26 August 2008

Maintaining Liturgical Order and Decency in a (Canon) Law-less Church Body

Proponents of contemporary worship and even those who generally use the traditional liturgical forms but substitute 'praise songs' or other 'contemporary' songs for parts of the liturgy always fall back on the argument that neither Christ nor the Apostles laid down any specific laws or instructions for how our worship is to be conducted. The only commands were to preach the Word and administer the Sacraments. The rest, so they say, is up to the individual congregation or pastor, "as long as it brings glory to God and focuses on Christ." And they point inevitably to the section of the Confessions that gives the "congregation of God" in "every time and place" the power to change or alter the ceremonies and worship forms as they see fit. Of course, it always comes down then to how broadly or narrowly we define that Confessional "freedom."

Bottom line is that confessional pastors who oppose such "experimentation" with the liturgy have a difficult time arguing against these folks. We can speak about the positive theological and practical virtues of the traditional liturgy, even show how the spirit behind the traditional ceremonies and rubrics is Biblically based (thanks Paul H. D. Lang for teaching us the four Biblical precepts behind these: Reverence, humility, order, and love). But when it comes down to it, we really can't tell our brother pastor down the street that he *may not* substitute contemporary songs for hymns and use "creative worship" in place of the rites found in the hymnal. We have to admit that in our Synod, which has no Liturgical Canon Law, we are pretty much on our own when it comes to the conduct of the service and the rites and ceremonies we use. You and I might be committed to using the orders of worship found in the hymnal and the Altar Book but that doesn't mean that Pastor Joe down the street has to follow suit, since the Synod does not legislate or make anything except the Word of God binding on the congregation (and some of us wonder if it is even doing that anymore).

Certainly we can agree that the New Testament lays down no specific "laws" for how the Divine Service is to be conducted, and that the Confessions do give to the churches the freedom to change or alter the ceremonies that are used in the Divine Service. But isn't it equally true that the New Testament does not forbid the Church to agree upon certain forms and agree to use them. In fact, I think one could argue on the basis of certain texts in the Epistles of St. Paul that this is actually desirable. I think this is what the Church Orders of the 16th & 17th centuries set out to do. They were not just "friendly suggestions" from a non-legislative church body, but instructions on how services and other rites would be conducted in a certain territory. In evangelical freedom, these theologians and churches agreed to use a uniform service, for the sake of good order, so that there weren't 10 different orders of service being used at 10 different churches.

The closest thing that we LC-MS pastors have to such a Church Order or "Canon Law" is our Agenda and Altar Book (and one could possibly argue, the hymnal itself). But even these have no binding force on the pastors and congregations of the Synod. And even if they did, would it even matter? I guess my point in this post is simply that as long as we abide in a Synod that has no liturgical Canon Law or Church Orders that require the congregations of a particular district or region to use certain rubrics or ceremonies, we may simply have to accept the reality that there will be wild and crazy stuff going on, liturgically speaking, and we are pretty much powerless to do anything about it, except try to help individual people see the value of using the historic liturgy. And to a large extent, this may be happening through the services of Higher Things.

We cannot rely on the Synod to say, "You may or may not do this or that." All we can say is: "We beseech you by the mercies of God not to do so and so." So says Lang. I'm not saying we should all just keep our mouths shut and not protest the silliness that passes for Lutheran worship in our Synod. I'm simply making the point that there is nothing inherent in our Synod that forbids it. To a large extent, the way our Synod is set up, or at least the way our by-laws are written, each individual congregation really does have the freedom to "do what is right in its own eyes." Am I off base here?


The Rev. BT Ball said...

Doesn't it seem that an attempt at a church order was made by the Synodical Conference with TLH? P. 427 of The Lutheran Liturgy - "On and after Easter Day, 1955, in any case of contradiction between these General Rubrics and other rubrics published elsewhere in the official service books of the Evangelical Lutehran Synodical Conference of North America, these General Rubrics shall govern."

It seems to me at least that those synods were desiring uniformity - note the "shall". And as we know they had it more or less for a while.

It seems it would be impossible to have something like that pass today, with all these people clinging to their guns and their TLH's.


wmc said...

Bingo!! Could not have said it better myself, brother! We have no lex orandi. And you are absolutely correct in placing this discussion in the category of canon law. This is precisely where it belongs. We refuse to regulate worship in our churches in the spirit of the Confessions' obedience to the bishops for the sake of peace and harmony. As a result, we have liturgical cacophony and absolutely no sense of Lutheran identity.

Very well written, Paul. Thank you.

Mike Keith said...

I think what you have written here is correct. We have not regulated the Services in our congregations. The question is: should we? It seems to me that the general consensus there would be - no (although I think it might be an intriguing idea). However, since we do not regulate the Services it seems that we may have to recognize and be willing to accept a certain degree of divergence. Perhaps we dislike the divergences - even at tiems are appalled by them - but this is the way it is. And, perhaps for a church body this is as good as it gets this side of heaven?

Chris Jones said...

Quite right, Pastor Beisel. Our Synod has no lex orandi. And I suspect that the vast majority of pastors and congregations (even "confessional" ones) have no particular desire to change that.

Those who like the freedom to abandon the historic liturgy do not want to be bound to it by canon law. But those of us who love the historic liturgy should face the fact that if the Synod (as it currently exists) were to pass binding liturgical canons, those canons might not be to our liking.

We Lutherans often divide issues of practice into two immutable categories: things subject to revealed divine law, and things about which we have untrammeled freedom. Everything is either de jure divino or adiaphora; there is no middle ground. But in fact there is a third category, because canon law enacted by the Church has real authority, even though it is of a lesser authority than divine law. Just because canon law is changeable and it is not directly of divine authority, does not mean that we are free to disobey it.

A way forward, I think, might be for liturgically-serious congregations to bind themselves to the historic liturgy in their own constitution and by-laws. (We do not usually think of the by-laws of an individual congregation as "canon law," but on the local level that is what they are.) If local congregations set forth, in their own by-laws, their approved hymnals and agendas as an act of liturgical self-discipline, that might eventually serve as a model of the sort of liturgical discipline that could exist at a Synodical level.

Rev. Gifford A. Grobien said...

It may be that our synodical governance provides no recourse for compelling our colleagues to use this or that particular rite or form of liturgy. However, I maintain that we have more at our disposal than we have yet brought to bear. One example is in the area of music.

