01 August 2008

The Prayer of Thanksgiving

I was talking to a friend recently about the seemingly new Lutheran practice of inserting a "prayer of thanksgiving" between the Sanctus and the Our Father (or between the Sanctus and the Words of Institution), as can be seen, for example, in Lutheran Worship (LCMS, 1982), Lutheran Service Book (LCMS, 2006), and the brand new Christian Worship Supplement (WELS, 2008). My friend expressed his objections to this, seeing it as an ill-advised modern ecumenical concession to those who insist that a prayer at this point in the Liturgy is a necessity. I pointed out in response that the liturgical tradition of American Lutheranism included such a usage long before the advent of the modern "Liturgical Movement" with its various Dixian demands, and that another way of interpreting the appearance of such prayers in modern hymnals is to see it as a restoration of something that was previously used by American Lutherans within the memory of many who are alive today.

The Evangelical Lutheran Hymnal was published in 1908 by the Lutheran Book Concern (Columbus, Ohio), by order of the First English District of the Joint Synod of Ohio and Other States. The second part of "The Order of Morning Service," entitled The Holy Communion, includes the Preface, the Proper Preface, the Sanctus, the Exhortation, the Consecration, the Agnus Dei, the Pax, the Distribution, the Nunc Dimittis, the Thanksgiving, the Post-Communion Collect, the Benedicamus, and the Benediction.

Below you'll find the texts that appear under the heading "The Consecration," from pp. 21-22 of the 1908 Evangelical Lutheran Hymnal. You'll notice, by the way, that there is also a prayer following the Words of Institution. But the Words of Institution themselves are not embedded within a prayer. Luther D. Reed, on p. 351 of The Lutheran Liturgy (1947 revised edition), says that these Ohio Synod sacramental prayers were taken from the 1879 Liturgy of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria. This 1908 hymnal, with this order of service, was not supplanted in the Ohio Synod until its 1930 merger with the Iowa and Buffalo Synods, at which time the new American Lutheran Hymnal - which removed such prayers from the Liturgy - was published. It is very likely, however, that many former Ohio Synod congregations in the new American Lutheran Church continued to use the 1908 hymnal well into the middle part of the twentieth century.

My friend was unaware of all of this. With the thought that there may be others who have a similar liturgical interest, but who likewise are unfamiliar with this tradition, I am sharing the pertinent section from the Ohio Synod liturgy here.


GLORY be to Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, Thou almighty and everlasting Son of the Father, that by the sacrifice of Thyself upon the cross, offered up once for all, Thou didst perfect them that are sanctified, and ordain, as a memorial and seal thereof, Thy Holy Supper, in which Thou givest us Thy body to eat, and Thy blood to drink, that being in Thee, even as Thou art in us, we may have eternal life, and be raised up at the last day. Most merciful and exalted Redeemer, we humbly confess that we are not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which Thou hast shown unto us, and that, by reason of our sins, we are too impure and weak worthily to receive Thy saving gifts. Sanctify us, therefore, we beseech Thee, in our bodies and souls, by Thy Holy Spirit, and thus fit and prepare us to come to Thy Supper, to the glory of Thy grace, and to our own eternal good. And in whatsoever, through weakness, we do fail and come short, in true repentance and sorrow on account of our sins, in living faith and trust in Thy merits, and in an earnest purpose to amend our sinful lives, do Thou graciously supply and grant, out of the fulness of the merits of Thy bitter sufferings and death; to the end that we, who even in this present world desire to enjoy Thee, our only comfort and, Savior, in the Holy Sacrament, may at last see Thee face to face in Thy heavenly kingdom, and dwell with Thee, and with all Thy saints, for ever and ever. Amen.

OUR FATHER, Who art in heaven; Hallowed be Thy Name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven; Give us this day our daily bread; And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; And lead us not into temptation; But deliver us from evil; For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and over. Amen.

OUR LORD Jesus Christ, in the night in which He was betrayed, took bread; and when He had given thanks, He brake and gave it to His disciples, saying, Take, eat; this is My body, which is given for you; this do in remembrance of Me.

AFTER the same manner, also, He took the cup, when He had supped, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; this cup is the New Testament in My blood, which is shed for you, and for many, for the remission of sins; this do, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me.

