city's, Catholic services continued to be held there after the city had become Lutheran; and then for many years no seervices at all were held in it, as these bishops, even Sigismund, refused to allow Lutheran services to be held in it, while the city refused to allow Catholic clergy to pass through the city to and from the cathedral. It was only after Sigisumund's death, when another Hohenzollern prince, Sigismund's nephew Joachim Friedrich, later himself to be Elector of Brandenburg from 1598 to 1608, was elected as "administrator" rather than "bishop," that Lutheran services began to be held in the cathedral.

Chris said...

Fr. Weedon,

In the agenda or in any of the books from Magedburg, are there any rubrics or instructions to clergy and/or laity with regards to gestures such as making the sign of the cross, genuflecting, bowing, etc.

William Weedon said...

No, Chris. I wouldn't expect it. These are largely MUSICAL books, not rubrical books, if you will. The customary ceremonies are assumed, rather than explicit - as shown by the practice of bringing the element forward with incense and singing of "Grant Peace We Pray."

Anonymous said...

I love the treatment of the Creed! Reminds me of Pastor Petersen's intonation of the Words of Institution at Redeemer: reverent, deliberate, allowing the congregation to rejoice in the powerful, effective Word of God.

To slow down while confessing the Incarnation of Our Lord likewise draws our attention to its wonderous mystery. Its significance is best underlined, highlighted, and joyfully proclaimed slowly and deliberately - not rushing.

Our sinful minds race easily enough, jumping from one distraction to the next. Satan wants us to skip over those words, forget them. Think how our brothers and sisters in Christ at Magdeburg must have annoyed the old evil foe: basking in the unimaginable mystery of the Eternal Logos in human flesh!!

God bless you, Pastor Weedon, as you study this stuff and bring it to the attention of your fellow pastors and to God's dear people!

I'd love to learn how to winsomely teach this stuff to others (first I have to learn it!)...