Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Liturgy & Hymnody Review: Lutheran Prayer for Evening

Piffaro: The Renaissance Band. Kile Smith with The Crossing. Donald Nally, Conductor. Vespers. Hampton, NH: Navona Records, 2009. Audio CD with photos and study scores. $.  (LH)

How many CDs do you own that come with an included pdf file of the sheet music or so you can follow along (or play or sing along)?

This recording, Vespers, is an exceptional treat! This is a modern restatement of Renaissance-era wind bands for a sacred context. Consier it a fusion of the 16th Century and our 21st. I think Dr. Luther would be at home and J. S. Bach would appreciate what was going on among the SATB choir, "shawms, sackbuts, dulcians, recorders, krumhorns, doucaines, bagpipes, lutes, guitars, harps, and a variety of percussion...carefull reconstructions of instruments from the period" (press release).

Liturgical portions and psalms are sung in Latin. Sung hymns (some tunes are instrumental only) are done in German!

After "Come, Holy Spirit," in Latin, one hears a transcendent heavenly setting of "O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright," Lutheran Service Book 395.

Psalm 70 (in Latin) prepares the way for an instrumental version of Steht auf, ihr lieben Kinderlein!, another version of Nikolaus Herman's tune O HEILIGE DREIFALTIGKEIT, LSB 876, 890.

Psalm 27 leads in to an instrumental setting of an Italian tune used for "In Thee Is Gladness," LSB 818.

Psalm 113 completes the trilogy of psalms in preparation for a 13th Century tune used by the Bohemian Brethren in the 16th Century. The psalm setting is hauntingly beautiful. I simply couldn't wait to sing along. Remember that included sheet music?

The Office Hymn for this Vespers is LSB 402, "The Only Son from Heaven," a tune familiar to Lutherans as far back as 1524.

The magnificent song of Mary, featuring three solo sopranos and three vocal parts for women, is followed by The Lord's Prayer according to Martin Luther's own catechism hymn.

Vespers concludes with a tremendous instrumental triple canon of  "Now Thank We All Our God," LSB 895 and "Thanks be to God," a Benedicamus familiar to Lutherans.

The recording is at once recognizable as a liturgical service of Vespers, LSB 229ff. Some ambitions congregations (and their musicians) may be able to include some pared-down portions of the music for a congregational service of Vespers. The music is full of life, joy, and celebration appropriate for a New Year's Eve service, a congregational anniversary, a building dedication, or an ordination.

Piffaro is blessed with skilled musicians, a creative composer in Kile Smith, and a daring record label, Navona Records. The combination produced a fresh, reverent, and timeless recording that is historically and musically grounded in the best of Christian liturgy and hymnody. What are they working on next?

The composition and recording of Vespers is inspired and inspiring.

"World-renowned for its highly polished performances, Piffaro, The Renaissance Band has come to be known as the pied-pipers of Early Music, delighting audiences throughout the United States, Europe, Canada and South America. The ensemble, founded in 1980, recreates the elegant sounds of the official, professional wind bands of the late Medieval and Renaissance periods, as well as the rustic music of the peasantry...

"The ensemble produces its own concert series in Philadelphia, with excerpts from these concerts being regularly broadcast nationwide on National Public Radio's Performance Today.

"For news and updates visit for more information" (email from record label).

"The frequently performed music of Kile Smith (b.1956) has been praised by audiences and critics for its emotional power, direct appeal, and strong voice. He is Curator of the Fleisher Collection of Orchestral Music in the Free Library of Philadelphia, co-host of Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection, host of the contemporary American music show Now is the Time on WRTI 90.1 FM in Philadelphia, and is a substitute classical host there.

"Other recent works include Exsultet for horn and string orchestra, written for Jennifer Montone, Principal Horn of the Philadelphia Orchestra, American Spirituals, Book One for violin and piano, written for and recorded by David Kim, Concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra, American Spirituals, Book Two for Anne Martindale Williams, Principal Cello of the Pittsburgh Symphony, the string quartet The Best of All Possible Worlds, and The Bremen Town Musicians for narrator, violin, and cello. Where flames a word, written for The Crossing on the poetry of Paul Celan, was selected for performance at the 2009 Annual Conference of Chorus America.

"Vespers was commissioned by Piffaro, recorded with funding from the Premiere Recording Program of the Philadelphia Music Project, and released in 2009 on the Navona label. Kile has recently completed Two Laudate Psalms, a Lyric Fest commission for mezzo-soprano Suzanne DuPlantis and the Pennsylvania Girlchoir, for fall 2009 performances. The 2009-10 season will also see a performance of Exsultet, the world premiere of Now ys the tyme of Crystymas by the Virginia Chorale, and a commission for the Newburyport Chamber Music Festival.

"Kile has been Resident Composer for both the Jupiter Symphony in New York City and Musica 2000 in Bucks County, Pa. Performances have included The Voice of One Who Spoke with the Sofia Philharmonic and with Musica 2000, a Pottstown Symphony commission of Alabanza with Latin Fiesta, a 175th-Anniversary commission from Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, for Psalm 46, a major chorus and orchestra work featuring New York City Opera baritone Todd Thomas, and Four French Carols by various orchestras" (composer's website).

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.

On the Road: Pastoral Care Tools in Wyoming

The Weather in Wyoming can confront a pastor with just about anything. It's snowing oustide as I type. How can one make sure he has everything for a shut-in or hospital visit and protect it all from the elements?

Shortly after I was ordained, I got tired of carrying my Bible, Communion Kit, and Hymnal along with bulletins, Portals of Prayer, and other resources in my bare hands. So, based on being raised by a carpenter, I went to SEARS and bought a tool bag. It served me well for nearly ten years until I needed something a little larger.