PRAISE, and honor, and glory, be unto Thee, O Christ! The bread which we bless is the communion of Thy holy body, and the cup which we bless is the communion of Thy holy blood. O Thou everlasting Son of the Father, sanctify us by Thy Holy Spirit, and make us worthy partakers of Thy sacred body and blood, that we may be cleansed from sin and made one with all the members of Thy Church in heaven and on earth. Lord Jesus! Thou hast bought us: to Thee will we live, to Thee will we die, and Thine will we be forever. Amen.


wmc said...

Excellent post! I recall our discussion of this liturgy in the liturgy committee of LSB. Thank you very much for reminding us here. I believe you will find the same in the Swedish Lutheran orders, but the English American context is most helpful for those who forget the ELH, which was the English precursor to TLH.

David Jay Webber said...

...the English American context is most helpful for those who forget the ELH, which was the English precursor to TLH.

Just so there's no confusion, though: The Missouri Synod's precursor to TLH was the Evangelical Lutheran Hymn-Book, not the Evangelical Lutheran Hymnal, which was the Ohio Synod's hymnal. And the Missouri Synod's ELHB did not include those prayers before and after the Verba.

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Thanks for sharing this, Brother Webber. I am familiar with this prayer, which we did indeed look at (along with many others) in our work on the Lutheran Service Book.

Interestingly, this is the very prayer that Dr. Korby shared with the LCMS Commission on Worship, via Dr. Nagel, for the work that was being done on Lutheran Worship back in the late 1970s.

What is particularly striking about this prayer is that it is addressed entirely to Christ (with the exception of the Our Father). Historically, eucharistic prayer has been addressed to the Father "through Christ in the Spirit" (as St. Basil argues, for example, in his treatise on the Holy Spirit in the fourth century). I'm not making that observation as a critique, but simply as a matter of interest. We followed that lead, to a small extent, in the LSB, by addressing the Anamnesis to Christ (in Divine Service Settings One and Two). As I recall, Brother Weedon initially had some reservations about that approach, but later expressed his affirmation of the same. It works well, liturgically speaking.

In addition to the Ohio Synod eucharistic rite that you have shared with us here, Dr. Nagel brought to the work that was done on Lutheran Worship examples of similar prayers from the Lutheran Churches in England and Germany. And if my memory still serves, it was Pastor Evanson who brought the eucharistic rite from the Church in Sweden to bear on that work.

In the end, although we explored other possibilities, we opted to follow the lead of those fathers in Christ who worked on LW, and to build on those foundations, rather than taking an entirely new turn.

I should add that, presumably, the Ohio Synod eucharistic rite would have been influenced by the work of Wilhelm Loehe, whose order of the Divine Service includes the fuller sort of eucharistia such as you are describing.

wmc said...

Rick - I thought you served on the lectionary committee. Or was I just jet-lagged most the time I was in St. Louis over those 7 years?

DJW - Thanks for the ELH-B / ELH clarification. You are correct. ELH-B runs in the way of TLH. (Couldn't resist that blatant Nagelism.)

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Yes, I served on the lectionary committee, but I was also on the Lord's Supper working group (under your liturgy committe) from the beginning. We started working our way through eucharistic rites in the spring of 1999 (much of that preliminary work beginning while I was also teaching for the first time over in Novosibirsk; then, and thereafter, we did pretty much everything via extensive e-mail discussions). The eucharistic rite in Divine Service Settings One and Two was the culmination of our most significant efforts.

The bulk of my work for the hymnal project was with the lectionary committee, no doubt. But nothing in the project was closer to my own passions and personal interests than that work we did on the eucharistic rites. It went hand in hand with my dissertation research. Furthermore, the collegial friendships that were made and developed in that work remain most precious to me.

wmc said...

Oh yeah, I forgot about the working groups. You and Kent Burreson & Co. (See what I meant about jet lag?) As I recall, you guys were among the few working groups that worked. We always enjoyed Kent's reports. Great work!

As a practical matter regarding the LSB orders where the Verba are surrounded by prayer, praise, and thanksgiving, I find it very useful to chant the Verba, whether chanting is specified or not, to set their proclamation off against the background of prayer. This works equally well in DS 1,2,and 4.

