22 April 2008

Might Have Been Vs. Is

C. S. Lewis, I think in Perelandra, makes the observation that the fruit you're eating is always the best fruit. He points out by this the propensity we have to find fault with what is, because it's not what might have been. If you really had wanted an orange, and someone gave you an apple, then the apple is not enjoyed because it is constantly being compared to the orange that it is not; whereas, if you just enjoy the apple as an apple, then you give praise and thanks to God.

And so there's LSB. I have to confess when it comes to our Synod's new hymnal, I'm rather in Lewis mode of "the fruit you're eating is always the best fruit." Yes, one can critique the LSB for what it isn't, and where it could be better, and so on. But the marvel of the thing to me is what it actually is: a beautiful and wonderful prayer and song book. We've been living with it now for, what?, a year and a half? I think we'll have had it for two years this coming August. And the more I move into it, the more I love it.

The sturdy Lutheran chorales are there; wonderful new hymns are there; the daily office is a breeze to pray from it; the stately Divine Services show both reverence and awe before the gift of the Savior's body and blood; and there's private confession, the litany, numerous collects, the Catechism, and prayers in the front of the hymnal, and on and on.

I think that when folks just look at what IS when it comes to LSB, the response can only be Deo gratias! A hymnal that is simple to use, stuffed with goodies, and a harmonious blend of the past and the present that will be useful for the future for years to come. It's a darned sweet book - and I'm thankful to be a pastor in the LCMS who gets to use it!


Allen said...

This is an excellent attitude to have toward LSB. There will always be "would haves, could haves, and should haves." In the end, there is much more that is faithful than not. I was/am a trainer for the use of LSB and am proud to be. It is simple (to use) without being simplistic. It has (and will have even more) resources that no other service book has offered before in the past. Time will show, but I believe that it will be a faithful resource for many, many years to come.

Tim Kuehn said...

It's a great change from TLH and "the Lutheran Book of Options" I've enjoyed it since my church adopted it.

Scott Larkins said...

Pointless, but if you’re ever feeling bored or blue....



Anonymous said...

I do love the new LSB...

If I have any complaint... it was that it did not include all 150 Paslms in the Psalter section... mmm and pointed for Gregorian chant : )

I look forward to a Lutheran Breviary with all of the prayer offices of the day and the complete Psalter : )

Matt B.

J.G. Fleischmann said...

We love LSB in our congregation.

While there are some issues that bothered me, I've worked through them. And, with Lutheran Service Builder, some are easily corrected (i.e. catholic vs. Christian).

So far, our congregation has used all of the Divine Service Settings, all of the Daily Offices and the Service of Prayer and Preaching. They're great singers, and it is so nice to have all of these resources in one place.

I do miss the collects for daily devotional use.

And I sometimes cringe when they've tampered with the wording of hymnody for seemingly no reason at all-- it is almost patronizing at times as if our people couldn't understand the original, deep theological imagery.

But that being said, and squeezing all of the juice out of my orange, the apple does taste good indeed!


Past Elder said...

Considering the spirit of our times, and the winds blowing not just in our beloved synod but all churches, that something like the LSB could be produced in nearly miraculous.

In fact, watching it take shape while living with the hatchet job on the Common Service and the Vatican II For Lutherans Service of Word and Sacrament in Christian Worship in WELS was one of the key factors in thinking people who understand and take seriously liturgy and the faith confessed in our symbols as I do are in LCMS and I should be too.

Even our Vatican II For Lutherans is an improvement, for example in re-Greekifying the kyrie not confusing a petitionary response with a penitential plea as does the novus ordo, and preserving the "In peace let us pray to the Lord" of the First Litany of the Eastern Church.

But then again, that was already present in the "Lutheran Book of Options".

However, no sooner was the ink barely dry on the first printing than the liturgical hunter-gatherers were sent out on a quest for "diverse resources". As they say, What Does This Mean?

In the end, Vatican II For Lutherans is no more the historic worship of the (Western) Church than Willow Creek or Saddleback For Lutherans, both are "contemporary worship" and to offer the former on an equal basis with the historic worship of the church is no more valid than to offer the latter as its replacement as both represent a disconnect, differing only in the style of disconnecting, one with and one without some continuity in trappings.

We still use LW and I would love to see the LSB introduced, yet at the same time it ain't no new TLH but a Lutheran Book of Better Options.

Chop out the Vatican II For Lutherans junk, put the collects back in, drop the dumbed-down language here and there, and you've got something! Until then, I'm a Red Hymnal guy.

David Rosenkoetter said...

I concur. What a blessing the LSB truly is! While the collects for daily devotions are not present, there is more than adequte compensation for daily use. I have found the hymn arrangment much easier to navigate along with the seasonal responses in Matins and Morning Prayer.

Besides my home congregation's public use of LSB, I find myself using it each day as I listen to CTS's "chapel morning office" online.

