Tuesday, April 22, 2014

FW: Thoughts on Lutheranism on the occasion of a Lutheran leaving. . .




Feed: Pastoral Meanderings
Posted on: Tuesday, April 22, 2014 5:00 AM
Author: noreply@blogger.com (Pastor Peters)
Subject: Thoughts on Lutheranism on the occasion of a Lutheran leaving. . .


Another Lutheran has swum the Bosporus and, like most, he is a good guy, serious minded, frustrated by the great divide between theory and practice among Lutherans, and scandalized by what passes as Lutheran on Sunday morning.  Though some are quick to condemn those who leave, I am more circumspect.  They will be accountable for their own choices and that is enough for me.  That said, however, I find myself greatly sympathetic with many of their complaints while remaining unconvinced by some of justification for their decision to leave us.

It is a scandal of epidemic proportions that Lutherans, especially Confessional Lutherans, have no consistent face to their faith on Sunday morning.  The fact that in the LCMS we run the gamut from low church Protestantism to high church charistmatic to generic evangelicalism to broad church formalism to catholic liturgy on Sunday morning is nothing less than sinful.  Quite apart from the theology of it all (which I have reiterated over and over again on this blog), how can a "brand" have an inconsistent and contradictory identity -- even within the same community!  This is a dastardly diversity in which some of us are not man enough to admit we do not walk together and it is not the kind of diversity envisioned by our confessions and expected by our covenant of life together as parishes and pastors of the LCMS.  Think what it could do to McDonalds if they were like a Long John Silvers on one block, a Taco Bell on another, and a Hong Kong Wok on another?  It is ridiculous to assume that the vast spectrum of Sunday morning faces given to Lutheran doctrine is healthy for any of us (much less for a congregation which institutionalizes these preferences with an ordinary scheduled diversity for Sunday morning!).

I refuse to defend or tolerate such schizophrenia of Lutheran worship.  If it does not have the Ordo (the liturgical pattern inherent to and expected by our Confessions), it is not Lutheran.  I am not, like some, insisting upon a page number but, like pornography, you know it when you see it.  Saddleback style or Willow Creek wannabes or Joel Osteen lookalikes are not the same as any version of the Divine Service.  We all know that.  Hardly any of those using contemporary worship forms and music even pretend to have much in common with the liturgical Lutherans.  They know it.  We know it.  He is not one of us and I am not one of them.  Credible liturgical diversity of ceremony is acceptable without dividing the confession but a weekly Eucharist, the pattern of the historic mass, and music that confesses are all givens for Lutherans.

Liturgy may compensate for poor preaching and teaching but it should never be allowed to hold up the household of God without faithful confession.  In other words, the Divine Service is expected of ALL Lutherans who use the name, get money from jurisdictions, or come out of our seminaries... BUT the doctrine needs to match the practice and it is not a godly position to choose liturgy over doctrine or doctrine over liturgy.  Either they go together or the church is wounded, disabled, and hobbling along where she should be walking and running.

I love the ambiance of Orthodoxy (real smells and bells) and I love the authoritative structure of Rome (especially when faced with Lutheran supervisors who chose to hide, ignore, or condone liturgical and theological abuses).  But the liturgy (what some call the choice of a way of life over a doctrinal certainty) should not have to carry all the weight; doctrine and confession are also required.  In the same way, it is not fair to have to choose between doctrine and bishops -- the early church expected that both went together and would be shocked by those churches that today boast episcopal orders but cannot confess the creed without crossing their fingers.

Am I a dreamer?  I guess I am.  I dream of Lutherans who mean what they confess, who practice what they confess, and who refuse to allow the compromises of the past substitute for the pursuit of the fullness of all that can be.  I dream of Lutherans who walk into a Lutheran Church on Sunday morning and recognize the form, most of the words, and sing their faith in the solid text of music that confesses.  I dream of Lutheran Pastors who look like clergy all the time.  I dream of catechesis which is lifelong and flows from and back to our Confessions.  I dream of the best and brightest  being moved toward church work vocations.  I dream of people who refuse to settle for what is cheap and easy (from architecture to organs to ministry to missions) and who are relentless in their pursuit of excellence AND faithfulness.  I dream of a day when other Christian are envious of the doctrinal consistency and vibrant apologetic of Lutheran parishes, pastors, and people.  I dream of sermons that engage as well as faithfully speak Law and Gospel, rightly distinguishing them, of course.  I dream of Pastors who work so hard no one jokes about working only on Sundays and congregations who make it possible for their Pastors not to worry about having enough money to pay the bills.  I dream of a day when Lutherans tempted to leave are drawn back by the vigorous confession, the faithful doctrine, and the rich liturgical piety of parish and people.  Yeah, I am a dreamer and sometimes I live too much in my dreams but... wouldn't it be grand if that were the way all Lutherans dreamed????

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Received for Review

Munson, Paul and Joshua Farris Drake. Art and Music: A Student's Guide (Reclaiming the Christian Intellectual Tradition). Wheaton: Crossway, 2014. 112 Pages. Paper. $11.99. www.crossway.org (LHP)

Helm, David. Expository Preaching: How We Speak God's Word Today (9Marks). Wheaton: Crossway, 2014. 125 Pages. Cloth. $14.99. www.crossway.org (P)

Rinne, Jeramie. Church Elders: How to Shepherd God's People Like Jesus (9Marks). Wheaton: Crossway, 2014. 133 Pages. Cloth. $14.99. www.crossway.org (LHP)


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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Received for Review



Page CXVI. Good Friday to Easter. Boulder: SoundCloud/Page CXVI, 2014. mp3 audio download. Available April 15. http://pagecxvi.com/   http://pagecxvi.com/#store  http://blog.pagecxvi.com/ (H)

You can STREAM THE ALBUM HERE  to listen to this entire week before the official release!


