12 September 2010

The Service of Installation

Just some comments on the service.  The contrast with what we were offered up in Houston for the opening Divine Service of the convention and this could not have been more pronounced.  Yesterday there was nothing of a charismatic praise service, nothing of a rock concert, just an unquenchable joy in the receiving of the Lord's saving gifts.

The service made use of the appointed propers for  Proper 19, Series C.  The Divine Service used was Divine Service, Setting One.  It is not my favorite, but it is likely the most wide-spread liturgy in use in the Synod.  Preservice music provided was Bach's Prelude in E-Flat Major and Chorale Variations on Veni Creator by Durufle.  (I'm happy to report our organist plays both for St. Paul's - so it's not just special occasions such as this I get to hear them anymore!)

The Processional Hymn was "Come, Holy Ghost, Creator Blest" - the choir using the lovely plain chant setting alternating with the congregation singing the sturdy chorale version.  The confession and absolution were right out of the book, as was the Introit, Kyrie, and Hymn of Praise - Hillert's festival setting of "Worthy Is Christ."  Salutation and collect were spoken.  After the OT reading, Monique Nunes gave us Richard Smallwood's setting of Psalm 121 - offered in the full enthusiasm and joy of the Gospel music tradition.  I think it would have been even stronger if she and her choir were upstairs with the other musicians.  Some folks broke out into applause afterwards; most folks didn't, appreciating that she was singing not to entertain us but to extol the Lord.  After the epistle, the Alleluia Verse was introduced and the Gospel book carried to the center of the nave, where it was read.

Significantly, the Hymn of the Day was "Lord Jesus Christ, With Us Abide."  This was not the prescribed Hymn of the Day - that would be (in series C):  "Jesus Sinners Doth Receive."  But "Lord Jesus Christ, With Us Abide" was - as Pr. Baue pointed out to me - Dr. Sasse's signature hymn.  He constantly turned to it for solace and to offer solace to the Church in her troubles.  "That we keep pure till life is spent Your holy Word and Sacrament!"  President Harrison is, of course, a Sasse scholar - and I couldn't help but see Dr. Sasse beaming down upon the assembly as we prayed that hymn together.  The singing of all the hymns, by the way, was THUNDEROUS.  I've never heard it so loud in the chapel - the joy was palpable.

After Archbishop Obare's homily with his clear Law and Gospel spoken to us, we confessed our faith in the Nicene Creed.  The installations proper began with singing of Luther's great Holy Spirit hymn:  "Come, Holy Ghost, God and Lord."  And you thought the music couldn't get louder?  Amazing!  It was beautiful to watch so many gather around our new president as he was placed into office and lay on their hands as we all prayed a mighty "Our Father" for him.  And then the installation of the other vice-presidents and boards.  At the conclusion of all the installations, the choir sang a fabulous Mark Bender setting of a Franzmann piece:  "Thee, Lord, would I serve."

After recognizing public officials (including Congressman Shimkus and a Monsignor representing the Archbishop of St. Louis and all our international Lutheran guests), the prayer of the Church was offered.  It was framed entirely toward our Lord Jesus, the Good Shepherd.  I was reminded of how Dr. Nagel taught us that prayer is pulling things out of the name of God and receiving the gifts He has for us in that name.  So this prayer did.  After the prayer concluded and before the offering was received we had the greeting of peace.

Bishop Stechholtz presided with grace and reverence at the Lord's table.  The right column option was used - so after the prayer of thanksgiving, directly into Our Father (which participants were all invited to pray in their native languages) and then to the Holy Words of Christ.  I couldn't see what he did at the altar for much of this, but I do believe he genuflected in front of the altar and celebrated ad orientem.  One person online criticized that there was no fraction during the Verba - but Bishop Stechholtz certainly knows the Lutheran history on that question wisely refrained from any fraction at the consecration.

After the Pax and Agnus, distribution began.  The first hymn was another signature piece.  I'm guessing that President Harrison translated it, but the bulletin does not indicate.  It was a communion hymn by one of President Harrison's favorite theologians of yesteryear - Valentin E. Loescher - a mighty defender against pietism and teacher of Lutheran orthodoxy.  This was followed by "O Lord, We Praise Thee" - the classic and standard Lutheran communion hymn, with stanzas 2 and 3 from Luther's own pen.  "Lord Whose Love through Humble Service" was next, and this highlights President Harrison's deep concern for the Church's mission of mercy in this world.  "Thine the Amen" wrapped up the communion hymns.

