Video Sample of Authentic Worship – #7: Kyrie Sung in Greek by 250 Midwesterners

(by Pr. Rossow) On the post titled Gesundheit, Bon Appetit and Kyrie Eleison from April 5th, I promised that we would get you the video of our congregation singing LSB (Lutheran Service Book) #944 – the Kyrie in Greek. Yesterday at our confirmation service we were able to do just that.

We thank our timpanist Eric K. for taking the video. It is a little dark because he was by a bank of very bright windows.

The congregation learned this liturgical piece a few years ago and now, as you can tell from the video, we are able to sing it a capella, even when the sanctuary is filled with lots of guests for confirmation. We thank our Cantor Phillip Magness for his leadership through the years in teaching us such a a great variety of ways to sing the historic liturgy.

We beg, plead, and even challenge all of those Contemporary Worship (CoWo) parishes to reconsider their marriage to the culture of trendy, protestant, non-sacramental, emotion-based worship styles and rediscover all over again your first love as Biblical, Lutheran, Christians – the historic liturgy which so fittingly wraps the real presence of God in Christ, in the New Covenant meal, in such a real, authentic, reverent, and even emotional package that fits the coming of God to man in His Divine Service for us.

There is no need to give in to the dumbing down of worship culture. A rich, meaningful, sacramental, reverent service is possible with simple Midwestern folk and if we can do it, so can anyone. The liturgy is not high brow. It is folk music and is written to be sung by groups of people and not written in the difficult slurring and sliding style of pop music which is written for soloists. There is of course an entire genre of Praise Music that is a little more folks-friendly but it is written with emotional eruption as the primary motivator and is in most cases not fitting for the expression of an objectively true religion such as our Biblical faith.

Liturgical worship is far from boring and stale. As you can also see from the video, there is a wide variety of music available in the Lutheran Service Book. At the tail end of the Kyrie video you can hear us starting the Hymn of Praise. It is our tradition every confirmation Sunday to replace “This is the Feast” with another hymn of praise with a similar text from the Apocalypse, but with the refrain in Spanish – “Alabare” (LSB 799). We do it complete with claves, and because we had the brass choir there for confirmation, with the added beauty of a bit of a mariachi sound. All in all, singing most of the liturgy in our own native tongue of English but with a Greek Kyrie and a Hispanic Hymn of Praise makes for a rich, authentic liturgical expression. It is a testimony to the clutural universality of the liturgy.

The richness that we are able to have because we have devoted financial resources to the Divine Service may not be possible in every Lutheran parish but it is not as complex as you might think. It is doable if you commit the same resources that you do to your sound boards, video screens and powerpoints.

Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy on your Church so that this rich renewal of historic worship continue that we may return to our first liturgical love.

About Pastor Tim Rossow

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow is the Director of Development for Lutherans in Africa. He served Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL as the Sr. Pastor for 22 years (1994-2016) and was Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran in Dearborn, MI prior to that. He is the founder of Brothers of John the Steadfast but handed off the Sr. Editor position to Rev. Joshua Scheer in 2015. He currently resides in Ocean Shores WA with his wife Phyllis. He regularly teaches in Africa. He also paints watercolors, reads philosophy and golfs. He is currently represented in two art galleries in the Pacific Northwest. His M Div is from Concordia, St. Louis and he has an MA in philosophy from St. Louis University and a D Min from Concordia, Fort Wayne.


Video Sample of Authentic Worship – #7: Kyrie Sung in Greek by 250 Midwesterners — 8 Comments

  1. Pastor Rossow,
    As we challenge people like Beth Moore, Rob Bell, & the like when they use Greek:
    Please post the Greek & then the translation to English of that Greek.

    1) We’ll all at BJS understand more fully this post

    2) should you endevor to do so, which most repeal & deny once done…you & BJS have many that know Greek. They can translate & verify translation, quantify & validate that translation: we have demanded it done & decried when objected to.

    3) state that the doing in Greek, Latin, or Hebrew, as long as done in echt, is profitable. If those like me, verify what I’m told is Greek or Hebrew, I must so do this with you.

    Should I/we not?

