Does your worship prepare you for death?

I had the opportunity to hear an excellent presentation this afternoon from a neighboring pastor (Rev. Shawn Kumm of Zion, Laramie) on Lutheran worship.  One of the best points that he made was related to how worship is meant to prepare the Christian for death.

I have often found that all theology finds its best expression on the deathbed.  It is there that Lutheran teachings become so distinct from others that one can really see the pure Gospel versus impure ones.  What struck me about this worship leading to death thing is the difference between liturgical and “contemporary” services.

Liturgical worship seeks through repetition to not only give the gifts of God to the believer, sustaining his faith in the here and now and into the hereafter.  It has an eternal perspective on things, which is reflected in its rich heritage.   It is fitting for those at the beginning of life who cannot read and yet through the constant repetition can still learn, all those in between, and even those at the end of life who have lost their minds in relation to most things but still remember the things which they repeated each week in Church.  Opposite to that, and lacking eternal focus, CoWo tends to feed an always changing “milk” at best (avoiding deeper concepts/teachings which may drive people away), with the goal of making all people feel comfortable and excited about what is going on (certainly striving so that they may never feel bored [where does boredom with God’s Word reside, in a worship form or in an undisciplined, Old Adam loving heart?].  CoWo does not teach the children, it does not help those who have lost their reason or senses.  It is exclusive.  There is not the repetition of the Scriptures as you find it in the liturgy, but instead a constant changing in order to keep relevant to the individual and the whims of the visitor (because if the visitor or age determines the worship, it will have to change).  I often wonder if underlying these two very different things in worship isn’t the focus of God vs. man, the changeless from the always changing, the trustworthy and reliable vs. the unreliable.

There is another key – relevance.  CoWo is meant to be relevant to the here and now, with forms that change and messages that pertain to “real life” here and now.  Liturgical worship is meant to be relevant to the then, here, now, and even times to come.  It prepares a soul to have a full library of texts, tunes, and prayers housed inside of it to be recalled at later times.  These later times could include the deathbed, but also all those steps that we must take in this vale of tears to that point.  One thing the pastor noted today was the question: “how many praise bands have you seen at the nursing home?”

Liturgical worship allows the Christian to be prepared to make his confession.  The Words are familiar, ones which he has been taught and confessed before.  CoWo forces the Christian to say words that he may not believe (or make the spot discernment to not confess something).  Pastors who like to “tinker” with the liturgy, you may want to consider how your tinkering forces your sheep to confess things which they have had no prior warning that they would be confessing.  Does such constant changing instill anything of value to your people? (other than catechizing them to grab onto the new, follow their emotions, and don’t dare to learn anything deeper or ancient)

Pastors who use CoWo, what is your pastoral care at the nursing home look like?   Do you sing them the most popular and relevant songs of the day, or do you then and there return to the solid pattern of words that was taught by the hymnals which these saints have used for years?  What will you do for those young ones now feeding off of constant change when they are experiencing your visit while they await death?  What well can you possibly draw from when all you dug were puddles that changed as the seasons went by?  What does your message sound like when talking to one undergoing great trial and tribulation?  Is it there that you put aside the theology of glory and go back to the cross?  In the end (of life that is) it seems that CoWo falls flat and actually shows a good amount of spiritual neglect in the scope of preparing souls to go to their Maker.

A passage comes to mind  in this: 2 Timothy 3:1-7

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

I think many of those things in that passage could do with CoWo theology, but the one that I have really started to key into is the “always learning and never able to arrive at the knowledge of truth”.  With all of the constant changes, there is always learning going on, but no one ever gets something solidly sunk in, so that when they approach death they can have such a vast deposit of knowledge to draw upon.

If you are a layperson under the influence of CoWo teachings, consider what will happen when your reason and senses start to go (after all you are dying too).  What will remain of all the varied and many things that you have experienced?  What will have been engrained into your mind as to remain when various ailments take the things which did not get reinforced in this life?




