06 February 2011

Winkel Presentation

Warning:  Boring Pastor Stuff.  Read on at your own risk!

Almost a hundred years out from the Reformation… Magdeburg, 1613

In 1613, the most amazing book was published.  It is the Magdeburg Cathedral book, replete with complete instructions and music for all the services of the Lutheran Cathedral there.  The only thing lacking is a complete Psalter, which was published two years later, 1615.

A century out from the Reformation, what does the worship of the Lutheran Church look like in this place?


The Magdeburg Psalter
Latin still reigns supreme.  The Psalter is still sung in the Vulgate; numerous of the hymns remain in Latin – in fact, the majority of the German hymns are simply those composed at or after the Reformation.  In the daily prayer services, the first reading in morning and evening is invariably read in Latin; the second reading is often the same reading read again in German.  The sheer volume of the Latin in the services is staggering and shows that the Reformation by no means abandoned the Latin language in favor of the Vernacular, rather it blended the two languages together, thereby preserving the musical heritage of the Latin and providing some solid food in German for those who could not understand the Latin.

Frequency of Eucharist

Eucharist still reigns supreme.  On an ordinary week, the Divine Service (stilled called Missa - the Mass) was celebrated every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday.  Thus, it was offered at LEAST three times a week.  However, since every festival had its own Mass, in actual point of fact it was offered even more.

Full Sanctoral Cycle

The Church Year was rather full.  Here I am not merely speaking of the regular and chief feasts and Sundays, but of the so-called minor festivals.  In Magdeburg they were called:  “Feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary [large type] and other saints [very small type].  Here’s the list – all of which have double Vespers (Vespers on the Eve of the feast, Matins, Mass AND Vespers again on the day):

St. Andrew
St. Thomas
Conversion of St. Paul
Purification of the Virgin Mary
St. Matthias
Annunciation to the Virgin Mary
St. Mark
Sts. Philip and James
Nativity of St. John the Baptist
Sts. Peter and Paul
Visitation of the Virgin Mary
The Division of the Apostles (15 July)
St. Mary Magdelene
St. James the Great, Apostle
Assumption of the Virgin Mary (15 August)
St. Bartholomew
Beheading of St. John the Baptist (29 August)
St. Matthew
St. Maurice (22 September)
St. Michael the Archangel
St. Luke
Sts. Simon and Jude
All Saints

Should also note that although Corpus Christi is not so named, the Thursday after Trinity Sunday is devoted to the Holy Eucharist and St. Thomas Aquinas’ famous hymn:  Lauda Sion Salvatorum is sung, though with slight modification.  Instead of singing:  "bread he changes into body, wine he changes into blood," these Lutherans sang "with the bread His body giveth, and with the cup His blood."

Votive Masses:
Mass for Peace
Mass for Good Weather
Mass for Rain
Mass for Remission of Sins
Mass at Time of Pestilence

Structure of the Divine Service

The order of Divine Service in the MB for Advent I ran:

Introit (Latin)
Kyrie (Greek)
Gloria in Excelsis (Latin)  - used throughout Advent and Lent; apparently never omitted
Salutation and Collect (sometimes Latin, sometimes German)
Sequence Hymn (usually using Bonar’s corrected versions of these)
Holy Gospel
Creed (often the Nicene in Latin – followed by the singing of “We All Believe” in German)
Sermon and its prayers
Te Deum in German
Preface (the Advent preface refers "to this newly cleansed temple")
Proper Preface
Sanctus (all in Latin)
Lord’s Prayer in Latin
Words of Institution
Either Jesus Christ, Our Blessed Savior or Agnus Dei
German collect of thanksgiving
Aaronic Benediction

Not at all unusual for items such as the Litany to be inserted on given days.

Prayer Offices

The ordinary day at the cathedral invariably had Matins/Lauds and Vespers/Compline.  The services were mashed together.  Thus, looking again at the Matins/Lauds for Advent I we find:

Opening Versicles and Gloria
Invitatory:  Behold your King comes, bringing salvation to you.  Psalm 95
Antiphon, then Psalms 1-3
Isaiah 1:1-15 in Latin
Isaiah 1:16 to end in Latin
Matthew 21:1-10
Te Deum
Psalm 92
Psalm 89
Psalm 62
Canticle:  Benedicite
Laudate Psalms (145-150)
Hymn:  Hark!  A Thrilling Voice (Latin)
Antiphon and then Benedictus

It is absolutely striking how much attention is given to the music and text of the antiphons for the Psalms and Canticles and to Responsories.  These actually comprise the bulk of the book.