And here is VIDEO PREVIEW featuring the song "Three" from the album:


The record will be available at pagecxvi.com/#store, iTunes, and other digital media stores on April 15th!


Website for the band: PageCXVI.com

Twitter handle: @pagecxvi

Instagram: @pagecxvi

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Received for Review


Swanson, Kevin. Apostate: The Men Who Destroyed the Christian West. Parker, CO: Generations with Vision, 2013. Paper. 312 Pages. $26.95. www.apostatebook.com (LHPN)

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Quick Summaries: A Marathon Look at Liturgical Music




Quick Summaries are pithy paragraph-long reviews
of releases that cross our QBR desk. 


These are reviews for when you don't have all day 


to decide whether a resource is worth
your time, money, storage space, or trouble.


Hawn, C. Michael, compiler and editor. Foreword by John L. Bell. Preface by Pablo Sosa. New Songs of Celebration Render: Congregational Song in the Twenty-first Century. Chicago: GIA, 2013. 460 Pages. Cloth with audio CD. $42.95. www.giamusic.com (LHP)

Tice, Adam M. L. Stars Like Grace: 50 More Hymn Texts. Chicago: GIA, 2013. 128 Pages. Spiral. $19.95. www.giamusic.com (H) 

Gathered for God. Chicago: GIA, 2013. Sheet music: $18.50. Audio CD: $16.95. www.giamusic.com (LHP)

Haas, David. We Are Not Alone: Hymns, Psalms and Songs for Eucharist and the Hours. Chicago: GIA, 2013. Sheet music: $26.50. Booklet of Reflections and Prayers: $9.95. Audio CD: $16.95. www.giamusic.com (LH)

Alonso, Tony and Marty Haugen. The Lyric Psalter: Revised Grail Lectionary Psalms (Year A). Chicago: GIA, 2013. Spiral music: $25.00. Audio CD set: $39.50. www.giamusic.com (LH) 

Lowenberg, Kenneth. Gregorian Preludes for the Liturgical Year. Chicago: GIA, 2013. 47 Pages. Paper. $25.00. www.giamusic.com (LHP) 

Joncas, Michael. God of All Beginnings: Liturgical Music for Choir and Assembly. Chicago: GIA, 2013. Sheet music: $20.00. Audio CD: $16.95. www.giamusic.com (L) 

Cry Out with Joy: Responsorial Psalms, Gospel Acclamations and Universal Prayers for the Liturgy of the Word (Christmas, Triduum, Solemnities, and Other Celebrations). Chicago: GIA, 2013. Spiral sheet music: $33.00. Audio CD set: $25.95. www.giamusic.com (LH) 

Cry Out with Joy: Responsorial Psalms, Gospel Acclamations and Universal Prayers for the Liturgy of the Word (Year A). Chicago: GIA, 2013. Spiral sheet music: $33.00. Audio CD set: $25.95. www.giamusic.com (LH)

Chepponis, James. Mass for the People of God (Choral Accompaniment Edition). Chicago: GIA, 2013. Paper. $4.50. www.giamusic.com (L)  

Bell, John L. The Truth that Sets Us Free: Biblical Songs for Worship. Chicago: GIA, 2013. Sheet music: $14.95. Audio CD: $16.95. www.giamusic.com (H)

Tate, Paul A. Seasons of Grace, Volume 5. Chicago: GIA, 2013. Sheet music: $20.00. Audio CD: $16.95. www.giamusic.com (LHP) 

Lawton, Liam. Eternal. Chicago: GIA, 2013. Sheet music: $20.00. Audio CD: $16.95. www.giamusic.com (LHP) 

Stuempfle, Herman G., Jr. The Song of Faith Unsilenced: Hymns, Songs and Carols. Chicago: GIA, 2013. Spiral. $21.95. www.giamusic.com (H) 

Blest Are Those Who Mourn: Music for the Order of Christian Funerals. Chicago: GIA, 2013. Paper. $3.95. www.giamusic.com (LH) 

Schrock, Dennis. Handel's Messiah: A Performance Practice Handbook. Chicago: GIA, 2013. 111 Pages. Spiral. $16.95. www.giamusic.com (LHP) 

Lawton, Liam, with Theresa Donohoo. Catholic Irish Classics. Chicago: GIA, 2013. Audio CD. $16.95. www.giamusic.com (H)

My Lenten Prayer: Morning and Evening Prayers for People on the Go. Chicago: GIA, 2013. Audio CD set: $25.95. www.giamusic.com (LH) 

Lectionary Psalms: the Revised Grail Psalms (As Found in Lead Me, Guide Me Second Edition). Chicago: GIA, 2013. Audio CD set. $29.95. www.giamusic.com (LH)  
Lectionary Psalms: the Revised Grail Psalms (As Found in Lead Me, Guide Me Second Edition). Chicago: GIA, 2012. Spiral sheet music. $34.95. www.giamusic.com (LH) 
Lead Me, Guide Me (Second Edition). Chicago: GIA, 2013. Cloth Hymnal. $15.50. www.giamusic.com (LH) 


If you're overwhelmed by the list of resources above, think how thrilled, stunned, honored, and happily buried we were last October when a large box of unsolicited review copy books, CDs, and sheet music arrived from Chicago and our friends at GIA. We followed up with them with our thanks and a request for the last two items on the list. Let's dig in!