There does tend to be the recognition among some that so-called contemporary music is weak and poor. Yet the counter to this critique often resorts to cries of preference and subjectivity: it's what the people like. But we ought to respond to this by insisting that the quality of music is not subjective. Opinions and preferences certainly are subjective, but the quality of music actually can be measured.

My training in music is elementary, so I would invite those who are musically trained and experienced to join in this endeavor, but let me provide some fundamental remarks: Certain melodies are stronger than others because of the intervals between notes, steps which are mathematically related. Motifs, that is to say, a central melody pattern in a piece, contribute fundamentally to the quality of a piece. The stronger the motif (according to its step pattern), all other things equal, the stronger the piece.

Gregorian chant is so closely associated with church music not simply because of history, but because it is almost pure melody and was used purposely to uplift the mind and the text.

Harmonies contribute to the strength and mood of the piece by evoking concord or dissonance. Because of this, they also encourage an emotional response. When we hear a dissonant chord, we want resolution, we react, knowing something isn't quite in order.

Rhythms appeal to emotional and, for lack of a better term, the animal side of the person, the fleshly side. The body works in rhythms: so many breaths per minute, so many heartbeats per minute, etc. The rhythm of a piece appeals to this part of the person. A piece with a dominating rhythm will encourage the natural appetites and run the risk of overshadowing the melody, the more rational and spiritual side of music. Popular dance music is an example of this genre.

I am obviously painting in broad strokes; such is the nature of blog comments. I would, however, appeal to our trained musicians to begin articulating these things in more detail, training their pastors in the music theory, and making public, educated, and specific claims regarding the objectivity of music

In any case, I know this is only peripherally related to your post. However, the point is that we can make objective claims about the goodness and truth of a rite, and on that basis appeal to the Word of God, which certainly calls for truth, reverence, and goodness in liturgy. By appealing to the Word of God, then, we certainly may tell our colleagues that certain songs or forms are unsuitable. Enforcing that, of course, is another question.

Father Hollywood said...

But, at the same time, we do subscribe to statements like the following: "In our churches, Mass is celebrated every Sunday and on other festivals... we keep traditional liturgical forms, such as the order of the lessons, prayers, vestments, etc." (Ap 24:1).

I have heard the argument that this is "descriptive" not "proscriptive." Of course, there are no "proscriptions" (canon law) among us. The entire Book of Concord is "descriptive" - such as Article I in which we "describe" the reality that our churches confess the Trinity." Article 4 describes the reality that our churches teach justification. Article 14 "describes" the reality that we uphold "rite vocatus."

And even though the entire BOC is "descriptive," we are not free to cherry pick, and say "This congregation abides by Articles 1 and 4, but holds articles 14 and 24 to be non-binding."

When our mutually accepted and subscribed confessions use the expression "our churches..." or "we believe..." - it means that this "describes" the reality of being one of "our churches."

I contend that when a church and/or a pastor willingly and knowingly deviate from confessional declarations such as "Mass is celebrated every Sunday" and "we keep traditional liturgical forms," those churches and pastors are willingly leaving the very foundational definition of Lutheranism.

Yes, Christians are free to use the liturgy or not - but *Lutherans* - by definition - submit to the Book of Concord as a correct exposition of the Scriptures - not just for the sake of holding right doctrine, but also for the sake of *Concordia* (harmony).

Churches and pastors who cannot or will not submit to the Book of Concord should, as a matter of integrity, seek to remain in the Body of Christ apart from our communion.

Rev. Paul Beisel said...

This really is my point: that the reason for our divergent practices is related to the fact that, as someone else put it, we have no lex orandi. Although, I think Pr. Ball is correct in saying that an attempt was made at this with the General Rubrics of the 1941 hymnal. No real update of those rubrics was made in LW, and so for the most part, I still follow the old rubrics when the LW ones don't specify.

I'm not trying to say that there is no objective argument for the liturgy, simply that we are not going to be able to make much of a case for its uniform use unless we have some sort of lex orandi, some sort of in between (as Chris Jones put it). Until then, it is every man/congregation for him/itself.

Bryce P Wandrey said...

According to the spirit of this post: How does one go about justifying the actions of Luther's "reform" of the Mass?

What I don't intend here is a full-blown explication of the abuses of the "canon" but instead, based upon the sprit of this post and its appeal for a "canonical" lex orandi, where is the reconciliation with being the descendants of Luther's liturgical reforms?

How do his efforts differ from a pastor today "doing his own thing"?

Rev. Paul Beisel said...

Bryce, good question. In this post, I am not so much making a value judgment, saying that I think we should or should not regulate our worship by a sort of canon law. That can certainly be debated. I was trying to make the point that our liturgical chaos is related to the fact that we do not have this, and that as long as we do not, we will have a difficult time obtaining any kind of uniformity.

Not really an answer to your question, but Luther himself participated in the formation of church orders in Brandenburg and other places I believe. If not directly, he was certainly consulted and gave his instructions. Luther believed, certainly, that the Church was free in this regard, but also saw the need and benefits of uniformity. So, do you think Luther was being inconsistent by participating on those Church Order "committees"?

Fr. Timothy D. May, S.S.P. said...

(In response to B. Wandrey): At root and essence they are the same. When Luther is made the liturgical expert, not discounting his manifold contributions, then everything prior to him becomes relative. If he cannot err in liturgical reform then his reform is codified. If he can err then the liturgy is able to retain that which is best from the prior periods (early church, middle ages, etc.) and those following. The liturgy remains catholic apart from any contributions and mistakes of Luther and others. To the point I believe you are making, once the break is made then we are really fighting against the goads in thinking that we can restore any sense of uniformity because, our theology and practice, shaped by the divide of the Western Church is always striving for something that it has left behind and will not permit itselve to have again and it is always, in effect, defending the right of everyone to go their own way and do their own thing. ("The cat is out of the bag.")

Rev. Paul Beisel said...

I'm going to attempt to answer your question Bryce: Luther reformed that which was clearly contrary to Scripture. Is that too simplistic? Perhaps. His Deutsche Messe is definitely far from the historic norm. But this service was meant, at the time, for a little ecclesiola in ecclesiam (sorry if I messed up the Latin), an idea which Luther himself eventually abandoned because of his misgivings about segretating a group of people in the Church and calling them the "true Christians." (BTW, much of this I learned from your friend, Jonathan Trigg--I wrote a paper on this for his class). If you look, for instance, at other liturgical reforms of Luther, they were not nearly as bold. We can make Luther out to be whomever we want. But the fact remains that Luther, for all of his individual reform, *did* support the use of Church Orders by the very fact that he helped create them. I suppose the question could be, how binding were Church Orders? I really don't know.