The youth choir sang a peaceful and beautiful setting of Nunc Dimittis by Martin How.  The third prayer was used for post-communion ("Gracious God, heavenly Father, You have given us a foretaste...").  The benediction was given and the procession out of the Church was during the singing of "We are Called to Stand Together."  This strong text seems a perfect summary of President Harrison's challenge to us as a Church:

We are called to stand together
With the saints of ages past,
With the patriarchs and prophets
In the faith they once held fast;
Promises and hopes they treasured
Now we find fulfilled at last!

Those whom Jesus called apostles
Journeyed with Him side by side,
Heard His teaching, felt His power,
Saw the way He lived and died;
Then the news of resurrection
They delivered far and wide.

Through the intervening ages
Round the world the Gospel spread;
Faithful heralds took the message,
Guided where the Spirit led;
So the body grew in stature,
Serving Christ, the living Head.

Now in many tongues and cultures
Songs of celebration ring;
Millions who confess our Savior
Honor Him as Lord and King
And, for courage, grace, and guidance
Ev'ry day their prayers they bring.

To each coming generation
Tell the truth, persuade, explain.
Till the time when time is ended,
Till the Savior comes again --
Till the saints are all united
Under Christ's eternal reign!
LSB 828

P.S.  Thanks be to God also that instead of just using that hopelessly hideous cross that the Seminary has (and that takes a body builder to carry), another more tasteful processional cross was also used immediately in front of those to be seated in the chancel and for the reading of the Holy Gospel.  Wouldn't it be wonderful if some wealthy donor would bless the Seminary with funds to replace that monstrosity?


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your fine summary. I was at home with the streaming video, but everything you say accords with what I saw and heard. Your assumptions concerning the presiding are accurate.

According to the Acknowledgments in the small print on the back of the worship folder, the Loescher communion hymn, "How Holy Is This Dwelling Place" was translated by Deaconess Rachel Mumme.

Pr. John Rutz

William Weedon said...

Ah, thank you Pr. Rutz!

Rev. Paul T. McCain said...

It was, by far, the most remarkable Divine Service I've ever attended. The loud singing was such as I've not heard since CTS Fort Wayne days, where, the singing is loud enough to blow the roof off the place.

I was deeply moved by the communion hymn by Ernst Valentin Loescher. But it makes sense, Loescher is a relative of Hermann Sasse, who admired him deeply.

I hope we can get that hymn into wide use around the Synod.

It was translated by Rachel Mumme, for the occasion.

William Weedon said...

I didn't realize that Loescher and Sasse were related!

Past Elder said...

How about part singing -- anybody sing parts? I always hit bass, my range, but service manuals lately seem to only print the melody, RC style.

William Weedon said...

Come to St. Paul's, Terry. You'll part singing to rejoice your heart...

mlorfeld said...

I, for one, actually do like the processional cross at the chapel of St. Timothy & St. Titus as well as the crucifix. Honestly, it may not be everyone's first pick for chapel appointments, but it is there serving its Holy purpose. Therefore, in the face of profane mockery, I'll defend it.

Past Elder said...

I should have more properly identified my voice as basso grosso!

But hey if you got part singing I'm on my way -- which reminds me, btw, of a GREAT Gospel hymn, "Tell Him When You Saw Me I Was On My Way".

Not much chance of Gospel music at St Paul's, huh. Know who turned me on to that? Bach, that's who. Chorale part writing from the Eastman Series and joining the monastic schola on Sundays for a couple years (until the Revolution did away with it) and oh hell yes, all there, parts, chant and all! Not to mention learning to improvise from a figured bass, then I could play Jazz! Make some music rather than recreate somebody else's.

I'll bet the recording we made of some chant before the schola's magister was sent away (oh, reassigned to pastoral duties, yeah, that's it) is long gone, but we were ON!

Past Elder said...

Man, I remember getting the chance to jam Baroque with Layton James of the St Paul Chamber Orchestra way back when at the by God Benedicta Arts Center. Dude blew me off the stand of course (and he was young then, he just retired after 41 seasons) but what a rush and inspiration!

