22 February 2007

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Although our dear Lord Jesus Christ did not institute His holy Supper for the purpose of adoring it and worshipping it, nor yet is it forbidden nor to be accounted an excess or as idolatry, but much rather just and right, that this holy Supper might be administered according to its institution by our Lord Jesus Christ, one attended with complete devotion and adoration, and worship our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, true God and Man, who is present in this excellent sacrrament, not only according to the nature of His divine omnipotence and spiritual nature, but also bodily, truly and essentially, yet nevertheless unseen, as the one who sits at the right hand of the divine majesty, and who has been exalted by God and given a name above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, those in heaven and on earth and under earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. - George of Anhalt, Lutheran preacher, 1553 (cited in *The Lord's Supper in the Theology of Martin Chemnitz* by Bjarne Wollan Teigen, p. 110)


dspeers said...

A beautiful quotation, especially, if one considers just what kind of things were going on before, during and after these events...the Interim, Calvinists, et al, all kinds of struggles wrt the Supper. And then one finds these faithful confessors who are trying to make a good confession, while not falling into one ditch or the other...thanks

Seraph said...

I have heard that, in the Lutheran church in Nuremburg in the 16th century, at the time of consecration the sacring bell would be rung and the whole congregation would fall down on their knees, in worship of the Lord who came to them in bread and wine.

William Weedon said...


I don't know about Nüremburg, but I do know that Christian Gerber in the 18th century wrote a little work on church customs in Saxony, and he complains then about the continued use of the sacring bell at the consecration, as well as the singing of the Verba. He asks: "Why can't we be like the catholics and just speak them?" :)

So, for quite some years at the Reformation, the bells were still employed at the consecration in the Saxon Lutheran churches.

Past Elder said...

I'm curious -- do you know where the picture was taken that accompanies this post?

I can't describe what I feel when I see things like this, or read liturgical things on some of the confessional sites.

When I was going through Bible Information Class prior to professing the Lutheran faith, and reading the Tappert BOC the pastor gave me, sometimes when I read parts describing liturgical practice in our churches I would close my eyes and see what I would see -- this former consecration bell ringer from pre Vatican II days, seeing the liturgy as it was known prior to its modernist revision at the Council but reformed to be true to the faith it conveys as accurately taught from Scripture in the BOC.

And I would see things like in the picture.

William Weedon said...

Past Elder,

Yes, I know exactly where the picture was taken. It was from the Epiphany service this year at Trinity Lutheran Church in Worden, Illinois. The celebrant is my friend, Pr. Heath Curtis. Standing with him at the altar, I believe is the associate pastor of St. Paul, Hamel and Trinity, Worden, Pr. Keith GeRue. Kneeling behind is Pr. David Juhl, who also preached that night. I do not know who the seminarians are who assisted that evening.

Past Elder said...

Thank you, Pastor.

Now another question -- may I ask which order of service was used?

My first several years as a Lutheran was in WELS, in a parish that adheres faithfully to Christian Worship. As you may well know, there are two orders in it for a "full" divine service (with Communion) and the elders' decision (I was not an elder at that time!) was to use the first one, a revision of the Common Service, on the first Sunday of the month and the other, a Vatican II derivative, on the third Sunday of the month, which were Communion Sundays following the widespread practice.

I knew nothing at first about the history of WELS. I just assumed it had always been as it was when I showed up. What an eye opener when I began reading articles posted on the synod site about liturgy, and noticed some guest pastors would wear only a "black Geneva" instead of the Vatican II style vestments (alb and stole, no chasuble) our pastor wore, and asked him about that.

Sometime after my wife died, Grandma gave me the TLH and Bible that were given to Nancy growing up LCMS to pass on to the boys later. Since TLH is officially allowed but functionally supressed in WELS, I began to study her copy for the real Common Service, which led to reading articles on the LCMS site. I came to a deep love for the Common Service, in itself whereas at first it had struck me as a bit odd, and for its role in bailing us out of an earlier period of liturgical anarchy which seems rather like our own, chasing after "evangelical" worship that packs them in but for a message that is not ours.

That in turn led to reading the material available as the LSB was being formed and being amazed at the understanding and appreciation of things that just aren't there in Milwaukee. My personal take on that, meaning this is not a thesis I would defend with all academic rigour, just how it seems to me, is that while the more obvious chunks of Pietism have been overcome they are largely unaware, and are not likely to become aware shouting Christian Freedom and adiaphora all the time, of how much remains, unsuspected. (McCain takes me to task on these blogs sometimes, but that ain't nothing compared to the answers I'd get to my questions on the Q&A on the WELS site!)

Following on the Net the theological professional wrestling cage match that was the last LCMS convention, I came across some confessional LCMS sites and in time the blogs I now read regularly, including some other orders of service such as the one on Lex Orandi, which if memory serves is quite close to the one on your parish site. The order posted on Zion Detroit's site, or at least it was before Fenton's departure East, I haven't checked since, was another example of what I saw when reading the BOC on liturgy, closing my eyes and imagining what I'd see if these guys had been at work in my old RC parish growing up.

Discoveries like that were a major factor in coming to see people like me belong in the LCMS because that is where people like me are. As Chaz put it on a blog so well, it's the worst synod in the world, exceot for all the others.

Please excuse the long personal ruminations. It snowed a few inches here which apparently means churches across town are cancelling services with crawlers on the local stations. There's another difference in liturgical practice, of a sort, for you -- growing up in Minnesota, we thought of serious snow in feet, not inches, and that was in real wheel drive car days! So I have some extra time this Sunday morning though by the standards of my youth it snowed a little last night. My present LCMS parish sticks pretty much to the service from LW that has become the first setting in the LSB. In the unlikely event that I should be elected an elder there, maybe I'll push for LSB setting three, a much better treatment of the Common Service than the one in LW!