Fr. Timothy D. May, S.S.P. said...

Paul: I appreciate this topic and your post. Also, while I cannot come to the point where I can say Luther was 100% correct vis-a-vis the liturgy (due to lack of study on this topic) I do agree with you that he supported "Church Orders" and liturgical practice over and against any free-floating enterprises. He definitely would not see the Mass as a form of entertainment.

In my previous response I mention the possibility of a codification of the Reformation liturgy. This is a concern for me for three reasons. As your post points out the lack of canon law in Lutheranism on this topic does allow a certain amount of freedom at the congregational level. Second, even those who would consider themselves like-minded will find some, maybe minor, variations from congregation to congregation. Third, a codification of the Reformation liturgy may only result in what was supposed to be a major criticism of Trent. I say this because the liturgy, even in its "Lutheran" form, belongs to the whole Church (ie, we still use the Creeds, and retain the Mass as has also been mentioned here).

All in all, we have things to learn from and gain from our tradition. You are correct in saying that is difficult to argue with those who espouse changing traditional liturgical forms. (I alluded to this in my first response but it is too big a topic to discuss here, in short, this goes back to the Reformation). Of course, there is a broad spectrum of changes being made today. Anything from replacing the hymns with songs to changing the service into a form of Christian entertainment with rock bands in front on a stage (no altar or any other traditional architecture). (keep in mind that they also follow a "traditional" liturgical form but one that may only go back to the 1960s/rock music)

The use of the hymnal, altar book, rubrics, etc. is the least one can do in one's own congregation (Here we can learn from and support the use of music such as Gregorian chant as has already been suggested.)

I admit that it is a bit bold and unfair on my part to single out Luther, especially on a list like this (I do agree his overall reform was conservative although I am not sure I agree with his approach to the Mass). There is always need for further study of Luther and the Confessions on this topic. Still, when it comes to the liturgy we cannot put all of our stock in Luther or the Reformation.

Father Hollywood said...

I would like to interject (hopefully not 'muddy the waters') here that when we say "we" and "Lutheranism," I think we really mean "American Lutheranism."

For example, in the Church of Sweden, the entire church uses the current hymnal. It *is* a matter of law (whether it is technically canon law or not, I don't know). To remain in the CoS, a parish must use the latest Psalmboken as approved by the king or queen (even though they have technically been disestablished).

We Americans are so anti-authoritarian that it may be impractical for Americans to submit to such requirements - although there are rules and regs we do submit to in order to remain in the LCMS. For example, Rev. Kurtis Schulz is my ecclesiastical supervisor (I can't simply fire him and opt to have Paul Beisel be my DP - as much as I would love to do that).

In other words, I don't think "canon law" or a proscribed hymnal or service is antithetical with Lutheranism - just so long as these kinds of rules would not be seen as being done "de jure divino". Nevertheless, as Americans, we don't bend the knee to anyone (in some cases, not even to the Lord Himself).

Mike Keith said...

I was thinking more about the idea of canon law in the (North) American Lutheran church. I suspect it would be unlikely (although perhaps helpful) because we would have an aweful time coming to agreement on such laws. If we were to decide to haev canon law regulating our Services who would decide these matters?

Rev. Paul Beisel said...

Larry, you've got a good point. This is not inherent in Lutheranism per se, but American Lutheranism, and the LC-MS in particular, which was founded on democratic principles. It's governance and structure mirror that of our country. Although, unlike civil government, which makes laws and regulations, our church government makes no such thing. I'm not saying this is a bad thing. But the point I hear you making is that other LUtheran church bodies do not suffer from this problem of "anything goes" liturgically speaking.

Like I said before, the closest thing we have to a "church order" is our altar book. ONe thing that is different than the old Rubrics of TLL is that there are no more shalls when it comes to the conduct of the service. We have become a synod that prescribes nothing, but allows everything.

Paul McCain said...

But how willing are those who love the liturgy willing to admit that there is a little American inside each of us, no matter how "high church" or "liturgical" we are?

When we have guys bewailing the lack of liturgical uniformity among us, casting a particularly critical look toward those who are doing things that parrot the Evangelicals, are we willing also to be critical of those who run off on their own in the other direction, concocting the "liturgy as it should be, what Luther should have done, but didn't, but this is really the Western Catholic way of doing it"?

There seems to be more than a little liturgical pietism at work among us as well, on the "high" side of the equation.

wmc said...

I don't think that confessional subscription to the Confessions alone would clinch a lex orandi. The passages cited are indeed "descriptive;" what is prescriptive under a "quia" subscription are the Scriptural doctrines contained therein.

The closest to a lex orandi among Lutherans that I am aware of are the 16th and 17th century Kirchenordnungen, which spelled out in rather considerable detail the canon law for the region. These varied considerably, from region to region. Magdeburg, the darling among the "high liturgy" types, was as close to the Catholic ditch as you could get. Other regions were considerably "lower" in their approach to the liturgy. All of them were quite specific as to hymnal, agenda, and practice for the churches of that region.

That state/regional church model didn't transplant to America, for which the denomination is the closest equivalent.

I agree - I would not want to see the current LCMS vote on a lex orandi.

Rev. Paul Beisel said...

Paul, don't get me wrong--I'm not saying that having a Church Order or Canon Law is the answer to all our problems, and as you rightly point out, even among those who are committed to using the traditional structure and rubrics of the liturgy have variations among them. Like, for instance, at my congregation, unlike David Petersen's, I don't genuflect before the Our Father, or during the Creed. And yet, in the spirit of the Confessions, neither of us would dream of criticizing or condemning the other because of the absence or presence of that particular ceremony. And yet, the fact remains that we are both committed to sticking to one of the rites that can be found in our hymnals. To me, this is a completely different type of "diversity" than what you find among those who have no personal commitment to the rites or orders of service found in one of our hymnals. This I see as deviant practice. I believe, Paul, that the kind of diversity that exists between my parish and Petersen's is the type that was envisioned by the Reformers, not a wholesale abandonment of historic worship forms.

But yet, I think all of us would admit and recognize that our liturgical practice can *always* improve. We are not static in the sense that once we get comfortable with something, that is it for the rest of our ministry.

