Great Stuff — The Hymnal in a Time of Persecution

Another great post found over on Pr. Lincoln Winter’s blog, Predigtamt:

 

lu_wormsI didn’t even notice it missing. But then I wasn’t looking for it. For the first Ten years, I didn’t need it. When I did, I looked only to discover it wasn’t there. Well, technically, it’s there. But, not really.

Let me try this another way.

Imagine going shopping for a new couch. The salesman shows you a hard wooden bench, with no back. This used to be standard fair in most households (before 1700 or so). But you want an overstuffed cozy couch, or reclining chairs. Something you can rest in. Of course, if you were camping, a hard unfinished log would be great. If you were in a foxhole in a war, a log would be a luxury. But we live in comfortable times. Hard stumps are not what we want.

Maybe that helps explain what was missing. I was looking in the hymnal for resources in times of persecution. I’d never really needed it before. Sure, for people far across the see. But never for a member in my own district, persecuted solely because she made the hateful claim that God created them male and female. I looked for prayers or other resources. There is one prayer. Yes, the Prayer (singular) of a righteous man is effective. But there are actually two prayers for going on vacation. This is a hymnal with overstuffed padded cushions. It’s not a hard stump.

I love a good reclining chair. But a reclining chair is heavy to carry. It’s impractical, even dangerous, in a war zone. That hard stump is a place to rest the bottom, no frills, but that’s what you need.

When Lutheran Service Book came out I was very impressed. I still am. But as the tide has quickly turned against the church, LSB seems like a Lazy-Boy chair on the front lines of a war. It was made for fat comfortable people. Not for times of war. I don’t blame it for that. I never noticed. If you had given me a hard, stumpy hymnal a decade ago, I would have asked to see a new salesman. One who could guide me to a hymnal for out-of-shape, middle-aged, slightly paunchy folks like myself. Because that was where we were ministering back then. God gave us levels of comfort entirely unknown to previous generations. It’s where we were. But like expanding soldiers at a reunion, we weren’t really in fighting shape anymore.

Now, we enter a time of confession. A time of persecution. And the things missing from our hymnal start to show themselves ever more clearly. There really is not much for a church being persecuted. Hymns that are too militaristic in tone are either re-edited, or removed. (TLH 260) The Psalter is a happy book – because the imprecatory psalms have been excised.

And once you notice these things, lots of things about our synod fall into place.

Our Synod President has said that as a synod, our preaching of the Law is toothless. He is correct. But really, that is to be expected from a cozy, comfortable church. How do we change that? Removing the imprecatory psalms from the hymnal certainly doesn’t help. And then you notice other things.

The new catechism revision says that to fear God is “to take God seriously as our creator and judge. He means what He says when He threatens to punish those who disobey.” This sounds like a parent whining that his children do not listen to him. “I am serious now! I mean it! 1… 2…” It just does not have the ring of truth to it. Compare that to Stoekhardt’s explanation: “God hears; God sees; God punishes.”

That’s Law. Our confessions say that we are to repent. The first part of that is “terrors smiting the conscience through the knowledge of sin.” Which of the above statements is more likely to inspire terror? “He means what He says…” or “God sees; God hears; God punishes”?

I don’t blame the people who made the hymnal, any more than I blame previous catechism revisions, that offer almost equally toothless law. LSB was a hymnal made in a comfortable time. There was no war, no plague, no famine, no persecution. Aside from some small foreign wars, there really hadn’t been any of those for two generations. Persecution was a thing that happened elsewhere – Islamic nations, or Soviet Russia. We were blessed. Liberty and justice for all as far as the eye could see.

And doctrinally, our synod has sort of the same attitude. False teaching is a thing over there. Rome, Geneva, etc. Not Wittenberg and Saint Louis. Roofing tiles and Koinonia as far as the eye can see. That’s fine as far as it goes. But that will not produce a generation of churchmen who are ready for combat. Those who teach falsely operate with impunity, and those who call attention to it are chastised for their ungentlemanly attitudes. That’s all part of the life of the soft church. The couch potato church.

But we are quickly entering a period when that will not do. I know of pastors with young congregations that are going back to TLH. The hymns of TLH are being taught in grade schools, to wild applause from the students. They may be young, but even at their tender age they can see the storm clouds of persecution on the horizon. They want hard hymns that can handle the rigors of persecution. Now, TLH is far from a perfect hymnal. It was produced not in a time of persecution. But it was a time of war. It is just a little bit more hardened, a bit more stumpy, than what we have now. If things continue along their present path – that is, unless we as a nation repent and return to the Lord, and hope it is not so late that he hardens our hearts so we can not hear, I expect the next hymnal to be a much harder product. It will bear the beautiful scars of those who have suffered. It will be lean. Twila Paris will likely not be among the authors. But Psalm 69 or 137 might reappear at long last.

