08 April 2010

A Question of Liturgical Observation

Although my congregation has been using the LSB for almost 3 and a half years, the only Divine Service which we have used is Divine 3 - and for the foreseeable future this will probably be the only service we do use. I don't mind this, although personally I'd like to acquire a least a passing familiarity with the other services (especially 1 and 2), especially for familiarity when traveling.

Here is my question. What are the thoughts and observation upon the semi-Eucharistic prayer options in DS 1 and 2? How do they flow, how well do they work? What is good about them and what is poor about them?

Again, I am simply wishing to know what some thoughts are - more based on the experience of actually using them. Information and personal observation please, not vitriol or commentary on someone else's opinion. Thanks to all who have time and inclination to answer.


William Weedon said...

I am curious what others think of them too (having been one who worked on them - and Dr. Stuckwisch another of Blackbirds who did - and is "meh" about the outcome).

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Well. . . I guess no one uses it =o)

Rev. Jacob Sutton said...

I'll humbly chime in, Eric.

One has to say that it's always good, in general, to pray to God, to extol all the salvific acts God has done for us, to pray for a right and faithful reception of our Lord Jesus' body and blood.

I suppose, however, that I have a "hard time" with the Eucharistic prayers in DS 1,2, and 4 not because they are not theologically sound (they are of course), not because they are not worthy of being said (and I do not wish to argue the fine points of whether or not this is the right thing to do liturgically and historically, that's been argued to the death over the years), but simply because of the point in time of where these prayers occur.

Going into "wimp" mode: I am tired, after preaching, of doing a whole lot of talking, especially in our second service of the day, knowing that there is much more talking yet to come - both liturgically (and in the distribution!), singing hymns and canticles, and out in the narthex after the service. At the point in time of the service where the prayer occurs, it is a lot of words to me to "get out", perhaps admitting here to being lazy to a certain extent. It's only two paragraphs, only about 1 minute of speaking. I can also sense in the people and in myself that there is a certain feeling - oh boy, another prayer, why can't we just "get on with it" to the Our Father and the Verba... as we do in DS 3. Maybe that is me and my congregation, most of whom have grown up on TLH pp.15...

Am I wrong to say, "I'd rather get to the Prayer and Words of our Lord"? Would we miss this prayer if it were not there? I've often thought that if I had a service running long due to some circumstances, this would be something to move past, and easily done because one just gives the introductory words to the Our Father, "Lord, remember us in Your kingdom and teach us to pray..." and the people would just skip right ahead and I doubt anyone would say, "boo." And I am not one to not follow my hymnal, I can be a liturgical stickler with the best of them, so I do not say this lightly.

Hoping not to be chastised for laziness, or for wanting to have a quicker mass on Sundays a la Professor Scaer:

Jacob Sutton

Fr. Timothy D. May said...

I only have a general response on this since I am unaware of all of the details of the history and debate on the eucharistic prayer. This was, of course, one of the key debates in the formation of the hymnals of the 70s and 80s.

I began to study the question a few years ago but must have mentioned online that I was studying it and then pretty soon I was "distracted" away from this question (as has happened over the years with other questions as well).

My guess is that "semi-Eucharistic prayer" is an accurate description of what is available in our hymnals since modern Lutheranism seems to tend toward "minimalism" in matters liturgical. Unfortunately, there is so much dissecting and re-writing going on in liturgical matters that it is almost better for many of us not to have the prayer than to destroy it.

That is the easy way out. By way of a general response, I would err in the direction of retaining the prayer, as close to its historic form as possible.

We will never lack, among us, those churches that can provide the "quick masses" (ie, the full masses are the exception among us). They are everywhere to be found. Some are even quite entertaining. If you want a "quick mass," make that your daily mass.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Rev. Sutton,

If you hear David Scaer in your head at times, you might appreciate the Scaerian Mass. Note, I don't think this has passed doctrinal review >=o)

Rev. Luke T. Zimmerman said...


Since 2004, I've been using the "Semi-Eucharistic Prayer" option in my parishes during the Easter Season. (I've also begun to use it for All Saints Day and the Sundays following.) I find that it flows well enough. The people have adapted to it.

The one possible annoyance is for celebrants who sing the Verba. It seems totally out of place, having so much spoken text around the chanted words. Perhaps it could be pointed for singing for parishes that could wing simple congregational responses. Or the Verba could be spoken when this option is used.

Additionally, I have substituted different Prayers of Thanksgiving in other seasons when not using the "Semi-Eucharistic Prayer" option: an adaptation of the Worship Supplement's prayer for Christmas/Epiphany and Loehe's Oratio Fractionis in Lent. These also seem to flow quite well, too.


Rev. Jacob Sutton said...

Rev. Brown,
Thanks for your reply. I nearly fell over reading that "Scareian Mass"... it's amazing what a bored seminarian can come up with! The hokey-pokey was too much.

I promise to read and pray the Eucharistic (or "SEMI"- as we're told) Prayer reverently and sincerely, and not in a rush. I also had not thought of a substitution for seasons (Rev. Zimmerman's post) - the DS 4 provides these seasonal variations as well, I suppose one could read them in DS 1 and 2...

Rev. Jacob Sutton said...

Humbly, I think this discussion ought go back to the August 2008 archive of this blog:


Here Rev. Zimmerman and others detail a wonderful history. I had completely forgotten this enlightened and well researched discussion. You might say that discussion was the reason to have a blog such as this. I hope not too many of the Blackbirds have quit blogging in response to chasing the many fads of the internet and computer device rat race.

Sandra Ostapowich said...

FWIW, from talking to members of my church who travel frequently to various places around the country, it sounds like DS 4 is quickly growing in popularity.

Fr. Timothy D. May said...

¡Yikes! Is this the confessional way to go? I know it is "Lutheran," always enjoying the exceptions.

Pr. Scott Klemsz said...

Good Evening. The parish I'm serving moved from TLH to LSB about 3 years ago. They did LW from the bulletin. We use DS 1,3, and 4 depending on the season of the year. Lent was DS 4, Easter is DS 1, Christmas was DS 3. We include the prayers as written year round when the service is used. I find them to be a blessing to the congregation as we prepare for the culmination of the Eucharistic service. It's a lot as Pastor Sutton says, but the spiritual preparation is a blessing to the church's members. Pax

James T. B said...


I am not surprised at the growing popularity of Divine Service Setting Four (DS-4). The thing that sets it apart from the other settings is its melodic music. It is easier to learn a tune than it is to learn a chant. We are used to hearing tunes in our daily lives. (e.g. not too many commercials use chanting.) If you learn the music to one stanza, you have, in effect learned all the music. Not only that, but the music is pitched a little lower. Since most men are baritones and not tenors this makes it easier and more pleasant to sing.

I am thinking that if my congregation ever moves from TLH to LSB I would use DS-4 during Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, and Pentecost Sunday. I would use DS-3 for the penitential seasons of Advent and Lent. DS-1 for the remaining summer months and DS-2 for the non-Advent portion of the autumn.

Rev. Robert Franck said...

We rotate through Divine Services 1, 3, and 4, usually by months. We use DS 1 during Easter and in November, with This is the Feast, and a couple other times during the year with the Gloria. Concerning the two options surrounding the Words of our Lord, I usually rotate between the two week by week. I haven't had any comments either way, but I think that they have both been well-received. I don't have any negative comments to add. I'm just glad that the Words of Christ themselves were kept out of any prayer.