+ Although the last resource read, this was the first one that had me excited, New Songs of Celebration Render: Congregational Song in the Twenty-First Century. There has been a need for a book like this, a modern supplement to the previous work by Routley and Westermeyer on the melodies and texts of historic church music. Hawn, et al., and the accompanying CD describe "Seven Streams of Song: An Overview of Congregational Song since Vatican II (356-7, passim). They include: 1. Roman Catholic Liturgical Renewal Hymnody (Blest Are They, On Eagle's Wings); 2. Protestant Contemporary Classical Hymnody (Tell Out My Soul, When in Our Music); 3. African American Spirituals and Gospel Songs (Total Praise); 4. Revival/Gospel Songs (Because He Lives; Shine, Jesus Shine); 5. Folk Song Influences (use of Southern Folk Tunes and Shaped-note melodies; British, Irish, and Scottish tunes); 6. Pentecostal Songs (Awesome God, El Shaddai, Majesty, Thy Word); 7. Global and Ecumenical Song (Taize; Bell, Sosa). Chapter Six unfortunately parrots the false story of Luther pioneering vernacular styles (177), misunderstanding history near and dear to me. Scheer is correct about Booth--please keep Luther out of it. I must complement Scheer on the focus on the recent hymn revival, a theme QBR has followed closely (197). He also correctly shows the danger of worship adopting one generation's youth culture (200). I am also thankful that Chapter Two (Brink, 64) highlights the hymn revival. The modern hymnody of Townend (54, 193, 198, 351) and Getty (54, 198) is also featured in multiple chapters, demonstrating the unifying nature of such singable, freshly-stated, and theologically deep congregational song. I could quibble about other details in a longer review, but there just isn't anything like this resource elsewhere. Recommended.

- A Lutheran response to a new collection of Mennonite hymnody is a challenge. I personally found two texts, "God is our Shelter and Our Shield," and "Upon the Holy Mountainside" usable in my context. I was horrified by the anti-scriptural "God Sparks the Human Soul," particularly because it was written to encapsulate "a core tenant of Anabaptism--human freedom in choosing to follow God." Scripture teaches Original Sin, that humans are naturally enemies of God, and that even our heart, reason, and desires are tainted with sin. I most appreciated sight-reading the new hymn tunes. Not recommended.

+/ Gathered for God is both a CD and choral composition collection. I think of it as a GIA composer sampler. As a Lutheran, I won't use "Dolorosa." I will consider Cooney's "God Is Love" for weddings, as well as Mahler's "My Beloved Is Mine," and "The Lord Is My Shepherd" by Daigle. Partially Recommended.

- Haas' We Are Not Alone has three components: CD, choral sheet music, and a devotional. I refuse to pray to Mary. She is not the One Mediator between God and men that Jesus is, nor is she omniscient, omnipresent, or omnipotent. I respect her as the Mother of God, full of His grace, but still another sinner like me in need of a Savior. The Magnificat would have been a great substitute for "Hail, Holy Mary..." Similarly, I resist calls for social justice in "Sing a New World into Being." "Come, Follow Me" lacks context. St. Francis similarly misunderstood Mark 10. I dislike the word "choice" in "Join the Gospel Song" and am confused why "Body and Blood" are omitted from "Coming Together for Wine and Bread." Not Recommended.

+ Lyric Psalter Year A puts the Revised Grail Lectionary Psalms to melodies composed by Tony Alonso and Marty Haugen. With some adaptations to the Three-Year Lectionary of Lutheran Service Book, I can see this collection used profitably in an LCMS congregation. Roman/Marian Feasts would be omitted. We would like to see similar collections for B, C, and the Historic Lectionary. Recommended.

++ Gregorian Preludes for the Liturgical Year will find immediate use in my parish after I complete this review. "Kenneth Lowenberg offers ten preludes based on well-known Gregorian chants for the liturgical seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent, Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, Trinity, and Corpus Christi. These short preludes are perfect for setting the mood of the season and are accessible to any organist" (Publisher's website). Highly Recommended and compatible with Lutheran Service Book!

/ The God of All Beginnings collection of Joncas music is only Partially Recommended. "Christ Be Near" is comforting. "Like a Bird" sings an oft-misunderstood Bible text too overused by moderns pushing a feminine view of God or ministry. I could use "Canticle of Mary," but not "Holy Mary." "Sacred This Banquet" has some unfortunate language, incompatible with either Lutheran (LCMS) or Roman understandings of Close Communion. The remainder of the pieces are serviceable for Lutherans to consider using.

+ Like The Lyric Psalter, Cry Out with Joy gives liturgical Three-Year Lectionary congregations fresh settings of Psalms to sing. This collection of responsorial Psalms, Gospel Acclamations, and Universal [responsive] Prayers, covering Psalms for Christmas, Triduum, Solemnities, and Other Celebrations, paired with Year A, is a complete resource for congregations desirous of singing more psalms. Refrains would be accessible by a congregation even without sheet music, due to the internal repetition. A choir or soloist is necessary to sing the bulk of each Psalm.  I would be interested to see years B and C as well as a similar resource for the Historic Lectionary. Recommended.