So, go ahead and make the accusation of liturgical pietism if you want. You're right--we all have a little "American" in us that wants to do his (or her) own thing. Maybe it is even a little "Luther" inside of us that wants to tell anyone who would tell us what to do "to hell with you."

Paul McCain said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rev. Paul Beisel said...

Rev. McCain, I read you loud and clear. Good post. The only problem is that not everyone is completely satisfied with LSB. What do you do about that?

Fr. Timothy D. May, S.S.P. said...

[Responding to Paul M:] An American sociological or cultural reality is that the "liturgical" or "traditional liturgy" approach is probably not understood or appreciated by the majority of people, even those of the Christian faith. If this is the case then you need not fear. This approach will not spread like wildfire (which seems to be the a-theological standard today for "success" in worship.)

Another approach from an American standpoint may be the "freedom of religion" approach. This approach might say, "Those liturgical or traditional liturgical believers do not worship in a way that I like but I will not undermine their efforts. Rather, I will defend their right to worship as they believe." Our forefathers fought for this freedom to believe and worship as we please.

Ultimately though this cultural approach (Americans vs. Europeans or Americans vs. someone else) is all an avoidance of the question of where the liturgy is leading us - Christ in Word and Sacrament; Christ in the Eucharist. (It is OK for the liturgy to have a transcendent side even if and when it makes any culture uneasy.)

There is nothing wrong with liturgical or traditional liturgical piety. The very few congregations within our synod who worship in this manner have not hindered the freedom of the laity to worship in other congregations, the majority of which appear to have moved in a direction in worship that clearly disdains prior practice.

It appears that the cultural or sociological approach is concerned with keeping liturgy within anthropological constraints. This turns worship into a forum designed to please the "audience." A more catholic approach may be to allow the liturgy speak for itself with transcendent realities that draw those present to know and worship God in Christ.

Must we discuss liturgy only in anthropological, cultural or sociological terms in order not to be considered "pietistic?"

The Rev. J. Rinas said...

I don’t have my LCMS handbook at home and I am sure that it is different from ours in Canada. (Though I assume we leave much unchanged from our MO Synod days.) I offer an addition to The Rev. Beisel’s original post in which he considers 1) the synod as legislator in the order of worship, and 2) the Word of God as determiner of rites and ceremonies.

The Preamble to the LCC Constitution lays out the “Conditions of Membership,” which, as far as I knew, meant “not advisory.” Envisioning a canon law of sorts, I can appeal to Article VI.4. “Exclusive use of doctrinally pure agenda, hymn books, and catechisms in church and school” (Constitution, Preamble). This is a non-negotiable “condition of membership.”

On this statement in the Preamble there is some significant elaboration. “All service books and hymnals which are to be accepted as official service books and hymnals of the Synod shall be given such status only by a Convention after a process of exposure and testing decided upon by the Convention” (Synodical Bylaws, 2.109). As far as I can tell, this limits the options. You can debate amongst yourselves concerning the “binding force” of these statements; they’ve been debated previously. But it won’t change anybody’s minds anyway, since everyone has something invested that they don’t want to give up.

This debate is really tiring because it seems that the creeping disease known as “contemporary worship” cannot be overcome. But another fine attempt was made by John Stephenson, entitled “Liturgy and Dogma” (LOGIA, Reformation ‘04, pp.41ff.). He deals with the demand for a Biblical mandate to the liturgy. Cheers.

The Rev. Jody A. Rinas
Trinity, Quesnel, B.C.

wmc said...

The very few congregations within our synod who worship in this manner...

Care to hazard a guess as to how very few? I suspect it's fewer than many of us might wish for, but considerably more than we think. Let's not go Elijah here.

I would be content with a "canon law" that required member congregations to use the approved hymnals (we have 3 to choose from) and the service orders contained therein. I'd be even happier if we would discontinue prior hymnals and adopt the current one.

If the synod approves a completely unacceptable hymnal, perhaps that would be a strong indication that the time has come to part ways.

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

This is a great topic, and I'm pleased by the great discussion that has already transpired. The comments are indicative of the significant importance that attaches to the content and conduct of the rites and ceremonies of the Divine Service. Even that which is free is not irrelevant or insignificant. So also, for example, do passionate discussions and debates over styles of music to be used in the Divine Service belie the argument that such matters are neutral.

For the time being, I would simply add this observation: I've been struck repeatedly in the past by the way that Luther approaches questions of adiaphora and what has here been described as Canon Law (which Lutherans approximated rather closely with the sixteenth and seventeenth century church orders, so far as I can tell). I've often been intrigued, and at other times humbled, by the way he addresses these things under the rubric of Christian love for the neighbor. Sometimes that approach has befuddled and confused me; and then, at other times, when it has made perfect sense to me, it has put me to shame for my own lack of love. Too often, it has seemed to me, such discussions are driven by a zeal for faithfulness (not a bad thing, mind you, but a very good thing), yet with little reference to love. So I would offer the challenge that it should not be only the "liberals" who care about love.

Luther's introduction to the Deutsche Messe is particularly inviting, in my opinion; even though I have mixed feelings about some of his suggestions in that particular order of the Mass (some of his other suggestions I think are brilliant, but that's really beside the point here). It's basically a shorthand version of his seminal discussion on the Freedom of a Christian. Before God, in faith, one is entirely free, the slave of no man; before the neighbor, in love, one is the servant of all. Luther applies the same rubric to matters of liturgical adiaphora. It is for the sake of love that we do not indulge our freedom, but rather discipline ourselves, and establish and follow uniform practices. It is such love that drives Luther's conservativism.

This seems pertinent to the points that Pastor Beisel has raised. It is because of evangelical freedom that Lutherans resist a universal canon law; we recognize no conscience-binding "lex orandi" (by the popular understanding of that mostly misunderstood term). Yet, I am very much attracted to the suggestion that we would voluntarily bind ourselves to an agreed-upon common order of rites and ceremonies, for the sake of a slew of reasons that would fall collectively under the banner of love for the neighbor. Even the desire for faithfulness ought to be prompted by love -- for God and for our neighbor -- instead of being driven by temptations to fear and anxiety over our own righteouness, life and salvation.

It is for the sake of love that we follow the "rules" and abide by what we collectively agree upon. And for the sake of that same love, we will not demand that others must bear burdens that we ourselves are unable to carry.

