Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Lutheran Book Review: Liturgy and Hymnody Resources: Psalms, Hymns, and the Passion of Christ


The Benedictine Monks of Conception Abbey. Ecumenical Grail Psalter. Chicago: GIA, 2015. 327 Pages. Paper. $12.95. www.giamusic.com   

Schütz, Heinrich. The Passion According to St. John. Chicago: GIA, 1980.  60 Pages. Sheet music. $8.00. www.giamusic.com

Batastini, Robert (Musical Adaptation). The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Chicago: GIA, 1999. 118 Pages. Cloth Folio. $45.00. www.giamusic.com

Chemnitz, Martin and Jacob Andrae. Chemnitz's Works, Volume 9 (Church Order). St. Louis: Concordia, 2015. 297 Pages. Cloth. $54.99. https://www.cph.org/p-26462-chemnitzs-works-volume-9-church-order.aspx (LHP)

Mayer, Jonathan, Illustrator. German text by Erdmann Neumeister. Translated by Robert E. Voelker. God's Own Child, I Gladly Say It. Sioux Falls: Kloria Publishing, 2016. 32 Pages. Hardcover. $12.00. http://www.kloria.com/books/childrens/gods-own-child/

The cross is the theology of the Christian church. Today, we present some hymn, psalm and liturgical resources for your consideration.

A blue-covered Grail psalter is up first. 

This is a "more inclusive text" version of the Revised Grail Psalter we reviewed back in 2011  (http://lhpqbr.blogspot.com/2011/12/liturgy-and-hymnody-review-sing-more.html).
This what we said then:

 Here is a newly revised Psalter from Conception Abbey.

A Liturgical Psalter
2010 by Conception Abbey/the Grail; administered by GIA Publications, Inc.


"The Psalms provide a way into that unique chamber of the heart where one stands most free and open before God." -Abbot Gregory J. Polan, OSB

This important translation—many years in the making—is finally available to musicians, liturgists, and worshipers around the world. It contains the complete Psalter in psalm order in a convenient quality paperback format.

The Revised Grail Psalms received a recognitio from the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments this past spring.


The new translation brings the Grail Psalms in line with contemporary principles of Scripture scholarship, matters of authentic translation, and requirements for appropriate rendering for liturgical use. This translation of the Psalms meets the requirements established in Liturgiam Authenticam, the 2001 Instruction issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments enunciating principles for preparing translations of liturgical texts. This revision of the 1963 Grail Psalms has been prepared by the monks of Conception Abbey under the direction of Abbot Gregory J. Polan, OSB, producing a translation that will play an important part in the liturgy for years to come. (Publisher's website)

This long-awaited revision appears to be more accurate, artistic, and singable than the original 1963 Grail Psalter. Psalm 1 has "Blessed, " a much better choice than "Happy" in so many psalters.  "There is nothing I shall want" (Psalm 23) is not as clear as it could be. One has to know the difference between "wanting" something and being "in want."

The text is meant as a liturgical psalter. I believe it will succeed in that regard, elevating the language of our adoration of the Lord. The translation is essentially literal, and compares favorably to the English Standard Version. There is elegance in this divine poetry! The Foreword gives Christians ample reason to continue (or begin) singing and praying the Psalms: "they speak of Christ" (x).

We are grateful for this handy portable paperback review copy from GIA. I would love to see the singing version with pointed text.

This, too, is an unpointed edition. An edition for singing has a burgundy cover.


© 2015 Conception Abbey/The Grail, admin. GIA.

In 2010 the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments granted a recognitio to The Revised Grail Psalms. This translation was prepared as a liturgical translation intended for use in the Roman Catholic Liturgy.

Within a year of its publication, Christian leaders from groups beyond the Roman Catholic Communion expressed appreciation for certain aspects of The Revised Grail Psalms, particularly the poetic quality of the text and the sprung rhythm which facilitates recitation, chant, and musical settings of the texts. They further inquired if we might consider publishing another edition of The Revised Grail Psalms, focusing more directly on the original Hebrew while yet seeking a more inclusive final text of the sort preferred in the current worship of their respective communions. Thus The Ecumenical Grail Psalter came to be.

Extracted from the "Introduction"

The concerns shared in my earlier critique are warranted. The "inclusive" text of this edition turns an individual into a crowd. Psalm 1:1-3a says, "Blessed indeed are those who follow not the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path with sinners, not abide in the company of scorners, but whose delight is the law of the LORD, and who ponder God's law day and night. Such people..."

There is a market for prayer resources for folks who wish to avoid masculine pronouns at all costs.

I'm not that guy. 

I've been told that Hermann Sasse appreciated the original Grail Psalter. I do like the Revised version more than the original AND much more than this title, The Ecumenical Grail Psalter. I'll pass on this "inclusive" Ecumenical edition.