In other words, it will be a hymnal to comfort a church in distress. It will be less elegant, but of more utility. It will have the hard edges of God’s Word on each page. No blunt edges. No softened language. But it will be potent. It will be powerful.

That’s what the church needs, and will need in the years to come. I expect that in such a time, the inability to preach the law will fade. The tolerance for false doctrine will decline. Those extra flourishes don’t really belong in a time of suffering. The church will demand that her leaders speak the truth in plain, unvarnished language. The loquacious eloquence of the experienced and respected churchman will be replaced by the hard truths of the prophet.

For now, we pray that the Lord of the Harvest will send workers into the fields. And pray that they be strong enough, brave enough, bold enough, and faithful enough to do the job.

We’ve gotten out of shape. That time is over. It’s Time to get off the couch.

About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He’s responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord, LCMSsermons.com, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

More of his work can be found at KNFA.net.


Comments

Great Stuff — The Hymnal in a Time of Persecution — 27 Comments

  1. I agree with some of what Pr. Winter says here regarding hymns and hymnals. I’ve respected his analysis in other posts as well. My stance on matters liturgical is known well enough out there to give some context to what I’m going to say. I’m going to put it in bullet point style here.

    1. The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) is a great hymnal. It was not a perfect hymnal. There a few things that needed adjustment even in its rendering of the Common Service. Also looking in the various rites contained therein as well as many of the hymns there is also, like LSB, indications of Pietism. Furthermore I’d say, that as I’ve gone from using LSB in one place to using TLH again, and I now have bifocals, the type setting is more difficult now. Also, in my experience while many (not pastors) think they have a grasp on Jacobean English, it is gradually become more of an unnecessary layer to uncover in teaching. We are not at the point where Luther was with Latin amongst the laity yet, but you get my drift. People in the time of Twitter have a more difficult time with reading comprehension than in decades. I am not suggesting eliminating all Jacobean English.

    2. While I greatly treasure the Common Service (p.15/p.184) and I think it is important that treasure continues to be handed down, Lutherans have known various musical settings of the historic liturgy (e.g. Bach’s Leipzig, Luther’s liturgies, Bugenhagen’s liturgies, etc). There is established room in the Lutheran liturgical tradition for this. I think that if we were to lock things into 1940s and 1950s iteration of Lutheran tradition we would be ignoring variations within our own tradition before the Thirty Years War and to some degree after.

    3. As to a “time of war” and persecution… Persecution or trials come in various ways and from varied sources. LSB was largely produced under the AL Barry Commission on Worship with a little bit of the Kieschnick administration influence just before publication. I think it is amazing how well it came out. Personally I’d take LSB over Lutheran Worship hands down. While the ESV is not perfect I’d still take it over the NIV.

    4. Having used TLH and LSB quite thoroughly I’d say this: It is very handy having a number of the various rites from LSB right there in the book, along with the Small Catechism. The 1941 book and the 1931 hymnal of the LCMS did not include the Small Catechism as German editions had. It is very helpful to have it in the book and not have to reprint a ream of paper each week. Also for Special Rites in various seasons Lutheran Service Builder is very helpful. I do appreciate a number of the recently composed hymns (Baptismal Waters Cover Me, for example). I also appreciate having Evening Prayer, Compline, and the much more usable form of the Psalm and Introit in LSB. The type setting of the Psalter in TLH is more difficult for most people to use. The biblical references in the liturgical orders are very helpful for catechesis.

    At this point at least 85% of the LCMS has adopted LSB to some extent. Let’s keep that going. I think this is a very good thing. It is moving in the right direction. My advice would be to simply reprint hymns from TLH rather than moving away from LSB.

    A great many good things have been recovered in much of the LCMS since TLH that have come to us even through imperfect hymnals – the Easter Vigil, Holy Week Rites, Catechism in the Hymnal, the entire theology of “Divine Service”, various occasional rites accessible to the people in the hymnal, a much better type-setting (get the book instead of a screen!), and much else.

    There are hymns in TLH, LW, and LSB I would not want to use. And there are translations of hymns in TLH, LW, and LSB that I could quibble with. But over all, taking all matters into account, I would still take LSB over LW and TLH. As one who has promoted weekly celebrations of the Lord’s Supper, I would like to have more than one setting of the Divine Service available to the congregation to become a familiar friend rather than reprinting something on the word processor or doing a Frankenstein to Matins.