I'm of a mind, in general, that love would delight in all of us agreeing to live within the ritual and rubrical parameters of the LSB (for example), and that ceremonial differences within those paramters would be handled pastorally within each congregation and honored from one parish and pastor to the next.

Father Hollywood said...

Further complicating matters is the fact that the COW has just given its imprimatur to a corpus of "praise and vomit songs" that are equally "canonized" by our B.S. alongside of all the rigorous hymnody that for the most part characterizes the LSB (although the LSB does have its share, though thankfully small, of "duds").

I take it that there will also be some additional liturgies of some sort that will have the same endorsement by our synod as LSB, in order to reflect the tastes of those who find the more traditional liturgies too high, too catholic, or simply too boring for the iPod generation.

The sad part is that there truly is room for a healthy diversity of liturgical and musical practices within the Lutheran tradition - especially based on regional or parochial traditions.

For example, at Zion - Fort Wayne (at least when I was attending there), for part of the church year, we would use one of Wilhelm Loehe's historic services that was venerable, ancient, and Lutheran (though not in any of the official books). There is simply nothing wrong with that, and there should be room for that. When Bach was a kantor at Leipzig, Lutherans there had a diversity of cantatas as part of their services. Who could possibly suggest that we ought never use Bach's Mass in B-minor in any of our churches, but replace it with the sing-songy DS4 just because the latter is "in the book" but the former is "not in the book"?

Technically, there are Paul Gerhardt hymns that are "out" but a Twila Paris ditty that is "in." I'm not sure an appeal to "just do what's in the book" is a solution either. Of course, to chant some of the Psalms you have to go outside the book - at least the ones in the pews.

But the notion of "diversity" has degraded to "anything goes" - to the point of clowns, dancing girls, rap, heavy metal, skits, sex talks, and Rolling Stones song parodies being considered simply the other side of the coin to being "too" liturgical.

Pushing a top-down synod solution will only outlaw Loehe and canonize Marty Haugen.

Personally, I see us moving in two different directions in our synod. And I believe the rift will continue until there is simply no other solution but a divorce.

We're fooling ourselves if we believe we will ever again have any semblance to LCMS liturgical uniformity. At this rate, we should be grateful any of our churches are using any liturgy at all.

Rev. Paul Beisel said...

Responding to Jody Rinas, first of all, thanks for the Canadian perspective. I have a lot of respect for the LCC. One can certainly appeal to the Synodical constitution conditions for membership and say that the exclusive use of doctrinally pure hymn books and agendas rules out those congregations that do not use one of the approved hymnals. But, the problem we run into then is that if something cannot necessarily be seen to be doctrinally impure, then the argument is that it should be allowable. It is too subjective of a constitutional rule. Ours does not, I don't believe, go into detail about requiring member congregations to use only those hymnals that have synodical approval. I could be wrong--I don't keep a copy of the synod handbook in my back pocket.

And to Pr. Stuckwisch: yes indeed, Luther's wonderful dictum: "love is empress in ceremonies." I think you make some great points here. I think that it is a laudable goal to agree on one hymnal, but then does that mean that if LSB leaves out some hymns from TLH or LW that we have to just say, "Well, too bad. We all agreed to use this hymnal, so I guess we'll have to grin and bear it and not use those hymns"? That seems awfully restrictive too.

Paul McCain said...

"We are not satisfied with LSB." "We do not like this, or that, or another thing." "We are going to do our own style of the liturgy, the way it really should be done, the way Western Catholics do it." "We are going to layer on elaborate Medieval rubrics, gesticulations and all manner of additional practices and customs."

These are all typical American-Lutheran sentiments, where there is within each of us the beating heart of the rebel, the independent revolutionary, the man who is the master of his own destiny, the man who cries out, 'Nobody is going to tell what to do! I'm free! I have my liberty!"

To which Luther responded:

Now even though external rites and orders ... add nothing to salvation, it is unChristian to quarrel over such things and confuse the common people. We should consider the edification of the laity more important than our own ideas and opinions ... Let each one surrender his own opinions and get together in a friendly way and come to a common decision about these external matters, so that there will be one uniform practice throughout your district instead of disorder ... For even though from the viewpoint of faith, the external orders are free and can without scruples be changed by anyone at anytime, yet from the viewpoint of love you are not free to use this liberty...

Or how about this one?

It is the cause of much incorrectness... when the external church ordinances, divine service and ceremonies are not held with reverence, or in orderly fashion, or in like manner. Also certain pastors purpose to act in these matters without uniformity. They shall carefully see to it that the ceremonies which have to do with hymns, clothing of the priests, administration of the sacrament ... as well as the festivals, be maintained in an orderly and uniform fashion, at one place as at another, uniform and in accord with such as occur at Wittenberg and Torgau, in accord with the Holy Scriptures...

Ceremonies [should be instituted] which give the external indication that in the congregation great, high, serious dealings are present, so that the ceremonies lead, stimulate, admonish and move the people to join together their thoughts, lift up their hearts in all humility. That there be in the congregation heartfelt devotion to the word, the Sacrament and prayer … Christian freedom has its place in this matter, as the ancients said, “Disagreement in rites does not take away agreement in faith.” It still brings all sorts of benefit that in ceremonies, so much as it is possible, a uniformity be maintained, and that such uniformity serve to maintain unity in doctrine, and that common, simple, weak consciences be all the less troubled, rather strengthened. It is therefore viewed as good that, as much as possible, a uniformity in ceremonies with neighboring reformed churches be affected and maintained. And for this reason, henceforth all pastors in the churches of our realm, shall emphatically follow this written church order, and not depart from the same without specific, grave cause. *

Sources of quotes:

First two: Wittenberg Church Order of 1542, prepared by Jonas, Cruciger, Bugenhagen, Melachthon, Luther, and others; Sehling, I:202.

The third is from the 1569 Church Order of Brauncshweig-Wolfenbuettel and was prepared by none other than Martin Chemnitz and Jacob Andreae, the chief authors and architects of the Formula of Concord. [Sehling VI.1, 139, 40].

The final quote is from: AL Richter ed, Die evangelischen Kirchenordnungen des
sechszehn ten Jahrhunderts. Urkunden und Regesten zur Geschichte des Rechts and
der Verfassung der evangelischen Kirche in Deutschland
, Leipzig, 1871, vol II:, p. 440.

