Monday, January 26, 2015

FW: Regarding a recent decision of a panel not to proceed with charges regarding a public false teacher in the LCMS

 

 

Feed: Witness, Mercy, Life Together.
Posted on: Monday, January 26, 2015 3:03 PM
Subject: Regarding a recent decision of a panel not to proceed with charges regarding a public false teacher in the LCMS

 

When a public teacher on the roster of Synod can without consequence publicly advocate the ordination of women (even participate vested in the installation of an ELCA clergy person), homosexuality, the errancy of the Bible, the historical-critical method, open communion, communion with the Reformed, evolution, and more, then the public confession of the Synod is meaningless. I am saying that if my Synod does not change its inability to call such a person to repentance and remove such a teacher where there is no repentance, then we are liars and our confession is meaningless. I do not want to belong to such a synod, much less lead it. I have no  intention of walking away from my vocation. I shall rather use it and, by the grace of God, use all the energy I have to call this Synod to fidelity to correct this situation.

Matt Harrison


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FW: Why I Will No Longer Be Updating the Hymns Movement Page

Hymnody Resurgent…

 

Feed: Zac Hicks Blog
Posted on: Wednesday, January 21, 2015 6:57 AM
Author: Zac Hicks
Subject: Why I Will No Longer Be Updating the Hymns Movement Page

 

When Strivings Cease

It is with great pleasure that I announce that I must cease my striving. When this blog began almost six years ago, one of its primary objectives was to herald, champion, promote, persuade, propagandize, coerce, ramrod the burgeoning retuned hymns movement. In addition to retuning hymns myself, especially on my first (The Glad Sound [2009]) and second (Without Our Aid [2011]) albums with Cherry Creek Worship, I wanted to highlight all the church musicians and independent artists who were taking seriously the movement to re-gift old hymns to new believers.

Along with others, I wanted to help turn the tide of contemporary/modern worship by undertaking the massive project of backfilling its gaping holes with the songs of the past. I consulted and networked with inspirational forerunners like Indelible Grace and Red Mountain Music, and I discovered some new partners in the vision, who would over time become great friends--Cardiphonia, Sojourn, and others. 

So I launched a page that would chronicle the movement by cataloguing the artists and pointing to their work. As I heard about more projects, and as they found my home base, the list increased, and I watched before my very eyes the spread of this movement to more and more places in the United States.

The Propaganda Campaign

At the same time, I began a concerted propaganda campaign to highlight these churches and artists and observe the "infiltration" of the vision in the contemporary/modern worship mainstream.  The following highlights track some of that campaign throughout the years (notice I hit the gas hard in 2010-2011). Just glance through the titles to get a glimpse of what we were thinking and doing:

The Effect

Somewhere along the way, as the conversation widened and the rehymning multiplied, I think we can say that this became a bona fide movement. The artists and churches became more aware of each other, and as networking possibilities increased through the saturation of Facebook and Twitter, conversations led to collaborations, and influence multiplied. With this spread came a diversification of styles, too. Retuned hymns went beyond the Southern, country, bluegrass, folk, and Americana roots of Indelible Grace and Red Mountain into the new waters of funk, blues, indie rock, pop, gospel, EDM, and experimental. In other words, the hymns began to take on more indigenous clothing as they were retuned in the accompaniment of their local contexts and influences.

Why I'm Shutting It Down, and a Vision Forward

As you can see, the retuned hymns movement is at the point where I simply can't keep up. If it is to be chronicled and catalogued, it's going to take efforts (and probably algorithms) that I don't have the bandwidth to generate. Thankfully, though I can't share much now, I know some people who are in the middle of a kind of cataloguing project and I'd ask you all to pray for its success. 

I'll no longer be updating the hymns movement page, but I will leave it there in the meantime as a kind of mile-marker and time capsule. 

The retuned hymns movement was never a be all and end all. There are deficits to the church's worship if all we do is recover a previous generation's hymns to the exclusion of the "new song" of other generations/cultures and our own. (I point out one of those deficits in a post about traditional worship here.) I gave heavy influence early on because I felt that a thick injection of hymnody would serve as a kind of "gateway drug" to other important worship reforms and correctives: historical connectivity, theological depth, gospel-centeredness, thoughtful cultural engagement--things that this blog is deeply committed to. I still believe that this strategy is an effective one at the local level, so if you're a worship leader whose church doesn't sing many songs except those of the present, I'd encourage you to slowly incorporate some historic hymns (retuned or restyled to suit your context) to begin broadening the doxological appetites and sensibilities of your flock.

I'm grateful that the retuned movement is at this point, and I cheer on its continued growth. Recovery and retrieval of this sort can only be a good thing. In fact, throughout history, recovery and retrieval were at the heart of every reform-movement of God's people, from Bible times down to the present. So, let's keep digging up these old gems, polishing them off, and casting them in new settings and display cases for the sake of Christ and His Bride!


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Friday, November 14, 2014

FW: Things You May Not Know About Bible Paper

Paper…

 

Feed: Crossway Blog
Posted on: Thursday, November 13, 2014 8:13 AM
Author: Lizzy Jeffers
Subject: Things You May Not Know About Bible Paper

 

What's the Big Deal?

A few weeks ago we posted a crash course on Bible cover materials, and now we turn our attention to the interior of the Bible.

You may have seen buzzwords like "opacity," "PPI," "ghosting," or "readability" flying around the internet, especially when it comes to "high-quality Bible paper." So what's the big deal? It's just paper, right?

The production of Bible paper is so technical that only a handful of companies in the world make it. The average ESV Bible, without any extra study content, has more than 700,000 words, and the ESV Study Bible has over 2.2 million words! Arranging this much content in an organized, cohesive, and readable way is a remarkable feat in and of itself. Then there's printing everything on paper—a challenge that can only be described as a lesson in paradoxes and chemistry. Once produced and run through massive printing presses, the pages are bound (sewn or glued), then finished off with a cover.