In addition, some of the additional verses to familiar hymns actually make some of them more complete. For example, "Lift High The Cross." includes stanza 5 which declares: "Let ev'ry race and ev'ry language tell Of Him who saves our lives from death and hell." Therein we sing the reason Jesus Christ bore the cross in our place!

Anonymous said...

I agree, Pastor Weedon. The book is also beautiful, and appears much more durable the the LW was, which is no small thing for a congregation, expense-wise.
There are songs I wouldn't have included, but we just ignore them, same as I turn off offensive TV shows.
Its print is wonderful too, both words and music. Easy to read, easy to follow.
Some in the congregation (a blessed few) complain about there being so many verses to some hymns. I suppose they haven't really read the verses and contemplated what they express. I tell them it's their loss, if that's the approach they've chosen to take.
They worry that singing all 8 or 10or whatever number of verses might turn people away from Divine Service altogether. (But I sorta doubt they're speaking on behalf of others.)
I not only want to express admiration for the LSB, but for the pastors and congregations who've struggled through their trepidations and anxieties, opened their hearts and minds to plunge into it, and found it a blessing.
Susan in Tupelo

Rev. A Bergstrazer said...

Excellent point. If you want to see what a fine hymnal we have in LSB, do a side by side of ELW. If you think 5 settings of the Divine service are a lot, ELW has ten settings for Holy Communion, most of which are incomplete, requiring you to plug in the such little items as confession/absolution. "OR" would be a better title for ELW, given the amount of options there are.
Much of the good in LSB is in the details, compare TLH Matins with LSB matins and see that its easier to follow the Te Deum. Notice the key change in the service of the word in setting 3, as well as how the layout of Settings 1 and 2 and the reduction of options are a real improvement over their counterparts in LW.

I must admit I'm still partial to the Funeral Service in the TLH Agenda, the orders in LW and LSB are just too busy for my tastes.

Dcn. Muehlenbruch said...

Fr. Weedon,

As a traditionalist, I would be inclined to recaption your post "What Has Always Been Vs. What Isn't."

On November, 2006, my post on Writ-in-Red expressed my dislike of the restructuring of the liturgical calendar as in the LSB. To the best of my knowledge, it has always been the rule and norm to preserve the rite as it had been delivered to you. Modifications are never to be made.

I will refrain from commenting on the included hymnody in the LSB;
because I am not familiar with everything that has been included. I am grateful that the Divine Office is being emphasized. However, I have a problem with the inclusion of "stately Divine Services" in the LSB.
There is only one Divine Service, the Holy Mass, which our Confessions contend that we have not abandoned nor modified; but keep with all of
the traditional reverence and ceremonies, etc. How, then, is it possible to celebrate the Mass in multiple formats?

I have a problem with a publishing house that can restructure
(retranslate) the texts of Collects that have always been part of the
historic Western Rite, and copyright them. I have a problem with a publishing house being able to "assign new readings" to the Mass without the decision of a Council (not to be confused with a decision of a local "synod" - (im-) properly so called).

Granted that times change, ideas change, language changes. Luther
celebrated Mass in Latin. He changed to German, for the sake of the people. We have used English for decades. But the Mass has always followed the same ordo and used the same propers.

Believe it or not, I appreciate what the LSB has brought to the
attention of our people; but I do not appreciate the adjustments that
have been made concerning the historic Western Rite, a true and devoted daughter of which the Lutheran Church is, and always has been. But then, traditionalists are extremely slow when it comes to adjusting to changes.

William Weedon said...

Dear Fr. Deacon,

Thanks for sharing those thoughts with us.

Just one point that I think is important to emphasize in response: the role that MUSIC played in Lutheran liturgy was quite huge, and at times eclipsed the importance of an agreed upon "text." The "Creed" for most of the parishes of the Augsburg Confession was Luther's paraphrase: Wir glauben. LSB's five musical settings are thus not out of the main stream of the way Lutherans have approached the celebration of the Mass. If you will, they fall into two categories more or less:

1,2,3 - the Formula Missae tradition.
4,5 - the Deutsche Messe tradition, with 4 being a bit of an Amerikanische Messe.

Past Elder said...

I would say the Formula Missae / Deutsche Messe distinction is more aking to the Low and High Mass distinction. Before Vatican II, one did not have several formats or settings, there was one ordo which admitted of more than one complexity but is recognisably the same ordo, not just in a general sense or pattern, throughout.

TLH put it well: Congregations are urged to let the basic structure of the Service remain intact. The wide choice permitted within the Rubrics makes it possible to have the Service as simple or elaborate as the circumstances of each congregation may indicate.

I would also say, while 4 and 5 follow the Deutsche Messe tradition only 3 follows the Formula Missae tradition. 1 and 2 follow no tradition at all but the anti-tradition Vatican II For Lutherans.

Dcn. Muehlenbruch said...

Past Elder, I think that you stated my point much better than I did. I agree with you 100%.