+/ Prolific composer James Chepponis' Mass for the People of God is next on our list. My concerns as a Lutheran are those of Luther looking at the medieval Roman Church's Latin Mass, as well as those of a modern Lutheran confused at seeing the Kyrie misused as part of the Penitential Act, instead of as a prayer of the forgiven people of God asking for mercy. Also, I will "quibble" about the phrase "people of good will" in the Gloria in Excelsis as an inadequate translation. LCMS Lutherans could use this setting otherwise, though we would certainly miss having an Offertory and our Nunc Dimittis. Recommended with slight modification.

+ John Bell's latest collection, The Truth that Sets Us Free, surprised me. I had not been that impressed just looking at the paperback music collection. It was the CD that changed my mind. I had been listening to another review CD from another publisher. As this CD began, I noted how much simpler and "unplugged" the tunes and texts were, reminding me of Bell's Introduction: "In an era when less and less may be assumed about the general public's knowledge of Jewish and Christian Scripture, it is important that the Church does not forsake the deep pools of Biblical truth for the shallows of saccharine personal piety." Consider also: "From John L. Bell and the Wild Goose Resource Group comes a new collection of 21 shorter songs for public worship. The music in The Truth that Sets Us Free magnifies God and the experience of God's people and effectively offsets the personal focus that most popular praise songs emphasize. This diverse mix of world music has biblical roots and references—some express exultant praise—others yearning, or anger. Many of the songs are suitable for most Sundays while others are better suited to a particular season or liturgical act. It is the hope of the Iona Community that this collection will add to the pool of similar material, which takes both God and the world seriously, since it was for the world and not just humanity that Christ came" (Publisher's website). Recommended.

+ Paul A. Tate's Seasons of Grace, Volume 5 is a great resource for church musicians either as the CD or as the piano solo sheet music. Building on well-known Christian hymn tunes as diverse as those known for "In the Garden" and "Hail, Holy Queen," this collection is usable by Lutheran musicians. Consider this a collection to be used when the tunes of good hymn texts show up on Sunday morning and other times of worship. Use without fear beautiful melodies now divorced from their problematic, even unBiblical texts. I can't wait to hear Volume 6, and Volumes 1-4 and listen to such creatively beautiful piano music while following along in the solo books. I will also be sharing this with our church musicians yet this weekend. Recommended!

+/ I respectfully disagree with Liam Lawton that "Christ Has No Body Now But Yours" and omit his "Ave Maria" from my use of his Eternal choral music and CD collection, yet I will consider use of his beautiful "Bethlehem Sky" and the comforting and memorable piano, choir, assembly, keyboard, guitar and cello piece, "The Lord Is My Shelter." Partially recommended.

+ Many collections of new hymn texts are uneven. I have appreciated the hymn texts of Herman Stuempfle, including those in the new collection of hymns, songs, and carols called The Song of Faith Unsilenced. Sung in proper context, 16. "For Vows" is growing on me. 28. "Jesus Christ, Our Elder Brother," has title language to problematic to be sung in places with Mormon populations. 54. "The Guns of Death" and "While Nations Thunder Threats of War" speak truth, but not complete truth, omitting the concept of necessary self-defense, the Christian understanding of Just War, and our responsibility to protect and defend the innocent. I very much like hymn texts for neglected Lectionary texts like 2. "A Pharisee Went to Church," and fresh restatements of more common texts like 8. "Behold the Lamb of God!"  We are saddened on the occasion of the author's death in 2007. He will be missed. Recommended.

+ With a few notable exceptions, Blest Are Those Who Mourn: Music for the Order of Christian Funerals, Second Edition is Recommended.  Lutherans have no overwhelming objection to the Liturgy of the Sacrament at a Christian Funeral, yet our concerns largely have to deal with the pastoral care concern of practicing Close Communion, even when the very immediate family of the deceased may not have been in temporal Communion fellowship with the deceased. Lutherans will also object to language (6) referring to the Roman sacrifice of the Mass, though we would not object to the historic texts of the Mass itself with exceptions, including prayers to Mary (100, et al.) and the Saints (102, et al).  Much of the good found in this affordable booklet is already in Lutheran Service Book. I will give further consideration to the recommended hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs included here as I comfort the mourning with our Christian hope in the communion of saints, forgiveness of sins, resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

++ Dennis Schrock's performance practic handbook for Handel's Messiah comes Highly Recommended. Participating in a performance of even part of Messiah can be a daunting proposition. This handbook will help you better understand the composition, content, theology, and musicality of the piece as a whole and as individual compositions. I appreciate the professionalism and high musicianship of this handbook and how it can prepare singers and musicians to worship the Messiah while performing Messiah.

+ Good, edifying Christian song for St. Patrick's Day can be difficult for Christians to find. Perhaps this recording of Irish Catholic Classics can fill that void. I love St. Patrick's Breastplate. Apart from that text, "Be Thou My Vision" sung to SLANE, the tune ST. COLUMBA, and the text "May the Road," much on this recording was new to me. I celebrated St. Patrick's Day this year as a good Lutheran with Guinness, corned beef and cabbage, "In Christ Alone," and hymns like these. Recommended.

-/ Appreciated, but Not Recommended. In QBR 2.1, (Christmastide 2007), we reviewed the original pair of My Morning Prayer and My Evening Prayer. Our praise and critique of My Lenten Prayer is identical. That previous review is reproduced below.

