Monday, February 28, 2011

LHP Review: Lent and the Pulpit

Words of Life from the Cross: Resources for Lent-Easter Preaching and Worship Based on the Seven Last Words of Christ. St. Louis: Concordia, 2010. CD-ROM of sermons, Bible studies, and worship resources. $34.99. (Accompanying devotional book also available.) (LHP)

Fickenscher, Carl, Editor. Concordia Pulpit Resources, Volume 20, Part 2 February 21-May 23, 2010 Series C (Lent-Pentecost). St. Louis: Concordia, 2010. $46.99 for a one-year 4-issue print subscription. $46.99 for a one-year electronic subscription. $56.99 for a one-year subscription to both. (P)

Lent will soon be upon us. One-Year congregations are preparing with Pre-Lent. Three-Year Congregations have a rare Eighth Sunday after the Epiphany before Transfiguration next Sunday.

In time for Lent 2010, Concordia Publishing House released Words of Life from the Cross. These resources for Lent are appropriate every year because they are based on the Last Words of Christ.

What do you see when the CD-Rom loads up?
Words of Life from the Cross: Resources for Lent—Easter Preaching and Worship


Editable Resources
(Use your favorite word processor to open RTF files.)

Bible Studies
Children's Messages
Worship Services

PDF Resources

Additional Resources for Worship

Lutheran Service Builder
(These files can be used with Lutheran Service Builder 2.0 or later.)

Worship Services
LSBSymbol font


Bonus Resource

Congregational Reading

2010 Lent Resource Survey

[Purchasers] may copy and use print and media resources on this CD.
If you have questions please contact or at 1-800-325-0191

(from the CD-Rom).

The brothers I know who made use of Words of Life from the Cross last Lent-Easter rarely used everything on the CD-Rom. Most used the sermons as examples and outlines for sermons of their own in the series. The Bible Studies would be a great way to tie the midweek theme into Sunday or explore further at a midweek Bible Study. None of the pastors I talked to used the children's messages. They led Sunday School opening instead.

The most-used resources on the CD-Rom by far were the worship services, created in Lutheran Service Builder and available as .lsb or .rtf files, ready for customization. One will readily recognize Divine Service Setting One and Vespers. Five .pdf files provide additional original musical compositions, suggestions from the extensive CPH music catalog, and an introduction to the weekly Acclamation resource. The bonus resource of the Lenten reading from Luke will save you time on Palm/Passion Sunday in 2013 if you use the Three-Year series.

If you are short on time to prepare a sermon series due to extra parish emergencies, this resource may come at a welcome time! And knowing CPH customer service, you could probably order it today and have it next Monday.

For decades, volumes of the Concordia Pulpit graced the shelves of Lutheran pastors. Reading older sermons gave me a sense of continuity with the past, especially as I was rediscovering the Historic Lutheran Lectionary. For those using the Three-Year Series back in the 1970's, it was a source of ideas for preaching on texts that were in many respects new to Lutheran preaching. As a seminarian, I rejoiced to find that the CP didn't merely cease publication. It became Concordia Pulpit Resources, if you will, CPR for your preaching. :)

I must confess that the first thing I read are the book reviews. Then, I go to the very back and look at the hymn suggestions for the next quarter of the Three-Year series. After that, I read the series and classic sermons before digging into the exegetical resources for future sermons. I tend to go back week after week (about 2-3 weeks in advance) to supplement my own research on upcoming texts. I have been known to use one of CPR's illustrations, too.

Visit to see a digital sample issue and subscribe yourself!

Don't let your preaching suffer because of pastoral emergencies. Lean on your brother pastors, winkel exegetical studies, and CPH for faithful help.

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

Sunday, February 27, 2011

FW: "Missouri must be open..." Sasse



Feed: Mercy Journeys with Pastor Harrison
Posted on: Sunday, February 27, 2011 3:30 PM
Author: Rev. Matt Harrison
Subject: "Missouri must be open..." Sasse


Erlangen, November 8, 1948

Rathsberger Str. 4

Highly Honored Dr. Sieck [President of Concordia Seminary]!

            …Missouri must be open, more open than its fathers in the acknowledgement of all those who are confessionally true Lutherans in other churches. But it must unconditionally maintain the doctrinal content of the Formula of Concord, and not allow the confession to become a matter of form as happened in Germany and unfortunately also in the Nordic countries… I myself, against the council of Herr Doctors Graebner and Mayer, on the eve of my departure from St. Louis, have now left the territorial church for the free church (Breslau). That was a decision of conscience, which was necessitated by Bavaria's joining EKiD… My ecclesiastical work is over… My students now proceed with wife and child into misery, and so must I also go.[1][1] I hope that for me the wandering about finding closed doors will find one open in Australia, before it is too late…

                        Hermann Sasse


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[1][1] This at first rather odd comment is repeated often by Sasse. He means that he feels responsible for the plight and difficulty of his students who suffer the consequences of the theology Sasse taught them. MH

Friday, February 25, 2011

FW: Neither to the Right nor to the Left



Feed: Gnesio
Posted on: Friday, February 25, 2011 7:58 PM
Author: Gnesio
Subject: Neither to the Right nor to the Left


Teaching and doing are two things. I say, furthermore, that one should separate teaching and doing as far from each other as heaven from earth. Teaching belongs only to God. He has the right and the power to command, forbid, and be master over the conscience. However, to do and refrain from doing belong to us so that we may keep God's commandment and teaching. Where doing or to refrain from doing is in question, and concerning which God has taught, commanded, and forbidden nothing, there we should permit free choice as God himself has done. Whoever invades God's own sphere of action, burdens the conscience, creates sin and misery, and destroys all that God has left free and certain. In addition he expels the Holy Spirit with all his kingdom, work, and word, so that nothing but devils remain.

