08 February 2009

It's Just Strong

I'm referring to Divine Service 3 in the Lutheran Service Book, also known as TLH, p. 15. There is simply no question that this particular liturgy is the hands-down favorite of St. Paul's parish. I don't think it's because we're just a bunch of stick in the muds. There's rather a recognition of something solid, lasting, sturdy in this particular liturgy. We sing it with gusto, and many people sing it in the appointed harmonies. It is, despite the truncated Eucharistia, the most faithful version of our settings when compared to the old Mass of St. Gregory on which it is based. Even the Eucharistia is lifted up in a wonderful way by Luther's tone for chanting the Verba. The whole just wears well. Sunday after Sunday, decade after decade, yes, century after century. I'm very thankful that the LSB editors left the music to this service intact and brought it forward for continued use in our churches in a new generation. "...as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen" - yes, that captures the glorifying of God we do in this ordo.


Phil said...


I wish that LW/LBW had stuck with the text of the Common Service, especially considering what a significant achievement it was! I would be much happier even if they had used the Vatican -II-esque music of DS I and II as alternative musical settings of the same Common Service. Maybe update the language, maybe not, but we're in a weak place when we can't discuss with Luther Reed The Lutheran Liturgy.

I wish some composers would arrange some new old musical settings for the Common Service. American Lutheran Hymnal contains another, yet different, Anglican chant setting, and Service Book and Hymnal actually published a separate setting, "The Plainsong Setting of the Service", which is an adaptation of none less than the ancient Mass XI, "Orbis factor". It would be a good thing if people could recognize the difference between the rite and the music that accompanies that rite.

William Weedon said...


Joe Herl and I were just talking about that particular setting today, and rueing that it has fallen out of use among Lutherans here in the US.

I concur entirely that the "settings" of LSB are weakened in not being truly different settings of a single text. Tis a pity, but there it is. We have to live with it. Still, I will always think of DS 3 as the "chief" setting with the two preceding and two following as variations upon it.

William Weedon said...

I should add that I would one time, just one time, really love for the congregation to experience this liturgy led by the choir singing it in the four-part harmonies with NO instrumental accompaniment. I think the people would be absolutely blow away by the simple beauty of this. I'm not holding my breath, though...

Phil said...

It's good to take a step back from our current practice and listen to how these tones sound when they're sung to arrangements by some of the English greats. There's a lot going on in these settings! Voicing changes from unison to parts, treble to bass, and organ registration and tone shift on each verse of the Psalm. It's especially interesting to hear some of the familiar tones, including the Te Deum. Key shifts like the ones in the Gloria and the Te Deum also show up (oftentimes in settings of Psalm 22). We might be able to learn a lesson or two.

(Right now I'm listening to "Psalms from the Psalter" by the Westminster Abbey Choir. Remarkably, they included Psalm 137, with a muted and awestruck Gloria Patri.)

PMagness said...

As strong as any setting may be, exclusive or even predominant use of a single setting leads parishioners to think of "the liturgy" as a particular setting rather than as the Divine Service in itself.

And yet some settings are 'stronger' - i.e. wear well over time - than others. As a convert to Lutheranism, I must say TLH was an acquired taste! In college I confess I did not go to church every Sunday - and tried to hit the Sundays when the congregation I attended (St. Paul's - Denton) used LBW, which they did every other week.

As a classically-trained musician, I appreciate good music of all genres, and so recognize excellence in Anglican Chant even though it is not my "cup of tea". And, unfortunately, the TLH/DS III Gloria is no match for the Te Deum of Matins. I think DS III is much stronger once it gets going than in it's beginning. Indeed, the Nunc Dimittis is wonderful! But I prefer other Glorias.

Of course, most of DS III is not Anglican Chant. Indeed, part of its richness and staying power comes precisely because it is not all from the pen of one composer. The "Common Service" brings in a Sanctus, an Offertory, and an Agnus Dei all from different sources.