Liturgy & Hymnody CD Review

My Morning Prayer/My Evening Prayer. (Set of both My Morning Prayer and My Evening Prayer, or available separately for $25.95 each.) Seven Daily Services for People on the Go. Chicago: GIA, 2006 & 2007. 4–CD Audio CD set. $40.00. www.giamusic.com800 GIA 1358 (LH)

When I first saw these advertised, I thought, "This has got to be one of the best ideas that I've seen in years that would encourage busy people to pray." I still hold that opinion. This four-CD set has some wonderful strengths. I will also share some deeply-held concerns.

Here's how they are to be used, according to the back of the CD cases: "Each day of the week has two tracks on these CDs; the odd-numbered tracks are the beginning of the day's service, the even-numbered tracks begin with the Canticle…" My Morning Prayer makes use of the Canticle of Zechariah, often called by its Latin title, the Benedictus, while My Evening Prayer sings the Canticle of Mary, often called the Magnificat, also after the Latin.

Due to the success of their 2006 release of a resource for the morning, GIA followed up with a resource for the evening. My Evening Prayer appropriately begins with Saturday, the "eve" of Sunday, since it is prayed after sunset. My Morning Prayer goes Sunday through Saturday.

The services are very learnable by repetition. Repeated elements like the Invitatory, Canticle, music for the General Intercessions and Lord's Prayer, and the Blessing are the same for either MMP or MEP all through the week. The services are reverent and respectful of the received tradition, and their structure will be familiar to liturgical Christians nourished by the teaching of the Gospel. They also give the listener a good exposure to the texts, music and composers in the GIA catalog.

My primary concern with these CDs is the inclusion of women presiding in a prayer office. This will likely lead to confusion with regard to the Office of the Holy Ministry, (see 1 Corinthians 14:33b-40; 1 Timothy 2: 8-15; 3:2, 12; Titus 1:6; et al) and there is enough of that in Christendom as is. I wonder if the 50-50 male/female balance in reading Bible texts and praying collects is due to the influence of the flawed idea from "liturgical theology" that liturgy is "the work of the people."

Sunday's concluding collect at Morning Prayer makes a vague reference to how to "find" God. This could have been cleared up by a reminder that Christians find God "for us" in Word and Sacrament, just as He promises in Scripture. You will wish to avoid adding your "Amen" to the prayer for the dead near the end of Evening Prayer on Monday.

The hymn for Sunday Morning Prayer shows the influence of St. Augustine and his teaching of the role of Christianity in society (according to Niebuhr) as "transforming culture." The hymn text for Thursday Evening Prayer is weak, due to its theology coming primarily from the First Article of the Creed.

Additional strengths of the set are memorable well after finishing the week of prayer for the first time. The Morning Prayer canticle has the tune the British use to sing "O Little Town of Bethlehem," Forest Green, also found in Lutheran Service Book. That is but one example of how familiar melodies provide a welcoming foundation to both MMP and MEP. New compositions help add a breathtaking freshness. Wednesday's Evening Prayer hymn is wonderful. Listen to that before you begin using the set. Some users will notice that the hymn for Monday Morning Prayer is a text we knew from The Lutheran Hymnal 525 with new music and a new refrain.

I would encourage GIA to provide similar My _____ Prayer resources for Compline (bedtime) and Midday Prayer (useful for mid-morning, lunch hour and mid-afternoon prayer). Praying with other people is better than a recording, yet this kind of help for personal prayer is better than praying alone.


/ Our marathon edition of Quick Summary reviews of liturgical music concludes with three companion resources intended for use among Roman Catholic African Americans, Lead Me, Guide Me. The hymnal's title hymn is new to many LCMS Lutherans, yet becoming known because of its inclusion in Lutheran Service Book. Our big GIA October "Christmas Box" included a 3 CD set of recordings of lectionary Psalms, similar to both Lyric Psalter and Cry Out with Joy, reviewed above. We contacted GIA about the recordings due to an initial problem with one of the CDs that was quickly and professionally corrected. That led us to express our interest in seeing both the spiral sheet music of the Lectionary Psalms composed for Lead Me, Guide Me, as well as the second edition of the hymnal itself. There is much to like in the Psalm settings here, particularly those for Lent, when Americans are used to minor keys. I appreciated the "blue note" feel of the refrains and verses throughout, familiar to previous, more secular forms, yet fresh and appropriate for Divine Service and Daily Office use. The hymnal itself is ruggedly built for a couple decades of use and is an unique blend of the Roman and the African American. While I cannot recommend the hymnal for Lutheran use, I do consider the Lectionary Psalms companion a good resource for musicans and choirs.


More information about each of these titles
may be found on each respective publisher's website. 

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Yellowstone Circuit Visitor (LCMS Wyoming District), a permanent member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.

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Quick Summaries: Bibles and Reference



Quick Summaries are pithy paragraph-long reviews
of releases that cross our QBR desk. 


These are reviews for when you don't have all day 


to decide whether a resource is worth
your time, money, storage space, or trouble.

