Monday, July 25, 2011

LHP Review: Revisiting Lutheran Worship

Worship Planning Book: Year B 2012. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2011. 160 Pages. Paper. $20.00. (LHP)

Just, Arthur A., Jr. Heaven on Earth: The Gifts of Christ in the Divine Service. St. Louis: Concordia, 2008.  307 Pages. Paper. $15.99. (LHP) 

The publication of Concordia's new Worship Planning Book gave us pause to revisit the chapter on Lutheran worship in Dr. Just's Heaven on Earth.

The resources of numerous planning books are brought together under one cover with a two-page spread for each Sunday that features:
 • Readings (including Psalm) and synopsis
• Theme of the Day (a big-picture overview of the readings and their connections)
• Hymn of the Day
• Collect of the Day
• Hymn Suggestions for the Readings
• Other Hymn Suggestions
• Calendar of the upcoming week (highlighting feasts, festivals, and commemorations)

Music suggestions:
• Small Choir
• Large Choir
• Children
• Keyboard
• Handbell

Fill-in-the-blank Divine Service outline, including:
• Options within the service
• Hymn selections
• Pre- and post-service music selections
• and more

Several indices are also included to make planning the Church Year even easier:
• Lectionary Summary (Year B)
• Old Testament / First Reading (Year B)
• Psalm (Year B)
• Epistle / Second Reading (Year B)
• Holy Gospel (Year B)
• Hymn of the Day: Arranged by Church Year (Year B)
• Hymn of the Day: Arranged by Hymn Number (Year B)

(from the publisher)
I love this. I think you will, too. It's helpful, practical, and only $20.

The most unique contributions of this planning book are the additions of a theme paragraph, which could be reprinted in a bulletin or shared in a weekly sermon, the week's calendar at the bottom of the left page, and very specific music recommendations beyond the hymns as presented in LSB. It is also helpful that hymns in Lutheran Service Builder and the LSB Accompaniment editions, but not in the pew edition are denoted with an * on the left planning pages.

Users will note that both options are given for March 25 (Annunciation and Lent V), both sets of readings for Holy Thursday, around Reformation Day and All Saints' Day, and November 25 (Proper 29).

My main recommendations for the 2013 Worship Planning Books are to have two: one for Year C and one for the Historic One-Year Lectionary, even if it was only available as a pdf of Kindle book. The One-Year planner could be produced as a re-usable/re-printable piece without calendar dates integrated in so that it would be worth the labor and time for CPH to put into the project.

Our congregation is still working toward a weekly celebration of the Lord's Supper at Divine Service. Perhaps future editions can continue the recommendation of a weekly Communion yet also provide space to plan Matins, Morning Prayer, or Prayer and Preaching. I intend to plan my Advent and Lenten midweek services on the same right page as the Sunday service that week. Could extra space be included during those seasons for such planning? Perhaps the pages for Good Friday could recommend the more historic non-communion options.

It has been helpful for me to note the different "tides" of the long LSB green season (Sundays after Pentecost/Trinity), when the Graduals change. These are:
  • Trinity Tide, Proper 3-7, (May 24-28) to (June 19-25)
  • Apostles’ Tide, Proper 8-13, (June 26-July 2) to (July 31-Aug. 6)
  • Martyrs’ Tide, Proper 14 to Proper 19, (Aug. 7-16) to (Sept. 11-Sept. 17)
  • Angels’ Tide, Proper 20 to 25, (Sept. 18-Sept. 24) to (Oct. 23-29)
  • All Saints’ Tide, Proper 26 to 29, (Oct. 30-Nov. 5) to (Nov. 20-26)
Recommendations could also be made for use of the Psalms (43 total) omitted from the pew edition:
7, 9, 10, 12, 17, 20, 21, 35, 37, 39, 44, 49, 52, 53, 55, 57, 58, 59, 60, 63, 64, 69, 74, 75, 76, 78, 79, 82, 83, 87, 88, 94, 101, 105, 106, 108, 109, 120, 129, 135, 137, 140, 144

CPH could also help us all expand our use of psalm tones by making recommendations like the following:
  • Praise: B, C, E, I 
  • Penetential: F, H, L, K   
  • General: A, D, G, J
I would also welcome the addition of a few blank planning pages to accommodate services for occasional services. 

In addition to the appendices included, I would like to see a future LSB reference volume include readings and psalm charts in Biblical (canonical) order in addition to charts arranged by liturgical date. This would be particularly helpful to me for the Psalms.