Does your worship prepare you for death? — 76 Comments

  1. @Matthew Mills #50
    Just a few clarifications, by Catholic I mean Roman Catholic. The argument can still be made that since the Roman Catholic Church used them first, we appear Roman Catholic because we use them, regardless or not if they belong to the greater catholic church. Your answer in regards to methobaticostals seems to imply that it would be impossible for anything Scripturally and doctrinally correct to come from them since they are of a different spirit. Really? That is not the case in our own hymnbook because we have a lot of hymns from non-Lutherans. So why is it so hard to believe or accept that a non-Lutheran could pen a theologically correct hymn or song today as well?
    What constitutes breaking harmony and practice as Lutherans? If I use “Because He Lives” as an Easter hymn and it is not in any of the synodically approved hymn books, then what? Or what if I do a children’s message each Sunday, something not found in any of our synodically approved hymnbooks? The question becomes, how much harmony in adiaphora is necessary to preserve or create unity? Again, I have had “confessional” Lutherans basically call my worship service heretical because I have a children’s message before the sermon. Really?! A “confessional” pastor once told me to leave the synod if I wouldn’t join in publicly fighting with other pastors. Really?! That’s the crazy definition of unity some folks on here seem to use. Unity is good, but there is also the point where we take it too far. When we start mocking our fellow pastors for things like children’s messages, I’m sorry, but you’ve lost any argument you may have had with me.

  2. @Rev. McCall #51

    No Pastor, the Roman Catholic church did not use these things before us. We are not a “restorationist” church. These things were catholic (and therefore ours) before there was a “Roman Catholic” church. They are ours by right, not borrowed from anyone. If they make a person uncomfortable, then our theology will make that person uncomfortable.

    Are people damned if they are more comfortable in a Methobapticostal church? No they aren’t Pastor. So, why would we want to sheep-steal them by trying to look/sound like something we are not? Why not let them go where they are comfortable, and accept that God can save through His word even in a heterodox communion?

    Based on the wording of Apology XV (And nevertheless we teach that in these matters the use of liberty is to be so controlled that the inexperienced may not be offended, and, on account of the abuse of liberty, may not become more hostile to the true doctrine of the Gospel, or that without a reasonable cause NOTHING in customary rites be changed, but that, in order to cherish harmony, such old customs be observed as can be observed without sin or without great inconvenience.) I’d rather turn your last bit around and ask: What advantages do you believe you gain from using “children’s sermons” and hymns that aren’t in a synodically approved hymnal? How is the Western liturgy and the hymnody approved by the church in our place and time “sin” or “great inconvenience”? Why would you want to stand so close to the edge?

    These things are not yours to worry about Pastor, you are a steward, not the owner of the vinyard. It’s not about you. Relax, and focus on being faithful rather than constantly sweating about effectiveness.

    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  3. Rev. McCall mentioned “Because He Lives” for Easter Sunday. This song certainly ties in with the theme of this article (preparing for death) and has a great first verse and repeated proclamations of assurance of a living Savior. That is, right up until the last four words of this last verse:

    “And then one day I’ll cross the river,
    I’ll fight life’s final war with pain;
    And then as death gives way to victory,
    I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know he lives.”
    (Bill and Gloria Gaither)

    Those four words bothered me for a number of years, until I finally caught a glimpse of the monster of uncertainty peeking out from behind them. “And then… I’ll know he lives.” Can we really know and believe it only when we see it for ourselves? That sounds like Thomas before he stuck his fingers into Jesus’ wounds.

    I do NOT think Rev. McCall is a bad pastor because he uses this song, but I do think it fits all too well his description of one with “incomplete theology.” This verse also muddles who does the fighting and gains the victory, and the second verse could definitely use some language about how the calm assurance for the newborn baby really comes in Baptism.

    Now, for some great, toe-tapping, river-crossing, rhythm-fascinating, Easter hymns, I like “Come Ye Faithful Raise the Strain” and “This Joyful Eastertide.”

    Yippy-Dog Deb

  4. @Deb #53
    I agree with you Deb on everything you have written, but my major point here is that we don’t have to fight this out mediocre hymn by mediocre hymn, weak creed by weak creed and/or reformed practice by reformed practice. The line we need to hold is the line set in the Confessions: Lutherans value public harmony above all other advantages, and Lutherans change none of the customary rites unless they are sinful. We should be able to go into any LC-MS church in the country and worship as Lutherans using the liturgy and hymnody published in one of our three synodical hymnals.

    I don’t need to prove, or even believe, that pastor X, song Y or practice Z is bad or sinful. If it is a change to the customary rites of the LC-MS as published in her hymnals, it represents anti-Lutheran, public harmony-breaking innovation and it should be stopped; not because universal traditions are required for justification, but in order to cherish harmony, avoid offense and protect the true doctrine of the Gospel, (as our Pastors’ ordination vows require through their quia subscription.)

    Anyone willing to break public harmony over liturgy and hymnody should be asked what they hope to gain by doing so, or how the Western liturgy and the hymnody approved by the church in our place and time is “sin” or “great inconvenience.” They need to be told that they are breaking the unity of Synod and that is wrong regardless of why they are doing it.