I am told that "Craftsman" is actually a better translation for Joseph's vocation in Scripture than "carpenter" anyway!

Below is my new pastor bag. I have bulletins, devotionals, Lutheran Service Book, an English Standard Version Bible, the LSB Pastoral Care Companion, and even the pocket edition of Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions on one side. On the other side is my Communion Kit, CDs for shut-ins, and a small kit for emergency baptisms.

And it usually makes people smile.

You may be wondering, "If that's his pastor bag, what does his Communion Kit look like?"

I'm glad you asked. This summer I drove up to see a shut-in in the mountains. After I arrived, I noted that the glass bottle from my original Communion Kit had burst. Everything was ruined. I needed a replacement fast.

Looking through the catalogs, one could spend hundreds or thousands on a new Communion Kit. I saw a nice looking one for $250 that looked like a handgun case. So, I went to the local sporting goods store and repurposed a handgun case and food safe plastic camping bottles.

So, that is an insider's guide to pastoral care tools out here in Wyoming. And may a be a good time to remind my brother pastors to be diligent in visiting your people. These are your tools: bread, wine, water and word. They appear humble, but they have great promises attached to them. No part of my ministry has borne more fruit than doing visits to shut-ins, hospitals, nursing homes, and eventually every member family in their homes. My wife calls it "hunting the brush." Jesus called it leaving the ninety-nine to seek out the one. And heaven and earth rejoiced.

Peace in Christ,

Paul J Cain, QBR Editor

Liturgy & Hymnody Review: GettyMusic

Getty, Keith and Kristyn Getty. Awaken the Dawn. Chagrin Falls, OH: GettyMusic, 2009. Audio CD with DVD. $16.98. (mp3 download available) (LH)

Getty, Keith and Kristyn Getty. Awaken the Dawn (Songbook). Chagrin Falls, OH: GettyMusic, 2009. 32 Pages. Paper. $11.98. (downloadable version available for $9.99) (LH)

Regular readers of QBR will be familiar with the name "Getty." "In Christ Alone" and several other hymns by Keith and Kristyn Getty (and co-author and composer Steward Townend) have been in use here in the Wyoming District of The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod since 2008.  

Awaken the Dawn is their 2009 collection of modern hymns. They are well worth your attention.

What keeps me coming back for more is multifaceted. I love that the texts are Biblically rich, confess reformation doctrine, and are comforting. They actually say something compared to much of modern "Christian" music.

The tunes are well-crafted, memorable, durable, and singable by a congregation. Irish tunes are very appealing to me melodically and rhythmically.

  • "Hear, O Israel" is most appropriate for a solo voice. Consider it for an opening hymn or a Gradual.
  • "Come People of the Risen King" could work fast or slow. The current faster speed is lively and would work for an opening or closing hymn.
  • "Creation Sings the Father's Song" is a more challenging hymn rhythmically, but it can be taught well to those who learn by ear.
  • "Still, My Soul, Be Still" is another that is possibly more appropriate for a small group of singers or a soloist. I could imagine using this in the context of one-on-one pastoral care.
  • "By Faith" confesses Hebrews 11 and applies it to our walk of faith.
  • "Behold the Lamb" reminds me of a Cheri Keaggy song from the late 90's. Intended as a preparation for Communion, Keith mentions "the Body and the Blood" on the accompanying DVD. The focus is both upon what Christ has done for us with our remembering, "do this in remembrance of Me," as the response of faith.
  • The presentation of "All Around the World" reminds me of a Michelle Tumes arrangement from the late 90's. The accompaniment is rather heavy, but I like the melody and text.
  • "Every Promise of Your Word" was my first new favorite hymn from this collection. It will be part of the Wyoming District Spring Pastoral Conference, hosted by Immanuel, Sheridan.
  • "Compassion Hymn" focuses on the life of Christ and the Church's work of Human Care in the context of Gospel Outreach. It would complement well the Isaiah 52 Old Testament reading for Christmas Day.
  • "When Trials Come" would please Luther as a joful and hopeful song to sing the devil away. The Gospel is our comofrt in time of trial.
  • "Benediction (May the Peace of God)" has been a favorite of mine since I first saw it in the WELS Supplement.
  • "Reading: Psalm 57" is an opportunity for most listeners to hear Kristyn's speaking voice for the first time. This psalm inspired the name of the album, Awaken the Dawn.
  • "What Grace Is Mine" was written in a year when St. Patrick's Day fell on Holy Week. One may recognize the tune used to sing "O Danny Boy." I would like to think that the text reclaims Londonderry Air for more Christian use.
 Personally, I struggle with what arrangements and instruments are appropriate for our liturgical Lutheran setting at the congregation I serve. This is a sidebar in the discussion about worship and so-called worship wars in many Christian church bodies. (The main point is not instrumentation or new music, but Lutherans giving up their heritage and replacing it with the worship style/practice of the charismatic movement.) Another part of the beauty of these texts and melodies is that they sound good a capella, with piano, organ, brass, or handbells. One need not merely imitate the recorded arrangements on the CD.

The piano/vocal songbook is available in print and downloadable formats. As was true with their last release. This songbook is very well done. Chords appear before the melody and hymn text for the guitarist or ambitiously creative pianist or organist. The provided arrangement lays well on the piano or keyboard. SATB organ/choral arrangements are available on their website. And so are orchestral arrangements. I would love to have a CD of their 2008 In Christ Alone Symphonic Tour.

Based upon the collections In Christ Alone and Awaken the Dawn, I have a draft of a Reformation Day (or conference) celebration of the Lutheran Reformation's "Solas" using Getty hymns.