You could make the case that Bible printing is one of the most complicated printing projects in the world.

Key Terms

Here are some some key terms to know related to Bible paper:

  1. Opacity: transparency of the page: measured by how much light shines through a sheet (measured by a numerical rating of 800–1,600)
  2. Show-thorugh: the degree to which print shows through on the opposite side of a page (often referred to as "ghosting")
  3. PPI (pages per inch): a measurement of the number of pages in an inch of paper (measured by a numerical rating of 70–90)
  4. Formation: used in describing the degree to which the pulp and fibers of a sheet of paper are, or are not, evenly dispersed.
  5. Lignin: an organic substance found plant cell walls. Lignin is a fortifying substance, like a glue that binds fibers together and allows plants and trees to stand upright.
  6. Titanium dioxide: the most widely used white pigment because of its brightness and very high refractive index; Titanium dioxide is employed as a pigment to provide whiteness and opacity to products such as paints, coatings, plastics, papers, inks, foods, medicines (e.g., pills and tablets) as well as most toothpastes.

Common Types of Bible Paper

There are three main categories of Bible paper:

  1. Groundwood
    • Brownish or oatmeal colored paper
    • Most commonly used choice for books and newspapers because of its low production cost
    • The lignin in groundwood paper begins to deteriorate when exposed to air and sunlight, causing the paper to yellow and become brittle
    • Typically a thicker paper (low PPI) which means it has high opacity
    • Commonly used in economy Bible editions
  2. Free sheet
    • Most commonly used paper for Bible production
    • A chemical process pulls out the lignin, which makes protects the paper from discoloration but decreases its opacity
    • In order to improve the opacity, titanium dioxide (in powder form) is injected into the pulp
    • Titanium dioxide increases opacity because of how it refracts/scatters light, thereby keeping light from shining through the page
    • Increased titanium dioxide = increased opacity
    • Increased titanium dioxide = increased cost
    • Has high PPI compared to groundwood paper
  3. Blended
    • A middle ground: has gone through the free sheet process, but still has some groundwood pulp in it
    • PPI is higher because of free sheet components
    • Retains more opacity because of groundwood components
    • Difficult to tell the difference between a blended and freesheet page with the naked eye
    • This type of paper is new to the marketplace, so it is still unknown how much the paper is affected by yellowing and deterioration

Identifying High-Quality Bible Paper

In light of this information, the question naturally arises, "How will I know high-quality Bible paper when I see it?"

Well, there's no magic formula, but it comes down to a variety of factors and your prefernces. The next time you're looking for high-quality paper, consider this checklist:

  1. Opacity: Minimal or significant show-through?
  2. PPI: What is the paper's numerical rating? Does the thickness make the Bible too heavy and/or bulky?
  3. Formation: Hold a page up to a light and look for splotches or inconsistent amounts of light being allowed through the page.

Think of "high-quality Bible paper" as being on a spectrum rather than in a static, black and white category. There are some widely accepted non-negotiables (opacity, PPI, and brightness), but the rest comes down to subjective preference (whiteness, creaminess, texture, etc.). In the end, "high-quality" is in the eye of the beholder.


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Monday, August 25, 2014

FW: "The church is patient. It can wait. For it has a future."

Sasse…

 

Feed: Mercy Journeys with Pastor Harrison
Posted on: Monday, August 25, 2014 9:20 AM
Author: Rev. Matt Harrison
Subject: "The church is patient. It can wait. For it has a future."

 

It is certainly no accident that almost all leaders of the ecumenical movement came from this youth movement [i.e. SCM]. These "movements" belong to the shape of church history in our century. In them lives, alongside the genuine Christian faith, the enthusiasm and chiliasm of Pietism and Methodism, as it was still alive around the turn of the century. Enthusiasm does not understand the objective means of grace of word and sacraments. This is why these circles could so quickly exchange their bible faith for a modern theology for which the Scripture was no longer simply God's word. This explains the enthusiastic urging of communion fellowship even where the sacrament was understood totally differently. Enthusiasm does not understand the dogma of the church. How can there be unchanging doctrine that remains the same across all the centuries? The truth is for the church "the faith, once delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). Even for Rome the revelation of doctrine is ended with the death of the last apostle. Enthusiasm, however, searches for a truth that will be revealed first in the future, when the Christians or churches gather around the Scripture and the Holy Spirit then must work the great miracle to let new truths break forth from his word, to use the words of the preacher of the Pilgrims. It is characteristic of all these circles to think that the essence of baptism, the essence of the Lord's Supper will first be understood in the future, that it must be possible to go beyond the petrified frontlines of the confessions to know the full truth, of which each only sees a part. In fact, perhaps first the "young" churches will manage to do what the old ones were unable to do: to find the truth in which Zwingli and Luther, Rome and the Baptists are one. This explains the urging of discussions, conversations, conferences. The unity of the true church is founded on the truth that is already there. Enthusiasm seeks the unity in a truth that has not been found yet. The church teaches. The sect discusses. The church is patient. It can wait. For it has a future. The sect is impatient. It must have it all quickly, if possible find a new doctrine of the Lord's Supper on a conference lasting two weeks. The sect cannot wait. For it has no future, although it always talks about the future.

 

 

 

[1] John Robinson 1575-1625. W.H. Burgess, John Robinson: Pastor of the Pilgrim Fathers (Londom: Williams & Norgate, 1920), p. 240.


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Friday, July 25, 2014

FW: Great Stuff — I wish the liturgy were more accessible. . .

Peters…

 

Feed: Steadfast Lutherans
Posted on: Friday, July 25, 2014 9:42 AM
Author: Norm Fisher
Subject: Great Stuff — I wish the liturgy were more accessible. . .