    Lenten Blessings+,
    -Matt Mills

  5. @helen #41
    “to use only doctrinally approved hymnals and worship materials.”

    @Pastor Tim Rossow #46
    “LCMS constitution that all members must use only synodically approved hymnals and resources”

    Be careful about your wording because our constitution and subsequent resolutions in several places actually says “doctrinally pure” materials are required. The only time “synodically approved” is used is after the word, “encouraged.”

  6. @mbw #36

    From Ecclesiastes 3: “To everything there is a season … a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance ….”

  7. @Rev. McCall #49
    Back in the time of Luther many people complained hard that Luther still used Roman Catholic hymns and kept the mass.

    As I understand the times, Pr. McCall, there were mainly Latin hymns, sung by the choir… monks or school boys. German hymns were written to get the congregation more involved in the service. What other music would Luther have used before those hymns were written?
    [Wesley hadn’t arrived on the scene.] 8-^)

    Luther did keep the mass… read your BOC! What he eliminated were the “eucharistic prayers” offering Christ anew as a sacrifice. We don’t ‘sacrifice’ Christ in the mass. Christ died once for all. We receive His body and blood according to His words of institution.

    We sometimes forget that Luther never intended to be anything other than a catholic…a reformed Roman Catholic, but a catholic. 🙂
    We should remember that, instead of aping the [failing] exercises of the reformed descendents of Karlstadt, Zwingli and Calvin.

  8. @helen #59
    They were used by the Roman Catholic church and thus perceived by the people to be Roman Catholic. Like it or not perception is everything, just like most CoWo churches want to be perceived as non-Lutheran! I don’t think I ever said Luther didn’t keep the mass, what I was referring to was that he still called it mass. Some could argue that the same name could create confusion. If we also move just a little past Luther’s time to today, we also clearly see that not all if not most of our hymns are not Latin, but have Methodist, Baptist, and other origins.

    @Matthew Mills #52
    I use a children’s message because it involves the children in the worship service. Usually the children’s message is a 2 minute version of the actual sermon. I feel it helps them understand what is being said on Sunday because truly the sermon is written for more of an adult level of comprehension. What is gained with any variation in hymns even if we limit it to ones only found in our hymnal? To be somewhat crass, you can reasonably argue that all hymns have the same essential focus and point so why do we need to set it to a different tune and use slightly different wording? I would say because it A. still teaches us and B. sometimes changing words slightly or singing to a different tune forces us to focus on what we are saying rather than just going through the motions. So using a different hymn or tune that may not be in the hymnal but none-the-less be theologically correct can serve that same purpose.

    Here would be my main point that a very wise sem. prof once told us. Every battle you fight or feel you need to fight someday in the church should be looked at and asked of yourself, “Is this a hill worth dying for?” If my brother in Christ uses LSB 99% of the time, vests for worship, practices closed communion, and even chants, yet has a children’s message, is that children’s message really a hill worth dying for? Is that really a battle worth going to blows over? We need to ask ourselves how much “lutheran” is acceptable. As LutherLuver points out using synodically approved materials is “encouraged” not demanded. Doctrinally pure is the standard regardless or not if it finds its way into synodically approved hymnals. If it is not sinful and we are still in unity with 99% of our practice and more importantly, our message, why try to bind someones conscience over the man made law of a children’s message? In fact one would have to grasp at straws to try to “prove” that a children’s message is somehow doctrinally incorrect or anti-Lutheran. We are sinful human beings. We will never achieve 100% pure unity in this life. So can I live with a few non-LSB hymns once in a while? Yes. Can I live with a brother who has a children’s message? Yes. There are much bigger and more important hills to die for. God Bless!

  9. @Rev. McCall #61
    Dear Pastor,
    Did we invent children in the last half of the 20th Century? Were there no children in Augustine’s Hippo congregation, or Luther’s Wittenberg? Why didn’t they preach children’s sermons? Congregations love children’s sermons because they like to watch their cute kids squirm and say inappropriate things in the front of the church, not because they teach kids anything. The liturgy is the real pedagogical tool to teach the faith to our kids. The liturgy is the children’s sermon. It isn’t hard to see why the idea of a children’s sermon came from the heirs of the radical reformation. If this were something which you inherited, and were patiently and pastorally working to end, I wouldn’t be concerned in the least, but you seem to be a real fan. But none of this stuff is really my point.

