As indicated in the title, this is my 4th in a series on the old Lutheran Liturgy, from the 1958 Service Book & Hymnal that I grew up with. As I explained in the first post in the series, I’ve been away from the Lutheran church since the mid 70’s, but recently obtained a recording of the 2nd Setting of that liturgy. Even before getting the recording, I had begun to recall parts of the liturgy. I dug out my old hymnal and began using the liturgy on occasion for meditation. I now find that I’ll have parts of the liturgy running through my mind at various parts of the day; or, more accurately, it’s playing somewhere internally… at time it just seems to resonate.
I have visited a couple of local Lutheran churches over the past couple of years, and have not been impressed at all with what they are currently using as liturgy (every week it seems to be different, like they’re afraid of actually memorizing one… or, perhaps they don’t like any of them, either). I do really appreciate the Episcopal liturgy, however; in spite of the problems in the EC, I can relate to the Book of Common Prayer. I hope in the near future to analyze and compare the liturgies, and would appreciate any input you’d care to give.
Now, on to the Liturgy. Following the sermon, is the Offertory. There are 2 optional offertories; this is what our church used:
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit
a broken and a contrite heart O God, thou would not despise.
Do good in thy good pleasure onto Zion
build thou the walls of Jerusalem.
Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness
with burn offering and whole burnt offering.
The alternate is
What shall I render unto the Lord
for all his benefits toward me?
I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving
and will callupon the Name of the Lord.
I will take the cup of salvation
and call upon the Name of the Lord.
I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his peoiple
in the courts of the Lord’s house, in the midst of thee O Jerusalem.
As the offering is brought forward, we sing:
Create in me a clean heart O God
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from thy presence
and take not thy Holy Spirit from me.
Restore unto me the joy of they salvation
an uphold me with thy free spirit.
I question using Psalm 51, as it doesn’t seem applicable in the context of the New Covenant, especially as I under Lutheran theology. Possibly this crept in during the pietistic movement, which also seemed to ignore the core of Luther’s (and Paul’s) theology.
After the offering comes the Prayer of the Church, which I won’t include here due to length. The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod site has a good explanation of the Prayer of the Church. Essentially, it is corporate prayer for the needs of the church, the country, the sick, and so on, and is typically followed by The Lord’s Prayer (we used the “trespasses” language).
At this point, the service could close with a hymn and the Benediction, unless it was Communion Sunday. Our church had Communion once a month, so it always seemed odd to me when churches would do it every Sunday. I’ve come to appreciate the Lord’s Supper – Eucharist – in a more profound way, so now I look forward to it every Sunday. As with the Orthodox, RCC and Anglican churches, Communion now seems to be the high point of the service, rather than something tacked on to the end to extend the time (which I always hated as a kid).
I’ll conclude with one more post on the Lord’s Supper, as the old liturgy was a bit more involved than anything I’ve experienced recently in either the Lutheran or Episcopalian churches.