Liturgy: Evening Prayer or Vespers

  • Opening Hymn: "O Church, Arise" (written in honor of Lutheran hymnody)

  •  Scripture Reading

    • Grace Alone: "What Grace Is Mine" (Londonderry Air)

  •  Scripture Reading

    • Faith Alone: "By Faith"

  •  Scripture Reading

    • Scripture Alone: "Every Promise of Your Word"

  •  Scripture Reading

    • Christ Alone: "In Christ Alone"

  •  Hymn of Benediction: "May the Peace of God Our Heavenly Father"

I pray the new Magnificat will lead to more canticles for Divine Service (Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, and Nunc Dimittis) and Matins (Psalm 95, Te Deum) from Keith and Kristyn. May I respectfully make that suggestion?

The Gettys hope to "build Christ's Church" with their modern hymns. They do not consider them to be mere disposable songs, but sung confessions of Bible truth that endure for generations. And they intend them for young and old, male and female.

This is good art in the service of the Church. For that I am thankful.

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.

Monday, December 21, 2009

FW: The Church that Walther, Chemnitz, Luther, Paul, Moses and Elijah would Attend, A Discussion Between Phillip Magness and George in Wheaton

Patient teaching before introduction of churchly practices is pastoral care that never goes out of style.




Feed: The Brothers of John the Steadfast
Posted on: Monday, December 21, 2009 7:15 AM
Author: Pastor Tim Rossow
Subject: The Church that Walther, Chemnitz, Luther, Paul, Moses and Elijah would Attend, A Discussion Between Phillip Magness and George in Wheaton


Last week's postabout a Matt Harrison presidency and what that would mean for the local parish has led to a helpful exchange between Cantor Phillip Magness of Bethany – Naperville, Illinois and BJS regular "George of Wheaton." The exchange resulted in Magness describing how a "non-traditional Lutheran church" can be slowly and deliberately re-made into a church that practices historic Lutheranism.

The exchange began with this assertion from Magness:

December 18th, 2009 at 11:32 | #21

…So "traditional" worship is not necessarily the answer. The answer is simply…..Lutheran worship. Not high church, not low church, not organ church, not radio-music church. Just Lutheran worship. The attendant details (ceremonies, music, art, vestments) may be simple or elaborate, but the piety is unmistakable. It may or may not be your actual grandfather's church.

But, whatever your instruments and however you may follow the rubrics, it is the church that Walther and Chemnitz and Luther and Paul and Moses and Elijah would attend.

How do we "get there" as the LCMS? First, realize that, by the grace of God, we are already there – in Christ. But the inauguration is incomplete, and so we need church leaders who will uphold the Divine Service, patiently and lovingly catechize the church in all sound doctrine, and produce good resources for promoting and providing good worship.

No, a Synod President is not, can not, nor should not come in and "change things" according to his rule. That path just leads to further change when a new Synod President comes in. Such is the path of structure, organization, and authority that is laid before us in Blue Ribbon proposals and the current Presidium's approach to "leadership". Rev. Harrison has outlined instead a churchly path, the path of our fathers. This takes time, but, through the Gospel, wins over hearts and minds so that many more may follow and cherish that which is to be upheld: the Gospel taught in its truth and purity, and the Sacraments rightly administered.

May our Synod uphold this as the model, just as Moses lifted up a snake in the wilderness!

Then "George in Wheaton" asked for clarification.

December 18th, 2009 at 12:23 | #24

#21 – Phil, I'm not sure I understand your point. This Summer I attended a service in a small LCMS church building that was apparently only recently constructed by a congregation that had begun as a mission plant some 12-15 years ago. The "sanctuary" area consisted of a modest size area with folding chairs and a platformed area at the front. There was no cross, no pulpit, and only three strange-looking plant stand-like objects that had been clustered together with a couple of candles on top which I guess was supposed to pass for an altar. Next to those was an electronic keyboard, a "rhythm section," and three "praise team" worship leaders. Behind the "altar" was a recessed area that I assumed could be used to house a baptistry (perhaps they used a church building contractor who sold them a cookie cutter architecture that would work just as well in any run-of-the-mill evangelical congregation). Perhaps one day they even envision furnishing it with a dunk tank – who knows.

The pastor wore a regular business suit; no surplice or stole of any kind. And, of course, the little musical group played, sang, and led the congregation in the popular P&W music selections of the day. As you might guess, there was no formal liturgy, the congregation owned no hymnals – everything they needed to read or sing was projected on a screen up-front, and the sermon, of course, revolved largely around what it takes for all of us to get along with each other in keeping with gospel-reduction vogue.

How would a congregation like that ever make the quantum leap back to the Divine Service? I could have been in attendance at any Baptist church service! To steal some of the thunder from another recent thread, this is mission reductionism heaped upon gospel reductionism to the hilt. A return to churchly discipline, as that blog poster also points out, is the only way out of it and I would venture to guess that they would leave the synod if it ever came to that.

That led to Cantor Magness describing the slow, deliberate path back to Lutheran normalcy. Cantor Magness has experience with this. He has served in several different congregations where he has refined the worship to better reflect authentic Lutheranism. Here is his response to George which we offer as a primer for pastors, musicians and laity everywhere who are faced with the daunting task of reforming a parish that has lost its Lutheran soul.

December 20th, 2009 at 16:45 | #41

Hi George,

My point is that we need to focus on Lutheran piety, uphold the best expressions as models, but not diminish other expressions of it in the process.

Now the congregation you described was obviously not worshipping as Lutherans. And you ask a good question: How would such a congregation make the "quantum leap" to the Divine Service? I wouldn't characterize the jump as that extreme, but it would be a challnege. Here's the path:

1 – The pastors & the elders need to agree to a vision as to how the congregation should worship and then uphold that ideal as they move toward that goal, teaching and encouraging all the way.

