Monday, December 04, 2006

Advent IV and Christmas Eve

This year The Vigil of the Nativity of Our Lord (Christmas Eve) falls on the Fourth Sunday of Advent. Since these two days concur, the historic rubrics direct that the Mass of Christmas Eve is celebrated and Sunday is commemorated by adding the Collect for Advent IV after the Collect for Christmas Eve.

Roman and Anglican sources provide the following:

This Mass is celebrated in Violet vestments and the Gloria in Excelsis is not sung.

Introit: Exodus 16. Psalm 24.
Today you shall know that the Lord will come and deliver you: and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord. Ps. The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. Glory be to the Father....

Collect: (From TLH, Other Collects for the Season of Advent)
O God, who dost gladden us with the early (yearly) anticipation of our redemption, grant that we who now joyfully receive Thine only-begotten Son as our Redeemer may also behold Him without fear when He cometh as our Judge; who liveth, etc.

The Collect for Advent IV is then said to commemorate the Sunday.

Epistle: Romans 1:1-6

Gradual: (Exodus 16)
Today ye shall know that the Lord will come and deliver you: and in the morning ye shall see the glory of the Lord. Ps. 80 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel: Thou that leadest Joseph like a flock: thou that dwellest between the cherubim, shine forth before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh.

Alleluia, alleluia. Tomorrow the iniquity of the earth shall be done away: and the Savior of the world shall reign over us. Alleluia.

Gospel: St. Matthew 1:18-21

Lamentably, Lutheran service books do not include propers for a Mass on Christmas Eve. Even the listings of Epistles and Gospels for Sundays and various Feasts found in early twentieth century German Bibles do not include Christmas Eve. I do not know if the LSB has corrected this omission.

The Great O Antiphons

The greater antiphons at the Magnificat are begun on December 17,
and are said , each on its day, until the day before the vigil of Christmas. If
a feast is celebrated, they are said after the collect of the feast, for a
commemoration of Advent.

These antiphons are best known in the form of the hymn Veni Immanuel. Lutheran Worship, hymn 31, includes all seven of theseversified antiphons.They can be found in English
and in verse form at the Lexrandi web site.

December 17
O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem, fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia: veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.

December 18
O Adonai, et Dux domus Israel, qui Moysi in igne flammae furi apparuisti, et ei in Sina legem dedisti: veni ad redimendum nos in bracchio extendo.

December 19
O radix Iesse, qui stas in signum populorum, super quem continebunt reges os suum, quem gentes deprecabuntur: veni ad liberandum nos, iam noli tardare.

December 20
O clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israel; qui aperis, et nemo claudit; claudis, et nemo aperit: veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris, sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

December 21
O Oriens, speldor lucis aeternae, et sol iustitae: veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et in umbra mortis.

December 22
O Rex gentium, et desideratus earum, lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum: veni, et salva hominem, quem de limo formasti.

December 23
O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster, exspectatio gentium, et Salvator earum: veni ad salvandum nos, Domine Deus noster.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

LSB Calendar

I am beginning to understand the sentiment of the author quoted in my first post where it was suggested that "Lutheranism has no actual lex orandi (all in the name of "liberty," of course)."

Many have sung the praises of the newly released Lutheran Service Book. Others have been less kind in their comments. I have followed the development of the LSB; but I have not yet formed a definitive opinion of it.

Traditionalist that I am, the first thing that I look at is the calendar. There is nothing unexpected in the LSB as far as the Sundays and Seasons are concerned, unless you want to quibble about Sundays of or after Easter. I am more interested in the Feasts, Festivals and Commemorations listed in the calendar.

The LSB enumerates 35 Feasts and Festivals; the titles, in several cases, having been modified from their traditional forms:

March 19, "St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary," is now captioned "Joseph, Guardian of Jesus." Was Joseph, as the spouse of the BVM, not de facto the guardian of Our Lord?

The Visitation, historically (and in the 1 year Lectionary) falls on July 2. The 3 year Lectionary moves it to May 31. Why should the version of the Lectionary take precedence over the traditional date of this feast?

August 29 has traditionally been titled "The Beheading of John the Baptist." Have we become so squeamish that "Martyrdom" must be used to sanitize "Beheading"?

October 23, "St. James of Jerusalem, Brother of Jesus and Martyr," is assigned an individual commemoration in addition to being traditionally paired with St. Philip on May 1. Why?

When LSB lists Commemorations; I have even more questions.

Historically, the Western (Latin) Rite commemorates saints of the Old Testament only by exception; and then, usually only in particular calendars of religious orders. The primary exception to this rule is the commemoration in the universal calendar of the Holy Machabees, Martyrs, on August 1.

Understanding that it is beneficial to remember the saints, the LSB presents a mixed message. In the listing of Feasts and Festivals, the saints celebrated are accorded the title of "St." before their names. This honorific is omitted in the listing of Commemorations of those whom the Church has always recognized as saints. Then, too, the LSB does not place 19 commemorations on their traditional dates; and in three cases combines several saints, each of whom have their own assigned date in the historic calendar, into one unified commemoration.

With the exception of Fr. Martin Luther, fittingly commemorated on February 18; it would seem more appropriate to commemorate all of the Reformation fathers collectively on the Festival of the Reformation.

But what I find to the most curious is the inclusion of Emperors (Christian Rulers), Artists, Kantors, Father Confessors, Ecumenical Councils, latter day Pastors, Faithful Women and others not commonly commemorated. With "so great a cloud of witnesses," why is there a need to improve upon the wisdom of the past?

Monday, November 06, 2006

A Clarification

In my introductory post, I expressed my disagreement with the excerpt I quoted from "Optional Orandi." I neglected, however, to clarify the nature of my disagreement.