The new CPH Worship Planning Book for Year B, 2012, is a particularly strong (and affordable) offering for pastors, church musicians, and church office secretaries. I look forward to using my copy right away to get ready for Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany. Order yours today!

I learned much as a seminarian from Dr. Just's famous video series on Lutheran worship. I couldn't wait for the book version, particularly for the charts. My prayers were answered in 2008 thanks to CPH and their collaboration with the professor.

Just clearly traces the use of the historic liturgy among Lutherans (Chapter 11). It isn't just a "German thing" or a "Lutheran thing." A fourth-year seminary professor challenged us (in what was sadly only an elective class on worship planning) to fully understand what we have before we decide to change it.

Just would agree. The modern Lutheran Divine Service is in continuity with both Luther's liturgical revisions and the Divine Service of the 4th Century. At the end of this chapter the author concludes:
As promised, no recipes or panaceas for liturgical renewal have been offered. Instead, these thoughts about liturgy principles about renewal have been suggested to guide congregations as they contemplate liturgical renewal. The hoped for outcome is that people think seriously about what it is we are about as we worship. The process of liturgical renewal is the responsibility of everyone in the Church. We can all participate. And if that participation is reverent to God's presence and faithful to His Word, then it will result in right worship (270).
Heaven on Earth will deepen your understanding of the Divine Service and why it remains the Church's chief worship service.
Also available as an eBook (ePub). This book is also available at the Kindle Store. (publisher's website)
Our original full review of this volume predates this blog. It appeared in QBR 2.2. It is reprinted here for your convenience.
Liturgy Book Review: Worth the Long Wait
Just, Arthur A., Jr. Heaven on Earth: The Gifts of Christ in the Divine Service. St. Louis: Concordia, 2008. 272 Pages. Paper. $14.99. (800) 325-3040. (L)
I found it ironic. The congregation’s organist/kantor was leading a Bible study on historic Lutheran worship in the basement of the church. Meanwhile upstairs, the two pastors led the suburban congregation in a so-called “contemporary” service. The Bible Study was structured around Dr. Just’s 1999 video Lutheran Liturgy: Yesterday, Today, and Forever. The video was produced at the request of the LCMS Indiana District Board of Worship and distributed by Ken Ring of Lutheran Visuals. (To order the video, go to It was positively reviewed in QBR 1.3, p. 62ff.)
That was nine years ago. Since then, I have supplemented catechetical instruction for young and old with that video series. I couldn’t wait for the book. Now it is here. I hope for widespread use throughout the LCMS alongside such modern classics as The Spirituality of the Cross, Dying to Live, The Defense Never Rests, and The Fire and the Staff. May these resources lead laity, pastors, and their congregations into God’s Word, the Lutheran Confessions, and a godly and faithful Lutheran hymnal like Lutheran Service Book.
“The liturgy is not a style of worship. The liturgy is the substance of justification as it is brought through means.
“This book is an introduction to the liturgy and its importance. It takes the liturgy and makes it easy for the layperson to understand that the New Testament church service brings God's presence, in Jesus the Christ to the people of God who have been cleansed from their sins. This is a holy meeting made possible by the blood of Christ that cleanses the believer. This understanding of the church service helps one to understand that the church service is more than a meeting place; it is the manifestation of the New Testament church on earth as Christ calls His bride around Word and Sacraments.
Heaven on Earth will deepen your understanding of the Divine Service and why it remains the Church's chief worship service” (website).
You may recognize the cover art. It is the famous Weimar Altar Painting, completed in 1555 by Lucas Cranach the Younger. For more information about the painting, courtesy of the Rev. Paul T. McCain, visit his blog dedicated to this richly detailed painting that preaches Christ and Him crucified:
Dr. Just lays before the reader the Lutheran theology of worship. Simply put, “worship” is merely our response to what is really the main thing of the Divine Service, the Lord serving His people with His Gifts and presence. Word and Sacrament deliver here and now what Christ won on Calvary there and then. This Christian theology of worship is sadly missing from too many Lutheran and Christian congregations at worship.
Jesus’ Table fellowship included His presence, the meal, and teaching. Close (d) communion is faithfully confessed here: “Catechesis teaches table etiquette, that is, how one stands in the presence of God to receive His mercy and forgiveness in a manner that is reverent and faithful to that presence” (27).
With a faithful foundation, a Biblical theology of worship where God speaks and serves and then we listen and repeat His Word back to him, the author shows the historic structure of the Divine Service, particularly its Jewish origins. Personally, this has been the most continuously interesting part of Dr. Just’s catechesis on Lutheran worship. The historic western rite (including the Lutheran service, what should be called the Augustana Rite) is the Jewish Synagogue Service combined with Jesus’ Passover Service (Note 7, p. 254 directs the reader to The Eucharistic Words of Jesus by Joachim Jeremias, London: SCM, 1966).
The Lutheran Divine Service is…
       The Service of the Word                       The Service of the Sacrament
  The Synagogue Liturgy                              Jesus' Passover Liturgy