 

Another great post over on Pastoral Meanderings by Pastor Peters:

 

6936911514_b9a3573c32_z"Wow! That is a lot to take for someone who has had only a passing association with church before!" So said one visitor to a Sunday morning Divine Service at my parish. She did not say it but clearly her comment meant "I wish the liturgy were more accessible" to a stranger to the church like me…

It would not be the first time someone has uttered those sentiments. It IS a great deal to take in for those who have not had much association with the church before. I will not deny it one bit. Neither will I suggest that it is a fruitful pursuit to try and find a way to dumb down the liturgy just in case there may be (and there always are) people who are strangers to the church and to the mass). I am sure it is overwhelming and even shocking. I would be disappointed if it were not — for what would it say of us if the Divine Mystery of Christ (both efficacious Word and Sacrament) were easy enough to get and dismiss out of hand!

I tell such folks not to make a judgment quickly but to return to the liturgy over and over again. Only then, with familiarity, can come the deep appreciation for the mystery and its grace bestowed upon us by Christ through His Word and Spirit. The liturgy is one of those things learned by doing as much as by studying.

If you are an avid reader of this blog, you know that I do not quote Aristotle — not ever — but one of his tidbits of wisdom certainly applies to the Divine Service:

For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.

– Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics

Though some find it offensive that any person off the street, a stranger to God and His worship, cannot enter the church and feel perfectly at home, I find just the opposite offensive. If a stranger to God and His worship feels at home in the liturgy, there must be something wrong with the liturgy. The liturgy or mass is off putting — not because it is designed to offend but because it goes against all that the sinful heart values most — easy, comfortable, feeling oriented, self-centered pleasure. What is most disarming about the liturgy or the Divine Service is that it compels us to shed ourselves and to become focused upon and open to the work of the Lord through His means of grace. Such is the domain of the Spirit and not simply the training of the human heart but, that said, it is discipline whose value is learned by experience.

We tell parents all the time that the repetition of the liturgy is helpful to the child learning by the experience of it who God is, what He has done, and how He communicates to us the fullness of His grace and gifts. Would not the same be also true of adults who come as infants into the presence of God in the holy ground of the liturgy?

Hardly any sport is transparent or obvious upon first view. Watching the game being played is one of the most important ways we learn its rules and an appreciation for the sport. In the hospital we have interns and residents who continue their education by watching and doing — believing that this is the most effective way to train our doctors. Why do some insist that we must make worship cogent for and accessible to the unchurched who know little of God or His ways? Why do some visit once and presume that they have seen and learned enough to make a reasonable judgment against the church?

To the stranger come upon us, I say stay here long enough to get to know the liturgy. Study it and learn the faith from it, to be sure, but resist the great temptation to judge what you see or experience until you learn its words, its rhythm, and its tempo. To the parent worrying about a child growing distracted from or bored with the liturgy, I say hang in there. Children learn by doing and they are absorbing from the liturgy more than is obvious to you. Reinforce what happens in the Divine Service, to be sure, but do not reject what happens as they experience the church's liturgy and song over many years of growing up.


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Friday, July 11, 2014

FW: Diachronic vs. Synchronic Unity and Lectionary

Weedon…

 

Feed: Weedon's Blog
Posted on: Friday, July 11, 2014 7:43 AM
Author: noreply@blogger.com (William Weedon)
Subject: Diachronic vs. Synchronic Unity and Lectionary

 

Delivered as a workshop at the Liturgical Institute at Valpo in April of 2014. Again, not a polished paper, but might provide some food for thought.

It was a number of years back, maybe the last time I made it to this august Institute. I had driven up here with Dr. Lee Maxwell, whose writings (by the way) remain quite influential to me on the topic of this particular workshop. But being the dingbat that I am (I prefer to think of myself as the absent minded scholar…), I had made reservations at a hotel, but not bothered to write down or remember the NAME of the hotel. So we stopped at that one right by the University only to discover they weren't expecting us and there was no room in the Inn. So a little befuddled and explaining to Lee that we'd surely find the right place before long I pulled out. and we drove for a bit. It was dusk. Then I noticed the most peculiar thing. "Lee!" said I. "Would you look at that! They have hung those traffic lights backwards. Is that weird or what?" To which Lee very excitedly responded: "They are not hung backwards, you idiot. You've turned the wrong way on a divided highway!" At which point we quickly crossed the median and, well, as there was no cop in sight and we were still living and breathing, all was well. Well, except for Lee swearing never to take another trip with me behind the wheel - a promise he has kept, by the way, for the last decade and more. Why bring up this ancient happening? Well because sometimes, sometimes there are signs, little hints, that things aren't well, and we can either happily move along pretending all is still honkey dorey, or we might want to do some self-analysis and see if at some point we might have had a wrong turning.

So it was, of course, as a result of the Second Vatican Council that our Roman brothers and sisters began a reform of the liturgy. The Mass was put into the Vernacular. Various Eucharistic canons were provided to stand alongside the ancient Roman canon. But most striking, the lectionary was revised. For perhaps a thousand years plus, the system of readings for the Sunday Masses had been relatively fixed (with some regional displacements). The reading from the Old Testament was restored at last, usually keyed to the Gospel reading. And in order to allow each of the portraits of Christ provided by the individual evangelists to shine through, a three year system of readings was employed: A, the year of St. Matthew. B, the year of St. Mark. C, the year of  St. Luke. St. John ruled during Eastertide in all three years and did a bit of fill in during the year of St. Mark, given the brevity of that Gospel. Further, the second reading was now allowed a bit more independence and the ancient practice of lecio continua allowed for huge swaths of the epistles to be heard. One last very noteworthy feature was the use of a longer Psalm selection to replace the typically shorter gradual and verse or tract between the readings.

The thought was to let the Word of God more richly and fully impact and shape the Church's life, and who on earth can be against that? Rather excitedly but without any extended reflection or discussion, jurisdiction after jurisdiction followed Rome's lead in ditching the ancient Western lectionary and adopting the three year. The Episcopalians, the Lutherans, the Methodists. Soon, however, the niggling variations invited consideration of revising something that could be shared in common. Hence the Revised Common Lectionary. My own Synod's three year system is clearly largely but not entirely in synch with that.