    LSB was brought together in a time of war. It was a time of war, not in secular society, but for our church body. It was the aftermath of 9/11 not with the Twin Towers but in Yankee Stadium. LSB is not perfect but in many ways, it is a rich passing on of our Lutheran tradition and a very catechetical and devotional book.

    While there are hymns that could have been translated more faithfully, there also other hymns that were improved over the translations of TLH and LW (Wake, Awake, for example). While there are some inconsistencies in liturgical responses, it is improved over LW and represents needed updating for TLH (only two Scripture readings and “here endeth the Gospel).

    With all said and done, I would prefer the rendering of the Common Service in LSB over TLH. There are some hymns from TLH which are better in the selection and translation of stanzas. Also there are some old treasures given back to us in English in LSB (“To Jordan’s Banks” and other Gerhardt hymns). The rites for LSB in the hymnal and Altar Book are treasures. I find the Psalter incredibly more usable in LSB. I highly value having more than one Communion order. I value having more than one Evening liturgy. I appreciate having the rubrics actually in red print. I like having the rubrics for the sign of the cross in the book.

    I’m glad CPH is running a significant sale on LSB now. It will be good for our synod. My bottom line suggestion after using these things in various settings, get and use LSB and bring in good things from TLH. I do not recommend, however, reverting wholesale back to TLH.

  2. @Rev. John Frahm #2

    Also, in my experience while many (not pastors) think they have a grasp on Jacobean English, it is gradually become more of an unnecessary layer to uncover in teaching. People in the time of twitter have a more difficult time with reading comprehension than in decades. I am not suggesting eliminating all Jacobean English.

    As one raised on KJV and having learned the meaning of and memorized quite a lot of “Jacobean English”, I often find myself ‘translating back’ to understand, when ESV (or NIV) are read.
    If there was a problem in “reading comprehension”, the Pastor taught that, too.

    He was only a few years away from teaching German in the mornings and catechism in German in the afternoons. I missed that (because a war made German ‘unpopular’ but my first catechism, handed down, was bilingual.) “Going to the Pastor” for instruction lasted a school year after 8th grade with about the same hours, until 1944, in that congregation.

  3. @helen #3

    That’s great Helen. You aren’t in the majority however. Luther kept some Latin for those who could use it but the majority couldn’t.

  4. LW was a hymnal produced in wartime — in the aftermath of the schism in Synod, near the end of the Battle for the Bible, amid the culture wars of two churches once thought to be heading toward a common path and then found to be diverging, etc… but that hymnal did not fare so well among us. I wonder if the author’s points, however well taken, have not exaggerated his points and that LSB is not exactly an easy chair or a comfortable couch either.

  5. I believe that LW was rushed into print because the LBW was taking hold in the synod. Sometimes, even with the best of intentions, haste makes waste.

    Re. the OP, I was just noticing last week that one of the prayers after Holy Communion seems to have been changed between the TLH and the LSB. Didn’t the old version end, ‘…and in the confession of Thy Name, abide unto the end.’? That is my recollection, and it’s gone in the LSB version.

  6. @Carol Broome #5

    In TLH “The Collect for the Church” (page 14) reads,

    Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, unto Thy Church Thy Holy Spirit and the wisdom which cometh down from above, that Thy Word, as becometh it, may not be bound but have free course and be preached to the joy and edifying of Christ’s holy people, that in steadfast faith we may serve Thee, and in the confession of Thy name abide unto the end; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

    This was in the Page 5, non-Communion service–“The Order of Morning Service.” And yes, the regular reminder to remain in the confession of Jesus’ name until death is a good one.

  7. As an organist, I appreciate LSB, but can easily see some of its problems. For one thing, the organist edition is huge and difficult to handle during a service. I have a fear of dropping it on top of the organ keys, causing sour notes, indeed! I also think it is an error that all the accompaniments are not available in the pew edition. Not everyone has a copy of the accompaniment edition, but may still wish to play a hymn. Some hymns only have the melody line, preventing actually playing the hymn at home or for a devotion. Part of my love for TLH is that it is so resourceful. I still use it often for personal research and devotions. It lists all the Introits, Graduals, and Collects, which are unavailable in LSB. I also miss the words of the Proper Preface, which were not included in LSB. I appreciate these were probably printing decisions, but these exclusions prevent LSB from being the treasure TLH has become.