Thompson, John J., Annotator. NIV Worship Together Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013. 1267 Pages. Cloth. $34.99. www.biblica.com www.zondervan.com (P)

Chapell, Bryan, General Editor. Dane Ortlund, General Editor. Gospel Transformation Bible. Wheaton: Crossway, 2013. 1904 Pages. Cloth. $39.99. http://www.crossway.org/bibles/esv-gospel-application-bible-hccase/ (LHP)

Page, Nick.  Simply The Bible. Oxford, England: Lion Hudson, 2013. 128 Pages. Paper. $14.95. www.lionhudson.com (LHP)

The Hebrew-English Interlinear ESV Old Testament (Bibilia Hebraica Stuttgartensia). Wheaton: Crossway, 2014. 2012 Pages. Cloth. $89.99. www.crossway.org (P)

The following four Bibles and Bible references crossed our desk recently. Here's what we thought of them:

- What is this resource? Basically, it is a NIV 2011 pew Bible with notes by John J. Thompson including lyrics to the "top fifty worship songs."  The additional 250+ pages comprise "Thy Word," "Soon and Very Soon," "How Great Thou Art," and "In Christ Alone," just to name a few, with devotional notes and song guitar chord charts in the very back. I do not believe that the added content compared to a new NIV pew Bible is worth the additional $20 cost. I understand copyright use can be expensive. As a Lutheran, I very much prefer a more literal translation and my hymnal, Lutheran Service Book. Interesting, but will seem dated soon. Overpriced for what you get.

+ I have an appreciation for the approach of this Bible edition, not a full Study Bible, but not just an ESV text Bible: Christ in all of Scripture. Grace for all of Life. I very much like that Christ is in the forefront of understanding every verse from Genesis to Revelation. I am concerned about what I see as a Law approach: "Focusing on heart transformation rather than mere behavior modification, their points of application emphasize the Hows and Whys of practical application to daily living—in short, how the gospel transforms us from the inside out." Used by a Lutheran, I can see how one could "let the Gospel predominate." Calvinists, Arminians, and American Evangelicals may have more of a challenge based on their theological and practical biases to "see that the message of the Bible is a unified one—'to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.' " That is a different and better message than "the sovereignty of God," decision theology, and entertainment & experience, and much closer to the Lutheran approach, that the church stands or falls on justification. The Gospel Transformation Bible is Recommended. This is my favorite of the Crossway ESV editions with added notes published thus far. I have made use of the online edition already.


/ Nick Page's Simply the Bible arrived unsolicited. We were intrigued by the concise size and unique approach, especially in the art department. Each book of the Bible gets a two page spread with a picture and various summaries of each book. I found the introductions to be clear enough, but I disagree with the author's assessments about the creatures in Job (41), the author of Ecclesiastes (47), the choice of Godzilla art to accompany the book of Jeremiah (52), and his revolutionary, red flag, "workers" assessment of James (114). There is a fine line between humor and irreverence. It is a book I will use because I have it, but not one I could encourage my congregation members to take the trouble to go out and purchase. 

++ Awesome. Simply Awesome. The Hebrew-English Interlinear ESV Old Testament pairs Crossways' essentially literal English Standard Version with the 5th edition of Biblica Hebraica Stuttgartensia in a traditional interlinear that is the newest addition to my essential Bible reference shelf at the desk in my pastoral study. Turn to page vii for the Introduction and to page ix for the basics on understanding this edition's code. The English text is broken up according to each Hebrew word. If you read it aloud, the translation sounds like the Yoda Standard Version. The full ESV is presented in the outside columns of each page. Yes, Aramaic is presented in this edition right where BHS has it (e.g., Daniel, 1869). Expect to find the basic meaning and morphology of each Hebrew word and the BHS critical apparatus. This book is worth the price tag. Highly Recommended!


Back in QBR Volume 1, Issue 3, (Apostles' Tide, 2007) we reviewed Crossway's English-Greek Reverse Interlinear New Testament. We liked it then, while still desiring a traditional Greek-English traditional Interlinear. I have since grown to love it and we therefore reproduce that review below, including our (now fulfilled) request for an ESV Old Testament Interlinear.




LHP Book Review


Schwandt, John and C John Collins, editors. The English-Greek Reverse Interlinear New Testament: English Standard Version, Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece 27thRevised Edition. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2006. 1341 pages. Cloth with CD-Rom. $49.99. 630 682 4300 www.crossway.com (P)


"This state-of-the-art reverse interlinear New Testament, created in partnership with The German Bible Society and Logos Bible Software, breaks with the convention of traditional interlinear texts by keeping the English as the top-line entry and placing the Greek text underneath it. This approach allows you to see firsthand the accuracy with which the translators of the English Standard Version of the Bible (ESV) rendered the Greek text" (Crossway website).


Like any resource, it takes time to learn how to use it. Here is an example of what the first three words in the book Galatians (approximately) look like:

1.      Paul,                     an           apostle—

2.      PauloV1              à           apostoloV2

3.      Paulos                                 apostolos

4.      NNSM                                 NNSM

5.      3972                                    652


The first line has the ESV English text, rather than the original Greek, making this a reverse interlinear.


The source Greek word is shown in the second line under the English translation. A Subscript number is provided at the lower right of each Greek word to show the original Greek word order. The arrow under "an" points to the source of an English word..


An English transliteration is provided on line three. This is a helpful aid to pronunciation, but could become a crutch


Parsing is provided on line four. Both "Paul" and "apostle" are: Noun, Nominative, Singular, Masculine. Abbreviation reminders are provided on the bottom of each pair of pages.


The fifth line provides a Strong's Number to look up in a Strong's Dictionary. Visit this book's website for a free downloadable small Strong's Dictionary: http://www.gnpcb.org/assets/pdfs/158134628X.dictionary.pdf. Perhaps this could be included as an appendix in the next print edition of this volume.