Rev. Paul T. McCain said...

I think that the precise connection is one of the Sasse volumes we've published. Of course, Harrison would probably be able to tell you every person between Loescher and Sasse.

: )

Rev. Paul T. McCain said...

Matt, nobody should say something about the "crucifix" which they have there, but I don't see anything wrong with talking about what strikes many people as a hideous piece of chancel art.

Why do you like it? I'd like to understand what about it you find appealing and attractive?

I'm shocked each time I see it. I can't believe anyone paid, obviously, a lot of money to have it made when it is, in my opinion, such an ugly work of art.

Rev. Paul T. McCain said...

Meant to add the word "profane" in the first sentence in my last post.

Jeremy Loesch said...

Will, greatly appreciate your comments on the service, especially on the hymns. My church is a 3 year lectionary church and yesterday we did sing "Jesus Sinners Doth Receive". The men sang verse 3, a trio sang verse 4, and the women sang verse 5 to help break up that 7 verse hymn.

Do you think Sasse was smiling down on our congregation yesterday? (I'm just poking fun. Your insights into Pres. Harrison's work and interests and translating are, well, insightful.)


Cheryl said...

"I think it would have been even stronger if she and her choir were upstairs with the other musicians."

Good thought, Pastor Weedon. I don't know for sure, but that might have not been possible due to space. That balcony was pretty full. Also, the grand piano, highly desirable for getting the best musical result for this selection, was on the floor. So I imagine options were weighed and this was decided on as the best course. At least the group was placed to the side and not up front. I wonder if their proximity to the international guests might have contributed to the small burst of applause, which I think can be traced largely to that group. I did notice that the applause was quite spontaneous and stopped quickly, probably as soon as the applauders realized it wasn't in order and caught themselves.

William Weedon said...


I'll bet your quite right on the balcony already being packed. I couldn't really see up there from the transept. Phil did a great job on the piano for that too. I'm so sorry we didn't end up with a chance to visit rather than hurried greeting in the parking lot!

William Weedon said...


I'm sure Sasse was smiling down at you all - for his delight was to hear the Gospel preached!

Cheryl said...

"I'm so sorry we didn't end up with a chance to visit rather than hurried greeting in the parking lot!"

Same here. I would have loved to visit but also knew that since it was before the service we all had places to be. I'm sorry we didn't meet up later. There were so many people that I knew were there and would have loved to talk to but with whom I never crossed paths, not even once!

RobbieFish said...

3-flat major... cute!

Rev. Paul Beisel said...

I rarely use the so-called "prescribed" Hymn of the Day. I often find it difficult to find any connections between it and the Gospel for the day. I also find them often unfamiliar to the congregation.

Anonymous said...

When I was looking at the pictures, it took me quite a while to figure out what the chapel processional cross or crucifix (is there a corpus? I can't tell) was. I thought it was a baton of some kind (since I literally couldn't see the cross part) and couldn't figure out why there would be a baton until I was told otherwise. It just seems to me that if it's that unclear it's maybe not the best choice.
Bethany Kilcrease

Michael Paul 白霈德牧師 said...

Pastor Weedon. yes, thank you for your fine summary. It was indeed a blessed service and day, one to be remembered long in the LCMS.

William Weedon said...

Pr. Beisel,

We've used them now consistently for a couple years and I think it's paying off. Some of them are more difficult than others, to be sure. But I think in the end they've all been worth the pain of learning.


Amen! A cross that is invisible? That's what this essentially is. No thanks!

Pr. Paul,

Thanks for the kind words!

K said...

When the cross was first introduced, the students invented a drink called "The Chapel Cross." It was vodka with a maraschino cherry on a cinnamon stick.

Anonymous said...

Since Abraham doesn't know (or presumably beam down on) Isaiah (63:16), then I think Sasse is otherwise occupied in glory as well.

Elephantschild said...

The crucifer chosen to carry the Crucified Plexiglass stood directly behind our pew for a few minutes prior to the service. He said the thing weighs some seventy pounds. I hope the Seminary carries good liability insurance in case that thing ever falls and beans someone.

I'm not opposed to the use of heavy acrylics in ecclesiastical art, but I did notice that from farther away than about 15 feet, you can't tell there's a corpus on the cross.