Now the elevation of the sacrament, wearing the tonsure, putting on the chasuble and alb, etc., are matters concerning which God has given neither commandments nor prohibitions. Therefore everyone is to have freedom of choice to do these things or refrain from doing them. God wants us to have such freedom, etc. Since the pope does not allow for such freedom of action, but curbs it with his teaching and commandment, he usurps the office of God and sets himself arrogantly in God's place, as St. Paul has forewarned concerning him [II Thess. 2:4]. He makes sin where God would have no sin, and thereby kills souls and binds consciences. Since Dr. Karlstadt does not allow for freedom to refrain from doing what need not be done, but compels with prohibitions and teaching, saying one must not elevate the host, etc., he also usurps the office of God and sets himself in his place. He makes sin where there neither can nor should be any sin. Thus he kills souls on this side, as does the pope on the other side, and both of them, like murderers of souls, destroy Christian liberty.

We however take the middle course and say: There is to be neither commanding nor forbidding, neither to the right nor to the left. We are neither papistic nor Karlstadtian, but free and Christian, in that we elevate or do not elevate the sacrament, how, where, when, as long as it pleases us, as God has given us the liberty to do. Just as we are free to remain outside of marriage  or to enter into marriage, to eat meat or not, to wear the chasuble or not, to have the cowl and tonsure or not. In this respect we are lords and will put up with no commandment, teaching, or prohibition. We have also done both here in Wittenberg. For in the cloister we observed mass without chasuble, without elevation, in the most plain and simple way which Karlstadt extols [as following] Christ's example. On the other hand, in the parish church we still have the chasuble, alb, altar, and elevate [the host] as long as it pleases us.

- from Martin Luther, 'Against the Heavenly Prophets in the Matter of Images and Sacraments' (1525)

(American Edition of Luther's Works, 40.129-130)Read More

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FW: Worship is Being Served By Jesus

For the whole post, click below…


Feed: The World Wide Wolfmueller
Posted on: Friday, February 25, 2011 1:50 PM
Author: wolfmueller
Subject: Worship is Being Served By Jesus


What is worship? This is one of those questions wanting a clear answer from the Lord's Church. Unfortunately answers are muddled. "Worship is my praise and thanks to God for who He is and what He's done." "Worship is the yearning of the heart to be close to God." "Worship is our service of singing [...]

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FW: LCMS Seminary Bookstores Now Online: Check Them Out

A neat idea…


Feed: Cyberbrethren Lutheran Blog Feed
Posted on: Friday, February 25, 2011 9:30 AM
Author: Paul T. McCain
Subject: LCMS Seminary Bookstores Now Online: Check Them Out


I'm very happy to announce that the CPH bookstores on the campus of both of our two seminaries are now available for you to shop from, 24/7/365, via their online store. You'll enjoy browsing the textbook selection and buying your favorite seminary logowear and other items, etc. Check them out! Here is the link to our bookstore on the campus of Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and the link to our bookstore on the campus of Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis.



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FW: Luther: Echoes of the Hammer – Graphic Novel Coming Soon!

Coming soon…


Feed: Cyberbrethren Lutheran Blog Feed
Posted on: Friday, February 25, 2011 12:06 PM
Author: Paul T. McCain
Subject: Luther: Echoes of the Hammer – Graphic Novel Coming Soon!


By late Spring/early Summer, you will be able to start ordering Luther: Echoes of the Hammer – The Graphic Novel. Here's a sneak peek at the cover. You are going to love it. This is a large poster form of it, that we have up in our graphic design department.

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

FW: Unremarkable Matthias

From the Pulpit…


Feed: Cyberbrethren Lutheran Blog Feed
Posted on: Thursday, February 24, 2011 5:17 AM
Author: Paul T. McCain
Subject: Unremarkable Matthias


My colleague, Rev. Dr. Benjamin Mayes, preached in our chapel service last year on St. Matthias. It was a memorable message and I present to you again.

Unremarkable Matthias

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Dearly Beloved:

Matthias is unremarkable. We have his feast on our Evangelical-Lutheran church year calendar simply because of this passage from Acts 1. From church history we know next to nothing of where he preached or what he did later. In Christian art he is often pictured with an axe, which means that Christians in ancient times believed that he was put to death by beheading, no doubt as a result of his bold confession of Jesus Christ as the Son of the one, true God, and his refusal to acknowledge and worship false gods. But our text tells us very little. We don't learn anything about Matthias beyond his name. We even know more about the guy who wasn't elected, since he has three names—Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus—while Matthias has only one name. Of course, we also know that Matthias accompanied the Lord Jesus and the Twelve and was a witness to the Lord's resurrection. Matthias' only claim to fame is that God chose him to be an apostle and sent him out to preach and administer sacraments and shepherd the flock of God. What can we learn from this? Not all of the men whom God chooses to preach, administer sacraments, and shepherd the church are remarkable. Most are pretty ordinary. Don't be disappointed if your pastor is not the most dynamic or charismatic leader. Don't be disappointed if he doesn't have the business sense to manage a small corporation. Hold him to the qualifications set forth by Scripture. For the call of Matthias, what was important was that he have been a companion of Jesus and the Twelve from beginning to end, and that he be a witness of the resurrected Lord Jesus. For pastors today, their qualifications and duties are set forth in sufficient detail in Paul's letters to Timothy and Titus. For that matter, we should learn from this to measure anyone in any God-given office by God's standards in Scripture, not by whatever our emotions, eyes, or reason would require. Hold all church workers to the standards set forth in Scripture. Be satisfied with governmental leaders who are doing their duty. Fathers and mothers don't have to be perfect, as long as they are doing what God sets forth in His Word.