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Pastor Beisel and Father Hollywood have both pointed to the example of hymnody (whether included in or omitted from the LSB). Most of you know that I have a special interest in and passion for hymns, so these are strong points in my book. My comments, however, were directed specifically to liturgical practice in rite, rubric and ceremony, with respect to that which is indicated in the official service book. While I would be reluctant to rule out the possibility of using Loehe's Agenda, as the example was given, I suggest that love may willingly set aside what is legal or lawful for the sake of other brethren. How does the congregation down the street (or even the laity of one's own congregation) discern the difference between using one thing versus another, neither of which is in the book agreed upon by the synodical fellowship? Is historical precedent to be the trump card criteria for us Lutherans? Lutherans love and appreciate, admire and respect the traditions of the Church, and even accord them a relative authority, but I think it becomes a bit dicey to make the history of something decisive for use. Perhaps if a particular congregation has an unbroken local tradition, maybe even going back to the days of Loehe and Wyneken, then using Loehe's Agenda would have some clear and unambiguous integrity. Otherwise, from the standpoint of the neighbor, it looks like one pastor's preference vs. another's, and it still ends up different than what the fellowship agreed upon together.

With respect to hymnody, however, I think there is a greater and more difficult challenge. There's a wealth of hymnody that has found a place within the repertoire of the Lutheran Church, which simply will not all fit within any one hymnal. Not only that, but hymns continue to be written from one generation to the next; the Lord continues to give these good gifts. That's the primary reason for publishing new hymnals periodically. In the meantime, I would not be inclined to say that a congregation "shall not" use any hymns from outside the official hymnal. But I don't believe that it should be "anything goes," either. That's why I have tried at various times to articulate sound criteria for the evaluation and selection of hymns. And for the most part, I believe that the vast majority of the hymns that a congregation sings ought to be from the official hymnal. In any case, I'm here suggesting that hymnody falls under a somewhat different category than liturgical rites, rubrics and ceremonies, by the nature of the case.

wmc said...

There is a vast difference between a "Loehe liturgy," which is simply a variant on the western catholic mass, and the tent revival that passes for "contemporary worship" these days. Likewise, there is a vast difference between a Gerhardt hymn that is not in the hymnal and some praise ditty cooked up at a jam session on Friday night.

The fact that we, as a synod, no longer can tell that difference, suggests to me that no lex, no matter how nuanced or well-intentioned, is going to solve the problem. Our church body's immune system is shot. We have theological AIDS. Anything can get into the system now under the guise of liberty.

In the left-hand kingdom, I've always said that I'm willing to tolerate things like pornography and Islam for the sake of free speech and freedom of religion. I can't say that when it comes to the hymns and worship in the right-hand kingdom. The theological impact of non-sacramental hymnody and anthropocentric liturgy is utterly devastating.

The solution, I believe, lies in the training of our pastors, teachers, and other church workers at our schools, universities, and seminaries and a synodical leadership that encourages its congregations to "dare to be Lutheran." Without a truly Lutheran ethos, shaped by Scripture, Confessions, and Hymnal, we are doomed to the least common denominator in American denominationalism - Evangelicalism.

Father Hollywood said...

Pr. Cwirla notes: "Our church body's immune system is shot. We have theological AIDS."

I believe this is an apt metaphor. Instead of submission to God's way (cruciform christocentric worship rooted in the Word of God), the current popular paradigm is "if it feels good, do it" and "keep your rubrics off my worship."

It's all about rebellion and shock value - kind of like Ru Paul.

In Romans 1, Paul (Saint, not Ru, obviously) speaks of homosexuality as idolatry (see especially verse 25 where "elatreusan" is specifically used). Homosexuality is a form of idolatry, and I think it is metaphorically correct to say that deviant, rebellious, man-centered worship is akin to homosexuality.

Kind of puts a new spin on the word that often comes to mind in these kinds of worship services: "banal."

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Granted, there's an obvious difference between Loehe's Agenda and much of the nonsense that gets cranked out on a weekly basis. But these are extreme examples on opposite ends of a spectrum, and there are any number of differences in between, some of which are not so readily discerned. Besides that, the 16th and 17th centuary church orders were not faced with options other than variations on the historic western mass (to one degree or another); yet, they specified the use of particular orders for their own territories.

Anyway, my main point is not that "we" should tell someone else that using Loehe's Agenda is forbidden. Rather, I suggest that each pastor should think twice before using anything that stands outside what we have agreed upon together as a synodical fellowship. There are times to do so, for a variety of reasons, but those ought to be the exceptions to the rule, rather than the norm.

Rev. Jacob Sutton said...

Adding to Pastor Stuckwisch's comments - I agree that these things should be the exception to the rule.

I too experienced Loehe's service at Zion-Fort Wayne, and I believe a Praetorius composed service there as well, and I too experienced Healey Willan's composed Divine Service at Redeemer-Fort Wayne. And those are great, beautiful and faithful stuff.

I would ask for discretion and a limit on these for the sake of Christian neighbors - say my in-laws or other relatives and friends (good pious pg 5 and 15 TLH Lutherans) who came to visit us in Fort Wayne while we were in seminary, only to be hit up with music which they had NO CHANCE of following along with without further expert training. For them, Zion and/or Redeemer became no better than the revival tent down the street - they were off on their own in these cases doing their own thing. It may not have been totally fair for them to harshly judge these congregations in such a way, I'll grant, but it was what happened. They were turned off to what are great congregations with great pastors with much to offer them in Christ. That was too bad, despite my best efforts to convince otherwise.

So - is it so wrong to say we need to stick with our Synodically agreed upon hymnals and agendas in respect to the Divine Services and the Hymns, for the sake of the neighbor who may come in from "Country Lutheran Church", where there is no resources to put on Loehe or Praetorius or Willan? Or do we say, well those people only come by once in a while, and who cares if we offend them, since they won't be back anyway? Yet, what if they go back with the attitude that since the fancy church in Fort Wayne (or North Dallas in my case) is doing their own thing, so we in the country church can do our own thing as well - and maybe we've started something we didn't intend? I wonder if decisions liturgical should be for the sake of the love of the lay neighbor, or for the sake of the love of the pastoral neighbor who doesn't know the oncoming truck that might be about to blindside him?

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Pr. Sutton:

I respectfully disagree. Your folks were visitors. This isn't going to ruin their faith. That was a respectful, traditional Lutheran service. We do things for the sake of the "weaker brother" so as not to allow their faith to be destroyed; not so that they will have everything exactly the way they would prefer.