    The real problem with your argument is your reversed perspective. I’m not the aggressor attacking the hill, you are. You are the innovator, adding to your church’s service on your own authority elements that have never been used before in Lutheran services, or in the entire 1,500 year sweep of pre-reformation church history. You are the one who is stubbornly saying “the children’s sermon is a hill for which I’m willing to die.” If, as you assert, this isn’t a big deal, then why are you breaking the public harmony of our synod over such a small point? And more importantly, why would you polish up the same argument that’s being used by the CoWo folks to do serious damage to our unity as a Synod. Once the standard is each individual pastor’s concept of doctrinal purity, we are in the jungle Pastor.

    It’s the same w/ the hymns. Anything in the hymnal has been evaluated by a group of Pastors and musicians chosen to review the material. Is the hymnal perfect? No, but in using it, you are putting yourself under the authority of the synod, rather than asserting your independent right to be the judge of all things. It’s not all about you, and I guess I don’t like the “thousands of autonomous roving motorcycle gangs” model of synod.
    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  10. @Matthew Mills #62
    You are so right, Matt Mills. And I agree with Helen, I appreciate your posts because you say what I would like to say, but so much better.

    This whole topic is a big deal to me. I was raised in the ALC. I was a dropped-off child, meaning, that from about the age of 5 my mother stopped sitting in church with me, and dropped me off instead. I was dropped off before Sunday School, and picked up after church. My church was moderate, doctrinally. The lessons I learned from my Sunday School teachers, and the sermons I heard from my pastors were not always good doctrine. In fact, looking back, I think they often were not. BUT, I was still raised in the Faith. The Faith was faithfully taught to me by the Liturgy. Despite my ALC church being moderate in doctrine, they were faithful in the use of the historic liturgy, and through that timeless vehicle, I heard God’s word, and faith took hold and grew. I was a dropped-off child, but thankfully my mom faithfully dropped me off, meaning, I was in church every Sunday of my life. I was still very small when I had the entire liturgy memorized and I could practically get through any service without holding a hymnal. Since the bulletin only listed page numbers, I didn’t need to hold that either. I can not tell you how freeing that was to be 100% connected each Sunday, worshipping God, and then when I was old confirmed, also receiving His Holy Supper. That was the one stable, constant thing I had in my pretty rocky life. I could count on it. I didn’t have to wonder from Sunday to Sunday what to expect, or what I would encounter. I knew God would meet me at the door in His Liturgy. In my earliest memories of sermons, I was still quite young, but believe me, I understood quite a lot of what our pastor said. Obviously as I grew older, I understood more and more. We underestimate children. They will rise to what we expect of them.

    Since my childhood I have lived in many places. Many of those places had no faithful Lutheran churches in them, so I have been subjected to about every variety of CoWo service there is, both within the Lutheran church and without. After about 16 years of that wilderness wandering, and just about dead spiritually, we moved to Houston where I am a member of Memorial Lutheran Church. I thank our Lord every day for a church whose pastors care about the details of liturgy, who faithfully consider every action within the liturgy and try to choose what is best and most faithful in light of all who have gone before us, and who will come after us. I pray for the unity of the Church. And my heart is grieved that our own synod is so deeply divided that I do not think I will live to see the day when we walk together again.

  11. @Rev. McCall #61
    @helen #59
    They [hymns] were used by the Roman Catholic church and thus perceived by the people to be Roman Catholic.

    Please explain because I’m not understanding it. Who are “the people” who complained about the music used by Luther? Someone actually following Luther? Karlstadt and the Enthusiasts?
    (Point me to a source on this.)

    We probably have to move considerably “past Luther’s time” … my understanding is that we adopted a lot of English hymns when we changed to an English hymnal and an English (Anglican) common service. And we lost a lot of good German and Scandinavian hymns in the process.)

    You should be pleased with the “modern” LSB, it’s got more of one contemporary author’s hymns than it has of Luther’s considerable output!