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

The Lord's Supper working group was great, and, yeah, we worked our tails off (at some points more than others, certainly). Kent Burreson and I were already good friends and colleagues prior to that point, but it was in the context of that working group that I really got to know Brothers Kent Heimbigner and William Weedon. For that benefit alone I shall be permanently grateful.

For the record, it was the intention of the working group that the Verba be chanted in each setting of the Divine Service, and especially in Settings One and Two (also for the reason you mention).

I'm particularly pleased with the contributions we were able to make, not only in those first two settings, but in the eucharistic rite of Setting Four and in the conflation of Luther's Deutche Messe and Formula Missae in Setting Five. Everything was a group effort, lots of give and take, and lots of learning along the way (for me at least).

Someday, I want to set the record straight regarding the proposal we made for Settings One and Two. As I expected, the scuttlebutt on that has been mistaken (not here, but elsewhere). I won't attempt that clarification here, but it will need to be done at some point. What appears in the LSB was set forth by the working group (and then adopted by the Liturgy Committee) after careful deliberation, on the basis of theological, academic and pastoral considerations.

I should also say that the working groups under our Lectionary Committee, though varying in the approaches to their tasks, did yeoman's work all along the way. I did gather from Paul Grime that the character and function of the working groups differed rather remakably from committee to committee, by the nature of the case.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

This just highlights what a tragedy the Predestinarian Controversy was and how much good in American Lutheranism was lost when Ohio and Missouri went their separate ways.

Rick - if you might - why for the strong Loehe influence on the old Ohio hymnal? Ohio didn't merge with Iowa until 1930. . . this is the hymnal that is the precursor. If anyone brought a strong Loehe influence to the ALC I would have thought it would have been Iowa.

:sigh: I come from a long line of Ohioans. . . my dad and I got out before she sank. . . the rest of my family didn't, and it's sad to see what has happened to their theology.

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Eric, it's certainly possible that I spoke to quickly, and I may be wrong concerning Loehe's influence. I'm only thinking that, by 1908, his liturgical contributions would have informed others outside of the Iowa Synod. I should go back and check my various resources on the history of things. That would be safer than shooting off responses from memory. Thanks for the question.

David Jay Webber said...

My initial post referred to the 1908 edition of the Ohio Synod's Evangelical Lutheran Hymnal. I should add that these same sacramental prayers can also be found in an earlier 1896 edition of that hymnal, which happens to be online HERE.

Rev. Luke T. Zimmerman said...


While the Iowans would seem to have more of a direct influence from Loehe, you did have a number of the Sendlinge in Ohio. It would not be out of the question that these men from Franconia (a region in Bavaria) would have brought Loehe's agenda with them. [Pr. Webber noted the Bavarian source of this Prayer of Thanksgiving.]

For perhaps the real connection to Loehe, one would only need to read his agenda for Lutheran congregations to see a very, very similar prayer of thanksgiving. In the 3rd edition of Loehe's agenda (mid-1800s) that F.C. Longaker translated in 1902 (and which Repristination Press republished), you will find this prayer as the Oratio Fractionis which comes after the Sanctus, Verba, and Agnus Dei, but before the Our Father. The location in the service is different, but the text is identical. (Loehe's agenda does not include the prayer which the Ohio Synod's liturgy includes after the Verba.)

On Monday, I'll have to pull down the Loehe volume to note the source of his Oratio Fractionis, but I would wager that it is the same source as this prayer from the Ohio Synod. [I could also look at an old Iowa Synod agenda that I possess to see if the prayer is located in their Divine Service.]


Rev. Luke T. Zimmerman said...

