Monday, January 30, 2012

FW: Suggestion for the Ash Wednesday Liturgy




Feed: Weedon's Blog
Posted on: Monday, January 30, 2012 8:04 PM
Author: (William Weedon)
Subject: Suggestion for the Ash Wednesday Liturgy


So, in the LW Agenda, after the address and opening litany for Ash Wednesday, the rubrics direct you to continue with the OT reading - in other words, the address and litany replace the entrance rite entirely.

Along comes LSB Altar Book, and now in addition to the address and opening litany, the rubrics specifically permit the distribution of ashes (either as the people enter or after the opening litany).  But then things get confusing:

"After all have received the ashes, the service continues with the Service of Confession and Absolution in the Divine Service, or with the rite of Corporate Confession and Absolution." (p. 486)  The rationale for the Confession and Absolution p. 483 with rubric 3:  "Ashes are a sign of mortality and death.  Therefore, the imposition of ashes should be followed by the rite of Confession and Absolution."

Absolutely nothing is said about anything else in the Entrance Rite.  The assumption seems to be that following Confession and Absolution for whichever Divine Service we'd continue with Introit, Kyrie, salutation and collect.

Yet we DO note in the rubrics for Corporate Confession and Absolution (p. 422, rubric 3):  "This rite may also replace the preparation rite of the Divine Service.  Following this rite, the service would continue at the Introit/Entrance Hymn or Salutation and Collect of the Day. *This is particularly appropriate in Lent, and is suggested in the order for Ash Wednesday.*"

Well, it's not suggested there no matter what the rubric says, but the fact that it is suggested HERE leads me to ask: doesn't it make sense if you insist on doing Confession and Absolution immediately after the Ashes, to move directly to salutation and collect?  Or even to the OT reading?  The litany has already covered the "Kyrie" if you will and it concludes with a collect.  And an "entrance" - either Introit or Entrance Hymn makes little sense so late in the service (I mean, in our place, it takes about 20 minutes before the opening litany and distribution of ashes if finished - let alone adding to it a Confession and Absolution!).

Perhaps also of import is the rubric on p. 410 (#4) that "the Litany may serve as an Entrance Rite in the Divine Service, replacing the Introit, Kyrie, and Hymn of Praise."  If that holds for "THE Litany" why not for the Ash Wednesday litany (as it once did in LW)?


I'd posted all the above over on ALPB and Pr. Zimmerman wrote me to inform me of his practice which makes the absolute most sense of out of the confusing rubrics.  Here's his practice:


Opening Hymn


Opening Sentences

Lenten Address (from LSB Altar Book)

Salutation and Collect of the Day





Holy Gospel

Hymn of Day


Service of Ashes:  The Litany, Blessing of Ashes, Imposition of Ashes, Declaration of Grace

Offering Received


and then Service of the Sacrament as usual.


I like his immensely because it is clear, it simplifies the service, it gives you the opportunity to preach upon the practice before inviting folks up for the ashes, and it avoids the needless repetitions (Western liturgy does NOT like repetition in general!) of the Litany at the beginning and then the Prayer of the Church following the sermon.  It totally preserves the rubrics concern that some form of declaration of grace be spoken after the ashes are distributed.  I think it's the best solution I've yet seen to the rather confusing rubrics in Lutheran Service Book on this matter.


One more matter of note - I also appreciate Pr. Mozolak's practice of reminding those who receive the ashes, not only that they are dust and to dust they shall return, but that they are Christ's and to Christ they shall return.  I'm not sure what to do with that yet, but I like it.  A lot.

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