2 – Over the course of about three years, the following changes would be made:

a. put up a cross as a focal point for worship. ("Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by Thy help I've come".)

b. move the altar to a more clear & central location, add a pulpit, and a font. These are the three basic pieces of furniture found throughout Christian history around the world.

c. have the pastor at least wear a collar. Garments evoking Revelation can come later when the congregation is more catechized.

d. using the existing musicians, introduce more Lutheran hymnody to the congregation via the LSB Guitar Edition; CPH's Hymns for the Contemporary Ensemble; and other resources.

e. teach the congregation that because they are in Christ, their song is the song of Christ, and so we heed what Paul teaches us in two of the few specific instructions about worship we receive in the NT: "psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs". Follow this by introducing Psalm singing in styles that are consistent with the existing way the congregation sings and with the musical vocabulary of the P&W band. These are available from many resources, including, GIA, OCP, and Liturgy Solutions.

f. teach the congregation about the Spiritual songs. what is 'spiritual'? "Of the Holy Spirit" (according to Norman Nagel). What songs are "of the Holy Spirit"? Easy – the songs elsewhere in the Bible: the Canticles. The Magnificat, for example is a "Spiritual Song". The liturgy is full of Spiritual songs, and so introduce them to the congregation. Perhaps one a season until they have learned enough Canticles do do a complete Divine Service.

At this point, this congregaiton might still sing their praise songs as an Entrance Hymn and for an Offertory or as a closing song, but with this patience pace they will within two years be singing a Kyrie, a Gloria, various Psalms, a Sanctus, and an Agnus Dei, along with good hymns for the Hymn of the Day and communion distribution.

Finally, by this point they should be getting so much that is based in our hymnals that they can move from projecting LSB resources onto a screen toward getting actual hymnals.

Perhaps as this three-year plan winds down this congregation might want to do other things, such as learn to chant Introits or Psalms, have choirs sing the Verse of the Day, etc. Or they might not. As much as I like having a corpus on the cross, processions, a pipe organ, chanting, full vestments, and other rich trappings of liturgical worship, such is not necessary.

If the congregation in question simply did the things I outlined above, they would be recognizingly Lutheran in 1-2 years and will have become habituated in a Lutheran piety within 3. They would follow the rubrics of the Divine Service, and the focus of the people would be on where Christ gives us His cross-born gifts through the Office of the Holy Ministry: the font, the altar, and the pulpit.

That wouldn't be "high church" or "low church". It'd just be Lutheran church. In a way that would be appropriate to their sanctuary and their people. It would be a church none of us would mind visiting, even as we appreciate the different customs of our home congregations.

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FW: The Pastor’s Guide to New Media



Feed: Cyberbrethren Lutheran Blog Feed
Posted on: Monday, December 21, 2009 5:44 AM
Author: Paul T. McCain
Subject: The Pastor's Guide to New Media



David Householder prepared this great summary of new media and the pastor. Enjoy! It's a whole new world out there. The truth is, even email and websites are now getting outdated.  And no one even thinks about yellow pages ads anymore. The key is to know what your "take" on the Christian message is, and then to broadcast it on all channels. The upside is that most of the New Media world is free.

Message.  Clarity is king in New Media.  What is your life message?  If it sounds vague and could just as well be used by any of the Christian leaders in your community, then it's not yet "New Media ready."  Craft it and hone it.  And it has to come out of a deep place in your soul, not the latest popular book on faith.  The pastors who rule the New Media world are crystal clear about their message and they are always on message.  Think Brand

Clarity.  With today's information inundation, clarity is the royal road to influence.

In today's world, you need to be clear about your "core" soul identity, your life message, having and teaching a reproducible piety (prayer and Bible, etc.), integrating the worship style of your church to your message, and broadcasting it to the universe.

SMS-Texting. Gotta do it.  If you don't, you are ignoring the media most used by 15-25 year olds.  And how many of you have too many of them in your church?  Discipline yourself to send out 3 texts a day until you get the hang of it.  This is the coin of the realm and it leads into everything else.  If you have a simple cell phone (no QWERTY keyboard), ask a young person to teach you how to T9.  It's way easier than manual data entry.

Unified Posting Tree. Whatever nooks and crannies of the media you use, it helps to post from one place.  Most use PING or POSTEROUS.  That way you can post TO everywhere FROM one platform.  The service is free.  And you can post through Ping or Posterous from your phone using SMS, from whence it will go out to all your other channels.

Blog. I once saw a shirt that said "More people read my T-Shirt than your blog!"  This may be true for many of us, but a blog is still the best place to craft your message in more detail for the public.  Many of us use WordPress or Blogspot.  These services are free. Choose a fun background and get started.  I'm new at this, and obviously you have already found me.  The stats section on these blog servers give you a great window on what parts of your message anyone is actually listening to.  Drive as much traffic as possible from other media to your blog.

TinyURL. This is vital.  In a abbreviated communication world, being able to drop short "links" to other places online is key.  Put any long web address into TinyURL and it will give you a short version which you can copy and send to people.  This is important if you want to direct others to something specific you have written online.

Facebook. This thing is just plain gigantic.  Cultivate a 3 or 4 figure friend list as fast as you can.  The lines between public and private life are blurring.  This is good for ministry, because for integrity to emerge, the two have to flow into each other.  Post at least once a day and aggressively go after building that friends list.  If you aren't passionate about influence, you may be in the wrong line of work.  Look at my Facebook page under "David Housholder."  There are a couple of us DH's out there, but you'll find me.

Facebook Groups or Fan Pages. Your church should have its own presence on Facebook.  You can do it through:

1)  Giving your church its own "personal" page.  I.e. your church is a "person" on Facebook called "__________ Church."

2)  Having a Facebook group called "____________ Church."  This is what we do at Robinwood Church.  Check it out.

3)  Creating a Facebook "fan page" called "___________Church."

Each of the three has advantages and disadvantages.  Pick one and run with it.  Use it to promote church activities, podcasts, etc.