Let's plan ahead for next Holy Week. I'm writing this in October. 

That's plenty of time for you to order and prepare with our next title.


Nothing lends dignity and solemnity to the Passion Gospels more than observing the practice of three deacons or cantors proclaiming these stories according to the traditional chant. Based on the 1988 Vatican edition of the Passion Gospels, this setting of the Passions according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John from the revised Lectionary is beautifully bound in a cloth-covered "worthy" book.
Liturgists, theologians, Scripture scholars, and pastors alike are growing in their awareness of the total inappropriateness of having the assembly "play act" by shouting, "Crucify him!" and "Let his blood be upon us and upon our children." Why do some insist on asking people to say things they don't mean? No wonder assemblies never really shout, "Crucify him!"
This edition restores the Passion Gospels to the idiom of proclamation before the assembly. Modeled after the Vatican edition and adapted from the Vatican chants, this classic publication printed in black and red ink captures all the beauty of the original Latin. Large enough so three Passion chanters (Narrator, Christus, and Speaker) can read from one book, or take advantage of the special pricing by ordering three copies. Notated in modern, stemless chant notation.

Series : Other
Vocal Forces: 3 Cantors 

(Publisher's Website)

This is worth your consideration for next Lent: chanting the Passion. GIA's own Robert J. Batastini himself is responsible for this musical adaptation (from chant written for the Latin text) of all four Passion accounts. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are prepared for Palm Sunday of years A, B, and C, respectively for the Three-Year Lectionary. A is for Advent 2016-2017.  John is ready for Good Friday.


The text appears to be a revised edition of the New American Bible (Text from the Lectionary for Mass copyright 1970, 1997, 1998 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, DC), but not the NABRE of 2011, of course. This title was published in 1999. Even now in 2016, the NABRE is not approved for reading at Mass.

Three cantors are recommended: "one taking the role of Christ, another taking the role of narrator, and the last that of individual speakers and the people as a whole, also known as the synagogue." I would recommend normal liturgical placement of furniture and of the reading/chanting of the Passion.


Yes, I do plan to at least chant part of either the Palm Sunday or Good Friday Passion this coming Holy week in order to rejoice in the beauty of sung text, thank the Lord for His sacrifice for us, to re-introduce an ancient tradition (after teaching), and I encourage you to do the same.

A different treatment of the Passion According to St. John is up next, an English edition of a setting by Heinrich Schutz.



 A modern English performing edition of the famed 1665 Schütz Passion.

Intended for liturgical use in the solemn Good Friday liturgy.

For Narrator (middle voice), Christus (low voice), and Synagoga (guard, servant, Pilate, maid, Peter) (high voices) with Turba (SATB Choir). A cappella with rehearsal accompaniment for the choruses.

(Publisher's Website)

A congregational choir may well be overwhelmed considering taking this on. Why not work on selected portions, like several of the choruses, and sing them during a Good Friday reading of the Passion according to St. John? How about a joint circuit sacred concert for Lent?

The most important German composer before Johann Sebastian Bach should be heard again from Lutheran churches! $8 is an affordable price for this classic. The four part sections and recitatives are more accessible than you might assume.

We now jump back to 1569 for

Church Order for Braunschweig-Wolfenbuttel

How Doctrine, Ceremonies,

and Other Church-Related Matters

Shall (by God's Grace) Be Conducted Henceforth

Martin Chemnitz and Jacob Andrae

Promulgated by the Authority of Julis,

by God's Grace Duke of Braunschweig and Luneberg, Etc.

Printed at Wolfenbuttel, 1589   

The Chemnitz-Andreae Church Order shows not only what those who confessed the Augsburg Confession believed, but how the Lutheran Reformation put that faith into action and handed down the faith by means of orderly worship, church governance, and education. This text is crucial for avoiding misinterpretations of the Lutheran Confessions and the Reformation as a whole. Knowing the actual churchly practice of Formula of Concord chief authors Martin Chemnitz and Jacob Andreae is necessary in order to put their biblical teaching and confession into context. It also may inspire new solutions for the church's problems regarding Christian education, formation of Christians who stand in their confession against worldly influences, and congregational leadership.