Therefore, the old saw that Lutheran worship is “German” is proven untrue. Granted, there is human tradition involved,  yet one should be careful of replacing one that has served the Lord’s people well since the time of Christ (and before) with a different human tradition, that of American Evangelicalism, that has not faced the same rigorous testing in how it is practiced and what it teaches about Christ.
At worship, Christians rejoice in the presence of God in Christ: “The Jerusalem temple is rendered obsolete by Jesus’ incarnation (cf. John 4:20-26). The destruction of the temple in AD 70 will prompt people to look for God’s presence in the place where He has come to dwell forever—in Jesus, who, in turn, comes to dwell in His Church through the Gospel—His Word and Sacraments” (96).
Pastors, rejoice in the quotation from Dr. John Kleinig (p. 104) regarding singing in the temple (with application for singing and “chanting” in the church today). Another wonderful tidbit: Just posits that “The word mass came from the word dis-miss-al” (204, emphasis original).
Disciples are made by means of baptism and by means of teaching. Both are necessary. Catechesis is essential to the Christian life. Structured and intentional teaching over a period of time is best. I do not believe that RCIA, the Roman Catholic process of Initiation for Adults, is the best model to follow for Lutherans as it chops up baptism into chunks or stages.
Dr. Just also delves into the Christian concept of time, that Easter is the 8th Day of creation and every Sunday a little Easter. The Church Year is presented engagingly. The reader’s knowledge of the structure of the Divine Service is strengthened by focus on each of parts, its Biblical source, history, and how it points us to Christ.
A clear, five-fold shape of the Liturgy:
Entrance (Confession and Absolution, Introit, Kyrie, Gloria in Excelsis or This Is the Feast, and collect)
Word (Old Testament, Gradual, Epistle, Alleluia, Gospel, Sermon, Creed, Prayers for the Faithful)
Preparation (Offering, Offertory)
Sacrament (Preface, Proper Preface, Sanctus, Prayer, Lord’s Prayer, Words of Institution, Peace of the Lord)
Distribution (Agnus Dei, Canticle, Collect, Benediction) (p. 231, et al)
“The time has come for Lutherans to stop apologizing for their liturgical heritage. Instead, we need to proclaim the gifts we inherit in our worship life as Lutheran Christians who continue the catholic tradition (Please note the small c, catholic meaning “universal”. Lutherans are actually more small-c catholic than Roman Catholics!). And these gifts are considerable. Any liturgical scholar could list them for you: the historic five-fold shape of our Divine Service, the two pinnacles of the Divine Service—Jesus’ words in the Gospel and Jesus’ word in the Sacrament—the biblical ordinaries that surround Jesus’ words as the major hymns of the liturgy, the centrality of preaching centered in Christ and liturgical in character, our hymnody in both its content and music, as well as our musical tradition with its deep resources to support the flow of the liturgy from beginning to end. The list could go on. And this is not to mention the most important treasure of all: that within this fivefold shape we believe, teach, and confess that Jesus Christ is present offering the gifts of life, salvation, and the forgiveness of sins as we hear His Word and receive His holy meal. In the Divine Service we are confident that we have entered heaven itself because Jesus Christ inhabits our worship with His bodily presence. This confident liturgy is embodied in a life of worship that ‘receives from those who went before and, in making the tradition of the Divine Service its own, adds what best may serve in its own day—the living heritage and something new” (242-243).
Dr. Arthur Just excels in this book by bringing together a pastoral sensitivity and Biblical, historical and theological scholarship that leads to a practice that is faithful to our Lutheran Christian heritage.
Rev. Dr. Arthur A. Just Jr. is professor of exegetical theology and director of deaconess studies at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana, and co-director of the Good Shepherd Institute of Pastoral Theology and Sacred Music. He has served as chairman of the Lectionary Committee for the Lutheran Hymnal Project for the Commission of Worship of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.
Concordia regularly provides conference bookstores for events in our Wyoming District. We are very thankful for that. I would encourage CPH to include ample copies of both of these volumes at fall Church Worker Conferences throughout the LCMS.

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.