Podcasts.  Becoming as essential as having a web page.  Young people are most likely to check you out here first.  "What's on your iPod?" is the best conversation starter ever for young people.  Try it.  Get an iPod and subscribe to the best church podcasts (although you don't need a portable player to enter the podcast world, any computer will do).  You go to and the iTunes store and get started.  You may need some assistance getting this set up.  Find a 20-year old, give him/her a pizza and don't stop 'til it's done.  Post and promote, post and promote.  Repeat.  Our Robinwood Church podcast is listened to all around the world.

Print. Most church newsletters are disappearing; just like many newspapers.  But you should have a book out that defines your message.  Have it for sale everywhere you go; keep a box in your car.  Make sure it is available on Kindle or other readers.  You double your income at every speaking event if you have it for sale and let people know about it.  Go to Create Space and publish with great editorial and artistic support for about $3k.  You can earn that back after a while, and the resource, always on hand, is a big value added.  Put links to Amazon so people can easily find it.  Look at what I have done with this.

And sure, websites are old school, but there are trends to watch.

1)  Simple is good.  Think iPod.  If you aren't going to update it, don't post it.  Stale dates, etc. are a bad sign.

2)  Never ever ever use stock photos of "beautiful people."  Use real pix of your people.  Authentic is everything.

3)  Make it easy to "contact us."  Real phone numbers and email addresses.  Don't make people have to hunt to find you.

4)  Prominently feature the picture and bio of the senior pastor.  People are looking for this.

5)  Come right out and tell people what your worship style and political/theological stances are.  Don't be vague.  If you're pro-life, say so.  If you are liturgical, say so.  Etc.

6)  Make sure the branding, colors, logos, etc. actually match your church service and "vibe."  Don't have an artsy, brooding (albeit cool) website if you are a happy clappy church.  The medium is the message.

Check out our site at

Google AdWords. This is a huge resource of targeted advertising.  We use it extensively and it works great.  There is quite a learning curve and it takes the better part of a year to master.  There is no substitute for practice on this one.  Just get started.

Twitter. The senior pastor and the church should have a unified account.  Check out mine at "RobinwoodChurch" and "David Housholder" –same account.  I just got started.  This is way more challenging and unforgiving than the happy and safe Facebook atmosphere.  You will have to dodge porn and haters.  The big upside is that you learn to communicate, just like Jesus, in great sound bites of 140 characters in an uncontrolled social forum.  And the truth is, you can test your ideas for potency.  If it doesn't matter on Twitter, it probably doesn't matter to the public.  It can be sobering, but vastly helpful.  Be patient and keep at it.

LinkedIn and MySpace. Other valuable social networks.  Have a look.

Google Wave. I am one of the blessed few let into this beta-testing version and can't figure out what it's about–yet.  I'll let you know…

Remember you can post to most all of these formats at once by using Ping or Posterous.  That way you don't have to maintain all of them.

Thanks to David Householder for this post.

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

FW: Confession and Absolution

Thanks to Pr. Matt Harrison for sharing this translation-in-process.




Feed: Mercy Journeys with Pastor Harrison
Posted on: Saturday, December 19, 2009 2:30 PM
Author: Rev. Matt Harrison
Subject: Confession and Absolution


Here's an excerpt from the Braunschweig-Woelfenbuettel Church Order, written by Martin Chemnitz in 1569. I and a couple of friends have been working on it for the better part of a decade... Hope to publish some day... M.H.


I a poor sinner confess to God our Heavenly Father, that we (sadly) have sinned deeply and repeatedly, not only committing external, gross sins, but much more inner, inborn blindness, faithlessness, doubt, faintheartedness, impatience, arrogance, evil lusts, covetousness, secret jealousy, hatred and discontentment we have also committed other sins by which in many different ways we have transgressed the most holy law of God with thoughts, actions, words and deeds. Our Lord and God recognizes [our sins] but we unfortunately can not recognize them so completely. Therefore they cause me sorrow and we heartily desire grace from God through His dear Son Jesus Christ. We plead that he would grant to me his Holy Spirit for the improvement of our life.

Thereupon shall immediately follow the absolution.

Form of the Absolution.

The Almighty God has had mercy on you, and through the merit of the most holy suffering, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, his beloved Son, he forgives you all your sins. And we as an ordained servant of the Christian church, proclaim to all who truly repent and who, by faith, place all their trust in the sole merit of Jesus Christ, and intend to arrange their lives according to the command and will of God, such forgiveness of all your sins, in the name of God the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. On the contrary, however, we say to all that are unrepentant and unbelieving, on the basis of God's word and in the name of Jesus Christ, that God has retained their sins, and will certainly punish them.

Thereupon the people shall once more be admonished to prayer and thanksgiving to God for the preservation of the whole church of God, correct doctrine, also faithful and true praeceptors, and that God would send faithful workers into his harvest [Mt. 9:37f.]. They shall pray for the authorities, for temporal peace and good crops, and in summary, for the needs of all of Christendom and especially persons who request Christian prayer, as that may follow a simple note, without any concern.

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Resources Received: New Gerhard Theological Commonplaces!

Gerhard, Johann. Translated by Richard J. Dinda. Edited with Annotations by Benjamin T. G. Mayes. On the Person and Office of Christ (Theological Commonplaces: Exegesis IV). St. Louis: Concordia, 2009. 406 Pages. Cloth. $54.99. (LHP)

Friday, December 18, 2009

From the Chancel: Dr. Pieper on Liturgical Practice

I urge our readers to consider the following extended quote in context. Do not merely look for "ammunition" for your particular position in the current LCMS debate on worship theology and practice. Instead, think about the big picture of unity in the faith, which is primary, and exercise or self-limitation of Gospel freedom for the sake of love for brother pastors and sister congregations.