And yet… Are there any backward traffic lights around? One of the most astonishing to me is that despite the Church reading more Scripture in the assembly than ever before in our Western Churches, basic biblical literacy among our people seems to have plummeted to lows that would have been unthinkable a couple generations back  You mention Abraham and Sarah, or David and Bathsheba? You know the blank stares that these names receive, and even from folks who are not strangers in church! And we won't even ask them about Mephibosheth or Maher-Shallal-hashbaz!

We read more and yet we remember and know less. What gives? Maybe that old Latin proverb nailed it after all: Non multa sed multum. Not many, but much. More on that in a few minutes.

Now, the nearly universal triumph of the three-year series in actual use by a billion plus Christians alive right now might have suggested that the older, historic one year series was simply dead and buried, one of those multitudinous footnotes of abandoned practice that litter the ecclesiastic landscape. It had had deficiencies, of course. Luther himself once complained that the epistles seemed to have been selected by a lover of works, and that all the good gospel sections in Paul's writings had been given short shrift. It's been famously noted that in the old series we never ever heard John 3:16, nor the account of the Prodigal Son.

But like Lazarus, not only is the stink of the historic series greatly exaggerated, but the thing pops back to life when no one expected it!

In Rome, Benedict XVI restores the old Tridentine Mass as "an extraordinary rite" (and you can read voices in the Roman Catholic press today that suggest that this extraordinary needs to be the basis for a new ordinary and to go back to the experiments of the 50's in bringing it into English!). This means not only the restoration of the Latin Mass with its ceremonies, but also the restored use of the historic lectionary that was an integral part of that rite!

Among the Anglicans, there is this growing "continuing" movement that is marked by a turn back toward the earlier versions of the Book of Common Prayer with their version of the historic lectionary that tends to be an identical twin to the old Lutheran practice.

Among the Orthodox, we find a Western Rite persisting with a liturgy of St. Gregory following the Tridentine Mass with Orthodox adaptations and using the one year lectionary.

And last, but hopefully not least, among Lutherans, at least in my Synod, I think you can document a small but growing trend as more pastors and parishes adopt and become quite committed to the gentle revision of the older lectionary that appeared in LSB. This was possible because of the decision made by the lectionary committee to set the one year on a completely equal footing with the three year in all the resources of the LSB.

In the front of each of the Lectionary volumes that attend LSB, these words stand in the preface:

The Lectionary Committee of the LCMS Lutheran Hymnal Project began its work by examining past and present lectionaries to determine how and whether to revise the existing lectionaries in Lutheran Worship. Early in the process, the decision was made to recover and retain the "historic" lectionary, as used by Luther and subsequent generations of Lutherans and as included in The Lutheran Hymnal.

Although the Lectionary Committee acknowledged that relatively few LCMS congregations use the one-year lectionary, the committee concluded that such a lectionary should be included in the hymnal to serve both those who still customarily use it and those who may one day find their situation could best be served by the repetition inherent in this lectionary. Among the various reasons for retaining a one-year lectionary in Lutheran Service Book, the Lectionary Committee noted the following:

  • We are an historic Church and acknowledge the value of what has been handed down to us.
  • It is important to recognize the value of repetition. Given the increasing lack of biblical literacy within our society and even within the Church, there may be a need in the future for a one-year lectionary, with its annual repetition of key biblical texts.
  • The one-year lectionary is unique in that there are a number of older resources that support it, including hymnody, sermons by Luther and others, etc.



Revisions to the one-year lectionary have been very minor. The historic Gospels remain intact. Likewise, all the historic Epistles have been included. In a few cases, however, alternate Epistles and Gospels have been provided. Because the historic lectionary did not have assigned Old Testament readings, the committee has taken greater freedom in choosing these texts. As with the three-year lectionary, the committee has attempted to choose Old Testament readings that relate closely to the Holy Gospel by way of typological or prophetic connection. In addition, the committee attempted to provide a balanced selection of the various genres of Old Testament readings (e.g., prophetic writings, historical narrative).

Full propers have been prepared for the one-year lectionary, including a psalm and verse of the day, expanded introits, and minimally revised Collects of the Day for each Sunday and festival. All of these propers are contained in the Lutheran Service Book Altar Book. pp.xiv,xv.


This was prescient. Thus, although Rome and the Western Rite Orthodox simply mandate the use of the old Tridentine lectionary in its Extraordinary Rite; and the continuing Anglicans tend to employ the lectionaries of the earlier Book of Common Prayer; the LSB sought to address gently the criticisms raised against the historic series and thus update it to be a series that has four readings per Sunday: first, psalm, epistle and gospel; that respected the basic structure of the older series by allowing the Gospels to key off and to retain the traditional collects and so forth. No John 3:16? But historically we read John 3:1–15 on Holy Trinity, why not add a couple more verses? No prodigal son? But we read from the first half of Luke 15 each Trinity 5. What if we allowed the option of reading the first three verses and then skipping to the end of the chapter? So it was sort of a best of the old and best of the new approach. But running through it all was the consciousness that repetition, after all, is the mother of learning and that THAT may have been the true key to biblical literacy in the Western Churches in the past!

On the anxiety that might arise about the amount of Scripture read if a one year series is adopted, a thought to consider: in Lutheranism, the Mass lectionary was never intended to bear the burden of being the entirety of a Christian's Biblical reading - and so we have long had daily lectionaries. LSB follows in this tradition, but the resources have gone further than ever: Treasury (or its digital version: the PrayNow App), provide for reading great swaths of Scripture each year. Great resources for "more of the story" but again, built on yearly repetition of key texts (this pattern also is found in Lutheran sources from places like Magdeburg and is distinct from Calvinist or Anglican stress on "getting through" the Bible in the year - In Magdeburg, for instance, you read through certain Apocryphal books, but never read from Deuteronomy at all, the focus being on the narrative sections).