Now, the treachery of Judas must have been a shock to the disciples. Here was one that the Lord Jesus had hand-chosen to be one of His inner circle. And yet he turned, betrayed the Lord, and ended his miserable life with an evil hanging of himself. It must have seemed like God's plans were being thwarted by evil. But they were not. God knew what He was doing. In the same way, at the fall of Adam and Eve into sin, God already knew what He would do: send His Son to become a human being, to die and rise and redeem the world, winning them back for God. God's plan was to create holy humanity to enjoy His blessings. Adam and Eve's sin did not thwart God's plan. He sent His Son to make it happen. So also here, at the treachery of Judas, God's plan was not thwarted. The Lord's plan was to have Twelve apostles, sent out to the twelve tribes of Israel, to be the foundation of the Church through their preaching of Christ. And even though Judas fell away, God's plan was not thwarted. Peter and the other apostles studied the Old Testament Scripture, and they found a prophecy of Judas' betrayal in Psalms 69 and 109. And the prophecy in Psalm 109 included the instruction, "let another take his office." To us this seems obvious. If the pastor embezzels the congregation's money or has an affair, he is removed from office and another pastor is called and installed. But it was probably not obvious to the apostles how they should deal with the fall of an apostle. What kind of an office was this? Was it like the Old Testament priesthood or kingship, in which the office could become vacant and passed on to others, or was it more like the Old Testament prophetic office, which God raised up when and where he pleased, and which did not automatically pass on to others, unless God said explicitly that the prophet's student should become a prophet, too? (This happened with Elijah and Elisha.) Peter and the other apostles study Scripture, and they find this Scripture: "Let another take his office." So it is an office, and it can be vacant, and someone else can take it. That may not have been obvious at first. We too, should search the Scriptures to find God's will. Don't look to your feelings and emotions, your fears and worries, or your reason and senses to determine God's will for your life. If you want to know what God's plan is, don't look at success in the world, either. If doors seem to be opening to you, this might not be God's will and plan. It might just be the path of least resistance. Instead, search the Scriptures. If you find it there, you know it is God's will. If you don't find it there, then don't claim that it is God's will and plan. Peter and the other apostles studied Scripture.

Finally, there's something shocking about the "call committee" or "voters' assembly" which was formed for the purpose of electing a new apostle. It's not what we might expect. First, only men were present, or at least only they were being addressed by Peter (vv. 15–16). The Greek makes this clear, since Peter says not just "brothers," but in the Greek, νδρες δελφοί, "men brothers." Next, the qualifications for the new apostle were set forth by Peter, not by the congregation (vv. 21–22). The congregation did not go through a self-study process. They did not write up their own mission and ministry plan. They did not do a spiritual gifts inventory. Peter, as the leader, set forth the kind of man they were looking for, and clearly he was acting in accord with God's will when he did so. Finally, nowhere does the text say that the congregation chose two out of many qualified candidates; in fact, Matthias and Joseph may have been the only two men qualified. It's possible that this congregation of men did not nominate anyone. If they did, the text doesn't make it clear. Finally, this congregation of men did not actually elect anyone either. The whole point of the passage is that the congregation did not choose, but God did.

Now, I'm not pointing out these differences from today's LCMS call committees to say that our call committees or voters' assemblies should be like this assembly of men around the apostles, in all respects. On the contrary, especially with the casting of lots, this is not something we should imitate. This is the only time in the New Testament where the casting of lots is used to select an apostle or pastor. The apostolic church afterwards abandoned this practice. After Pentecost it was never used again, and it is also not commanded to us that we practice it.

The reason I have pointed out these differences is to underline the main point of this Bible reading: that God chose Matthias to complete the Twelve and to be a witness of the resurrection. Matthias went forth and preached that Jesus conquered death for you, Jesus obtained forgiveness for you. God's plan for your salvation is not thwarted by Judas, not by Adam and Eve, not even by your sins. Repent of your sins and believe in Christ, the same Christ whom unremarkable Matthias proclaimed. To Him be glory and honor, now and forever. Amen.

The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

FW: Historic Rankings and Precedence of LSB's Feasts & Festivals

For your consideration…


Feed: Gottesdienst Online
Posted on: Wednesday, February 23, 2011 12:32 PM
Author: Pr. H. R.
Subject: Historic Rankings and Precedence of LSB's Feasts & Festivals


We've commented before on the somewhat idiosyncratic ranking of feasts in LSB (pp. xi). While the footnote to the calendar of Feasts and Festivals would seem to lay down a clear, though novel, rule ("observances listed in boldface are principal feasts of Christ and are normally observed when they occur on a Sunday") - the calendar itself does not seem to follow its own rule. For example, St. Michael and All Angels are listed as "principal feasts of Christ" but not the Confession of Peter or Holy Innocents. St. John the Baptist's Nativity is a "principal feast of Christ," but his martyrdom is not. Why?


The confusion gets even worse if your congregation subscribes to CPH's every Sunday bulletin service. A couple years ago July 22nd fell on a Sunday and the bulletin from CPH featured St. Mary Magdalene – but LSB lists this as a day that does not normally displace a Sunday.


