Great Stuff Found on the Web — 1856 Ordination Rite Translation

Found posted a few days ago on Logia. It’s interesting reading through the Ordination Service from the last century.


Translator’s Note:

The text below is a translation of the German Church-Agenda for the Evangelical Lutheran Church Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and other states.

Kirchen-Agende für Evangelisch-Lutherische Gemeinden. (St. Louis: Druckerei der Deutschen Ev. Luth. Synod, 1856).

The ordination rite is taken from pages 171 – 176 of the aforementioned book. The numbers appearing in brackets [ ] correspond to the original page numbering of the Kirchen-Agende.

The aforementioned Kirchen-Agende was translated into English in 1881; however, the translation omitted several parts including the ordination rite translated in this document.

Church Liturgy for Evangelical Lutheran Congregations. (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1881).

Albert B. Collver, III
1998 Epiphany 5




The ordainer steps with his assistant to the altar. On the steps of the altar stands the one to be ordained. At the conclusion of the song, the ordainer and his assistant turn around facing toward the one to be ordained and the first one says:

Our Lord Jesus Christ said after his resurrection to his disciples (John 20): “Peace be with you! Just as the Father sent me, also I am sending you. And when he said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive now the Holy Spirit! Whomever’s sin you remit, it will be remitted to him and whosoever you retain, to that one it will be retained.”

And later before his Ascension he said to them (Matt 28): “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go there and teach all peoples and baptize them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to hold all, which I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you all the days until the end of the world.”

And after he ascended above all heavens, so that he fulfilled all things, he appointed some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, some as shepherds and teachers, that the saints would be prepared, for the work of the Office, so the body of Christ will be built up. (Eph. 4:11ff.)

Therefore the office, which preaches reconciliation, is setup by the Lord himself. The office is of the Spirit, who judges the living and the dead. The office of the New Testament is not held by one who is fit of himself, but he who is fit is [fit] because of God. They are ambassadors in the stead of Christ, God admonishes through them, and they bear God’s office full of exuberant clarity. (2. Cor. 3:5)
Therefore you ought also to adorn it in all respects, as St. Paul wrote to Timothy and Titus. For a bishop should be blameless, a man of one wife, who has believing, obedient children with all respectability, who administers his own house well (but if someone does not know how to administer his own house, how will he provide for the congregation of God?). [172] [A bishop ought be] not stubborn, not angry, sober, moderate, not a wine swiller, not a braggart, not dishonest working with his hands, virtuous, pure, chaste, just, holy, hospitable, kind, not a brawler, not avarice, gentle, not a novice, so that he does not puff himself up and fall into the judgment of the Blasphemer, apt to teach, because he holds on to the Word, which is certain and able to teach, so that he be able to exhort through the salutary teaching and to reprove the gainsayer. He must also have a good reputation from those who are outside, so that he does not fall into disgrace and the Blasphemer’s trap. He should persist with the reading, with exhortation, with teaching and not disregard the gift, which was given to him through the prophecy with the laying on of the elder’s hands. He should wait, [and] contemplate, so that he will increase in all things manifest. He should have concern for himself and the teaching and remain steadfast in his task. For in whatever he does, he will bless himself and his hearers. – Most of all in the same way the holy Apostle in his exhortation to the elders called to Ephesus (Acts of the Apostles 20.) recently united, thus he said, “Thus, now take care of yourself and of the flock, which the Holy Spirit has appointed you under as bishop, to tend the congregation of God, which he purchased through his blood.”

All this makes plain for you, what a high and holy office this is, into which you were called, and that what the Apostle said is certainly true, “Whoever desires the office of bishop desires a wonderful work.”

Here the one to be ordained kneels down.

Therefore, I ask you now, beloved brother in the Lord Jesus Christ, before the eyes of God, our Lord Jesus Christ and his holy angels, also in the hearing of this congregation, whether you, after careful consideration are ready to take upon you this holy office, and according to the ability that God gives [unto you], to execute and administer [it] according to every pleasure of the Lord and Arch-Shepherd of this congregation?