I know that the hymnal compilers moved toward having settings be single composers so that things could "hang together" better ostensibly, but I think there is a certain Romanticism at work in this idea (found in LSB I & II) that doesn't serve the church well. Far better to have a set of cantcicles by different composers that each serve the texts well and engage the people's voices than to make an artistic statement or to somehow discover "the Great Lutheran Mass" in a new Divine Serivce setting.

So is there a unifying point to all this babbling of mine? I think the strength of DS III/the Common Service comes less from its musical strengths than from its organic expression of Lutheran culture - both in its composition and also in its tradition. So it is less accessible to converts. Musically, some of the Cantciles in the other settings are more convincing - but they are not as rooted in Lutheran culture and also can suffer by being associated with whole settings rather than being judged on their own merits.

I suspect that a couple of hymnals down the line we may see a "composite" setting featuring those Cancticles from LW/LBW that stand the test of time - and hang well together. This will make room for new settings. Hopefully, at that time, the committee will pick the best Canticles from new works in vogue over the next generation, rather than present a liturgy that is the sole work of one composer.

David said...

Re multiple musical settings of DS 3 ... in the 60s (?) CPH published additional settings of TLH p. 15, including plainsong and one by Healey Willan (which setting I believe Redeemer, Ft. Wayne still uses). Perhaps they could be ... induced ... to update them ...

Anonymous said...

Some of us who began our ministry using the SBH felt very attached to its Second Setting, adapted by Regina Fryxell. For some reason however it did not translate well into the LBW (perhaps like TLH into LW) and I fear has fallen into disuse. A real pity since it is extremsly beautiful in SBH.

Anonymous said...

Sorry,did not mean to be anonymous.
Jim Wagner

PMagness said...

Those settings (by Wilan and Bunjes) were evidently done at Bethany during the 60's & 70s - I've seen them in our music library and they are marked & worn, particularly the Wilan.

They suffer from the same Romantic idea of the LW/LBW settings: one composers sets the entire service as a 'magnum opus'. I know the idea has its appeal: I've written one myself and taught most of it to my congregation! But such efforts lack the strength inherent from arising out of the cultus of the worshipping community.

On a pure musical note, the long phrases and afunctional harmonies of the Wilan don't resonate well with American voices - especially the voices of "non-musicians, without rehearsal" (Schalk's famous description of congregants). The Bunjes actually sings a little better, but, like so many of his LW hymn harmonizations, has a 'dated' feel about due to his abundant use of mixolyidan mode and a juxtoposition of retrogressive harmonies against melodies with progressive implications that characterized so much of the music of the early 'liturgical renewal' period.

Sorry if the nomenclature is a bit technical for some of the non-musicians who may read this, but musicology is difficult. As Thelonious Monk said, "Talking about music is like dancing about architecture!" ;)

Elephantschild said...

Cantor wrote -

"I suspect that a couple of hymnals down the line..."

Get behind me, Satan! ;)
I won't.
Absolutely not.

And I hope to die with the DS III Nunc Dimittis on my lips.

J.G.F. said...

I also am a great lover of DSIII. This year we have used it weekly, and as William pointed out, the people here also sing it with gusto and in parts.

While in Seminary, I played at a couple of churches that used the alternate settings. Some were nice, others seemed a bit forced. Perhaps this is a challenge to once again produce something like Bunjes et. al. wrote in the late 60's

William Weedon said...

One thing I will definitely agree with Cantor on: the Gloria in Excelsis is the weakest part of DS 3's ordinary. Even that, though, sounds much better when sung unaccompanied and in parts. Particularly if the choir grows softer at the middle part and then comes rip roaring back at the "For Thou only art holy..."

Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

TLH pg. 15 is the ONLY divine service I can follow. Perhaps I am musically challenged, but I don't think so. I play piano and organ by ear. My children are all accomplished musicians and singers. They have the same problem.