In addition to the numerical subscript giving word number order in the original, I would like to see the regular Greek text printed in the margin of a future edition, much like some regular interlinears give the full English in the outside margin.


The Preface addresses the "dabbling with Greek" objection. See page xvi, available for you to read at: http://www.gnpcb.org/assets/products/excerpts/158134628X.1.pdf.


As many in the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod already know, due to the English Standard Version being the "primary" translation used in Lutheran Service Book and its companion resources, "The ESV is an "essentially literal" translation of the Bible, emphasizing word-for-word accuracy and precision along with literary beauty and readability. The publishers of the ESV have partnered with Logos Bible Software, the premier Bible research software developer, to publish this helpful resource. It will benefit anyone who desires to study the English text of the New Testament alongside the original" (Crossway website).


Other features include:

+       Transliterations of all Greek words for easy pronunciation

+       Strong's numbers for effective cross-referencing to other study tools

+       Morphology of each word

+       Free electronic version of the ESV on CD-ROM, with additional study tools


This would be a valuable resource for a pastor or layman who has not learned Greek. It could also encourage an LCMS pastor who has not regularly used his Greek in some time, providing encouragement to get back into the language.



 "John Schwandt is a Fellow of Classical Languages at New St. Andrews College, where he teaches Greek and has previously taught Latin and Hebrew. He earned an M.A. from Westminster Theological Seminary and has since developed and is currently Director of the National Biblical Greek Exam (NBGE), an online exam that seeks to promote the study of biblical Greek" (Crossway website).


While this is a unique and helpful resource, I would also like to see a traditional Greek-English ESV Interlinear from Crossway. In addition, we eagerly await The English-Hebrew Reverse Interlinear Old Testament: English Standard Version.




More information about each of these titles
may be found on each respective publisher's website. 

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Yellowstone Circuit Visitor (LCMS Wyoming District), a permanent member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR

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Received for Review


Stoneguard, Harry. The Chaplain's Cat: A Small CATechism. Amazon CreateSpace, 2013. Paper. $6.99. (Kindle version available for $0.99).  http://smile.amazon.com/Chaplains-Cat-Small-CATechism/dp/1493700898 (Q)

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Quick Summaries: Creation and Evolution



Quick Summaries are pithy paragraph-long reviews
of releases that cross our QBR desk. 


These are reviews for when you don't have all day 


to decide whether a resource is worth
your time, money, storage space, or trouble.

Evolution Vs. God: Shaking the Foundations of Faith. Living Waters Publications, 2013. (Review copy provided by New Leaf Publishing Group, www.nlpg.com.) DVD movie. $9.95. (For low-cost bulk copies, call 800-437-1893.) EvolutionVsGod.com  www.livingwaters.com  (LHP)

Ham, Ken, General Editor. The New Answers Book 4: Over 30 Questions on Creation/Evolution and the Bible. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2013. 410 Pages. Paper. $14.99. www.masterbooks.net (LHP)


Ham, Ken, and Bodie Hodge. The Answers Book for Kids 5: 20 Questions from Kids on Space and Astronomy. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2013. 48 Pages. Cloth. $7.99. www.masterbooks.net (LHP)


Ham, Ken, and Bodie Hodge. The Answers Book for Kids 6: 22 Questions from Kids on Babel and the Ice Age. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2013. 48 Pages. Cloth. $7.99. www.masterbooks.net (LHP)


Ham, Ken. Six Days: The Age of the Earth and the Decline of the Church. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2013. 256 Pages. Paper. $13.99. www.masterbooks.net (LHP)

Purdom, Georgia, General Editor. Galapagos Islands: A Different View. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2013.  104 Pages. Cloth. $18.99. www.masterbooks.net (LHP)



Our congregation is currently doing a Sunday Morning Bible Class series on apologetics, defending the faith. The resources featured in this Quick Summaries review have been helpful to me in answering questions about creation and evolution, as well as responding to secular humanism, especially with the new Cosmos miniseries on TV.


Watch Evolution Vs. God here: 


+ Our Sunday Bible Class will watch this video soon. I commend it for your use, too, especially with pastoral supervision. Apologetics is not evangelism. Evangelism is presenting the Gospel so that the Holy Spirit can create faith where and when He wills. Apologetics, in my view, is designed to create doubt in one's non-Christian worldview, to "shake the foundations" of a way of viewing and living life outside of Biblical Christianity. Recommended!



+ Helpful for a Pastor's shelf, home use, or a Christian school library, The New Answers Book 4 discusses dragons, eviscerates evolutionary humanism, answers concerns about climate change, and tackles the tactics of the new humanists. Thick yet approachable, detailed yet focused, Ken Ham's latest volume as general editor is a successful attempt to help Christians, especially Missouri Synod Lutherans, defend the faith and gain knowledge consistent with and compatible with Holy Scripture as God's Word. We would love to see volumes 1, 2, and 3, as well as future additions to this series. Recommended.



+ The Answers Book for Kids, Volumes 5 and 6 adapt the approach of larger Answers Book format for age-appropriate "kid" use. Affordable, fact-filled, colorful, and pithy, I would love to have each volume published to date in my Classical Lutheran school library. Volume 5 tackles the old saw that Christians thought the world was flat in addition to other questions about space and astronomy young people ask. Volume 6 has a focus on Babel, the post-Flood world, and the Ice Age. Recommended. 