So, with a sturdy implementation of a daily lectionary to fill in the corners, if you will, the Mass lectionary provides a basic scaffolding from which to enfold the rest of the material. Loehe spoke of it like this:

He (the Lutheran preacher) rejoices in the ancient pericopes and would not, even if he could, base his sermon in the Divine Service on free texts or continuous portions of Holy Scripture instead of those pericopes. Preferably he keeps [as his sermon text] for the Divine Service the Gospels, and leaves the Epistles in their place in the order of service, and he will not become weary in preaching on the Gospels. As the people love to hear them, so to him they will become richer and fuller the more he speaks on them. He learns, the more he treats them, the great wisdom of the homilitician to create access through the known to the unknown and to show all the teachings of the church in the familiar texts. The person who switches the texts every year is not fit as a preacher of the people, let alone, one may say, of the church. That which is always different and new, without a connection to the familiar texts, makes it hard for people to understand, but each person easily and gladly accepts new thoughts when they appear as freshly recognized depths of ancient wisdom. —Loehe, Three Books, p. 117.

Finally, think of those resources mentioned in the intro to the Lectionary for LSB:

We have the treasure trove of the old Postilla (the sermon collections)

Postilla of Luther (House and Church - house much better than Church)
Postilla of Gerhard (Repristination Press), Loehe (not in English, sadly),
selections from Postilla of Walther

We have the treasure trove of old Lutheran hymns often written toward these pericopes.

For example, for the Anglicans and the Lutherans, the first Sunday in Advent was always the Entrance into Jerusalem from Matthew's Gospel. Think of the hymns that associate this event, then, with the season of Advent:

LSB 334 - Gerhardt's O Lord, How Shall I Meet You -

Your Zion strews before You green boughs and fairest palms...

LSB 335 - the Danish "O Bride of Christ Rejoice"

A humble beast He rides,
Yet as a King presides,
Though not arrayed in splendor
He makes the grave surrender.
Hosanna, praise, and glory!
Our King we bow before thee!

LSB 343 - Prepare the Royal Highway

God's people see Him coming:
Your own eternal king!
Palm branches strew before Him!
Spread garments! Shout and sing!

LSB 350 Come, Thou Precious Ransom, Come

My hosannas and my palms
Graciously receive, I pray Thee;

How much sense do these make without the traditional Gospel for Advent I keying off Advent??

Without the celebration of Gaudete, what exactly IS the point of that rose (pink) candle in the Advent wreath?


Day by Day (daily devos arranged from Luther's writings by Anglicans shortly after WWII)

God Grant It! (daily devos from Walther that follow the historic one year for weekly themes)

Think of connecting our folks again to the great texts of the Bach Cantatas!

FB groups on the historic lectionary (The One-ders)

So there are numerous pluses and a few cons, but none insurmountable. I'll let Dr. Piepkorn have the final word. When this whole thing was just beginning to loom on the horizon, and not long before his death, he wrote:

"I confess that I share the view of those that feel that world Lutheran ties are more important than American solidarity.  Quite apart from this, however, I have basic misgivings about the use of a three-year cycle of pericopes.  With the irregular attendance of many of our people at divine worship and with the general lack of preparation for the service on the part of many of the worshippers that do come, I feel that a three-year cycle or even a two-year cycle would mean that many of our people would in the end be less acquainted with the Sacred Scriptures than they are now."  – A. C. Piepkorn, The Sacred Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions, p. 13.

Which is to say: he noted the backwards lights and suggested not getting on the highway in that direction.

Comments, questions, insights, or just out and out disagreements?


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FW: One Generation...

Weedon…

 

Feed: Weedon's Blog
Posted on: Wednesday, July 9, 2014 3:34 PM
Author: noreply@blogger.com (William Weedon)
Subject: One Generation...

 

...I was going to go through and clean up this paper, but I never can find the time. So I'm posting it, blemishes and all. It is what I delivered at the Making the Case Conference in Collinsville last month:

Making the Case for Classical Christian Hymnody

"Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable." Psalm 145:3.  On this I suspect Christians of every stripe could agree. The Lord is great and the Lord is greatly to be praised. But we might see the cleft that has developed in the Church if we venture to the next verses: "One generation shall commend your works to another and shall declare your mighty acts. On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate. They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness. They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and sing aloud of your righteousness."

What has happened in some sections of the Church is that THIS generation has told all the other generations to shut up and keep silent. Instead of listening to their proclamation of God's majesty (who He is) and His wondrous works (what He's done) and being inspired by their witness to join in their song with our own, some would silence their song and replace it entirely with the song of the present generation. Instead of the Church's classical way of operating: supplementation, the rich treasury of hymns that goes back so far, growing and being added to by each generation, first listening to and learning to love the old praises of prior Christians as they tell us of God's wondrous works; we have instead supplanting - replacing of this heritage of proclamation in song that reaches century upon century back through the ages with the songs of now.a

And we need to be honest about the nature of the songs of now. A friend of mine sought to use some of the modern sounds in his church one Sunday, but all the classic texts. It was very telling when a woman left that worship service in tears and she told the musicians on the way out: "You've taken away my music." They were befuddled because they'd striven so hard to use the musical idiom that that congregation had come to expect. Why would it be welcomed? She gave them the answer: "It's not what I hear on Christian radio." AH! The commercial interests driving so called Christian radio is to get folks to download and listen over and over again to the current song and then promptly to forget it when they need you to download the newest, latest, greatest hit. Do you see what has happened? The throw away generation, the disposable everything generation, has come to treasure disposable, throw away songs too.

The demand for the music of today exclusively to reign supreme in the Church, whatever else it does, simply cuts off the prior generations in a way that the Church has not known before. We become an orphan Church that way, a church without our spiritual fathers and mothers. Anyone who knows me know that I love reading the Church fathers. Great stuff. And yet THE way that the prior generations have always spoken in the Church to the current generation is not in the dusty study of Patristics but in the living voice of the congregation. We take up THEIR song and it becomes OUR song and so their theology, their witness to Christ, continues to shape and mold us.