  12. @Matthew Mills #62
    You seem to know a lot about children’s sermons. I can tell you that the parents of the children who come up for our children’s sermons like them because the kids learn something. I have even had parents share with me what their child repeated later that day or week from what they remembered from Sunday’s children’s message. So please don’t make blanket statements or generalizations about things that just aren’t true. You also are using an inordinate amount of history to back your point up. Historically as well churches actually ushered out all the non-confirmed and non-members from the actual service after the sermon before they began the service of the sacrament. Should all churches be working towards that end as well simply because it is historical? Historically pastors always wore cassocks and not clerical collars. Should we all be working to rid ourselves of clericals and return to cassocks because it is historical? History is important but it is not the end all be all and final word in the church. The Scriptures are. So show me where Scripture says a children’s message is wrong and we can talk. Show me where the confessions say a children’s message is wrong and we can talk. If you remember synod published a whole series of synodically approved children’s messages called, “Object Lessons” by Edward Grube. They are what I use. So even though I am using synodically printed children’s messages because it is not in the hymnal it’s wrong? Come on. You have no credibility or standing for your argument here. No one is in the jungle because they use a children’s message. I’m sorry Matt, but you are trying to bind my conscience to something that is neither commanded nor forbidden by the Scripture. It’s only a hill to die for in your opinion of my practice because I am not willing to submit myself to your desire to turn adiaphora into law. You are turning Christian freedom into man made law and for that hill, I will die. A children’s message is not a matter of doctrinal purity as you say. Please tell me what doctrinal purity is being soiled by the practice of having a children’s message? The reality is this Matt, if you want the sort of unity you seem to so desire you’re going to end up finding that the only satisfactory answer is to become a synod of one.

  13. @helen #64
    This was the movement that spun off the Reformation. Yes Karlstadt would be one of those, but it certainly was not limited to him. Many of the common people in that time as well followed karlstadt and others and bought into the idea that if Rome did it it was wrong. The cry was to remove all things from the liturgy and the church that had any reminder or connection to Roman Catholicism, even if they really and truly belonged to the church catholic. New liturgy, new hymns, all of it were seen as necessary to totally break with any perceived connection to Rome. If you want specific pages from any of my history books from the period I will be happy to give you them, but I still know people like this today. They will not make the sign of the cross or go to Ash Wednesday Service because it’s “Roman Catholic and not Lutheran”.
    From “The Protestant Reformation” by Lewis Spitz, page 102, “Signs of strain within the Protestant camp appeared early with the Wittenberg movement while Luther was still in Wartburg. In matters of church rites and external practices, Luther followed a sensible principle that whatever was good, useful, or beautiful in ceremony, art, and architecture should be preserved unless it was forbidden by the Scriptures. More radical spirits condemned anything and everything that was not specifically commanded by Scripture.”
    Will that suffice or should I quote further?

  14. @Rev. McCall #65
    My concern here is that you understand what I am, and am not saying Pastor. I can’t make you agree w/ me, but I do want you to clearly see the points I am making, and we seem to be talking (writing) past one another.

    I fear that it is your approach that has already led us to the “Synod of one” syndrome Pastor. You’re the one insisting on the right to add to or delete from our Synod’s published practices anything which the Bible neither commands nor forbids. You have become the sole arbiter of doctrinal purity and salutary praxis w/in the four walls of your church: in effect, a synod of one. In your case the result might just be a 2-minute speed bump in the church’s liturgy, or a discordant hymn every so often, but the exact same approach and argument has led to the crap being served up at “Lakepointe,” “the Alley,” and to a lesser degree nearly every church w/in an hours drive of my home. As a result of that very line of reasoning, there is no unity of practice left in our synod.

    Adiaphora as license has never been the Lutheran position. It IS wrong to say that universal traditions are required for justification, (and I don’t say that) it is also wrong to bind consciences on things the Bible neither commands nor forbids, (and again, I’m not trying to do that either) BUT in order to cherish harmony, avoid offense and protect the true doctrine of the Gospel, Lutherans HAVE bound themselves to controlling their liberty, and without a reasonable cause changing NOTHING in customary rites that can be observed without sin or great inconvenience. How far did Luther take this unity of practice idea in his day? Read his piece on the elevation of he host. He listed numerous reasons to elevate and numerous reasons not to elevate. He said that it was not something on which consciences could or should be bound, and then he ended by saying that whatever they decided as a group of pastors in their geographical area (Bohemia if memory serves) they should do it the same way in ALL of their churches to avoid confusion and offense. That’s what it means to be absolutely free, servant to none, and absolutely bound, a slave to all. That’s our Lutheran model, not a Burger King “have it your way” approach to worship.

    Though I fear it’s going to be the only part of this you read, here’s what my pastor did w/ the children’s sermon he inherited: he moved it to the Sunday school opening. After church he goes, still vested, down to the Sunday school room, and opens the Sunday school w/ prayer and a short children’s message.