Today, most Bible colleges, seminaries, K-12 Christian schools, and now even parts of the homeschool movement do not accept the first eleven chapters of Genesis as literal history. They try to fit the supposed billions of years into Genesis, and some teach evolution as fact. Our churches are largely following suit. Ken Ham, international speaker and author on biblical authority, examines how compromise starting in Genesis, particularly in regard to the six days of creation and the earth's age, have filtered down from the Bible colleges and seminaries to pastors—and finally to parents and their children. (Publisher's website).

+ Six Days: The Age of the Earth and the Decline of the Church is recommended as a great follow-up to reading The Lie, Already Gone, and Already Compromised.  


+ Georgia Purdom, general editor, and her dozens of contributors take "a different view" of the Island creatures of the place that inspired Charles Darwin. I loved the photos, scientific evidence, and Biblical revelation of creation side-by-side. 

Where Darwin once visited and later used evidence from to support his faulty case for evolution, discover the wonder of God in this full-color book filled with vibrant images of these glorious islands in the Pacific, as well as powerful insights that give Him the glory due His name. Your faith will be strengthened as you learn the importance of a biblical worldview from some of the best apologetics speakers in the country. It's an overall emphasis on Galápagos as testament to God's majesty and mercy rather than the empty legacy of one man! (Publisher's Website)

More information about each of these titles
may be found on each respective publisher's website. 

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Yellowstone Circuit Visitor (LCMS Wyoming District), a permanent member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

More Gettymusic



Getty, Keith and Kristyn Getty. Live at the Gospel Coalition: Modern and Traditional Hymns. Nashville: GettyMusic, 2013. Audio CD. $13.99. (also available in a deluxe edition with 3 additional songs or in a combo with the songbook) http://www.gettymusic.com/ (LH)

Getty, Keith and Kristyn Getty. Live at the Gospel Coalition: Modern and Traditional Hymns (Songbook). Nashville: GettyMusic, 2013. 44 Pages. Paper. $14.99. (downloadable version available for $11.99) http://www.gettymusic.com/ (LH)

In the spring of 2013, the National Conference of The Gospel Coalition was held in Orlando, Florida, and was attended by some 5,000 people from more than 40 countries and 49 of the United States. Through sermons, presentations, and discussions, the group contemplated anew the peace man has with God because of and through Christ and considered application of the gospel in missions and in daily work.

The corporate response in music was led by Keith and Kristyn Getty and recorded for this album. Traditional and modern hymns provided the repertoire, including several selections from the Getty's well-known catalog. From upbeat hymns of praise and adoration, to moments of contemplation and anthems of dedication, this compilation is not only a reflection of the conference but a tool for believers and churches everywhere. (Getty website)

Readers of our blog know we've reviewed each Getty album thus far. We use and commend for your use most of their hymns. Many have completed the LCMS Doctrinal Review process. I loved hearing historic hymns (4, 16) alongside the modern hymnody of Keith and Kristyn Getty. In some ways, this live album is a "best of" collection, as can be seen from the track listing:

1. Christ He is Risen, He Is Risen Indeed
2. Come People of the Risen King
3. By Faith
4. All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name
5. Speak O Lord
6. Oh How Good It Is
7. Lift High the Name of Jesus
8. The Power of the Cross (with When I Survey)
9. In Christ Alone
10. Across the Lands
11. Compassion Hymn
12. Kyrie Eleison
13. O Church Arise
14. Hear the Call of the Kingdom
15. Holy Spirit, Living Breath of God (with Gabriel's Oboe)
16. Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty


The songbook and deluxe CD also include 17. "Communion Hymn," 18. "See What a Morning," and 19. "There Is a Higher Throne."   

Track 7, "Lift High the Name of Jesus," is the sole new hymn on this album. 

Our congregation or others in the Wyoming District have sung tracks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, 13, 16, 18, and 19. 

I could see "Oh, How Good It Is" used at a District conference as a hymn version of Psalm 133. "Lift High" is growing on me, but I remain uncertain as to whether "Kyrie Eleison" is a version I would use at Divine Service. "Holy Spirit" raises concerns with regard to properly distinguishing justification and sanctification with its first phrase, "Holy Spirit, living Breath of God, breathe new life into my willing soul," that could be made more like Psalm 51 by changing "willing" to "sinful."  Notably, "Communion Hymn," aka, "Behold the Lamb," has survived Pr. Wolfmueller's Praise Song Cruncher (http://www.tabletalkradio.org/documents/praise%20song%20list.pdf  http://tabletalkradio.org/content/sites/default/files/audio/ttr155_0.mp3)

Since this album was released, an article by Keith 'Five Ways to Improve Congregational Singing' appeared on the Gospel Coalition Blog: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgcworship/2014/02/18/five-ways-to-improve-congregational-singing/

Here's a quick headline summary of the article:
1. Begin with the pastor
2. Sing great songs.
3. Cultivate a congregation centered priority in those who lead.
4. Serve the congregation through musical excellence
5. Mange the congregation's repertoire intentionally.

Want to hear more? Listen to "Good Shepherd of My Soul" at: http://youtu.be/TyLOnOYOvCA

We thank our friends at Gettymusic for keeping us abreast of new releases. We pray for more hymns based on Psalms (like 141, 51, 22, 4), hymns to fit texts of the historic and three-year lectionary systems, and additional hymns Christians may sing and pray according to their vocations.

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Yellowstone Circuit Visitor (LCMS Wyoming District), a permanent member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, Editor of QBR, and author of 5 Things You Can Do to Make Your Congregation a Caring Church.

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