The Importance of The Small Catechism in 1580, 3 of 3

martin-luther-surrounded-by-his-familyWe conclude our look at how the Small Catechism was used in 1580; the year the Lutheran Book of Concord was published and adopted as the confession of what Scripture teaches.

Martin Luther’s Small Catechism is included in the Book of Concord as one of the Lutheran Confessions.

How did they use the Small Catechism?

The official Church Rules for the Electorate of Saxony (Kirchenordnung fuer Kursachsen) published in 1580 discusses the use of the Small Catechism in three different sections:

  • “Of the Catechism,”
  • “Of the Annual Examination of the Catechism Which Shall Be Held in the Lenten Season with the Young Servants,” and
  • “Of the Office of the Sacristan or Verger.”

The third of these three sections reads:


Of the Office of the Sacristan or Verger

Afterwards each sacristan shall be obliged on Sunday afternoons and also in the week, upon a certain day, to teach the children the Catechism and Christian German hymns of Dr. Luther and afterwards to examine them about the sections of the Catechism that were taught them. And where one or more congregations belong to the parish he shall alternate in such instruction under the direction of his pastor that the youth in all the villages may be instructed in the Catechism.


Found in:

Reu, M.

1929 Luther’s Small Catechism: A History of Its Origin, Its Distribution and Its Use. Wartburg Press, Chicago. Page159.

See also Luther’s Small Catechism and Lent from March of 2014

[I added paragraphing and typographic styles to make the text easier to read]

About Pastor Joseph Abrahamson

Pastor Joseph Abrahamson serves Faith Ev. Lutheran Church, Clara City, Minnesota (E.L.S.). He and his wife, Mary, have 10 children. Pastor Abrahamson is a graduate of Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary, and of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Department of Hebrew and Semitic Studies. He has served on the Faculty/Staff at Bethany Lutheran College teaching Religion, Linguistics, Archaeology, and Self-Defense; and was on Staff at the University of Wisconsin as an Information Processing Consultant (Computer Geek) while doing graduate work in Semitics. Pastor Abrahamson served Clearwater Lutheran Parish (ELS) from 2001 to April 2015.


The Importance of The Small Catechism in 1580, 3 of 3 — 5 Comments

  1. Thank you, Pr. Abrahamson.

    This series has been a thought inspiring refresher. Perhaps it would be good to suggest to Synod, that we adopt some of these more aggressive uses of the Small Catechism Synod-wide…

  2. Do you think it would help if it were passed with what Reu reports:
    “The parents and masters who did not send their children and servants to the sermon and examination had in the electorate of Saxony to deposit six groschen [6 silver coins] in the gotteskasten [an offering box] as a fine.” (Reu, p. 165)

  3. Luther im Kreise seiner Familie musizierend
    Luther Making Music in the Circle of His Family
    painted by Gustav Spangenberg (1875)

    Artwork copyright
    PUBLIC DOMAIN: This artwork is in the public domain (not copyrighted) because all artworks by Gustav Spangenberg are in the public domain.
    Artist copyright
    PUBLIC DOMAIN: This person died over 70 years ago (in 1891).

  4. @Joe Abrahamson #2

    HA!! A Synodically imposed fine for failure to catechize (or fulfill the baptismal oaths taken when they brought their children forward for Holy Baptism.) That would certainly get attention…


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