Calendars have pretty much always been like this – much room for local custom and not a little confusion at the margins. And that's fine - there is a place for local custom in the Church. And since there is, here are the historic rankings of the Feasts and Festivals listed in LSB which will give you a much wider range of Feast days throughout the year that "trump" a Sunday (especially welcome during the long "green seasons.")


I've only listed the disagreements between LSB and the historic rankings – and I'm only looking at LSB's very sensible criterion of does this feast replace the Sunday liturgy? Those who want more detailed historic rankings can look at Daily Divine Service Book and add second collects to their heart's content. I have also added a few notes where they seemed appropriate – especially noting where LSB's rule is to be preferred to the historic rankings.


Feasts listed in LSB as not taking precedence over a Sunday, but that historically do take precedence


St. Thomas, Dec 21 (LSB's rule is to be preferred so as not to disrupt Advent)

St. John, Dec 27

Holy Innocents, Dec 28

The Confession of St. Peter, Jan 18 (Transfiguration would take precedence when it falls on Jan 18)

St. Timothy, Jan 24

The Conversion of St. Paul, Jan 25

St. Titus, Pastor and Confessor, Jam 26

St. Matthias, Feb 24 (Sundays in Lent, however, do not yield)

St. Mark, April 25 (Of course, St. Mark yields to Easter)

Sts. Philip and James, May 1

St. Barnabas, June 11 (Of course, St. Barnabas yields to Pentecost or Trinity Sunday)

Sts. Peter and Paul, June 29

St. Mary Magdalene, July 22

St. James the Elder, July 25

St. Mary, Mother of Our Lord, Aug 15 (!!)

St. Bartholomew, Aug 24

The Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist, Aug 29

Holy Cross Day, Sept 14

St. Matthew, Sept 21

St. Luke, Oct 18

St. James of Jerusalem, Oct 23

Sts. Simon and Jude, Oct 28


Feasts listed in LSB as taking precedence over a Sunday, but that historically do not

Eve of the Circumcision and Name of Jesus, Dec 31 (LSB's move here is more of a transference from Jan 1 for those years in which Dec 31 falls on a Sunday. It seems a sensible pastoral judgment - however, probably only if you are using the other rules listed in LSB about not observing St. John or Holy Innocents on Sunday. Historically, there are, in fact, only three dates that take the propers for the First Sunday after Christmas: Dec 29, 30, and 31.)

The Annunciation of Our Lord (The Annunciation cannot fall on a Sunday outside of Lent, all of which are of the first class. There is some confusion historically about what to do when this first class feast falls on a first class Sunday – I think it is wise to keep the Sundays in Lent intact.)


Several of the Commemorations in LSB historically have rankings on par with many of the saints listed in LSB's Feasts and Festivals section – for example, St. John Chrysostom, St. Gregory the Great, St. Martin of Tours and others all have the same rank as St. Titus. When such universally honored saints (as opposed to the "local saints" of Lutheranism – Robert Barnes, Martyr or Martin Luther, Doctor) fall on a Sunday, especially in the Season after Trinity, a local congregation would, I think, benefit from observing the saint's day over the Sunday as the historic calendars have it. Again, for full rankings of all these days, see Daily Divine Service Book.



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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Resources Received

Rundman, Jonathan. Protestant Rock Ethic (featuring A HEARTLAND LITURGY plus Event Theme Songs, Hymn Interpretations, Scripture Settings, and Curriculum Music). Minneapolis: Salt Lady Records, 2006. Three CD set: 2 audio, 1 data "eSongBook." (LHN)

The Revised Grail Psalms. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2010. Paper. 327 Pages. $11.95. (LH)

True, Lori. "Let This Be the Time." Chicago: GIA Publications, 2010. Sheet Music. $1.75. (LH)

Alonso, Tony. "Arise, My Love." Chicago: GIA Publications, 2010. Sheet Music. $1.75 (LH)

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Contrasts Review: Folk Art and High Art Meet Popular Art

Something new for a new year:
A Contrasts Review
is where our reviewers
contrast very different kinds of material
to better understand them all.

Heath, Brandon. Leaving Eden. Franklin, TN: Reunion/Provident-Integrity/Sony, 2011. Audio CD. $13.98. (N) 

RED. Until We Have Faces. Franklin, TN: Provident/Essential, 2011. Audio CD. $13.98. (N)

George, Nathan Clark with Mark Stoffel an Ross Sermons. Still. Westpoint, TN: NCG, 2010. Audio CD. $14.95. (mp3 download is $9.00.) (H)

Leavitt, John. A Celtic Prayer. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2008. SATB and piano sheet music. $1.60. (H)

Leavitt, John, composer and conductor. The Jubilee Festival Singers with Susan Laushman, pianist. Symphony of Songs and River in Judea. Andover, KS: John Leavitt Music, 2008. Audio CD. $15.00. (H)

Leavitt, John, composer. Symphony of Songs: Song Cycle for Mixed Choir and Piano. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2008. Choral Book. $5.00. (H)

Kim, David, violin. With Paul S. Jones, piano. The Lord Is My Shepherd. (Includes American Spirituals, Book One, for Violin and Piano by Kile Smith.) Philadelphia: Paul Jones Music, 2006. Audio CD. $17.00. (H)

Williams, Anne Martindale, violoncello. With Paul S. Jones, piano. Sacred Music for Cello. (Includes American Spirituals, Book Two, for Cello and Piano by Kile Smith.) Philadelphia: Paul Jones Music, 2009. Audio CD. $17.00. (H)

I do like the new. I also cherish the old. Perhaps you remember the old campfire song where "one is silver and the other, gold."