The following is Longaker's 1902 English translation (pp. 31-32) of the Oratio Fractionis from Loehe's Agende (3rd Edition from 1859), referred to in my above post:

"Blessed art Thou, Lord Jesus Christ, Almighty and Everlasting Son of God, that Thou hast through the perfect sacrifice of Thy body and blood, offered once and for all, perfected them that are sanctified, and hast ordained this holy Supper as a memorial and seal, in which Thou givest us Thy body to eat and Thy blood to drink, that we, being in Thee, as Thou art in us, may have everlasting life and be raised to a glorious immortality at the last day. Gracious and Exalted Savior, we are not worthy to receive the mercy and goodness which Thou dost give us, and on account of our sins are far too unclean and weak rightly to receive this salutary gift. Sanctify us therefore in body and soul by Thy Holy Spirit; prepare us and adorn us with grace to draw near Thy holy Table. Whatever through our weakness we lack in repentance for sin and unshaken faith in Thy merits and earnest purpose to amend our life, with the richness of the merit of Thy bitter sufferings unto death do Thou fulfil so that we who on our pilgrimage partake of Thee our only Consolation and Saviour, may at last see Thee face to face in the Fatherland above and with all believers abide in Thee forever. Amen."

The language is strikingly similar to the Ohio Synod's prayer that Pr. Webber brought to our attention. I would contend that it is the same prayer and the only difference is in the various translators' choice of word order or selection.

As noted above, this prayer is also found in the Iowa Synod's 1919 Agenda (p. 36) in the same place as it was in Loehe's Agende: following the Sanctus, Verba, and Agnus Dei, but before the Our Father, Pax Domini, and Distribution. Also, as noted above, the final paragraph included in the Ohio Synod's ordo ("Praise, and honor, and glory, be unto Thee...") is absent.

I believe this helps to locate the common source between both the Ohio Synod's and Iowa Synod's use of this prayer in the Divine Service.


Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Brother Zimmerman, thanks for tracking down and demonstrating the connection between Loehe's liturgical work and the Ohio Synod prayer of thanksgiving. That fits with what my memory and gut instinct were telling me, but I've not had time to follow that up with any looking and reviewing of my own resources; so I appreciate your efforts.

Christopher Esget said...

If David or Rick (or anyone else who knows) sees this, coming so late after the initial discussion: Who is appointed to say the Pater Noster in this liturgy? Is it the Celebrant, or the People?

Pr. H. R. said...

Pr. Esget,

There's was a more detailed account of this over at Pr. Eckardt's blog a while back. TLH contains the traditional rubric here: the Celebrant intones the Our Father and the people add the Doxology. This is how the Doxology became attached to the prayer - it is a liturgical vestige.

See Fr. Eckardt's post for more details on the theology of the Our Father as a prayer of Consecration (as mention, I think, in the Apostolic Constitutions. . . )


Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

Pastor Esget, I know that Pastor Curtis has responded with respect to the history of the Our Father in the Eucharist. I'm assuming, though, that you were asking more specifically concerning the Ohio Synod prayer that was posted. I've been intending to check on that for you, and finally managed to do so today.

The Our Father is prayed in "The Order of Morning Service," both at the end of "The General Prayer" (whether the Holy Communion will follow or not), and again in the Eucharist, in connection with "The Consecration."

In "The General Prayer," the Our Father is prayed by the "Minister and Congregation."

In the Eucharist, the Our Father is prayed by the Minister, including the doxology and the "Amen," at least so far as I can tell from the rubrics, which do not specify or indicate any participation by the congregation at that point. This is from the 1908 Evangelical Lutheran Hymnal of the Ohio Synod.

As I recall -- and Pastor Schaibley may be able to verify this if he is following along, because I think he was the one who made this point to me along the way -- the old Saxon-Missouri practice, under Walther, included the Our Father three or four times in each Divine Service. In that case, there was also this distinction between the usage of the Our Father in the General Prayer and in the Consecration.

Robert said...

Dear brother Richard, the multiple usage of the Our Father, about which we previously conversed, is found first (as far as I have been able to trace things) in the 1856 Agende, where the Vaterunser is prayed, silently, by the congregation before the sermon, then by the pastor alone, again silently, after the sermon. Then, at the conclusion of what we would call the "General Prayers," the Vaterunser is prayed, lautem, by pastor and congregation together. Finally, in the consecration, the Vaterunser is chanted by the pastor alone, with the longer termination sung by the congregation (as we still do in Divine Service III). The same rubrics are deliniated in the 1922 CPH edition of the Kirchenagenda.

Hope this helps! Christmas blessings continue for you and all the brethren who labor in the holy office!


Rev. Fr. Robert W. Schaibley, SSP
Falcon, Colorado