You used the word "offended" - were they really "offended" by that traditional divine service? Like "dancing girls and chancel drama offended"? Just because of the musical setting of the liturgy? That just seems a little strong to me.

In fact, other people might be inspired by churches that are capable of musicality that their own parishes aren't capable of. I never ran into anyone who said: "That Fort Wayne Kantorei really offends me and threatens my faith because I can't follow their music."

I would not want Zion - Fort Wayne to put the lid on the timpani or stop up the trumpets because a visitor might struggle with the notes, or because they put my church to shame in what they are capable of liturgically and musically.

And isn't it odd that CPH owns the copyright to a lot of Healy Willan's church music - a good bit of which is liturgical? Are we just holding onto it until it becomes Divine Service 39 in the Lutheran Service Book and Hymnal Supplement to be released in 2155?

I disagree that we should strive for a lowest common denominator approach because country churches may not be able to have access to what urban churches have (my parish is urban, but has no choir or any special music to speak of, though we have a great organist and outstanding music teacher at our school). I would not begrudge another church that can do what we can't Soli Deo gloria.

If the church at Leipzig had followed that approach, we'd have virtually no music from Johann Sebastian Bach. Bach wrote liturgical music to be sung in churches. Can you imagine telling Bach, "Sorry, but you can only do DS1 thru DS5 just as written and that's it. No fancy 'city' stuff"?

Also, what about various choral vespers services that are sung by choirs? These services often take liberties with the LSB rubrics.

Heck, even our common "services of lessons and carols" for Christmas deviate from the hymnal.

Having the choir Singing Adeste Fideles in Latin (which is not in the hymnal) is simply not in the same category as Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer performed by the praise band.

Again, I mean no disrespect, but I just disagree. If we had to stick to the hymnal all the time, we'd have no motets or other sacred song that originated from the Lutheran Divine Service.

The real problem, as I see it, is what was described to me with a straight face by one of my less-traditional classmates. He was as serious as a heart attack when he told me that Amy Grant was every bit as deep and profound as J.S. Bach, and her music would last just as long.

I don't believe that the deeper problem of lack of discernment can be fixed by a simple appeal to 100% lockstep conformity. That would only address the symptom, not the cause.

Mike Keith said...

With regard to Article VI.4 of the LCC Constitution (which is I believe the exact same as LCMS) I did some investigating a few years ago. I asked our Committee for Worship (LCC) to give me the proper understanding of this article. Does this article require the use of Synodically "approved" materials? The answer is no. So what does this article mean? That we are required to use theologically pure materials. I then enquired who it was that determined if it something is theologically pure. The answer: The pastor loci. He is the one who is responsible for what is used in the parish which he serves.

While I wish it were different - that is the way the article reads. The fact that our Synods do go to a lot of work and effort to provide us with theologically pure materials should not be overlooked and I am continually shocked at how some choose not to take the advice of many learned men who have laboured on a hymnal and go and choose something that was put together by a non-Lutheran. So, it seems to me that we need to trust our brother pastors in their judgement in the place where they have been called to serve. However, we also need to be willing to question and discuss when they use something that is not theologically pure. We also need to be open to such critique ourselves.

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

For the sake of clarification, I haven't suggested 100% lockstep conformity, which I don't think is possible, nor desirable. And in particular, with respect to the hymnody (and musical adornment in general), I've offered that this presents a somewhat different category than liturgical practice.

What I have suggested is that, with respect to liturgical practice in rites and ceremonies, it would be desirable, for the sake of love, to abide within the paramaters of the agreed-upon service books of our fellowship. For good or ill, with LSB that hardly amounts to 100% lockstep conformity, since there is a fair degree of latitude in its rubrics, as well as a good deal of silence on many of the (ceremonial) particulars. It seems to me that new music can be composed to serve within those parameters, as well as prayers formulated by the bishops (that is, the parish pastors) according to their abilities, within the regula fidei.

Of course there is a need for discernment. Striving together to develop and hone such discernment is part of our fraternal privilege and responsibility, in my opinion. Not in isolation, but within that context of ongoing conversation and consolation of the brethren, one of the primary places wherein our collective discernment is (or ought to be) manifested is in the mutually received and agreed-upon official service books and hymnals of our confessional fellowship.

I guess I would simply urge that we guard ourselves against thinking only in terms of what will "fix things" and of how to "protect" ourselves, and rather think primarily in terms of how to love and serve one another, both by what we confess and insist upon, and by what we voluntarily relinquish within our freedom of faith in the Gospel.

Rev. Jacob Sutton said...

Responding to Pr. Beane's comments to my comments:

Your keyboard is much sharper than mine. Please watch how you swing things that are sharp. I'm not sure how respectful your disagreement was with me - because one can't see the person or hear the person talking over a keyboard.

So I don't know where to start in response. I've already spent too much time on this today. I did not say these folks had their faith ruined. I did not say in particular they were "offended" (I would classify it as disappointment). Others could have been more offended. I did not say or mean to say my friends and family were simpleton country bumpkins who hate the fine arts. I did not mean to say that we should ALWAYS and ONLY limit ourselves to the hymnbooks perfectly in lockstep ALL THE TIME. Nor did I say I wanted everyone to cap off their tympani nor only have Grandma 3-beat/minute Schmidt sitting on the organ console. Nor would I have gone the route of JS Bach being on an equal par to Amy Grant. Nor putting on equal footing Adeste Fideles with Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

But I did say - Zion and others with such resources should use these things with discretion and a thought or two for the church at large, their neighbors in Christ. Why can, why does, St. Paul Fort Wayne put their best foot forward consistently within the hymnal, using all the beautiful music you describe as well? Why do we have to use a complex Praetorius or Loehe or Willan setting to do so? And use them often or even always, as if to prove some point? I could understand whipping out that kind of special music for special occasions - but on the 4th Sunday after Epiphany? On the 15th Sunday after Trinity? Why? Because we can?

Peace in Christ:
Pr. Sutton

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Jacob:

Fair enough. Grandma "3 beat/minute" Schmidt made me LOL.

I don't know what the custom is at Zion now, but if it's the same as when I attended, they used page 15 (the common service) during certain seasons and Loehe during others. You could ask Pr. Punke for an explanation - I'm sure he wouldn't mind hearing your concerns.