Let us stop talking past one another and acknowledge what truly unites or divides us. Further, let us consider what may lead to Godly unity in doctrine and practice in our Synod.

We may not demand complete agreement in so-called theological problems, that means in questions that are not decided in God's Word. That would be overreaching. This also follows form the nature of faith. Faith has place only over against divine revelation. Where there is no Word of God, neither can there be faith.

And neither may we demand that agreement in liturgical practice [gottesdienstlichen Gebraechen], ceremonies, ecclesiastical constitution, and similar matters belong to the essence of unity in the faith. Why? Because these things are left free in God's Word. What we are to preach is prescribed in the Word of God: the entire Word of God, and that purely and clearly. But the place, the time, and manner of worship [Gottesdienst] stands in the freedom of an individual Christian congregation. Whether before the sermon one, two, or three hymns are sung; whether we place the absolution at the beginning of the service or let it follow the sermon; whether a so-called liturgical service is present or not; whether the pastor sings or speaks the liturgy--on these matters, we find no prescription in the Word of God. Every congregation can direct these matters as it appears to it most appropriate. Similarity in ceremonies may not be treated as a factor when dealing with unity in the faith. In general, what belongs to the so-called adiaphora, that which God's Word has neither commanded nor forbidden, may not be regarded as belonging to the essence of unity. It is true that similarity in ceremonies is not under all circumstances and in every connection a matter of indifference. But it is completely indifferent with respect to the complete unity in the faith. All congregations are one that have the same doctrine, even if they have different ceremonies. On the other hand, there may be external unity of form like uniformed soldiers [marching lockstep], but if there is no unity in the faith, in doctrine, then all their unity is mere appearance. In short, similiarity in ceremonies and constitution is not under all circumstances and in all connections a matter of no significance, but [it is] completely indifferent with respect to the essense of unity in the faith.

Thus says Augsburg Confession, Article VII: "For it is sufficient for the true unity of the Christian church that the Gospel be preached in conformity with a pure understanding of it and that the sacraments be administered in accordance with the divine Word. It is not necessary for the tru unity of the Christian church that ceremonies, instituted by men, should be ovserved uniformly in all places."

To be sure, our Confession also gives expression to the thought that similarity in certain ceremonies in another connection is not at all a matter of no concern. For instance, since we have certain ceremonies in common with the Ancient Church, we demonstrate in a way, also externally, that we acknowledge our connection with this Church. But our Confession continues to assert that this unity in external order does not come into consideration when we are dealing with the essense of Christian unity. Apology VII/VIII states:

We like it when universal rites are observed for the sake of tranquility. So in our churches we willingly observe the order of the Mass, the Lord's Day, and the other more important feast days. With a very thankful spirit we cherish the useful and ancient ordinances, especially when they contain a discipline that serves to educated and instruct the people and the inexperienced. Now, we are not discussing whether it is profitable to observe them for the sake of tranquility or bodily profit. Another issue is involved. The question is whether the observance of human tradition is an act of worship necessary for righteousness before God. [And we add analogously: Without such requirements, the Church cannot be united. F. Pieper] This must be settled in this controversy, and only then can we decide whether it is necessary for the true unity of the Church that human traditions be alike everywhere. (Ap VII/VIII 33-34)
 In addition, it has been asserted that when Christians from one congregation move to another, they don't feel at home because the ceremonies are different. Now, as desirable as it is that for the sake of such weak [Christians] that the ceremonies in the same communion might be as uniform as possible, these people should be instructed and shown that what has to do with true Christian fellowship has to do only with doctrine and not with ceremonies, constitutions, or even synods. It can be harmful when we fail to direct the people away from indifferent matters to the Word of God. It should be so among us that when we come into one church and find the same ceremonies we have but another doctrine, then we cannot feel at home. And vice versea: Where we indeed find different ceremonies but the same doctrine, and receive the same Gospel, there we should feel at home. For there is Christ. Where God's Word is preached clearly and purely, there we hear the voice of Christ.

By unity in the faith, we understand the actual agreement in docrine...

Francis Pieper,
"On Unity in the Faith,"
from At Home in the House of My Fathers, 579-580,
emphases and indentations original.

LHP Review: This IS My Grandfather's Church!

Harrison, Matthew C. At Home in the House of My Fathers: Presidential Sermons, Essays, Letters, and Addresses from the Missouri Synod's Great Era of Unity and Growth. Bridgeport, TX: Lutheran Legacy, 2009. 826 Pages. Cloth. $19.95. (Available from LOGIA, (LHP)

Reading an 826-page volume is a daunting prospect, even for a committed bibliophile. Matthew Harrision makes it a fascinating, illuminating, and thoroughly enjoyable exercise in historical theology.

Some of the "Presidential Sermons, Essays, Letters, and Addresses from the Missouri Synod's Great Era of Unity and Growth" have been available before in English translation, while others are provided here in a fresh, readable English that does justice to the German original of the first five German-born presidents of the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod.

Each portion of the book has an introduction from Rev. Harrison, which serves as an ongoing background continuity that provides necessary context to understand the significance of each piece of writing, as well as contemporary application to today's LCMS. The consistent message is that unity in the Missouri Synod was always created by the Holy Spirit among those who studied the Word together. Missouri walks (walked?) together because it did theology together. Christian freedom was sometimes surrendered to walk with brother pastors and sister congregations for the greater goals of unity and mission.

At Home, faithfully read, will give the reader an enormous appreciation for what the LCMS was (and in many ways still is), but is in danger of no longer being. This would be an excellent text for an LCMS history course, or for any Lutheran pastor or life-long Lutheran.