Interesting that Father DMJ was there! His site is one of my regular stops too.

Gee, I guess my original thing was to ask, what order of service were you using at the Epiphany service in the picture?

William Weedon said...

Past Elder,

Trinity (as also St. Paul) only uses Divine Service, Setting 3, the old common service. One of these days you'll have to drive up to our neck of the woods and worship with us - and them!


William Weedon said...

One more thing, the liturgy as posted on our web site is slightly outdated. We've not updated it since LSB. Need to get onto that. Not many changes, of course, but a few minor ones.

Past Elder said...

Man, nothing like a "Sunday off" to free up a little extra blogging time!

I'm coming to actually like the Common Service as in LSB Setting Three better than the TLH, not that I have any problem with the TLH at all. The retention of Jacobean English in the ordinary and contemporary English elsewhere was just a masterstroke, IMHO!

I don't mind settings four and five either, being derived from Lutheran heritage. As to one and two, I can live with them even though they are Vatican II derivatives. The reason is, in the novus ordo all this jacking around with the kyrie was excused on the grounds of it being the more ancient practice of the church. Which, like communion in the hand, it is, but that is not the issue. So we've got a bidding prayer without the bids in the Western kyrie. The novus ordo promptly turns it into a penitential prayer! For the times we have (fill in the blank with the sin of your choice), Lord have mercy! Even the miserable LBW didn't do that, retaining the Eastern "In peace let us pray to the Lord" usw, which continues in LW and LSB. Christian Worship, typically and predictably, missed that entirely. So I can live with all of the LSB settings, even though in the best of all worlds Setting Three would be simply "The Setting".

What bothers me more is the Vatican II lectionary and calendar, Lutheran edition. There's a great paper of Lutheran origin on the ELS site about this, more aware of what the boys at the Council were up than anything I have read in Lutheran sources. I'll take my observances and preaching in harmony with the two millennia development of the church, or at least its Western wing, please, not 1970 Rome.

Chop that nonsense out of the LSB and you'd REALLY have a great new service book! What the heck, if we can issue a manufaturer's recall on the BOC, a service book ought to be no big deal! As it is, given our times, the LSB as it stands is pretty close to a miracle.

I'm from Omaha, so a drive to Illinois is a day's drive for me, at least now wiht my days of hours on end road trips with me doing all the driving are behind me. But not out of the question if hunger for a real deal Common Service gets acute enough!

BTW, before the Revolution we RC kids were taught that the reason the priest faces the altar for the Sacrament (not the term they used!) was because as a man he is another man even though he stands in loco Christi and what is important here is not the man but Christ. Is something like that taught to you guys as the reason beind the celebrant's position in the picture? Came the Revolution and we were taught how stupid it was for the priest to "face the wall", as one of my teachers put it, and now he would face the people since this is a community meal and an expression of the community's faith -- I guess that what was happening on the wall was Christ serving his people his body and blood was in there somewhere. I take it that Vatican II style altars are a recent Lutheran development too.

William Weedon said...

Past Elder:

The Lutheran rite distinguishes between sacrificial and sacramental acts in the Divine Service. Historically, all sacrificial acts (speaking to God) are said facing the altar; all sacramental acts (God speaking to us) facing the people. The parts of the liturgy historically considered sacrificial by Lutherans: Invocation, confession of sins, introit, kyrie, gloria, collect, gradual, creed, offertory, intercessions, proper preface, sanctus, our father, verba, nunc dimittis, post communion collect. All the rest were sacramental and the pastor faces the people.

Now there's more than a little controversy in the Synod over the historic designation of the Verba as sacrificial - as prayer and so with the pastor facing the altar. I was pleased to note in LSB the pastor faces the altar for the consecration.

About directionality, I think the current bishop of Rome hits it exactly: the pastor is not turning is back to the people, but facing with them in the same direction whenever prayer is offered.

Finally, about those free-standing altars. Luther early on expressed a preference for them and for the pastor facing the people from behind them. But the Lutheran Church largely ignored his preference and until the 20th century most Lutheran altars were against the east wall and the pastors faced them whenever a "sacrificial" part of the service took place.

Past Elder said...

Thank you once again. The explanation you gave is essentially the one I learned way back when, although the terms sacrificial and sacramental were not used for it, and in line with what Benedict says -- the priest as a man when offering prayer stands with the people facing the same direction.

I'm aware of the controversy about the Verba, but to me it's simple. The celebrant as a man is offering a prayer. The prayer, the words, are Christ's indeed and it is Christ's promise and power that gives them reality, and the celebrant stands in loco Christi in saying them, but he is not thereby Christ himself, so as a man he faces the altar.

From my background, I would think Lutherans would find this easier to understand, knowing what the Office of Holy Ministry is as opposed to the Roman understanding of ordained priesthood, than Catholics. Then again, there appears to be some controversy about what is the Office of Holy Ministry in the synod, and maybe that's the prior problem! On that score too, for me it's simple. If I didn't believe there was such a thing as the OHM I'd still be WELS!

As to the free standing altars, I remember after the Council a lot of "conservatives" used to grouse that a lot of time and paper could have been saved to have one meeting, issue one statement "Luther was right", and go home! I doubt though that any confessional Lutheran would see the Council as an admission that Luther was right, despite cosmetic changes. I can handle the free standing altars, with a little mental effort to remember Luther rather than Vatican II, although I suspect that Vatican II wannabeism that infected all the liturgical churches had more to do with the change in Lutheran practice. If the Verba is a prayer then it should be said facing the altar, and I have noticed even with the free standing altar in my parish some pastors stand facing it for that part of the divine service.

PS on Benedict, he seems to have more of an appreciation for our Confessions that some people who call themselves Lutheran!