I grew up with TLH. Some of the hymnals (no, we never switched to LSB, voting it down twice) at our church even still have the memorial sticker on the inside of the cover for my grandfather who was organist at our church for 40 years (during his father's 50 year tenure as our pastor). We've been singing basically the same liturgy (in German or English) for well-over a century at Zion-Marshall.

To quote Adrian Monk: "It's a blessing ...and a curse." At Zion, my family sings the liturgy without our Hymnals open, and without following a bulletin. And, believe me, "we sing it with gusto" too! Zion is a singing congregation.

However, whenever we visit a congregation that does not use the same liturgy (like yesterday) we are completely lost. We can read along in the bulletin or hymnal, and some of us can follow some of the tunes, but gone is the passive reception of the Lord's blessings we have come to depend on week after week.

TLH pg 15 is a dance wherein we have learned to follow our Lord's lead and be drawn by Him through the steps to all His heavenly blessings without having to think about our clumsy feet, so that we can all the more fix our eyes on Him.

I've been told I should learn some other dances. Maybe. But they just won't ever measure up to TLH pg. 15. Perhaps I'm just a stick in the mud. Even if true, I happen to like the "mud" I'm stuck in.

PMagness said...

Yes! Chorally it can be quite beautifully - especially if performed with nuances such as the one you just outlined, Pastor.

Regarding singing a capella as a congregation, it is indeed a wonderful thing. We do it on at least one hymn stanza every Sunday, and have many a Kyrie & Agnus Dei sung that way as well. But I guess the organist in me just wants to PLAY on the Gloria and Sanctus - the musical "twin peaks" of the liturgical synaxis!

Aside to Elephant's Child: You will probably be on this earth at least another 50 years and you will not change from LSB. Never?

What about that great new tune that might get people singing a great chorale again, or what about that fantastic hymn Pastor Starke will write ten years from now?

I agree we don't need "new hymnals" like LW was (with its codification of radical shifts in our customs that were not wholly reflective of our church body); but hymnal revisions such as TLH (1941) was for ELH (1910s) or as LSB (2006) was for LBW/LW (1978-1982) occur organically about every 20-30 years in church bodies. Even the ELS has it's "new hymnal".

Let's remember that these books stand or fall based on how well they actually embody the liturgical life of the church. Sure, they make their own contributions and shape our direction, but congregations don't buy (literally!) into them unless they reflect their culture and customs. And, with internet resources and desktop publishing, new hymnals will make less of a contribution to providing direction and will therefore really be used only inasmuch as they contain what congregations want in them.

So let's see where the Lord leads us over the coming decades. Perhaps little new will come along in terms of hymnody that will merit inclusion in our denominational hymnal. Perhaps the Great American Lutheran Gloria will never be written.

But let's not say "never". The Word is living and active and inspiring the church's poets and musicians daily. Who knows what bounty He has in store for us?!

Christina Roberts said...

Pastor Weedon, go ahead and hold your breath. It is completely possible for a choir to lead Setting Three a capella with the congregation. We do it during much of Passiontide here at Our Savior. It is wonderful,and much of the congregation also sings in parts.

Because we are interested in expanding our congregation's musical repertoire while maintaining use of the common service we have chosen to introduce the Willan setting of the liturgy. The people have fallen in love with it quite quickly. In fact, they are asking to sing it earlier than we plan to introduce it - a wonderful problem to have. It is enjoying equal appeal with young and old alike - the Senior Saints (our group of members over 65) were actually the ones who asked for it after hearing the choir sing portions, and the choirs (children and adults) love to sing it as often as possible.

I think part of the beauty of the Willan setting is that it isn't overly 'romantic' or monotonous. It gives us the best of Willan's churchly sound (Gloria and Offertory) as well as simple chant lines (Kyrie) and even a bit of gregorian (Nunc Dimittis.)

