24 January 2011

Another Neglected Rubric

The presiding minister may conduct the Confession and Absolution from outside the chancel.

All of our Divine Services contain this as the first rubric of the service.  What does it mean?  It means that the Confession and Absolution are not actually part of the Divine Service itself, but are preparatory to it.  The Divine Service proper starts during the Introit/Psalm/Entrance Hymn when:

The presiding minister and his assistants may enter the chancel.

In the overwhelming majority of the old Lutheran liturgies, THIS is when the Divine Service begins:  the Introit!  This movement confesses that NOW we have entered the most holy place through the blood of our Lord (which has secured our absolution).  At St. Paul's the confession and absolution take place outside the great arch.  The move toward the altar itself and the confession that we have no entered into the holy of holies before God, takes place during the Introit. Traditionally in the old Mass this is also when the altar is venerated and censed.


Anonymous said...

I always have difficulty interpreting this rubric. Do I enter the cancel to pronounce God's absolution? Or do I go up the step during the introit? Because that is never explicitly stated, my practice varies--sometimes from week to week! Kyrie eleison!

Dennis Peskey said...

Could we view this practice as similar to the exorcise at the beginning of the Baptismal rite in confession and meaning?

Brian P Westgate said...

You go up during the Introit. At Zion Detroit, the preparation is done at the prie dieu which sits at the bottom of the steps. Only after Absolution, during the Introit (or before if the celebrant sings it) do the celebrant and his assistants go up to the Altar.

rev_af_col said...

As sinners, we cannot approach the throne of God and live. We, including pastors, confess our sins and are absolved. Then we enter the chancel to receive the rest of God's gifts and return praises to him.

Mike Keith said...

I always lead confession and pronounce Holy Absolution from the base of the steps that lead to the chancel. We do not use the Introit but an Entrance Hymn (since we got LSB)but during the singing of that hymn I enter the chancel.

I love the neglected rubrics Pr. Weedon!

J.G.F. said...

I've always conducted the Service of Confession and absolution from either outside the Chancel or from the rear of the Nave. Both confession are conducted outside of the Chancel, dealing with our sins before entering the Holy Presence.

Past Elder said...

The Confiteor does not take place at or from the altar, but before going up to it, for the reason stated in an earlier comment.

Which makes sense, but I am also impressed with the logic of its placement in the Eastern liturgy, which is not in the Service of the Word at all, which is open to all, unbeliever, catechumen and believer alike, but at the beginning of the Service of the Sacrament, which is open only to believers, since only a believer, who confesses the true God, can truly confess to God.

I've often wondered why, since the "liturgical movement" was so hot to Greek up the Western mass and bring something of the First Litany into it, why they didn't also relocate the Confession and Absolution too.

William Weedon said...


In historic Saxon practice, the confession and absolution followed the Sermon.

Anonymous said...

The Saxons got it right. Since the
Eucharist is only for believers in
Christ, then confession/absolution
should immediately precede the
Sacrament. Those who are not able
to partake would be dismissed after
the Sermon. This would help to
eliminate "Open Communion" and make
the Celebration of Holy Communion
strictly for those are united in their confession of Christ.

Past Elder said...

That's what I said.

I did not know that was the historic Saxon practice though.

Wouldn't it be a hoot, for those who think closed Communion is too strict, if we did it that way? But that's why they called it the Mass of the Faithful.

Dennis Pfleiger said...

In the Anglican liturgy the clergy and servers do prepratory prayers that include a confession and absolution. Then the corporate confession occurs before the Eucharist. BCP 1928