    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  15. We do a Sunday school opening as well that I lead as well. The kids have their own little “bulletin” with pictures to help them learn how to make the sign of the cross, we say Luther’s morning prayer, the older kids read from the Bible, and we close with the Lord’s Prayer. All to prepare and introduce them to the liturgy and teachings of the church. We may indeed be talking past one another. I’m trying to understand why a children’s message is all of a sudden on par with “The Alley”? We use doctrinally approved, CPH published materials, and your complaint is that it is not listed in the order of worship in LSB? I don’t think I’m ever going to understand that. Synod clearly publishes children’s message materials for what reason then? To promote disunity? If I call CPH or my District President and get permission to insert a children’s message does that suddenly make it OK? If we are practicing such disunity, feel free to bring both myself and my congregation up on charges with my DP. I can already tell you though what he and most other rational people will say.

  16. @Rev. McCall #66
    Will that suffice or should I quote further?

    No, that will do. I’m a Lutheran and I agree with Luther’s take on liturgy, vestments, art and church furnishings. That the enthusiasts [then and now] did/do not approve of Lutheran practice is really no concern of mine, if they will keep their ideas out of my Lutheran church. [Why do you quote them, as if they mattered?]

    (With LINO’s inviting willowcreek and saddleback in, we do have a problem! But the problem is unorthodox, not Lutheran, practice.)

    You did not, till very late in the game, explain your children’s message. If it is a teaching moment, carry on, (although I’m glad we don’t have one).
    Those of us who have endured circuses with balloons, candy, other toys and no discernible message have not been amused.

    [My current Pastors do invite the children to the front at baptisms so they can see what is happening. The children are generally well behaved and supervised if small.]

    [A “left field” remark, but I am thankful that in this season we are doing DS III and omitting that chat session mid way aka “passing the peace”.]

  17. Interesting how far we’ve gotten from the stated topic!
    People really don’t want to think/talk about the only certain thing in life:
    it ends.

    We are advised to prepare wills, but we don’t think as much about preparing ourselves.

  18. @helen #69
    Passing the peace! Yikes! We don’t do that either and I do not want to start! Thanks for bringing us around to the topic again Helen.
    I only quote those folks so we don’t find ourselves in the same situation. I have had too many Lutherans in the past tell me the same sort of thing. “Even though the sign of the cross might be OK, I won’t do it because it looks too Roman Catholic/is a Roman Catholic ritual.” If our only reason at times to not consider something (music, liturgical art, paraments, whatever) is because it has a connection in some way to some other denomination, we may be tossing out something worthwhile that has real value.
    Back to the main point, at a recent funeral we sang “Lord, Take My Hand and Lead Me.” (LSB 722) It had been the deceased’s confirmation hymn, we had sung it in church often, and she even sang it to me in German on her death bed. We sang it as well at her funeral with generations of all ages joining in singing it in both German and English. What a wonderful continuity of hymnody throughout her life and the comfort of Christ that it brought to her. I fully agree, most CoWo songs just can’t do that.

  19. I have never read a more pastoral and thought-provoking post regarding the problems of CoWo – absolutely outstanding!

  20. This is perhaps a little off topic, but what effect might the fall into non-use of the hymnal be an influence on pastors feeling free to “tweak” the liturgy to suit their fancies? By that I mean that many pastors probably start off using the order of worship word by word in their ten page printed bulletins, but then see that perhaps a “better way” of saying something should be inserted here and there. After all, just a word or two, or just a better common prayer won’t hurt – right?
    Perhaps our congregational, as well as synodical leaders should be encouraging hymnal use rather than wasting ink and paper? Like a Bible, I think a well worn hymnal is a blessing. I have had some passed down through generations and they are a treasure indeed. I don’t believe many bulletins will be considered a great inheritance though.

  21. @LadyL #75

    I had a high school teacher in a Lutheran high school who had served in the Army stateside during WWII (yes, I was in high school a LONG time ago). During his Army service he had to travel extensively throughout the U.S. One thing he said he found comforting in his travels was that no matter what LCMS congregation he went to the order of service was familiar–either Pg. 5 or 15 from TLH. Now that’s all gone. Visiting a congregation now is like the Forrest Gump “box of chocolates” quote: “You never know what you’re gonna get”.

    Just about every pastor is now a liturgical self-publisher–doing what’s right in his own mind for the Divine Service. So much for the definition of “synod” as “walking together”.

    Then there’s the other point that LadyL made (and that I’ve made previously) about the wastefulness of using ten-page booklets that get thrown away after every service.

    Yes, let’s return to the use of hymnals. I still have my black TLH hymnal with my name embossed that I was given as a Confirmation gift. I don’t think that many people give LSB’s as Confirmation gifts now. Hymnals are seen as a relic of a pre self-publishing age.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.