No matter what any church does, someone is always going to complain. When we use DS3, one of my prominent members gripes about the "thees and thous." When we use DS1, others complain that it doesn't have the "thees and thous." When we use DS5, a whole lot of people gripe about all the singing. And whenever we switch, I complain, because I have to read the book myself because we keep using different words. And we're using the Lutheran "Standard" Book, for crying out loud! (sigh).

If someone is used to the common service, they could well be offended, jolted, or unhappy with a congregation they are visiting that is using DS1, 1, or 4. Likewise, a person who has been raised on the "blue hymnal" may well recoil at DS3 when away from home.

So even with LSB, the possibilities to be offended are (nearly) endless.

Rev. Luke T. Zimmerman said...

In the preceding comments, opinions have differed regarding use of different settings of the Divine Service, rubrics, and ceremonies.

However, in my mind, these are different topics, and should be treated as such. Part of the difficulty in making the distinction is that our hymnals have [mistakenly?] published orders of service with music and with some rubrics included. This is so, even while some rubrics and other orders of service may only remain in the Altar Book or Agenda.

I would contend that having different musical settings of an ordo (as exemplified by the mention of the Willen setting) is not disruptive of true unity as opposed to employing orders of worship which lead to different confession (the topic that most concerns Lutherans) by what is prayed and having no consensus between congregations. Likewise, whether a congregation begins the Divine Service with a procession or not is a matter not really a matter of confession.

Perhaps we could come to a consensus regarding ordo (e.g. adopting the text of what has been published in the LSB materials), but allowing variety in music and rubrics/ceremony. This appears to be similar to the way the Book of Common Prayer serves parishes in the Anglican Communion [with its own issues of confession].

Such consensus on the true lex orandi could allow (a) people to use their divinely-given talents to compose and present music for worship, (b) ministers to use sanctified wisdom regarding ceremonies in their parishes, (c) congregations to show an consensus of faith, and most importantly (d) Christians to make true and correct confession in Divine Service, worshiping in spirit and truth.


Bryce P Wandrey said...

Luke, I think you have an excellent point. In my mind, to an extent, music is very subjective. I am no expert, and I am sure musically some music is simply "better" (quality of writing and composition) than other music. (Personally, I find "contemporary" sacred music almost as unfulfilling as sitting through a 10-minute setting of the Sanctus by Byrd). But in the end, if we are looking for a least common denominator (which I am not sure you can ask for more) the ordo would be it.

But there of course must be freedom, Sunday to Sunday, in that ordo as well. Certain things must be staples while others are spices, appetizers and desserts.

And from congregation to congregation, there must be freedom in vestments, ceremonial and ritual actions. I say spice it up all you want. Why not? Keep it simple. Why not? Have commonality without uniformity.

In the end, "peace and good order" is not the same as being identical nor even being uniform.

Rev. Jacob Sutton said...

Thanks, Father Hollywood.
You are spot on correct - someone can get offended no matter, even if staying within the book. My first Sunday here after ordination, I had a man offended by LSB 636, stanza 5 confront me after the service - he didn't like the word "worthily." He ended up denying the Small Catechism's definition of "worthy" reception of the Lord's Supper, and saying the Catechism was junk too while we were at it. All on the first day! (He had other problems...)

I like the point made after - "commonality without uniformity" - this means being somewhat thoughtful for those around us. I am glad we are talking about this within a liturgical, Divine Service framework. I only wish someone somewhere had impressed upon the crowd that goes for the non-liturgical, pop evangelical stuff the same concern for their neighbors, a churchmanship to not just go it alone all the time. To try to maintain a commonality. Some do. Most do not.

wmc said...

No matter what any church does, someone is always going to complain. When we use DS3, one of my prominent members gripes about the "thees and thous." When we use DS1, others complain that it doesn't have the "thees and thous."

In the LSB liturgy committee, we initially proposed a uniform language across the board, but we received threats, so that idea was quickly discarded.

Jesse said...

Pr. Grobien suggested above that there may be other avenues by which we may come to greater uniformity in practice, which we have not fully explored, and gave music as an example. Since "our synodical governance provides no recourse for compelling our colleagues to use this or that particular rite or form of liturgy," can we at least make an appeal for good quality “churchly” music through a stronger and more objective critique of music employed in the service?

Sadly, I think the limitations toward uniformity in music (or a uniform genre and quality of music) are as great as those toward uniformity in rites and liturgical forms. Recall that even the intervallic content of music has been (needed to be?) legislated by canon law (re: the history of the tritone). Also, I don’t believe that music theory is as objective as we might like it to be. In many ways the history of music theory has been to codify our subjective judgments of music.

Why we may fancy this or that turn of phrase or cadence formulation over another or why we may regard some musical line as stronger than another (sometimes the terms masculine and feminine have been employed here) has an objective, scientific basis in acoustics and even our human physiology and cognition, but knowing the objective science of musical elements (even the quantifiable emotions or dispositions that certain musical elements may engender) won’t lead us to a well-formed church music.

In the end, we know and characterize music as churchly if we hear it in church. And we regard that music to be of high quality if it is technically well-formed and if it aids in the conveyance of a quality and orthodox text. Church music must constantly build upon and be based in its past if it is to remain intelligible as such. Church music (and its attendant aesthetic) must be passed down and preserved in the same way that our doctrine is. And (to pick up on what Pr. Zimmerman has said) liturgically, church music must clothe texts, which are uniform and subject to a minimum of variation.

If we want people to know texts (mass ordinaries), we can’t enshrine certain tunes as their perpetual conveyers, else those tunes become mere mnemonics. Give me a whole book of musical settings (all of good churchly quality) on a single mass text and I’ll deliver to you a congregation that knows the mass. Maybe the saints at Redeemer, Ft Wayne know their ordinaries better because they sing pg. 15 and Willan.

Sure it will be difficult (and frustrating) for some to walk off the street and sing a new setting cold. But it can hardly be offensive because the text could not be more familiar. And I think we too often minimize the collective musical intelligence in our church (no doubt the envy of every other church), which has been forged through education and perhaps singing four part harmony along with the hymns in TLH.

One might argue then that a common ordo becomes the guarantor of the highest quality music to adorn it.

Rev. Jesse Ehme Krusemark

Rev. Paul Beisel said...

There was just as much variation in ceremony during the 16th and 17 centuries as there is today among those who use the common services. Some Lutherans preferred the choral services and some preferred the simple congregational singing. I am not against having variation in these things.