Today's Contrast Review is not merely about new and old. That would be too simplistic a description. Tonight, I would like to show parallels between folk culture and high culture on one hand and popular culture on the other.

Pop culture products have a built-in expiration date. Like the computers we're both using, there is a planned obsolescence involved here. Everybody knows that a pop singer, famous personality, or popular politician won't likely be popular forever. Then, people are on to the next big thing, whatever that may be.

Folk music, as an example of folk culture, transcends generations. Folk culture may fade as languages and unique national costumes and musics often do, but the sense of belonging to a people group remains. America, the great Melting Pot, has made it possible for Scotch-Irish-English-Bohemian-American mutts like myself to enjoy a my choice of Chinese, Mexican, or a kosher hot dog for lunch. Folk tunes have found their way into more recent hymnals and are cherished almost immediately.

And then there's high culture. What did people derogatorily call some "classical" music a few generations ago? "Long hair music." Consider how that became more of a relevant connotation to folk-pop-rock in the 1960's and '70s. Yet, we still listen to Bach, Beethoven, Handel, Mozart, and the gifted musical geniuses of the past. Yes, high culture also transcends generations.

Folk culture and high culture both have the ability to bridge generations, something pop culture largely lacks.

Consider CCM artist Brandon Heath.

Heath's vocal musicianship is better than many in his field, sacred or secular. He is responsible, at least in part or in whole, for writing every track on Leaving Eden. His overarching narrative for the project is life as a sinner in a sinful world. He demonstrates a comfortable discomfort with pain in this world. 

The most commonly used euphemism for God is "You." The song "Now More than Ever" suffers from the "Jesus or my girlfriend" syndrome, where the lyrics are ambiguous and could refer to either or both. The track "Only Water" had so much potential for being about regenerative Holy Baptism with an Acts 2 twist at the end that Baptism is NOT only water, but that thought wasn't explored.

Heath's Eden is listenable, non-objectional pop that will be appreciated now and produce a few tracks for his "best of" albums in the future.

Red is something completely different. Watch/listen for yourself.

Red presents an intense rock album with Until We Have Faces, intentionally named similarly to C. S. Lewis' retelling of the Psyche myth, Till We Have Faces. With this release, Red covers some of the same thematic ground as Heath above and Lewis' book. 

The sound tends to overwhelm the text and is its master until a couple of the late tracks on the album which show more melodic and harmonic development. The rock sound made it a challenge to hear Red's message of life in search of a new identity in Christ. I look forward to a regular release copy so I can better understand the lyrics from the album liner notes.

Listeners unaccustomed to modern rock will be unsettled. I enjoyed the intensity and creativity. The music is powerful and emotive. Until We Have Faces sounded great on my Sony car speakers, but like Leaving Eden, this album will remain "on the road" music instead of that composed for the Sunday morning sanctuary.

Moving from pop to a reflective treatment of folk and traditional hymns, consider the Christmas album of Nathan Clark George and friends!

Listen at: Web visitors will also be able to see lyrics/notes for each track and free downloads.

Vocals, mandolin, violin, bass, and guitar accompany cherished hymns and two new compositions by George, "For What Did Christ, the Babe, Appear" and "In Quiet Hope." The latter is a haunting instrumental. The text of the former (with Nashville-numbered chords) reads:

6 4 1/3 2 6 3Msus 6
For what did Christ the babe appear, Fashioned in an earthly style?
6 4 1/3 2 6 3Msus 6
And rest within a manger here, Immanuel, a heavenly child?
4 5 5/7 1 2 5/7 3 4 5
This, foretold in ancient times! This th'angelic hosts now sing
4 5 5/7 1 2 6 3Msus 6
Glory unto God on high, The Child of Peace is born a King!
For what did Christ, the babe, appear, and His Father's will obey?
From Jordan's waters in holy fear, to the cross, what was gained?
All is gained by Him alone. All the law is satisfied.
All obedience to the throne! He, the perfect sacrifice.
[Bass Out]
For what did Christ, the babe, appear, offering His most precious blood?
And once ordain that I should hear, placing me within the flood?
[Bass Walks Down]
In the flood of Gospel light, Clear and pure as shining star,
Fast I stand with end in sight; distant yet, though not afar.
For What did Christ the Babe Appear
nathan clark george 2010
Key of A / F#m
Guitar: capo 2 play in G
I look forward to seeing this new hymn in hymnals someday!

I appreciate the honest musicianship of the recordings of Nathan Clark George and would be honored to include music like this to Christmas Eve Lessons and Carols at Immanuel.

I have long been a fan of the compositions and arrangements of John Leavitt.

Symphony of Songs and River in Judea
John's new choral song cycle features beautiful Hymn and Psalm settings as well as the newly recorded RIVER IN JUDEA.
  1. Rejoice in the Lord
  2. Create in Me (Psalm 51)
  3. The Beautiful Treasure (Shaker Hymn)
  4. Come Let Us Sing to the Lord (Psalm 95)
  5. Shall We Gather at the River (Hymn Arrangement)
  6. As Pants the Hart (Psalm 42)
  7. Praise the Lord (Psalm 150)
  8. A Celtic Prayer
  9. River in Judea

The Jubilee Festival Singers and Susan Laushman, pianist perform under the direction of composer/conductor John Leavitt.

This is not the first time I have heard the beautiful settings of tracks 1-3 and 5, but this was the first time I have heard the texts paired with the now-beloved arrangements.