Other interesting features:

The Apocrypha was read regularly in the Daily Office and even occasionally as “epistle” readings in the Divine Service.  For example, this is the Epistle for the Beheading of St. John the Baptist:
Sirach 49
 1 The memory of Josiah is as sweet as the fragrance of expertly blended incense, sweet as honey to the taste, like music with wine at a banquet.2 He followed the correct policy of reforming the nation and removed the horrors of idolatry.3 He was completely loyal to the Lord and strengthened true religion in those wicked times.  4 All the kings, except David, Hezekiah, and Josiah, were terrible sinners, because they abandoned the Law of the Most High to the very end of the kingdom.[b]5 They surrendered their power and honor to foreigners,6 who set fire to the holy city and left its streets deserted, just as Jeremiah had predicted.7 Jeremiah had been badly treated, even though he was chosen as a prophet before he was born, 
         to uproot and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, but also 
         to build and to plant.
 8 It was Ezekiel who was shown the vision of the divine glory over the chariot and the living creatures.9 He also referred to the prophet Job, who always did the right thing. 10 May the bones of the twelve prophets rise to new life, because these men encouraged the people of Israel and saved them with confident hope. 11 How can we praise Zerubbabel? He was like a signet ring on the Lord's right hand,12 as was Joshua son of Jehozadak. They rebuilt the Lord's holy Temple, destined for eternal fame. 13The memory of Nehemiah is also great. He rebuilt the ruined walls of Jerusalem, installing the gates and bars. He rebuilt our homes. 14 No one else like Enoch has ever walked the face of the earth, for he was taken up from the earth.15 No one else like Joseph has ever been born; even his bones were honored.16 Shem, Seth, and Enosh were highly honored, but Adam's glory was above that of any other living being.
One last feature that bears mentioning:  Mary’s perpetual virginity is constantly alluded to and confessed on her feast days.  An example would be the Antiphon at Vespers for the Purification of the Blessed Virgin:

The old man carried the Infant, but the Infant governed the old man:  He whom a virgin bore and after bearing, remained virgin, the same was worshipped by her who bare Him.

This shows the catholic principle of the Lutheran Reformation, that they rejected in the tradition that which CONFLICTED with the Gospel, but accepted that which could be harmonized with it.


A century out from the Reformation, and we can clearly see that our spiritual forebears took seriously the epistle for the Fifth Sunday after Epiphany (historic):  “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.”  There was not a single day when there were not services in the Cathedral in morning and evening, and often more times besides.  The Word was richly read - often in whole chapters.  The Eucharist was very much the center of their living:  as we saw, at minimum celebrated three times a week.  Studying this work truly brings home the seriousness with which the Church of the Augsburg Confession made Melanchthon’s famous words from the Apology her very own:  “We do not abolish the Mass, but religiously keep and defend it.  Masses are celebrated among us every Lord’s Day and on the other festivals.  The Sacrament is offered to those who wish to use it, after they have been examined and absolved.  And the usual public ceremonies are observed, the series of lessons, of prayers, vestments and other such things.”  Apology XXIV:1

William Weedon,
Tuesday after the Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, 2011


mike said...

The Assumption of the Mother of God was kept even 100 years after the reformation? Wonderful!

Past Elder said...

WHAT? You mean that in the initial Lutheran Reformation, and extending 100 years on, with so much going on to reform the church to its true self after centuries of corruption, often at peril of their lives, it never occurred to anyone that what we really need is not the same stuff reformed but five orders of divine service, matins and vespers plus morning and evening prayer, two lectionaries, two calendars, and a partridge in a pear tree!!! Unglaublich!!

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Just as a question - weren't husband and wife supposed to refrain from sexual relations until after the wife's purification 40 days later?

William Weedon said...

Pr. Brown,

It is a musical book for the Divine Service and the Daily Offices; there are no occasional services in it. Certainly, though, Lutherans did practice a "churching of women" but I do not think the matter of sexual relations would be regulated.

Pastor Peters said...

Lutheran vitality is tied to, flows from, and conditioned upon a vibrant sacramental and liturgical life in which the fullness of the Divine Word is proclaimed faithfully according to the liturgical year... was true in 1613... is true in 2011... even if, from time to time, we forget it...

William Weedon said...

Amen, Fr. Peters. Amen!!!

Past Elder said...

While it was not regulated per se, it was considered unwise to resume sexual relations during a period of recuperation.

It may be hard for us to imagine now, but a very real aspect of the ceremony was the mother's survival of childbirth. Not to mention the child's. The churching is done whether the child survives or not.

It is modelled on the purification of the BVM. which itself follows the prescriptions of the Law. Seven days of ritual impurity, then thirty three of recuperation ("the blood of her purification").