But there's more. Dr. John Kleinig helpfully wrote about the theology that runs with the praise music that came originally out of the Pentecostal Church. The idea of this music is move a person. To move them spiritually from entering into the courts of God with loud and joyous songs of thanksgiving, to move them into the more mellow music of the inner courts of the temple with lush and quiet songs of praise, and finally for the congregation to peak, dare I say it, to spiritually orgasm in the singing in the spirit, often done in tongues and musically sustained by held chords and arpeggios and shimmering on the cymbals. Music here at its base is employed to achieve the desired emotional outcome. To bring a person to a feeling of the presence and closeness of God.

This is in huge tension with the sturdy objectivity of the Church's historical musical deposit. For the Church classically simply did not see music as first and foremost a vehicle to move emotions. She knew that it does this. Luther confessed as much in any number of places. And yet that was just an inevitable result of music, but not it's task. It's task was rather to give voice to God's Word. To proclaim to one another the great things that God has done for us in Jesus Christ and to summon one another to taste and see the goodness of the Lord and to proclaim the person blessed who trusts in Him.

We might wonder how this shift toward exclusive use of compositions of the present generation could possibly make its way into a Church like ours which has traditionally been a bulwark of preserving the music of previous generations. The answer, I believe, is that those who studied Church Growth were trained to match in church the music liked and listened to by their community. So that when new folks came in through the narthex doors they immediately would feel at home with the same sounds that filled their lives outside the doors. More than one writer has pointed out the disingenuousness of this approach, for the Church does not invite the old Adam to settle down and feel at home, but to his own execution. Nor, even sociologically, has it proven to be the case that unchurched folks expect the music at church to mirror the music they listen to when washing their cars on Saturday. You can read more about this in Daniel Zager's stupendous monograph "The Gospel Preached Through Music: The Purpose and Practice of Lutheran Church Music" (Good Shepherd Institute 2013).

So it was with the best of motivations that our churches began to dump the deposit of the church's treasury of hymnody. But it wasn't wise. And it hasn't worked if the purpose was simply to bring in the folks from outside in droves. We're a smaller Synod today than we were prior to the time when classic church music reigned.

But I must issue this caveat. Dr. Nagel was always fond of asking what's the opposite of an error? Not the truth! Just the opposite error. So the error of thinking that the Church's hymnody is fixed. You have the old songs and you should be content to sing them. Period. Full stop. Nonsense. With the Spirit extolling our Lord Jesus through the Word, the new song springs up in the Church continually. Not everything written in a generation will be found worthy of adding to the deposit, but the current generation tends not to be in the best position to evaluate the final worthiness of its own contributions. The generation to come will weigh and decide in which of our new songs they hear the words and promises of God most clearly issued for their consolation and upbuilding in the faith. But that the deposit grows with each generation is simply a given. The Church's song is richer now by far than it was at the time of the early church or even the Reformation. It keeps being enriched and for that all glory to God!

So when we speak of making the case for classical Christian hymnody we mean defending the proposition that previous generations ought be given an ongoing voice in the church's praise, and this praise consists of meditating upon God's glorious majesty (that is, proclaiming WHO He is, and above all who He has revealed Himself to be in the Crucified and Risen One), and in meditating on His great works. We do both of these by proclaiming them together to each other in song in the presence of God.

How far back does the treasury reach? Well, certainly biblical scholars will tell you that it reaches right into the pages of the New Testament. Philippians 2; Colossians 1; numerous portions of Revelation; 1 Timothy 3. You can find tantalizing bits of the song that the Christians sang to each other there. Maybe it was something like Philippians 2 that St. Paul and St. Silas sang together at midnight in the jail of Philippi.

Outside of the New Testament, though, we have these ancient hymns that have come down to us and even made it into the liturgy. In the Divine Service, we sing the Gloria in Excelsis or Agnus Dei or Sanctus. In the Daily Prayer Services, we sing Te Deum Laudamus and Phos Hilaron. That last is particularly of interest to those who study the history of the hymns. You see, in literature, I think the first mention of Phos Hilaron (our "Joyous Light of Glory" from Evening Prayer, but also in the hymnal O Light Whose Splendor Thrills and Gladdens or O Gladsome Light of Grace), the first mention is in a little book by St. Basil the Great (and he died in 379). He writes: I will now adduce another piece of evidence which might perhaps seem insignificant, but because of its antiquity must in nowise be omitted by a defendant who is indicted on a charge of innovation. It seemed fitting to our fathers not to receive the gift of the light at eventide in silence, but, on its appearing, immediately to give thanks. Who was the author of these words of thanksgiving at the lighting of the lamps, we are not able to say. The people, however, utter the ancient form, and no one has ever reckoned guilty of impiety those who say "We praise Father, Son, and God's Holy Spirit." (Par. 73 On the Holy Spirit)

Just like we have no idea who wrote the Gloria in Excelsis or the Te Deum (medieval legend notwithstanding), so with Phos Hilaron. It simply was a song Christians sang and have continued to sing throughout generations. Is it not amazing that we here in America today continue in our Evening Prayer to offer praises in a hymn that St. Basil the Great thought was positively antique back in the 370's?

So the deposit goes very far back, especially if we think of those ancient hymns of the church that were not rimed or set in stanzas. But the riming and setting in stanzas goes back a long, long way also. The man traditionally regarded as the father of western Christian hymnody is St. Ambrose of Milan. Our LSB features three hymns attributed to this great father of the Church. We even get to know a little bit about how this form of hymnody took root and spread. Listen to St. Augustine in his Confessions, paragraph:

Not long had the Church of Milan begun to employ this kind of consolation and exhortation, the brethren singing together with great earnestness of voice and heart. For it was about a year, or not much more, since Justina, the mother of the boy-Emperor Valentinian, persecuted Thy servant Ambrose in the interest of her heresy, to which she had been seduced by the Arians. The pious people kept guard in the church, prepared to die with their bishop, Thy servant. There my mother, Thy handmaid, bearing a chief part of those cares and watchings, lived in prayer. We, still unmelted by the heat of Thy Spirit, were yet moved by the astonished and disturbed city. At this time it was instituted that, after the manner of the Eastern Church, hymns and psalms should be sung, lest the people should pine away in the tediousness of sorrow; which custom, retained from then till now, is imitated by many, yea, by almost all of Thy congregations throughout the rest of the world. [Confessions IX:7:15]

So Ambrose is popularly considered the father of hymnody as we've come to expect it: a poem consisting generally of  number of consistent stanzas that rime and often concluding with the doxology: an ascription of praise to the Blessed Trinity.