"Create in Me" would be a delightful choral substitute Offertory Canticle at Divine Service. The piano arrangement is more modest and approachable for the choral pianist.

In a similar way, I would love to incorporate "Come, Let Us Sing to the Lord," an adaptation of Psalm 95, as the Venite for Matins or Morning Prayer. A well-practiced pianist could handle the sixteenth notes. A more novice player could focus primarily on the left hand on page 22, 24, and 28.

The remaining tracks were a fresh auditory feast for this reviewer.

"A Celtic Prayer" is a notable setting of St. Patrick's Breastplate (yes, that St. Patrick). It is accessible for a beginning SATB-capable choir. The six-flat key change may prove to be a challenge for the accompanist, but Leavitt utilizes the unique key to its full potential before returning to three flats. Harmony is lush.

The singers made my job of listening (and following along with some of the printed music) very enjoyable. Their balance, varied volume, and proper pronunciation helped the music and text come to the fore unless I intentionally focused on their musicianship in detail.

Buy this recording for your listening edification and donate the sheet music to your congregation's choir for year-round possibilities!

Leavitt is but one example of what I consider a Godly fusion and celebration of folk hymnody and high art culture. Bach can be intimidating. Leavitt and Paul S. Jones are a blessing to traditional liturgical churches looking to preserve their common Christian heritage of song and add substantial and reverent contributions from the current generation.

Recorded at Tenth Presbyterian Church, Paul S. Jones' recordings set a high standard for creative harmonizations and arrangements of beloved hymn tunes expertly played. Jones himself is one arranger among several including Jeremy Strong, Richard A. Nichols, Timothy Shaw, Peter Leibensperger, and QBR favorite, Kile Smith. Smith arranged tracks 16-18, including the haunting "Sinner, Don't Let This Harvest Pass," the tune Resignation, and "The Old Ship of Zion."

Visit for sheet music of the arrangements on this recording. They will be welcome at home, the Church, and the concert hall alike!

The other recording from Paul Jones Music features Ann Martindale Williams on cello.

18 Tracks of cello/piano music with 14 new Hymn and Spiritual arrangements and four favorite short Classical works played by Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra principal cellist, Anne Martindale Williams. Composers/arrangers of new works include Kile Smith, Dan Barta, Tim Shaw, Rick Nichols, Peter Leibensperger, Jeremy Strong, and Paul Jones; classical works of Bach, Mendelssohn and Fauré.
Violin and cello are part of the same family, but it would be a mistake to say a cell is merely a larger violin. The same kind of substantial arrangements found on the 2006 violin recording are found here in 2009 with piano and cello. Pizzicato surprises on "This Is My Father's World," especially when contrasted in the same arrangement with the deep strength of the lower register of the cello. Similar playfulness is evident on a very creative Leibensperger arrangement of "Jesus Loves Me."

Hymns are followed by American Spirituals, including Book Two of Kile Smith's compositions, including the tune Helmsley (creatively reminisent of his Vespers), the soulful " When the Stars Begin to Fall," and "Little David, Play on Your Harp."

The album concludes with skillful performances of classics by Mendelssohn, Bach, and Faure. All three components belong together!

I could listen to the last four recordings all day long. They are edifying, reverent, historic yet fresh, and represent high folk music accessible transgenerationally. I could easily imagine them appreciated and still heard and played centuries from now. There is a time and a place for temporary things, but the Eternal Gospel deserves vesture that brings glory to God and doesn't get in the way of communicating salvation to mankind.

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

FW: Our Family Is Growing!

And you thought the new Ordinariate provisions were just for Anglicans!  Consider this post on a nominally Lutheran body from The Anglo-Catholic blog…


Feed: The Anglo-Catholic
Posted on: Monday, February 21, 2011 4:49 PM
Author: Fr. Christopher Phillips
Subject: Our Family Is Growing!


I received an email today from the Most Reverend Irl A. Gladfelter, Metropolitan of the Anglo-Lutheran Catholic Church, with the very good news that the clergy and parishes of the ALCC will be entering the Ordinariate with us. The following is a synopsis of what led to this marvellous development, which was sent to me by Most Rev. Edward J. Steele, the ALCC Bishop of Florida, and who is one of our regular commenters.

On May 13, 2009, The Anglo-Lutheran Catholic Church (ALCC) mailed a letter to Walter Cardinal Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, stating the ALCC "desires to undo the mistakes of Father Martin Luther, and return to the One, Holy, and True Catholic Church established by our Lord Jesus Christ through the Blessed Saint Peter." That letter was in turn forwarded to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) for consideration, and the CDF in June 2009 sent the ALCC a reply acknowledging receipt of the petition, with the assurance the request for full membership was being given serious attention.

However when the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI graciously released Anglicanorum coetibus in November that same year, the ALCC did not immediately respond as others did. Instead the ALCC, being of Lutheran heritage, praised God for the apostolic constitution and for the gift offered to our Anglican brothers and sisters; but continued to wait with the blessed hope that our petition too, would soon be granted.

Surprisingly, in October 2010 the ALCC received a letter from Archbishop Luis Ladaria, Secretary of the CDF, informing the ALCC that an Episcopal Delegate, Donald Cardinal Wuerl, had been appointed in the United States to assist the CDF with the implementation of Anglicanorum coetibus (Cardinal Wuerl was still an Archbishop at the time however). The letter further stated, "As we proceed toward the erection of Ordinariates we would invite you, therefore, to make contact directly with Archbishop Wuerl at the following address…" Humbly, the ALCC responded with a resounding "YES", mailing a letter to Cardinal Wuerl in compliance with the correspondence received from the CDF, requesting to be a part of this wonderful reunification within the Body of Christ.