Sadly, I already asked about CPH regaining copyrights and making it available electronically. It was a 'no go.'

I am not familiar with the Bunjes setting. I do, however, have a copy of the Bender setting, and while I like it very much I don't think it probably has the 'wearing power' of Setting Three or Willan.

Rev. Allen Bergstrazer said...

I was blessed to serve in a congregation that had TLH in the pews. Now that I am in a congregation that sings setting One regularly I see how dated it has become. I am biased however, I've never cared for Richard Hillert's compositions all that much. Perhaps it is due to my mispent youth in Lutheran choirs. :)

Sean said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sean said...

"The Common Service" refers to the text and outline of both the ordinary and the propers. TLH makes use of the Common Service texts. These texts have the most widespread/consistent use among Lutherans in America. It doesn't refer to the music.

Old setting 3 doesn't show much genius, it's true. It's simple, straightforward and it gets the job done with musical integrity... which is probably part of why it is still beloved in the face of so many trendy settings. It's certainly my preference in LSB also.

I think the notorious article in "The American Organist" makes good points, and it approaches the LSB merely from the musical side (which it is qualified to do). Most of the settings of the mass and offices are trite. It is a shame that more crafted settings are disdained, of which the Willan is a good example. There's a valuable desire to remain in the hymnal which a parish has in the pew, yet this isn't the only tool available. After all, are there many who would object to choral pieces that aren't merely hymns from the book?

This discussion seems to show the need for Kantors to arise once again, to reclaim our particular duties back again from (sorry) CPH and liturgysolutions. Kantors once viewed themselves as the ones who were charged with exercising theological and musical judgement and the responsibility to provide the best. A humbling task! There's no coddling or pandering to the people involved in that, only teaching and leading. Instead of Bach as Kantor over his town or Walter over his castle church's program, we now have our publishing houses over all of Synod (and even abroad!). Who should be Kantor? You or CPH?

Anonymous said...

' the Gloria in Excelsis is the weakest part of DS 3's ordinary. Even that, though, sounds much better when sung unaccompanied and in parts. Particularly if the choir grows softer at the middle part and then comes rip roaring back at the "For Thou only art holy..."'

My childhood congregation, musically untrained except by repetition every Sunday a.m., sang like that.
The men threatened to raise the rafters with "For Thou only art holy, Thou only art the Lord..."
There was a great deal to be said, musically, for the segregated seating of those days. Men sang!


Anonymous said...

We've been singing basically the same liturgy (in German or English) for well-over a century at Zion-Marshall.

If you've been singing in English for over a century, then it would be much the same musically. However, if they were singing in German, the music (and texts) were quite different--Luther's hymn tunes, in fact, for the Kyrie, Gloria, and Credo.

So there has been some liturgical change at Zion, Marshall. :)


Rev. Jon Vieker
St. Louis, MO

William Weedon said...


Well, to be accurate, none of those are Luther's tune's, correct? The Kyrie was pre-Reformation; Gloria was likely Decius; and YOU wrote the article that showed that the tune of the Credo was also pre-Reformation, didn't you?

William Weedon said...



Erich Heidenreich, DDS said...

Rev. Vieker,

There may have been some changes to the tunes and even some changes to the content. But, from what I have seen of what our church used, the content of the order of service changed very little from German to English. I would have been able to follow along in that old German service better than what I experienced this last Sunday in English.

When commenting on the longstanding consistency of our liturgy at Zion, I was not thinking about the tunes, but rather the order and content.

We have had pastors in various periods of our history who toyed with the liturgy, pastors who spoke and pastors who chanted, etc., but we always managed to return to the basic order of the common service.

William Weedon said...