If we listen to THAT generation proclaim to us the great deeds of God and call us to meditate with them on who He is and what He has done, we get something like this:

Savior of the nations, come,
Virgin's Son, make here Your home!
Marvel now, O heav'n and earth,
That the Lord chose such a birth.

Not by human flesh and blood,
By the Spirit of our God,
Was the Word of God made flesh—
Woman's offspring, pure and fresh.

Here a maid was found with child,
Yet remained a virgin mild.
In her womb this truth was shown:
God was there upon His throne.

Then stepped forth the Lord of all
From His pure and kingly hall;
God of God, yet fully man,
His heroic course began.

God the Father was His source,
Back to God He ran His course.
Into hell His road went down,
Back then to His throne and crown.

For You are the Father's Son
Who in flesh the vict'ry won.
By Your mighty pow'r make whole
All our ills of flesh and soul.

From the manger newborn light
Shines in glory through the night.
Darkness there no more resides;
In this light faith now abides.

Glory to the Father sing,
Glory to the Son, our king,
Glory to the Spirit be
Now and through eternity.

Let's note a number of things about this. It clearly proclaims Christ. Proclaims Him as the Virgin's Son, God of God, yet full man, whose source was God the Father. It proclaims His deeds: His conception by the Spirit, his birth of the Virgin, His coming from God and returning to God even His descent into hell. It proclaims what He has won: the victory and in our flesh to make whole all our ills of flesh and soul. And it summons us one and all to join in praising the Trinity in and through Him.

And consider that these words by Ambrose or from someone around that time, have continued to proclaim Christ in each generation. Year after year, when Advent arrives, this hymn is found on the lips of Christians to bring comfort to each other and to join their voices with that of all the previous generations, extolling the Lord's incarnation for us. So much did Luther value this Latin hymn that it was the first he rendered into German. When we sing this hymn each Advent truly "one generation commends your works to another and shall declare your mighty deeds!"

Ambrose's hymns primarily are set to sanctify time and to celebrate the events commemorated in the Church's year: the great story of the life of Christ. They had their home first and foremost in the Daily Office, Matins and Vespers etc. But you couldn't really keep the hymns away from the Lord's Supper. They migrated. And did so even before the Reformation. Remember that "O Lord, We Praise Thee" was a folk hymn long before Luther took it hand. Or remember the hymn of Huss for the distribution.

With the Reformation, the ancient heritage was conserved, even in many cases in Latin, but much was also put into the vernacular and of course it was added to. New hymns couldn't but continue to be birthed by the joy of the Gospel's clarity that took hold agin in those days. Luther's first great hymn was Nun Freut Euch. Listen: "Dear Christian, one and all rejoice, with exultation springing, and with united heart and voice and holy rapture singing: proclaim the wonders God has done, what His right hand the victory won; what price our ransom cost Him!" There's the theology of praise right in a single hymn stanza. Luther never ceased to marvel at music: "After all, the gift of language combined with the gift of song was only given to man to let him know that he should praise God with both word and music, namely by proclaiming [God's Word] through music and by providing sweet melodies with words." (AE 53:323) Or as Luther said in the preface to the Bapst hymnal: "For God has cheered our hearts and minds through his dear Son, whom he gave for us to redeem us from sin, death, and the devil. He who believes this earnestly cannot be quiet about it. But he must gladly and willingly sing and speak about it so that others also may come and hear it." (AE 53:333).

So with the Reformation comes this explosion of new music, filled with the joy of the Gospel, and aimed at the consolation of those terrified in conscience or broken in heart. All designed to lift you up through preaching the promises of God into your heart via putting them onto your lips.

Of the many great hymns that arose in that time, who deserve particular mention. They were by Philip Nicolai, Pastor in Unna, Westphalia. He saw his congregation decimated by plague. Between July of 1597 and January of 1598, Pr. Nicolai buried no less than 1,400 of his parishionersР300 in the month of July alone. He could have fled the plague, but he didn't. He stayed put. He preached. He celebrated the Sacrament. He prayed. He buried, and he prayed some more. And he did one more thing. He wrote a book. A book he called The Mirror of Joy. It was all about the joy that filled his heart as he thought of the heaven his Savior had won for all upon His cross and to which He would one day bring His people as they share His risen life in the New Heavens and the New Earth. In the words of Luther, he "gladly and willingly sing and speak about it." At the tail end of his little book, he put three poems he wrote, two of which he also set to music. One is called: Wie sch̦n leuchtet der Morgenstern (O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright) and the other: Wachet Auf, Ruft uns die Stimme. Wake, Awake! For Night is flying.

In the face of unspeakable tragedy, to families where mothers had lost their sons, daughters their fathers, sisters their brothers, brothers their sisters, husbands their wives - with no family left untouched by the horror of death- faithful Pastor Nicolai sang the hope of heaven into his people as they waited for the day of the Savior's return and learned to sing in hope along with him even with tears in their eyes. No wonder these two pieces became known as the Queen and the King of the Chorales. They are triumphant in the cross. Just listen in to sections from either hymn:

Almighty Father, in Your Son
You loved me when not yet begun
Was this old earth's foundation!
Your Son has ransomed us in love
To live in Him here and above.
This is Your great salvation.
Alleluia! Christ the living
To us giving Life forever,
Keeps us Yours and fails us never.