This wonderful tome was my companion for a week of preparation for the BRTFSSG Regional Gathering in Denver the first week of December. I finished it on the way home. One of the included essays, "Duties of an Evangelical Lutheran Synod" (224ff) was also sent to delegates to the 2010 LCMS Convention in Houston before the round of the nine regional gathering. The version here is formatted in a more reader-friendly format than the one previously available in a two-volume collection of convention essays by Dr. Walther. (CPH generously reprinted the essay and included it with the final report of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synod Structure and Governance). If only delegates would read that one essay!

Walther, Wynecken, Schwan, Pieper, and Pfotenauer are largely unknown to some of the pastors and most of the laity of American Lutheranism, even in some sectors of the LCMS.

I came away from the book with a better understanding of Loehe's personal theological struggles with his church body's governing body, and his falling-out with the Missouri Synod. I have a deeper appreciation for the mission-heart of these fathers of the LCMS and how it flowed from a love of pure Bible teaching and the doctrine of Dr. Martin Luther. They saw the treasure of Christian freedom and how unity in practice was also a godly goal that was consistent with the Gospel.

At Home in the House of My Fathers evidences five LCMS Presidents and pastors who saw benefit in a consistent doctrine, practice with those saints who have entered their eternal rest. The editor is appropriately thankful that the LCMS is his grandfather's church, one engaged in preserving the pure Word of God, passionate in Gospel outreach, and engaged in compassionate human care.

QBR gives this book our highest recommendation.

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.

LHP Review: Sexuality in the ELCA/ELCIC

The Banff Commission. Dehli, NY: American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, 2008. 98 Pages. Paperback. $12.50. (LHP)

The Jasper Commission. Dehli, NY: American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, 2009. 72 Pages. Paperback. $12.50. (LHP)

A dear seminary professor shared with us students the problem he perceived in his generation of Lutheran pastors: they are unwilling to "do theology."

I am impressed with the dual mandate provided by Ascension Lutheran of Calgary, Alberta (Canada) that led to both The Banff Commission and The Jasper Commision to actually study theology!

Why must the exercise of "doing theology" be so rare in modern Lutheranism? Why must the term "Lutheran" in the United States be so linked in the mind of the average media-influenced person to the three resolutions passed in August by the ELCA National Assembly?

Banff addresses "the same sex relationships debate and the turmoil and division that are occurring at every level in the church's life" (back cover).

James Nestigen notes how differing "valid" understandings of election laid the groundwork for differing "valid" understandings of human sexuality (76).

Jasper, the second commission, reprints essays that "articulate how pastors and congregations who hold firmly ot the biblical witness on marriage and sexuality might more effectively minister to all persons--regardless of what they consider their sexual orientation to be" (back cover).

Sections in this thinner volume (46, 52) could be easily misunderstood in the current American/Canadian "politically correct" understanding of "welcome" and "tolerance" in contrast to the Biblical witness.

Thanks to the ALPB, these essay collections are now available to a wider audience in North American Lutheranism. Unfortunately, their advice was not heeded at the Minneapolis ELCA Churchwide Assembly. Both Banff and Jasper could continue to serve those working toward reform for congregations and clergy remaining within the ELCA and sister bodies, as well as for those departing.

Most of the non-biblical and frankly anti-biblical arguments for the ordination of women to the pastoral office have now been recycled. They were reused to argue for the ordination of non-celibate gays and lesbians.

The best hope for any church body (my own LCMS included) is a return to the Word. Unity is a laudable goal (John 17:21), but only with unity in God's Truth (John 17:17) in full view.

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.

Hymnody Review: Lutheranism on Acoustic Guitar

The Commission on Worship of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. Christian Worship Supplement: Guitar Edition. Milwaukee: Northwestern Publishing House, 2008. 67 hymns. Three-hole punched sheets. $15.00. (H)


Not long ago, QBR reviewed the new WELS Supplement to Christian Worship. You may remember we rather liked it.  :)

As a guitarist growing up, I usually had to figure out chords for hymns since hymnals didn't usually provide that information. The LCMS Spanish-language hymnal Cantad al Senor! was an exception. Hymnal Supplement 98 set a new pattern. Since the release of those resources, the new LCMS and ELCA hymnals announced guitar chord editions as part of the official set of Lutheran Service Book or Evangelical Lutheran Worship, respectively. Such "chord editions" could also be used by a pianist as a lead sheet edition. Words, melody, and chords are provided for extemporaneous arrangment.

As a reviewer and musician, I preferred the larger format and more durable cover of LSB: Guitar Chord Edition. I liked the musical advice of the ELW set, and the fact that a chart of guitar chords was conveniently included in the back of each of the two volumes.


What makes CWS: Guitar Edition unique?
  • It provides a "lead sheet edition" for guitarists and pianists with the usual chord, melody, and text for each hymn/canticle in CWS. It is indispensible for users of that collection.
  • It is provided (as shown above) in a large and easily legible letter-size format, conveniently three-hole punched. Add your own binder! (My favorite is the aptly-named Better Binder available exclusively through Staples office supply stores.)
  • The best idea of all of the recent LSB, ELW, and CWS books for guitar? In CWS: Guitar Edition, Guitar chords needed for each hymn are reproduced at the bottom of the page of each hymn. How cool is that?
Many of the hymns in CWS are also found in collections in use by other Lutherans. So far, I've used #752, "In Christ Alone," the most. This modern hymn was happily included in CWS, but apparently just missed LSB due to the timing of the proposal and approval process completed by the 2004 LCMS Convention.

$15 is a bargain for this resource. Thanks go to Northwestern Publishing House and the WELS Commission on Worship for sharing a complimentary review copy with us.

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Resources Received

Scheck, Thomas P., Translator. Edited by Christopher A. Hall. Gerald L. Bray and Thomas C. Oden, Series Editors. Origen: Homilies on Numbers (Ancient Christian Texts). Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2009. 196 Pages. Cloth. $60.00. (P)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

From the Editor: WARNING! Disclosure May Follow...