  8. @Ginny #7

    Yep, I agree with all your comments, Ginny. My biggest problem with TLH (as mentioned above) is that the Jacobean English is a barrier to many younger people. I think that TLH needed some updating, but not the major overhauls which became LW and LSB.

  9. @Pastor Fischer #8

    I have the blessing of being a Lutheran teacher, and have often enjoyed teaching hymns to children. When the words are hard to understand, we simply add them to our vocabulary list. I have found that children “grow into” some of the more difficult language and poetic phrases. As an adult, I am thankful these words were drilled into me while I was a child. Now I understand the words and rich theology which became part of me when I was too young to grasp the text. The Holy Spirit is alive and well in our wonderful hymnody. Some of the new hymns are really great, too. How about that? We sing our faith!Joy beyond telling!

  10. To get back closer to the topic… Pastor Winter wrote, “…the imprecatory psalms have been excised [from LSB]”.

    Pages 166 & 167 of TLH list “The Psalms with reference to their import”

    Included are:
    Against the Enemies of the Church: 7, 19, 26, 27, 42, 54, 56, 57, 62, 141
    Against the Pope and the Papists: 10, 12, 36, 44, 55, 69, 70, 94, 109, 120

    This further contrast between what was included in TLH and what was omitted in LSB gives a better idea of what Pastor Winter was saying when he wrote, “LSB seems like a Lazy-Boy chair on the front lines of a war.”

  11. One of the laughs(frustrations) I have with others’ complaints of the old English in TLH stems from an almost daily experience of hearing it still being used in modern culture. I’ve heard thees and thous being used in Contemporary Christian Music, I’ve heard it on Top 40 pop radio stations, I’ve seen the word “thee” used on the breakfast menu of a local restaurant, there is a resale shop in my town named “Wear Out Thou,” yet today’s confessional Lutherans are too stupid to “get it.” We are even “smart” enough to take the “thees” and such out of very popular and well known Christmas hymns while the “thees” and “thous” versions continue to play at Christmas over the sound system at Wendy’s Hamburgers.

    I am thankful at present to attend a congregation that continues to use The Lutheran Hymnal. If Concordia Publishing house really wants to sell more wares, stop selling hymnals with butchered up hymns. Add some of the good stuff that IS in LSB without raping the many hymns that Lutherans have learned and sung for many years in The Lutheran Hymnal. Also, be respectful of the hymn settings. It’s not necessary to set hymns that are well known in one setting to a tune that reminds one of something you would hear at a zoological preserve from monkeys and takes the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to figure out how to sing.

  12. @Alan L. #11

    Alan, is there a good reason for using old English (and old type fonts)? Are they somehow more “holy” than the English we currently use? (I’m not referring to slang and vulgarisms. These existed in Jacobean times as well. I’m just referring to the current, proper use of the English language.)

    Because Jacobean English was used in the King James Version (and other translations of that time period) it has in recent times erroneously been associated with “godly” language. However, there was nothing “godly” about the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek languages of the original Scriptures. The language used was the language of the people. The Greek of the New Testament was “koine” or “common” Greek.

    So again, I’m curious, what is the benefit of using archaic language to communicate the Gospel to the people of today?

  13. Rev. Fischer, the problem which seems to fly over the head of many with regard to our hymns and liturgy is that the Jacobean language in hymn and liturgy is STILL the language of the people, to the chagrin of those who wish to make the hymnal read like the front page of the local newspaper. It is how they have learned and memorized the hymns and passed them down to their children. Isn’t it interesting that in even the most contemporary church growth congregation, the Lord’s Prayer continues to be recited, usually in its most traditional format: “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name…” That is how they learned it. That is the language associated with the Lord’s Prayer. Changing it up for modern relevance ends up causing unneeded distraction and confusion. The same with the hymns. Old English is not more holy in and of itself, but it is in regard to the way it has been used and associated with the Holy Things of God such as the Bible, liturgy, and the hymns which teach the Faith. Kind of like the Communion chalice. More holy in and of itself-no. But if it contains the Blood of Christ, it is holy and set apart for such a sacred use.

  14. @Rev. Robert Fischer (Emeritus) #12

    So again, I’m curious, what is the benefit of using archaic language to communicate the Gospel to the people of today?

    I learned it. I’m still here “today”. Are you saying it’s no longer necessary to communicate the Gospel to me?