This work consists of two parts: the Body of Doctrine and the Agenda (or Church Order). The Body of Doctrine is a precursor to the Formula of Concord (1577). The Agenda deals with numerous topics, such as:

  • Order of liturgy for Sundays, Weekdays, and other services and pastoral functions
  • Prayers
  • Liturgical music
  • Call process for pastors
  • Church governance, the office of church superintendent, synodical assemblies, and consistories
  • Customs
  • Marriage and divorce
  • Schools
  • Office of schoolmaster
  • Monastery schools (how former monasteries were put to good use after the Reformation)
  • Alms and church-sponsored social welfare

Features include:

  • Snapshot of school and church life in the territorial church led by Chemnitz, a main author of the Formula of Concord (one of the Lutheran statements of faith)
  • Ancient worship music and chant set to modern musical notation
  • "Luther, the Confessions, and Confessors on Liturgical Freedom and Uniformity" by the Rev. Matthew C. Harrison, president of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

View All Chemnitz's Works >
(Publisher's website)

One cannot ignore how seriously these Lutherans took their teaching and practice. If it seems that they treat such things as matters of life and death, you are correct, for they were and still are. I read this initially while our congregation was revising our congregational constitution and bylaws. We're now working on what some here call "standing operating procedures," a modern version of a document like this. We can refer to a complete Book of Concord. They did not have that luxury because these authors were also busy writing this document, in part a precursor to what would be our Formula of Concord. The translators have done the whole Lutheran Church service in making this available to us today in English.

Harrison's introductory article echoes Luther and Chemnitz by saying: "Thus all the reformers followed Luther in asserting the need for liturgical uniformity for the sake of love (the avoidance of offense, avoidance of false doctrine, etc.)" (xl). That essay should be required reading for Koinonia Project participants.

Congregations today beginning with pastors and lay elders would be well-served by reading/hearing the Agenda, or Church Order (77ff), at the beginning of monthly meetings. Local practices can and should be carefully examined on the basis of what has been faithfully done before, with the goal of walking together in doctrine, faith, life, and practice with our sister congregations, brother pastors, and the saints of every time and place. I particularly appreciated the liturgical portions with music in modern notation. These are worth trying and comparing to what we have received through Lutheran Service Book, now ten years old.

As a Pastor and classical Lutheran school Headmaster, I am still digesting the Order of Schools. Schools like ours are trying to reclaim our heritage as Lutheran educators and the historical seven liberal arts of western civilization (grammar, logic/dialectic, rhetoric, mathematics, geometry, music, astronomy/cosmology) in a time where fads and political correctness reign. Perhaps school boards, faculties, parents, and pastors of congregations with church schools could profitably review these pages for their own edification and the improvement of their Lutheran Day Schools (213).    

Chest Order. What is this? It's what Christians did. Alms. Human Care. This section is unknown territory for so many folks who only know of corporately-owned hospitals and nursing homes, public schools run by governments, state welfare programs, and tight congregational budgets. Would anyone listening to Jesus' preaching about caring for their neighbors in need seriously ask, "Well, what if we gave the Romans more money so they would take care of those people for us?" 

Chemnitz' Church Order should be a great blessing to the Church today. Because it is not of our time and place it gives us a picture of a previous faithful teaching and practice that could show us that "how we've always done it" isn't as "always" as many assume. This title is worth the investment of your money and study time. 

I highly recommend our final resource, an illustrated hymn book.


God's Own Child, I Gladly Say It I am baptized into Christ!

Jonathan Mayer (Illustrator), Erdmann Neumeister (German Text), Robert E. Voelker (Translator)

While singing this beloved hymn, follow along as a baby boy is born of water and the Spirit and grows in his baptismal grace until he receives the crown of life.

Children and adults alike will delight in these colorful scenes of Christians living the truths of their faith. Includes a special presentation page, making this a beautiful gift and keepsake for God's own child, young or old.

Released on August 1, 2016
Available as Hardcover (32 pages)

An ideal baptismal or baptismal birthday gift, this illustrated edition of one of my favorite hymns is both faithful and beautiful. 

Thoroughly Lutheran and churchly, parents will note that pastors look like pastors and churches look like churches. 

Voelker's now-well-known translation of Neumeister's German hymn is memorable. 

Illustrator Jonathan Mayer's art is edifying and insightful. I'll never forget the victorious risen Christ with His nail-pierced foot on the serpent's head or the Lamb of God on His cherubim throne with flowing water surrounded by the whole company of heaven in robes made white.

I was honored to meet the publisher in July. I pray you will support this new publisher by purchasing this title, and that Kloria Publishing will be encouraged to offer more titles like this one!

We preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified! May political correctness or fads never compromise our faithful confession and practice.

Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School and Immanuel Academy, a member of the Board of Directors of the Consortium for Classical Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Education Chairman and Editor of Lutheran Book Review. A graduate of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Rev. Cain is a contributor to Lutheran Service Book, Lutheranism 101, the forthcoming LSB Hymnal Companion, and is the author of 5 Things You Can Do to Make Our Congregation a Caring Church. He has previously served Emmanuel, Green River, WY and Trinity, Morrill, NE. He is married to Ann and loves reading and listening to, composing, and making music.

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