Abandoning our Treasure?
Each week as I prepare for the upcoming worship services, I'm continually reminded of the rich worship and musical heritage we have in Christendom and Lutheranism. At any given service we hear the timeless Word speaking to us in readings and sermon. The psalms, whether spoken, chanted, or sung, still resonate with us as they did with Israel. We sing first century New Testament canticles and historic liturgical texts set to musical settings spanning hundreds of years. Our hymn texts are gems collected from the early years of Christianity to the present and set to tunes ancient and modern. Our prayers and collects have been prayed by the great cloud of witnesses before us and added to judiciously by the present. The instrumental and choral music is chosen from a rich treasury that our musical forebears have passed down and is supplemented by composers of today.
And this is all in one worship service. Yet, do we appreciate and understand this treasure? "Traditional" worship can be done simply for the sake of tradition and nostalgia. "Contemporary" worship's horizon (specifically referencing music) spans a few short years (sometimes a decade or so) and often charts a path forward without turning around to see the mountains left behind.
Kantor Richard Resch from Concordia Theological Seminary has these rich thoughts:
It saddens me to see both Traditional toleration and Contemporary abandonment of our worship heritage. To go from toleration and abandonment to treasuring, as Kantor Resch wrote, requires catechesis. That starts with leaders – pastors and kantors. Last week Pastor Peters of Pastoral Meanderings wrote a very fine article (Wise Words) on teaching by your practice and piety. It is well worth your time to read. And lest I forget, take a look at Singing the Faith produced by the Good Shepherd Institute – another gift to the Church. Treasures shouldn't be forced upon people, but over time their value can be made apparent.
Since I certainly don't have all the answers here, please share your thoughts and ideas.