    As Alan pointed out, we are in a hurry to abandon a part of our culture which is still being used outside the church. So where’s the need for abandoning it?
    As Ginny said, a new word is an opportunity to teach (and learn) and youth can absorb far more than is currently expected of them! They do it voluntarily, in fact, only it’s baseball stats or the lyrics of trashy songs (both with “unfamiliar” vocabulary, often as not).

    I really believe that children can’t wait to leave Sunday School because the teachers are stuck on Shine Jesus Shine instead of teaching and singing hymns, yes, even hymns with thees and thous in them!

    [Grey haired LWML women are singing Shine Jesus Shine and they wonder why the younger women won’t join them!!!] Aaagh!

  15. Alan, you wrote, “[The Jacobean language] is how they have learned and memorized the hymns and passed them down to their children.” Except that, increasingly, that’s not taking place. We are in a post-Christian culture. My (current) state of Maine is among the least religious in the nation. Just basic English language competency can’t be assumed, let alone “religious” language which they haven’t been exposed to at home. I’m serving a mission congregation in northern Maine–in the least religious part of one of the least religious states. You wrote that “the Jacobean language in hymn and liturgy is STILL the language of the people.” It’s not the language of the people here, and increasing not in many (if not, most) parts of the country. I’m guessing that you’re blessed to be in a still relatively religious (and rural?) mid-western location. In most urban and coastal locations, young people have little or no Christian knowledge (except for knowing that Christians are anti-science bigots and homophobes–oh, and misogynistic for not ordaining women.) Reaching out to them is a tremendous challenge, and archaic language just reinforces to them the notion that we are behind the times and out of touch.

  16. @helen #14

    Helen, I’m failing to see the connection between using current, proper English; and singing “Shine, Jesus Shine”. If you look back at my posts above, you’ll see that I was writing about updating the language of “The Lutheran Hymnal”. “Shine, Jesus Shine” wasn’t in there the last time I looked. 🙂

  17. @Rev. Robert Fischer (Emeritus) #16

    Why is it in our Sunday Schools… [not to mention LWML]?

    The “connection” was that I think the kids would learn something more useful and lasting from hymns…whether TLH or LSB… and enjoy not being treated like pre-schoolers as well.

    You probably do have a different background to deal with and in your area what you say makes sense. It’s not necessarily what everyone wants or needs, though.

  18. @helen #17

    Helen wrote, “Why is [‘Shine, Jesus Shine’] in our Sunday Schools…” I can’t identify with the “our” part of that. I’m “semi-retired” in Maine; but prior to that (including vicarage) I’ve served congregations in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana, and Illinois. “Shine, Jesus Shine” wasn’t sung in any of the Sunday Schools of those congregations. I’ve only attended a couple of LWML rallies, but it wasn’t sung in those either. In fact, I’ve never heard a Lutheran sing it. I guess I’ve led a sheltered life.

  19. All I know is that I am much richer today as a Lutheran Christian because the pastor of my childhood and my parents cared enough about my eternity to teach me the “hard stuff”…difficult and/or unusual language and all. I remember being Vacation Bible School the summer between third and fourth grade when our pastor taught all of us youngsters “Isaiah, Mighty Seer in Days of Old.” I knew not what I was singing. But, today, I know that hymn verbatim and have a firm grasp of the meaning. I am grateful the pastor worked so hard to afford such blessing to my faith. Why not go for “the stretch” with hymns and liturgy that transport us beyond what we think possible? Is there a implication the Holy Spirit is unable to use these ancient texts for our good? I love challenging my students with the nature of the hymnal. But, guess what. The other day, one third grader asked if we could sing “The Magnificat,” which the whole school memorized and sang for our Advent Service last year. This nice young student punctuated his request with, “I just love that!” I started him out, and he walked away singing it with a smile on his face.

  20. @Ginny #19

    Again, I was writing about updating some of the liturgical language in TLH. Where did I advocate removing canticles and hymnody like the Magnificat and “Isaiah, Mighty Seer in Days of Old”????

  21. Rev. Fischer, our congregation is located in the middle of a fairly large liberal city in the southern USA. The congregation is teaming with new births and young children who are all absorbing and learning the Old English language of The Lutheran Hymnal. In fact, I sometimes hear them singing it quite confidently during the Divine Service. Apart from religious use, I also remember being exposed to Old English language in late 1970’s public high school with regard to some of the literature assignments that were given. I am not by any means from the one room school house era.

    As strongly as I feel about this issue, and my belief that much of the hymnal modernization of language is misguided, I’m not about to use the issue as a test of orthodoxy. I do not embrace the “King James Only” philosophy.