  2. Dutch,

    If you reread the original “Gesundheit” post I give an explanation of the edifying nature of singing the Kyrie this way.

    For translation, it is given at the bottom of the hymn page in LSB. Kyrie eleison = Lord have mercy. Christe eleison = Christ have mercy. That’s all there is to it.


  3. While I am one who believes strongly in our traditional liturgies, and who finds most “non-traditional” liturgies to be lacking, I fail to see why singing the Kyrie in Greek might be superior to singing it in English. Am I missing something?

  4. David,

    If you go back and read the post titled “Gesundheit…” you will see the rationale for it. It is not superior to doing it in English. It is similar to singing the refrain in “Angels We Have Heard on High” or singing “Silent Night” in German on Christmas Eve Not necessary but edifying spiritual exercises.

    We sing it that way a few times a year. Otherwise we sing the Kyrie (note the retention of the Greek for the liturgical name) in English.

    I am glad that the LSB committee included #943 and #944 in the hymnal to enrich our liturgical reportoire. What do you think? Before answering, teach it to your congregation as well as making use of all of the other rich variety in the LSB and then see what they and you think. Just a thought. Certainly not necessary, but it is edifying.


  5. Blessings Pastor Rossow!

    I am rather adept at German, both low & Hochdeutsch. But, we are aware of calling out people like Beth Moore, for posting & saying Greek, w/o knowing & teach the context.
    I know full well the Latin of Pie Jesu, but I have no clue, if that is this or not.

    Beth Moore, gives her Greek & Hebrew as edifying, I do know yours is different. However, I know how, but I cannot post why.

    You can, what I cannot. Just saying…

  6. Pastor Rossow,
    It was your challenge given above, so way….not mine…you asked, so I’m posting.

    You asked, I know some of this stuff, but sometimes, when we call out others, w/o correcting their errors, & we repeat them…and ya kind of ask for opinion….
    At least it’s coming from a Confessional Lutheran first this time for this anyways….
    Ya never know if ya answer me, ya may answer many more who won’t or wouldn’t have posted otherwise. Please again list the Greek & English translation. If you list the Greek, that I can translate here. Or you can do it in Latin or German, I know I can do that & many other BJS’s can then, too. We have& must stand above the board, even when it’s us.

  7. Pastor Rossow,

    Your original post inspired me to write an article for our parish newsletter. What a blessing it is to be a part of the Church, which proclaims the same Christ all around the world.

    Can’t We Just Speak English?
    Agnus Dei, Kyrie, Sanctus – there are so many strange words that we encounter at church. Why can’t we all just speak English? Why do we keep using these foreign words and phrases?
    Our culture is not unfamiliar with using foreign words and phrases. When someone sneezes, we say gesundheit. When we sit down to eat a delicious meal, we might bid one another, “bon appetit!” We go to a stadium or a gymnasium to watch sporting events, and we travel to the cinema to watch a film. If something is genuine, we call it bona fide, our future spouse is a fiancée, and the list of jobs we had previously is called a resumé. When the weather is nice, we sit on a patio while enjoying a bit of succotash. Our young ones attend kindergarten and eat in the cafeteria. When we encourage someone to leave quickly, we tell them to vamoose. An error is a glitch. A salesman might try to schmooze us with his spiel, but he doesn’t want to get too schmaltzy. Well, I could go on, but so many of the foreign terms we know are so commonly used, we forget they are foreign terms.
    The Church addresses a subject like nothing else in the world – the forgiveness of sins. It is only natural that it would have its own vocabulary, including its own set of foreign phrases. These foreign phrases are the same throughout the world, so it reminds us that we are not just tucked away in our little hamlet, but we are connected with the whole Church on earth. The Sanctus is the Sanctus whether you are in the United States, Germany, Latvia, Italy, Turkey, the Congo, or China. We should be using them so frequently we ought to forget they are foreign terms as well.
    Many of the foreign terms we use are defined in a glossary in our hymnals (p. xxiv in LSB or p. 168 in TLH).

    I think the last paragraph would be especially helpful to those, like Dutch, who want to see the text and translation. Sometimes we forget that our hymnals contain more than just hymns and liturgies.

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