If the parish used the old Saxon order, then the liturgy would likely strike you as strange indeed:

"Kyrie God Father" sung
Pastor chants: Glory to God in the highest!
Congregation responds with the hymn: "All Glory be to God on High"
Salutation and Antiphon and Collect sung
Hymn of the Day
Gospel (no responses around it)
"We All Believe in One True God"
Prayer of the Church (Confession-Prayer of the Church led from the pulpit!)
"Create in Me"
Preface and Proper Preface
Sanctus (same tune on that one!)
Our Father
Agnus Dei (same tune again)
Distribution with hymns
Versicle and Collect of Thanksgiving
Hymn Stanza

Some things the same, but the opening of the rite was strikingly different.

William Weedon said...


I'm glad to know that it is sometimes done!

Dan @ Necessary Roughness said...

As much as I love LSB DS III, you can't quite call it TLH p. 15. The opening versicles aren't sung! "And thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin", said? Did we get a paper shortage at the last moment? :)

III is my favorite. But V with all its hymns intrigues me. I should sit down and play it through.

But back to III. My favorite part is the Offertory, of all things. "Create in me a clean heart, O God...". Beautiful in E-flat.

And could more pastors please chant the Lord's Prayer? It would stave off the temptation of the mob to join the pastor in it. :)

Past Elder said...

Nietzsche, the only philosopher worth reading, commented that the problem with philosophers now is that they themselves no longer think, they only think about what others have thought.

The same confusion happens in music now. "Musicians" no longer create their own music, they only perform what others have created.

Musicians create music, performers perform what musicians create. "Serious" music for some time now has divorced the two, canonised performers as musicians and musicians as "composers".

When Kantors create their own settings for their own congregations, rather than sort through what others have created for performance, they will have nothing to worry about re whether CPH or whoever "runs" the music scene.

"Phil" is right on. "Setting" isn't another setting of the same thing, it's another thing itself. Instead of the Vatican II For Lutherans we seem to insist on borrowing from Rome, what we could use is the difference between a missal and a hymnal. There is the rite itself, quite apart from the music that may be used to "set" the rite. We have lost this entirely.

Now, rite has become some sort of Platonic ideal, instanced in five, ten or however many "settings" setting both music used in it and rite itself. Thus a common service becomes "setting three" of five orders of service with their respective music.

Happily Gregory or Chrysostom did not provide us with multiple rites/settings, each with their A or B within them.

Vatican II For Lutherans is no different than Willow Creek For Lutherans other than where it looks besides the historic liturgy of the church for "settings" etc. "Contemporary worship" is the result in either case. Once you set that direction in motion, the move from the former to the latter is inevitable. Or rather was inevitable. It has already happened. The result is generally known as the "worship wars".

Phillip Magness said...

Turns out Bethany had the Bender setting in the 60s/70s, not a "Bunjes" setting. I'm not sure there even was a Bunjes setting! The harmonic idosyncracies were as I described, though - even if the counterpoint is handled a little better in Bender's hands!

Regarding my observations about Romanticism: I wasn't refer to the characteristics of the Romantic musical style, but rather of the expression of the Romantic ideal incipient in the notion of "the Great American Lutheran Mass" being written by one composer. It may express it self in many and varied muscial forms, from pure chant to hard rock (!), but it is still a Romantic ideal. That doesn't mean we shouldn't be writing them and singing them; it does mean that I think hymnal editors should take a more vernacular approach.

Though I don't share your love of Wilan (maybe you Michiganders just 'get' the whole Canadian Anglican Sound - grin), I do commend you for leading your parish in singing this setting, Christina. As much as I relate to the joy Eric expressed above in 'dancing the dance' of the litugy by heart, I think exlusive use of one setting traps a congregation into a purely vernacular approach to music-making (unless they are learning new hymns and psalms settings regularly). DS III is certainly a more edifying vernacular than the radio pop services at Praise Tabernacle, but in both cases the people sing music they essentially teach themselves rather than music they have to learn. The "astonishingly rich heritage" we cherish as confessional Lutherans was made possible because our church cultivated music, and we must continue to cultivate music if we are to remain a singing church.