  22. @Alan L. #21

    I suspect this is the Alan L. I know. The church has a large visiting/play area adjacent to the narthex, and more infant carriers, crawlers, toddlers and pre-schoolers per square yard of carpet than any church I’ve ever attended.

    Old folks like me have to watch where they step!

    But they are omnivorous! TLH in the pew, NIV on the lectern and the Pastor regularly includes a Greek lesson in the sermon.

    Rev. Fischer, “Shine, Jesus, Shine must be a “Texas thang”! (That’s Baptist country.)

  23. I’ve never used the TLH. I had never heard of the TLH until I went to Seminary, which is where I picked up a few used copies for my own reference. Even then, everywhere I have been as a fieldworker, vicar, and pastor, they all have LSB. I’ve yet to find myself in an LCMS congregation with TLH in the pews. I know of some congregations that still use them out this way in the Northeastern part of the country, but haven’t had the luxury of worshiping in one of those congregations. I still find some copies of LW floating around, in closets more so than in the pews. I only know of one congregation that still uses LBW, though, I suspect that is a financial decision more-so than worship preference. I’m sure there are others out there beyond what I am aware of in regards to LBW.

    But, to my main point: I was raised on LW… as I am sure a number of Lutheran’s born/growing up in the 1980’s were. TLH and King James English, are rather foreign to me in practice.

    I thought the LSB was a massive improvement over LW. I also like the ESV a lot more than the NIV. I wish I had more ‘input’ on this discussion taking place, but I am from a segment of Lutherans that have no frame of reference to work with. I don’t have a sense of nostalgia for the TLH. I was never exposed to it. I only knew LW, which was clunky. LSB proved that much to me when I first had the opportunity to open that hymnal and rejoice.

    Is LSB perfect? No. Is it a great hymnal? Yes. Would I, personally, switch to the TLH from the LSB? Of course not. Why? Because the LSB does what ‘we’ need it to do. I would actually be sacrificing quite a lot to go back to the TLH, in my opinion and from my perspective. Anything the LSB does not do, we have other resources to accomplish those tasks.

    Saying the LSB is a ‘cozy chair’ hymnal comes across as a bit… unfair. The TLH is like a good ol’ M1 Garand rifle. Battle proven? Yep. Reliable? Yep. Does it get the job done? Exceptionally well in the hands of a seasoned veteran. The LSB is an M4 Carbine. It has a lot more flexibility and capability. Both put the ammo down the range. Either way, I’m just glad to be armed in the trenches with something sound, reliable, and confessional. Yes, the LSB has some questionable hymns… those are easily passed over and ignored though. We can work around the quirks – and every hymnal has quirks to deal with. Anyone who knows their ‘weapon’ well, can compensate for its shortcomings. The problem isn’t a cozy hymnal, the problem is apathy when it comes to matters of doctrine and practice. An M1 or an M4 are fairly useless if you have no practice in firing them; let alone a desire to do so. And that, perhaps is the greater problem. It’s easy to blame the hymnal for its short comings. But, hymnals are a lot like guns. A hymnal is only as good or bad as the hands it finds itself in. And, many of our hymnals in our Synod stay in the holster on the pews, rather than being held in the hands of the people. Before we go comparing ‘guns’ perhaps we should examine whether people are even firing them in the first place.

  24. @Rev. William Ringer #23

    Pastor Winger wrote, “I’ve never used the TLH.”

    Young whippersnappers! They have no memory of numerous page-flipping while singing the Venite (pages 33-34)! At least Helen and I can relate. 🙂

  25. Pastor Winger, there are many who come to my congregation with no experience with TLH and quickly learn the ropes. Some have no previous experience with liturgy at all. They prefer the unabashed use of masculine pronouns rather than the attempt to appease feminism by unnecessarily turning the pronouns into gender neutral mush. In our society, its easy to get your fill of gender neutralism in the fast lane. After all, God DID make them male and female.
    Personally, I find the prayers in TLH much more accessible and relevant to my Christian life. some of my favourite are a prayer “for the children of the church,” “For Aid Against Temptation,” “For our Enemies,” and the list goes on. LSB has more of a condescending tone to me in its construction and hymn translations.

    I will agree with you that LSB is an improvement over LW. LW in the majority of cases went out of the way to rape Lutheran teaching from the hymn translations, turning the objectivity of the faith into subjectivity. I will also concede that no hymnal is perfect. I’d prefer to see any version of a Lutheran hymnal in the hands of children and adults than sitting in the pew.

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