Yes, I am willing after earnest consideration for the holy office, which God has called me to be placed upon me; I solemnly vow and pledge before God and his congregation [173] according to the ability that God gives to execute and administer it according to every pleasure of the Lord, the Arch-Shepherd and Bishop of Souls.

The ordaining pastor continues:

But do you also confess that you are obliged to carry out in accordance with his office, in the three chief Creeds of the church, the Apostles, Nicene, and Athanasian, as in the unaltered Augsburg Confession, the Apology, the Smalcald Articles, both catechisms of Luther and the Formula of Concord are found a pure and correct explanation and exposition of God’s Word and Will? And are you willing to execute on account of this your office according to these confessional writings of our holy church and to do this to your death?


Yes, I confess the three chief Creeds, the unaltered Augsburg Confession, the Apology, the Smalcald Articles, both catechisms of Luther and the Formula of Concord as the pure, correct explanation and exposition of the divine Word and Will; I confess the same as my own confession and intend to perform my office until my death truly and diligently in the same way. May God strengthen me through his Holy Spirit! Amen.

The ordaining minister speaks again:

Upon this your promise before God and us, we ask God, the Father of our beloved Lord Jesus Christ, the one Lord of the harvest, that he, who called you to his Office, make you able through his Holy Spirit. May he grant, that you give no one offense, lest in this way the office is slandered, but demonstrate yourself in all things as a servant of God, in great patience, in afflictions, in needs, in anxieties, in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in work, in watching, in fasting, in chastity, in knowledge, in long-suffering, in friendliness, in the Holy Spirit, in pure love, in the Word of Truth, in the power of God, through the weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left hand, through honor and dishonor, through malicious rumors and good rumors, as a seducer and yet truthful, regarded as unknown and yet known, as dying and behold, you live, as beaten, and not yet killed, as [174] a mourner, but at all times cheerful, as poor, but making many rich, as having nothing, but yet having all things. (2 Cor. 6.) The Lord gave you, therefore, to endure and to do the work of an evangelistic preacher, that you may be able to appear on that great day before the judgment seat of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give a common answer, to the strict and just judge of the living and the dead, to receive praise and honor out of his hand and to shine as the heavenly splendor and as the stars forever and ever!

Next the assisting ministers lay hands on [him] and each speak a biblical wish.

Then the ordainer speaks again.

We consign you now through the imposition of our hands to the holy office of the Word and Sacraments of God, the Trinity, ordain and consecrate you to the service of the holy church in the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit!

The other fellow ordaining ministers answer:

Amen. Amen.

Then all the ministers pray together:

Our Father … forever and ever! Amen.

The ordainer again:

Let us pray! Merciful God, heavenly Father, you have spoken to us through the mouth of your dear Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. “The harvest is great, but the workers are few – pray to the Lord of the harvest, that he send workers into the harvest.” By this your divine command we pray from the heart, that you would give abundantly this your servant together with us and everyone, whom you called to your office, your Holy Spirit, that we may spread your Gospel, continue truly and strongly against the Devil, World, and Flesh, in order that your Name be hallowed, your kingdom increase, your will be done. Put a stop also to all your enemies, who oppress your Name, destroy your kingdom, oppose your will, place a limit and end, and wherever your servants bear witness and work, distinguish your witness and the work of your hands to the glory of your most holy Name and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.


To read more, read it on Logia.

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,, 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


Great Stuff Found on the Web — 1856 Ordination Rite Translation — 6 Comments

  1. For comparison, here’s what C.F.W. Walther said in his address to the First Iowa District Convention on the duties of an evangelical Lutheran synod in 1879:

    The Religious Oath of the Saxon Lutheran Church, which was used from the adoption of the Formula of Concord in the year 1602 until it was replaced by the current form of the vow, which amounts to a denial (der … verleugnerischen Gelöbnisformel), reads as follows:

    “You must vow and swear that you will steadfastly and with no reservations of any kind (ohne einigen Falsch) remain and abide by the pure and Christian Confession of these lands, as it is delineated in the first unaltered Augsburg Confession and as it is repeated and clarified in the first unaltered Augsburg Confession and as it is repeated and clarified in the Christian Book of Concord and is there preserved against all falsifications, that you will neither privately nor publicly do (prakticiren) anything contrary to it, and that, if you notice others attempting to do this, you will not conceal that fact but will courageously and immediately reveal such attempts. And since God might conceal—may He graciously keep this from happening!—that, as a result of human pride and delusion, you yourself depart from this pure doctrine and knowledge of God and join either the papists, Calvinists, or other sects mentioned above who oppose the pure Confession and are named and rejected in the Religious Accord, (therefore you are to swear, that you) will immediately, in the proper place, courageously report this in view of your sworn oath and will await further orders and resolution; and that you will do all this faithfully and without compromise.” (See Excerpt from the Meissen-Albertine-Saxon Church History by Hasse, II, 75)

    As you can see, those Saxons were no Iowans. According to them you had to pledge to uphold the Confessions “with no reservations of any kind.” There a pastor was bound by oath that as soon as he became aware that a fellow pastor had apostatized and was attempting to mislead his congregation, he would report this to the superintendent. Then the apostate was placed under discipline (der Proceß gemacht), and if he refused to repent, he was removed from office in shame and disgrace as a perjured villain. A pastor also was required to swear that if his own beliefs changed, he would report himself and then wait to see what would be done with him. It is fitting that it does not say that he would immediately be put out of office, for the trustworthy fathers would first tell him, “Look, the devil has deluded you; our Confessions teach what God’s Word teaches.” But if he absolutely refused to be instructed, he would be deposed (mußte er hinaus).

    Our Missouri Synod requires those who are to be ordained and installed to make the following confession and vow:

    “I accept the three Chief Creeds of the Church, the unadulterated Augsburg Confession and its Apology, the Smalcald Articles, the two Catechisms of Luther, and the Formula of Concord as the pure, unadulterated explanation and exposition of the Word and will of God. I accept these as my own statements of faith and will faithfully and diligently administer my office in accordance with them until I die. May God help me by His Holy Spirit to do this! Amen.” (Kirchen-Agende für Evang. = luth. Gemeinden, St. Louis, Mo., 1866, p. 240)

    C.F.W. Walther, Essays for the Church, Vol. 2 (St. Louis: CPH, 1992) 16-17.

  2. “But do you also confess that you are obliged to carry out in accordance with his office, in the three chief Creeds of the church, the Apostles, Nicene, and Athanasian, as in the unaltered Augsburg Confession, the Apology, the Smalcald Articles, both catechisms of Luther and the Formula of Concord are found a pure and correct explanation and exposition of God’s Word and Will?”

    The Lutheran Symbol, “The Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope,” is not mentioned.

  3. @Carl Vehse #2

    It was written at the time of the Smalkald Articles, so some consider it an addendum to that document. Others view it as a supplement or addendum to the Augsgurg or Apology (I am forgetting which). I do prefer it mentioned on its own right, just to make sure it is not missed, or intentionally ignored.

  4. “some consider it an addendum to that document. Others view it as a supplement or addendum to the Augsgurg or Apology”

    Perhaps if “some” and “others” can reach a consensus, they can ask the delegates and congregations to amend the Missouri Synod constitution to include, after all these years, the Lutheran Symbol of the Treatise in Article II.2.

  5. The Treatise, until the 20th century, was indeed thought by all parties to be part of the Smalcald Articles. That is why it is not listed in the older rites. See the introduction to the Treatise in the Kolb Wengert edition.


  6. I think it is distinct enough to warrant its own mention. Could see how the convention deals with it. The stupidly lazy would say it is not warrented, and then it would be open to neglect and attack, kinda like ULC. Some would oppose, and I would wonder if those people would want to not have definition or rules. That would be e_ca like, in that the attitude would be to keep things ambiguous to allow a plethora of (divergent) interpretations. I would think and hope that delegates would see this as a good idea and would easily get behind a presumably non-confrontational resolution. But we do live in a sinful broken world…

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