The primary text is Psalm 23, 24 in the non-Vulgate numbering, and the short service concludes with a prayer that as is this life the pains of childbirth have turned to joy so, through the intercession of the BVM, shall the mother have the pains of this life turn to the joys of eternal life.

I would imagine this was revised somewhat.

Past Elder said...

The infrequency of The Churching of Women is related to the frequency of artificial contraception in our times, in case all this seems like just more mustly old stuff from Past Elder.

Absent modern medicine, quite bluntly most children do not survive birth and childhood to reproduce, so nature provides the capacity for having many children. Just as in mathematics, when you mess with one side of the equation, you gotta mess with the other or it doesn't work out. When most children survive, you either gotta have fewer children or increase the means to provide for more than naturally survive.

Not to mention it may take a couple three wives along the way too.

Paul said...

Will you come and present to the Mid-South District? We are in desperate need of your gifts!

Mark said...

Well if I can't be a fly on the wall at this week's Winkel, I'm completely delighted to be able to read your presentation.

Thanks. And I look forward to hearing about how people respond.

Allen said...

But how much of this, Pastor Weedon, is actually received? From those I have heard from those have recently traveled to Germany, the Lutheran Churches are echoingly empty. I pray the reports that I have heard are not true.

Not that this changes when or how often we offer the gifts of Word and Sacrament.

William Weedon said...

Oh, it's long since mostly dead in Germany. It wasn't received, held onto, treasured. First pietism and then its kissing cousin rationalism reared their ugly heads to deprive the Church of her sacramental life. And since that IS her life, for as Dr. Luther said so powerfully "this Sacrament - the Eucharist - IS the Gospel", the Church fell with it. Very sad. But it lives on still in other places and even in spots in Germany. Luther's vision of the rain shower which passes on...

Dixie said...

The old man carried the Infant, but the Infant governed the old man

We had some similar language in one of our hymns...don't recall which...and don't recall if it was on the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple or on the next day, on the Feast of Simeon and Anna. Regardless...it left a marvelous image!

One of your conclusion points was this:

The Eucharist was very much the center of their living: as we saw, at minimum celebrated three times a week.

Would you say this was characteristic of the whole of Lutheran-dom at this time or just parts? Did you find similar patterns in all the Lutheran territories? I once heard a presentation that indicated there was a wide range of practices across the Lutheran territories. In that presentation I also heard that Bach left a prestigious position to go to Leipzig because it was there he could have midweek (Thursday) Communion right after oral confession and the previous location did not offer the Eucharist midweek. Would be cool if that were true. Of course, that was yet another 100+ years later than this info you present here.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Pr. Weedon - I meant at the time of Joseph and Mary, under the old covenant - not in 1613 =o) That wasn't a question about the liturgy book but rather the OT.

William Weedon said...


No, it didn't characterize Lutherans as a whole, I don't think. The closer the Lutherans skated toward the South Germans, the more "reformed" their liturgy, even when holding to the Lutheran doctrine, the more the Eucharist shifted off the center. Find places where the liturgy remained faithful, and you'll find places where the Eucharist remained front and center. Certainly Leipzig was such a joyous place at the time of Bach's service there: I can't remember how many times you could receive the Sacrament during the week (at the various churches), but it certainly had Sunday Eucharist as the chief service at St. Nicholas and St. Thomas Churches. The remarkable work by Bodo Nishan on Brandenburg, shows how the archly conservative liturgy helped keep the populace Lutheran long after the elector had gone chasing after Calvinism.

William Weedon said...

Oh, I get it. You meant did it refer to her as a virgin only up to the time of the Purification. But that doesn't hold, given the other places and things the book says about her virginity. Consider the hymn assigned for Annunciation:

Fit porta Christi pervia
omni referta gratia,
transitque rex, et permanet
clausa, ut fuit, per sæcula.

Or note the title of the Assumption: The Assumptionis Mariae Virginis.

David Garner said...

Find places where the liturgy remained faithful, and you'll find places where the Eucharist remained front and center.

Pastor Weedon,

I'll file this under "the more things change, the more they stay the same."

Thanks for this interesting piece. I pray it is well considered at your Winkel and given wider publication.

Past Elder said...

The difference being, in the old country the syncretism with a Reformed approach was forced on us by the state, whereas here we have done it to ourselves.

Either way, even if it gets more people in the pews, it changes what they find when they get there.

Larry Luder said...

Boring? au contraire Rev Weedon. The Eucharist reigns supreme, indeed. The Lutheran Mass is celebrated among us, 6 days a week in our parish on an ordinary week and is the center of our life. Amen Fr Peters, well said.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Weedon,

Is anyone republishing the cathedral book? It would be great to get a copy.


Bethany Kilcrease