16 June 2006

Corpus Christi?

Apparently there is a bit of discussion in the Lutheran Blogosphere about the propriety of observing the Corpus Christi feast - a feast of decidedly dubious origins in the Middle Ages.

The assumption seems to be that Lutherans simply abolished this feast from their liturgies in the 16th and 17th centuries. However, that is not entirely accurate. Most orders did so, but there are notable exceptions. Brandenburg in the 16th century, and the Magdeburg Book in the 17th century.

In the later, a full century after the Reformation, we find the Lutheran cathedral at Magdeburg observing the following on the Thursday Mass following the Feast of the Holy Trinity:

The Introit appointed is the same as that the Romans give for Corpus Christi: Psalm 81:17 antiphon for the Psalm; Psalm verse is 81:1.

The Kyrie is the Paschal tone.

The Collect is the collect appointed for Trinity Sunday

The Epistle is 1 Cor. 11:23-29 (same as for Corpus Christi)

The Sequence is "Lauda Sion Salvatorum" - the same as for Corpus Christi, though a slightly "corrected" text - following Lossius' Psalmodia:

Original: Dogma datur Christianis, quod in carnem *transit* panis, et vinum in sanguinem.

Correcta: Dogma sacrum Christiano, quo cum pane datur caro, et cum vino sanguis Christi.

Note that this is a direct assault upon celebrating the day as a "Transubstantiation" day.

The Gospel is John 6:55-58 (substantially the same as for Corpus Christi)

So, here you have a 17th Century Church Order from Magdeburg in effect keeping the propers for Corpus Christi without giving the mass a special name. What I suspect happened on this day, however, would be a preaching upon the texts that would seek to refute the Roman use and practice of the Feast and stress instead the importance of receiving the Sacrament for the forgiveness of sins and not parading it around town.

For whatever the above might contribute to the discussion...


Rev. Paul T. McCain said...

Not exactly a stirring recommendation for retaining "Corpus Christi" but... intresting.

I was just in that huge cathedral in Magdeburg.

It's hard not to act like a Romanist in that place.

: )

William Weedon said...

No, I was not intending to promote the day, but merely to note that it did have a "rehabilitated" history in some parts of the Church of the Augsburg Confession.

Say, if you were just there, did you get any pics? I'd love to see what it looks like today. I can't help but think it must have been a grand place to worship in the 17th century. I know that it is one of the few places where we know that they continued the use of incense during the preparation of the altar following the sermon. Must be all that Flacius influence.... : )

Rev. Paul T. McCain said...

Yes, I took a lot of pictures and picked up a great little paperback guide to the cathedral, the St. Mary Cathedral. It is still very much filled with art and statuary. The most ornate funeral memorial pieces are those prepared to honor Lutheran cathedral canons. Otto I is still there,the second Holy Roman Emperor, after Constantine. It has one of the very finest collections of wise/foolish virgin statuary anywhere, and they are, apparently, reburbishing them.

William Weedon said...

Are you sure of the name of the cathedral? I was thinking it was St. Maurice (or Moritz)? It would explain why his day was on the 17th century Lutheran calendar for that place with a special mass.