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|
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):
Conversion of St. Paul
Purification of the Virgin Mary
Annunciation to the Virgin Mary
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)
Beheading of St. John the Baptist (29 August)
St. Maurice (22 September)
St. Michael the Archangel
Sts. Simon and Jude
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."
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:
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)
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")
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
Not at all unusual for items such as the Litany to be inserted on given days.
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
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:
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
Tuesday after the Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, 2011