According to "This Week" in the November 2nd , 2009 issue of National Review...

"The Federal Trade Commission has embarked upon a daft assault on free speech, specifically social-media users' endorsement of products or businesses. The FTC has propounded rules that will impose fines of up to $11,000 on bloggers, Facebook users, or Twitter tweeters (for whom surely we could invent a more dignified name?) who fail to disclose financial relationships with businesses they write about. Such relationships include the receipt of merchandise gratis--meaning that online critics who receive free books or press passes to a concert will find themselves in violation of federal law if they fail to satisfy Washington's disclosure demands. Such arrangements are longstanding custom and are of particular value to small, independent publications (print or electronic) that cannot afford to pay retail prices for access to the materials they review. And it ought to go without saying that the FTC has no business policing Facebook updates, period. That the FTC would make a federal case out of such a triviality suggests that this bloated and arrogant agency is overdue for a deep cut in staff and budget. If some unemployed bureaucrats become bloggers, all the better."

Thanks to Pastor Peter Bertram for keeping us at QBR up-to-date.

IF and/or WHEN such a rule arises, we'll probably need to "render unto Caesar" here.

I thought it may be interesting to our readers how the book review process usually works. I don't mind "disclosing" that.


Publisher's want high-impact, low-cost publicity for their books, CDs, DVDs, etc. Book reviewers receive complimentary (usually) or discounted (sometimes, if a budget allows) books in exchange for a published review. Sometimes reviewers request an individual book or type of book from a publisher. Sometimes the books arrive "unsolicited." "Tear sheets," or pages from a printed review journal are gradually being replaced by pdf copies of reviews. Publishers use these reviews as feedback and guidance for what is received well by various audiences. Reviewers get to keep the resource they review for their trouble in daring to share a critical opinion.

At QBR, our reviews have been made available electronically, also at no cost to our readers. It has been a pretty good business model we'd like to continue.

More reviews are coming soon.

Peace in Christ,

Paul J Cain

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

LHP Review: Intermediate Biblical Archaelogy

Hoerth, Alfred J. Archaeology & the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1998, 2009. 447 Pages. Paper. $42.99.  (LHP)

McRay, John. Archaeology and the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1991. 432 Pages. Paper. $39.99.  (LHP)

Two years ago in QBR 2.1 we presented a text by two authors that I consider to be an introduction to the topic before us, Baker Publishing House's Bible Archaeology (2005). Once you've passed 101, you're ready for 201 and 201. Hoerth and McRay return to the pages of QBR to show us the strength of their previous scholarship.

"Archaeological discoveries can shed a flood of light on the biblical text, and this heavily illustrated resource offers comprehensive and illuminating archaeological information related to the Old Testament.

"The most important contributions of archaeology to biblical studies, according to Hoerth, are the various ways it illuminates the cultural and historical setting for the Bible, adds to our knowledge of the people, places, things, and events in the Bible, and its aid to translation and exegesis of biblical passages.

"Hoerth surveys the entire Old Testament, pointing out the relevant archaeological material and explaining how it enriches biblical studies. In an attempt to bridge the Old and New Testament worlds, the author devotes the final chapter to examining the intertestamental period.

"Hoerth's volume presents the results of scholarly research, including archaeological discoveries, yet it remains readable and accessible. It boasts over 250 illustrative items--charts, photographs, line drawings, and maps. In addition, it includes a helpful index and bibliography" (publisher's website).

Bible archaeology serves the Biblical text. It cannot create faith, but it can be a way to remove weeds and stones from a field to remove misconceptions and misunderstandings (pre-evangelism) in preparation for the seed of the Word. We walk as Christians by faith alone, but it is wonderful to point to solid fact in the form of an indisputable artifiact when we engage in apologetics (defense of the Christian faith).
This text is not boring at all. Illustrations take the form of black and white photographs, drawings, charts, timelines and maps. They are clear, concise and bring more life to the printed text.

I particularly appreciated evidence for a comprehensive, worldwide Noahic flood (189ff). Later in the book (366), Hoerth's description of the probable fate of the Ark of the Covenant is unfortunately relegated to a footnote. Sorry, Indiana Jones had nothing to do with it!

Most readers of Archaeology & the Old Testament will be students reading chapter by chapter or pastors and Christian laity consulting it as a reference. It read well as a whole and was fascinating.

"Veteran archaeologist John McRay sheds light on the biblical text by examining archaeological discoveries in Archeology and the New Testament. As he tours sites associated with the ministry of Jesus, the journey of Paul, and the seven churches of Revelation, he shows the pervasive influence of society, architecture, and religion on the peoples of the first century and on the New Testament. The book includes numerous maps, charts, diagrams, a glossary of terms, and more than 150 photographs that help the ancient world come alive. Now in paper" (publisher's website).

Consider Archaeology & the New Testament as a stand-alone work or as a worthy companion to the other work in this review.

I resonated with the reality of the horror of how Christians met their martyrdom under Nero and other Roman emperors (62). The history of structures used fro Christian worship (72 et al) was particularly interesting. I wanted to hear more from the author on "the location of the Temple" (112ff). Reconstructions of Roman inscriptions (204) and positions of crucifixion (205) will serve me well in Bible Classes.

One of the most heartening aspects about Biblical archaeology is the simple fact that new discoveries are found everyday. This proves to be a challenge to scholars as well as publishers. Both books would benefit from an update in the next ten years. In future editions of these two volumes, I would encourage the use of color photography and/or the inclusion of photo CD-Roms and companion websites. Vibrant visuals would only add to such solid foundations as provided by Wheaton College collegues John McRay and Alfred Hoerth courtesy of Baker Academic.

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.