It is with great joy and deep gratitude, therefore, that the Anglo-Lutheran Catholic Church makes known her intention to enter the American Ordinariate under the provisions of Anglicanorum coetibus, and looks forward to serving with all our brothers and sisters in Christ to undo the Reformation and restore the visible, corporate unity of Christ's One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Welcome, brothers and sisters in Christ…it looks as though we'll be adding some more pins to the map!

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FW: Makoto Fujimura Featured on Fox News Live

ESV news…


Feed: Crossway Blog
Posted on: Monday, February 21, 2011 8:57 AM
Author: Angie Cheatham
Subject: Makoto Fujimura Featured on Fox News Live


On Friday 2/21/11 Makoto Fujimura was featured on Fox News Live. If you happened to miss the broadcast, tune in below to see Fujimura's interview where he briefly discussed The Four Holy Gospels project.

Watch the latest video at

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FW: Last Best Hope

On Missouri…


Feed: Pastoral Meanderings
Posted on: Monday, February 21, 2011 7:09 AM
Author: (Pastor Peters)
Subject: Last Best Hope


Lutheranism is alive and well but the specific incarnations of Lutheranism are not in such uniform great condition.  As you survey Lutheranism in America, you find that this is even more true.  On the one hand you have the radical success of books proclaiming the confessional Lutheran identity and the thousands upon thousands of Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions volumes sold -- largely to the lay.  On the other hand you have the boneheaded actions of Lutheran bodies such as the ELCA and its antinomian rejection of Scripture and natural law in order to accept and promote a radical social agenda.  And to be fair, you have Missouri's dalliance with evangelicalism (and, perhaps, fundamentalism) because there are those who have lost confidence in the means of grace.  On the one hand you have more Lutheran congregations observing a weekly Eucharist than ever before but you have some Lutherans intent on a communion policy that seems to say "y'all come" while others solemnly close the door to the rail in front of you.  On the one hand you have Lutherans talking more and more about the Bible but on the other you have some who laugh at taking the Bible literally and others who will fight to the death for its inerrancy but have lost confidence in the efficacy of the Word.  I have no doubt that Lutheranism will survive but sometimes I am not so sure about the physical incarnations of Lutheranism in the national Lutheran judicatories.

That said, I believe that this is Missouri's moment.  In many respects, Missouri represents the last best hope for a national Lutheran church body that is confessional, evangelical, catholic, Biblical, and liturgical.  I wish that I saw the same opportunities in other Lutheran bodies in America, but I do not.  The ELCA has many fine Pastors and many fine congregations but there is a different spirit there that does not take to speaking of the Scriptures as infallible or to the third use of the Law which means that certain things are always wrong -- no matter where our culture and society are headed.  I have many friends in the ELCA but few of them are really interested in Missouri.  They would be content with an ELCA minus the sexuality decisions of August 09.  They are not ready to roll back the ordination of women or a Biblical perspective which interprets Scripture differently from other books or literature or history.  In the end, I do not see that an ELCA rolled back to before the summer of 09 will end up in any different place.  Sadly, you can often find the liturgy observed more liturgically in the ELCA than in Missouri (with all of its contemporary worship) yet it seems that some are going through the motions and not listening to the Word in that liturgy or the Scriptures read from the lectionary.

Missouri is by no means perfect -- far from it.  What Missouri has going for it is a conversation that is still saturated with confessional language, perspective, and authority.  We may not have arrived at the end of this dialog but at least we are getting the vocabulary right.  This is, in good measure, because theology is not only a clerical enterprise but we have lay folks who are reading good Lutheran theology and holding their Pastors and church body ever more accountable to the Lutheranism they are reading about.  In addition, we have a pastoral theologian as our President.  Pres. Harrison is a theologian (something Kieschnick never claimed to be) but more than that -- he can preach it.  His gift is not his intelligence or his wit (both true) but his ability to speak it pastorally and yet pointedly to call us home to who we claim to be in our Confessions.  He knows the Word and it overflows in His presentations.  He is not canned but genuine -- a man with flaws but also with perhaps the right gifts for this moment.  If we will listen to him, he will draw us into the kind of theological conversation designed to bring us together not around him or any others but around Scripture and our Confessions.

We have a publishing house which has been pumping out volumes of good Lutheran theology -- both reprints of old works and new books from young authors.  I am amazed at how many CPH books I have in my library.  It was not that many years ago, CPH seemed to have lost its way as the publishing arm of our Synod but now it is leading us through so many fine resources.  We have a fine hymnal filled with treasures new and old -- a hymnal that is certainly connected to our past and a bridge to that past yet not some repristination of yesteryear.  It offers the Pastor and congregation a book with plenty of options and resources to enhance the Sunday morning experience within the creative parameters of both catholicity and faithful confession.  And there is more to come.  And most of our congregations are using this book -- happily!!

We have two fine seminaries (though I am naturally partial to Ft. Wayne) and they are poised to offer us both theological wisdom for the tensions and temptations of this modern age as well as their primary mission to prepare and form Pastors for the Church.  Our colleges are not yet where the seminaries are but they are improving (especially Mequon).