O let the harps break forth in sound!
Our joy be all with music crowned,
Our voices, gladly blending!
For Christ goes with us all the way—
Today, tomorrow, every day,
His love is never ending!
Sing out! Ring out!
Jubilation, exultation!
Tell the story!
Great is He, the King of glory!

Or this:

Now let all the heaven's adore Thee;
Let saints and angels sing before Thee
With harp and cymbal's clearest tone.
Of one pearl each shining portal,
Where dwelling with the choir immortal,
We gather round Thy radiant throne.
No eye has seen the light,
No ear has heard the might
Of Thy glory.
Therefore will we eternally,
sing hymns of praise and joy to thee.

I don't know about you, but I think it's nigh unto a high treason when a Lutheran (well, when any Christian) is deprived of the comfort and power of such great hymns! And they abound. Those are just two. Note that they sing of Christ. They fling the comfort of Christ against the darkness. They hold tight to the joy of what shall be when Christ renews all things. They proclaim: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again, and they add the promise: "for you!"

You might notice if you've been around our Church for any length of time, that SOME of our hymns are really, really long. Take Luther's delightful Christmas hymn: "From Heaven Above to Earth I Come." It's got an eminently singable melody, but it goes on for 15 stanzas. Yikes! What gives with that?

That's a hint that the singing of hymns in the Lutheran Church, it's use of the classical Christian hymnody, from the start employed "wechselsingen" as Dr. Walther termed it: "back and forth singing" would be a good translation. So take "From Heaven Above…" and you might have the choir sing all together stanza one, then just the women of the choir on stanza two, then the men, stanza three, then all the choir on stanza four, maybe just four voices, one on each part for stanza five, then the whole congregation on stanzas six, seven and eight. Children's voices along on stanza 9. Women on 10. Men on 11. All on 12 and 13. Choir on 14 and then all on 15. What does this back and forth singing do? It enables us to preach to each other in the song. We literally sing the comfort the Gospel into each other's ears, hearing it and then in our turn sounding it forth.

By the way, this way of singing is also key to getting the best way to sing, say, "Isaiah, Mighty Seer." Picture it like this:

Choir 1: Isaiah, mighty seer in days of old,
Choir 2: The Lord of all in spirit did behold,
etc.
with the whole congregation joining in on: Holy is God the Lord of Sabaoth!

Luther's Gloria hymn works the same way. This back and forth is the royal priesthood at its work: proclaiming the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. It is the fulfillment of the Apostles' exhortation: Let the word of Christ dwell among you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in PSALMS, and HYMNS, and SPIRITUAL SONGS, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

And the centuries roll on and the witness keeps ringing out. The nineteenth century was a time of rich meditation on the Church herself. Everyone was thinking about it and singing about it. So we have "For All the Saints" and "Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones" and so many others. The focus wasn't on Church for her own sake, but look at who the Spirit has called us to be in Christ! And through them all ring comfort: "And when the fight is fierce the battle long, steals on the ear the distant triumph song, and hearts are brave again and arms are strong! Alleluia! Alleluia!"

In the 20th and 21st century a new flowering of hymnody took place and to the old songs were added numerous new proclamations of Christ. We don't have time to even begin to delve into the richness, but we must note the hymns of Stephen Starke ("We praise You and acknowledge You, O God, to be the Lord, the Father everlasting by all the earth adored…" - great paraphrase of the Te Deum and set to the Jupiter tune, proclaiming who the true King of the universe is!); Martin Franzmann (O thou who when we loved thee not, didst love and save us all; thou great good shepherd of mankind, O hear us when we call! Send us thy Spirit! Teach us truth! Thou Son, O set us free, from fanciest wisdom, self-sought ways to make us one in thee. Then shall our song united rise to Thine eternal throne where with the Father evermore and Spirit thou art one); Vajda (How could I not have known Isaiah would be there, his prophesies fulfilled, with pounding heart I stare: A child, a king, the prince of peace for me, a child, a king the prince of peace for me); so very, very many others.

One last point I think needs to be made in favor of classical Christian hymnody. It has, somehow, survived the fragmentation of the Church. So a hymn written for a Roman Catholic eucharistic conference in 1976 ends up being sung in Lutheran parishes around the world: "You satisfy the hungry heart." Or an EWTN broadcast of the Roman Mass for Ash Wednesday, opens with the solemn singing of Luther's "From Depths of Woe." The Baptists might have owned "Just as I am" at the start, but it is sung universally by Christians. This united song of the Church gives me great hope. And it witnesses a very Lutheran thing: if it sings truth, we say, it is ours! We joyfully can take it to heart and praise God with it. So our hymnal is not merely limited to the stream of music that flowed directly from the medieval church to the Churches of the Augsburg Confession. Rather, when Geneva sang truth, we sang it with them. When Rome sang truth, we sang it with them. Did you know that Beautiful Savior was originally composed to be a song of Eucharistic devotion? Tis true! And yet its words are simple truth and so we take them gladly on our lips.

Psalm 145 goes on to say: "All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord, and all your saints shall bless you. They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power to make known to the children of men your mighty deeds and the glorious splendor of your kingdom… The Lord is faithful in all his works and kind in all his deeds." One generation declares His great works to another in the classic hymnody of the Christian Church. And our calling in this generation is to hear their song, to sing it with them in joy, and then to add to it as best we may in our own day and age.

When Isaiah pictured the Church, he described her in chapter 35 in these words: "And the redeemed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing, everlasting joy upon their heads. They shall obtain gladness and joy and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." The Church is one long procession of the people of Zion headed home, and the song we sing here at the tail end of the procession at the moment is one we learned from those who went before. Let us treasure the gift bequeathed to us and learn to love it and to pass on such a tremendous heritage to our children and children's children until the glorious appearing of Lord Jesus when we join the saints and angels in the song of the Lamb!

Questions?

 


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