Your judicious cultivation of a new service setting, and of new hymns (as I know you do) will strengthen the singing of your congregation, raise the level of musicianship in your parish, and remind all that the Divine Serivce is an ordo and not a particular musical setting. All good stuff. Pastor Fleming is blessed to have you working him in the Lord's ministry at Our Savior's.

One last note: CPH may have denied you direct rights to reproduce Wilan's settings (are you using the old books, then?), BUT if you have OneLicense.net you can use them. CPH joined their stable a couple of years ago, and so all you'd need to do is get a OneLicense, Finale the setting into either weekly bulletins OR seasonal booklets and then record use of it if you use it during a survey period. It's easy, and inexpensive. And, who knows, a few years from now you might find a Gloria in a catalog covered by OneLicense that you might want to use! (grin)

orthodoxy hunter said...

This blog entry sent me on a wild goose chase for this Mass of St. Gregory. This was the best I could do: http://www.theorthodoxchurch.org/html/western_liturgy.html

Since Natalie has been sick, we went to church last night, instead of Sunday. They did "Evening Prayer", and the songs were all different from the last time we did this same liturgy. How many [expletive] different services can be invented with the mix-and-match offerings in LSB? I feel like I can never figure out what is going on. I'm always lost. Just give me Zion's service on a weekly basis and I'll be happy. *sigh*

bajaye said...

Orthodoxy Hunter,

Try this link: http://members.cox.net/stgregoryoc/liturgy.htm


William Weedon said...

Thanks, Fr. Brian. That represents, of course, the post-Tridentine form further redacted by the Western Rite Orthodox.

Jen, it's called the liturgy of St. Gregory because he is the man who reputedly gave it the definitive shaping (he introduced the Kyrie, and apparently the Our Father!). The extent to which the Eucharistic prayer itself was in flux, though, is indicated by comparing the form it finally achieved in the Roman canon with, say, the use of Hippolytus. Also fascinating is to examine the constantly changing form of that prayer in the Spanish rite(s).

Anonymous said...

Well, to be accurate, none of those are Luther's tune's, correct? The Kyrie was pre-Reformation; Gloria was likely Decius; and YOU wrote the article that showed that the tune of the Credo was also pre-Reformation, didn't you?

Yeah, well, details, details . . . :) Anyway, you made the point I was trying to make much more clearly, with lots of helpful details. The point being, that the liturgy does undergo a certain quality of change over time, and that this is also part of what it means to be catholic (over time and throughout space today).

Rev. Jon Vieker
St. Louis

Anonymous said...

Far be it from me that I put a damper on this lovefest of DSIII...
After all, I was raised in the WELS and remember TLH pp. 5 & 15 from a very young age. I appreciate that I could sing the entire liturgy before I could even read. I even learned how to sing in harmony from sitting on my mother's lap as she sang the alto line to all of the canticles. The TLH--the canticles, hymns, etc.--was written to be sung in four part harmony.
In the same way, I had some issues with LW because it was written primarily by an organist (Bunjes) for organists. Gone was the chorale style of accompaniment for many of the hymns and canticles.
But my congregation used DS II, Setting One for many years before I ever came to serve there (the hymnals fell open to p. 158 in LW).
When we switched to LSB, I have had several times when we used DS III (mostly during LENT when we don't sing the Gloria). We have also used DS I, but one of the favorites of our congregation is DS IV (The adaptation of the HS '98) liturgy).
The thing that I liked about it is that we had to take the time to "teach" the liturgy again. People actually paid attention to what they were singing instead of singing by rote. This also helped with visitors and guests because we actually took the time to guide people through the service, indicate what page we were on, etc.
I'm not advocating dropping DS III, but maybe some of those congregations who use it to the exclusion of everything else (the Lutheran "we've always done it that way before" mentality) might want to consider trying out a new liturgy for a 6-8 week stretch.
By the way, I learned that while I was on vicarage. :o}

Former Vicar