So when I say I am Missouri Synod, I do not say with with the regret of someone whose heart is longing to be somewhere else.  I am not beating my chest.  We have a long way to go and I am not naive about the dangers and difficulties before us.  I am Lutheran and Missouri Lutheran by conviction.  And when I say Missouri is perhaps the last, best hope of Lutheranism in America, I am not trumpeting Missouri as an institution nor insisting that revival cannot come to other Lutheran bodies.  I am merely saying that I believe right now many things have come together to make this Missouri's moment.  And with that, I might ask, what we will do with all that God has given to us, right now, today?

So when I criticize my church body, it is not the despair of someone who believes the old gal is dead or dying.  It is the hopeful criticism who believes we are not yet what we can be and should be -- given the gifts, resources, and faithfulness that is our heritage and, hopefully, our legacy, too.  I am not generally a negative person.  I have strong feelings and opinions (no surprise to you, there, huh).  But I am truly hopeful and thankful for this moment -- this window of opportunity.  So I hope you will join me in some joyful celebration of the many things that have come together for us now, in being hopeful for our future, and in holding each of us accountable for the hope and grace that is ours right now.  Let us not squander this opportunity or these gifts our Lord has supplied but run with faithfulness the race that is set before us.

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FW: "Come to our church, where..."

An interesting perspective from a WELS blog site…


Feed: Intrepid Lutherans
Posted on: Monday, February 21, 2011 3:12 PM
Author: (Rev. Paul A. Rydecki)
Subject: "Come to our church, where..."


This is the message printed on a door hanger left on my door recently:

______ Church

If you're looking for the right church home, __________ is the place for you. You'll love the friendly people, the family atmosphere, and practical preaching. An exciting kids and teen program every Sunday morning. Come home this Sunday to ___________. We hope to see you soon!

Any guesses on what denomination this might have come from?

No, not WELS.

This door hanger happens to come from a Baptist church. Notice the marketing techniques and the selling points: home, you'll love, friendly, family, practical, exciting. There is no honesty here about a person's desperate need caused by sin, no mention of Christ or the cross or of the urgency of hearing and believing the Gospel.

Marketing appeals like this that put a purely superficial, positive, Word-less spin on a church are common. Churches from many denominations attempt to "sell" their church as a product to the community. Perhaps one wouldn't even expect a basic Law/Gospel message on a Baptist flyer inviting people to their church, since Baptist theology ascribes to man's reason and will the ultimate power to choose salvation.

But one would expect to find a simple Christ-centered, Law/Gospel message inviting people to a confessional Lutheran church, because we're not trying to market a product to the community. Our churches do not exist to provide "you" with what "you'll love," but instead, with the Word of God that will kill you in order to raise you back to life. Our churches should not be characterized primarily by friendliness, practicality or level of excitement. Instead, they should be known as places where the Bride of Christ gathers around Word and Table so that Christ – crucified, risen, and present – may be proclaimed.

Our message to the community is not, "Come and see how friendly we are!" or "Our church is a place where people who hate Jesus will feel right at home!" Instead, "Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God" (2 Corinthians 2:17). "We have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God" (2 Corinthians 4:2).

Now, a challenge for the reader – pastor and layman alike. Take a look at your church's evangelism materials, signage, service folders and website. How much is marketing? How much is proclamation of Christ? Is your church portraying itself honestly, or is it trying to "sell itself"? How does your church complete the sentence, "Come to our church, where..."?

We will make an exception in this post to our normal rule of "no anonymous comments." If you'd like to quote some material (either good or bad) from your church or from another church, then please do so anonymously, and do not include the name or location of the church. Any other comments should include your first and last name, as usual, including suggestions you may have for the wording of a flyer, service folder or website.



Dear Reader, while many have declared resonance with us, many more are still considering it. We invite you to Stand With Us.

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FW: The BBOV Rolls On



Feed: Aardvark Alley
Posted on: Sunday, February 20, 2011 9:17 PM
Author: (Orycteropus Afer)
Subject: The BBOV Rolls On


The Big Blogroll O' Vark®™©

BBOVAfter one huge update and two follow-ups, we have two more confessional Lutheran blogs for your dining and dancing pleasure.

First, welcome to Liturgy, Hymnody, and Pulpit Quarterly. As the name suggests, others screen your possibilities and share their discoveries. They also have a Facebook page for you to check out.

We also celebrate adding Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming. Along with announcements and the like, you can read Pastor Paul Cain's sermons and follow links to the audio.

If you're not sure what to make of the BBOV or wonder about the benefits of being listed and of listing others' blogs, please read the first three links under Aurous Effluence in the sidebar. Those who'd like the Big Blogroll O' Vark®™© can either email me or copy the list from the Alley's source code (click View | Page Source or Control+U in Firefox or View | Source in Internet Explorer).

For all those enrolled in the BBOV, links back are certainly appreciated. And don't forget that all of those listed benefit when you use the entire blogroll. Also, if you'd like to graphically point to the Alley and the Big Blogroll O' Vark®™©, you may use the above design from St. Charles the Illuminous or one of these blog buttons:






Each of these buttons measures 80x15 pixels. Should you choose to use one, please link back to either the main Aardvark Alley URL or else to the post What Is the BBOV.

Finally, if you own or know of a Lutheran blog demonstrating a quia confessional subscription and would like me to consider it for inclusion, please leave a comment. And again, for more information about why this stuff benefits confessional Lutheran blogging, morality, and other worthwhile endeavors, please check out the first three links under Aurous Effluence in the sidebar.

Technorati Tags: Aardvark Alley | Big Blogroll O' Vark®™© | BBOV | blogroll | blog roll | Lutheran | confessional Lutheran

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