"Lutheranism has a lex credendi (rule of faith) (Book of Concord) but no lex orandi (rule of prayer)."

There is no disagreement here; because we do not have a pan-Lutheran document such as the Book of Common Prayer or the Roman Missal to codify our rite. The AC XXIV clearly states that we (Lutherans) have retained the Mass and nearly all the usual ceremonies.

The primary cause of my disagreement lies in the following:

Anonymous [the first] suggests that Lutheranism has no defined lex orandi, because there is no definitive Liturgy. Anonymous [the second] states that Lutheranism fails to dogmatically define its rule of worship in the way of a received "holy tradition."

A reader of the introductory post reminded me that "While we do have Article XXIV, we do not have a more clearly defined rule of worship. This is not to blame the Confessions, however, as there was no real controversy as to this question in its day. AC XXIV would seem to prescribe the need for more definition in our day."

I fully agree with this understanding; but the lack of a dogmatically defined rule does not indicate that Lutheranism lacks a Liturgy " the way of a received 'holy tradition'."

I am not familiar with many non-American Lutheran service books; but the evidence from American service books would contradict this opinion. In all cases, the Mass/Holy Communion liturgy follows pattern of the historic Western Rite. The Sunday propers, except for a few minor adjustments, are the same as those of the Roman Rite.

Then there are those who fault Lutheranism for not including (or rejecting) a Eucharistic Prayer. In this context Eucharistic Prayer and Roman Canon are usually synonymous. If one contends that "received holy tradition" is something that has been handed down from apostolic times, the Eucharistic Prayer does not fall under this heading. The Roman Canon originated in the fourth century, and has remained basically unchanged since the eighth century. Thus it does not seem to be apostolic in origin.

It could possibly be argued that a Eucharistic Prayer should be viewed as ceremonial in nature. The Confessions state that "Nearly all the usual ceremonies are also preserved,..." Ceremonies are not required; but "ceremonies are needed to this end alone that the unlearned be taught [what they need to know of Christ]."

When the remarks of the Anonymous member of the Commission on Worship, LCMS, are added to the those above; the view that "AC XXIV would seem to prescribe the need for more definition in our day" is a remarkable understatement.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Article XXIV: Of the Mass.
"Falsely are our churches accused of abolishing the Mass; for the Mass is retained among us, and celebrated with the highest reverence. Nearly all the usual ceremonies are also preserved, save that the parts sung in Latin are interspersed here and there with German hymns, which have been added to teach the people. For ceremonies are needed to this end alone that the unlearned be taught [what they need to know of Christ]." (Augsburg Confession, Article XXIV: Of the Mass)

"Optional Orandi begets Proscribed Credendi"
excerpted from - 17 June 2006

"Lutheranism has a lex credendi (rule of faith) but no lex orandi (rule of prayer). Anglicanism has a lex orandi (Book of Common Prayer), but no lex credendi (anything goes, doctrinally speaking). Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism have both a lex credendi (Tradition) and a lex orandi (the Liturgy). Lutheranism has a great lex credendi (Book of Concord) but no actual lex orandi (all in the name of "liberty," of course)." (Anonymous)

"The liturgical and practical instability of Lutheranism flows out its reticence to define dogmatically its rule of worship in the way of a received "holy tradition." This is why Lutheran practice frequently comes unbuckled from Lutheran doctrine. It relies on paper subscription to a book without practical adherence [sic] to any liturgical or practical norms." (Anonymous)

"[We] will not talk much about traditional worship, but a diversity of worship approaches and styles. We want to help the church define what worship is in general, to help people discover what is Lutheran about worship. And, to that end, we want to identify material that will lead us to that." (Anonymous member of the Commission on Worship, LCMS)

"Which is all a lengthy way of amending yet another lex coined by a former vicar of Zion: 'Where historic liturgy is optional, historic faith will sooner or later be proscribed.'"

* * * * *

"Legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi." A pope in the fifth century, in the course of a famous controversy, pronounced these words which have been regarded, ever since, as an axiom of theology: "Let the law of prayer fix the law of faith". In other words, the liturgy of the Church is a sure guide to her teaching.

As the author of, a liturgical web site, first published in June of 2000, I chose the name based upon this quote. It has always been understood in the Church that you preserve the rite which you have received from those who preceded you. This is the standard that has been accepted in the Church since the days of the apostles. If you are truly a Confessional Lutheran, you are obliged to acknowledge that the Mass is the act of public worship that defines the Church.

As is obvious from the quotation from a member of the Commission on Worship, Lutherans are content and determined to be counted among the hordes of Protestants. What other option do you have when you "will not talk much about traditional worship, but a diversity of worship approaches and styles?" This "diversity of worship approaches" most certainly includes everything but the celebration of the Mass as it has been delivered to us.

The Church Growth movement, if not the opening volley against the preservation of the historic liturgy, ushered in the idea that you needed to entertain the congregation with a different "dog and pony show" every Sunday if you wanted to keep the seats filled. Now we are using, if not encouraging, praise bands and a casual, flexible order of service in place of the Divine Service that is expected of us in the Confession.

The purpose of this blog is to present, and to encourage discussion about, the historic liturgy of the Augustana Rite of the Western Church, its ceremonies and rubrics. This is the rite that we have received from the fathers of the Reformation. This is the rite to which we are bound by the Confessions. This is the Lex Orandi of the Lutheran church, a lack of which the author of the second paragraph above laments.

(It should be noted here that the author of this blog, especially in the light of Article XXIV of the Confession, does not fully agree with paragraphs 2 & 3 of this posting. The Confession itself establishes our Lex Orandi.)