Anglicans Gone Wild! A Radical Gospel AND Bondage of the Will!

Martin_Luther_zum_Reichstag_in_WormsThe gang of happy Anglicans over at the Mockingbird blog are getting very Lutheran — or perhaps they always were.  A book blog they’re featuring is loaded with Lutheran classics.

The theological cogitations of Paul Zahl are also referenced on the blog. To read Zahl’s open and concise theological works is to encounter a serious Lutheran law/grace distinction – comingling with a thoroughly Zwinglian ecclesiology and sacramental theology. (Ah the edifying the discussions I used to have with former FIRST THINGS junior fellow Jordan Hylden on this subject — he an Anglican and a friend of one of the young Zahls.)

Now would someone please start a blog campaigning for Setting Three as the default liturgy of the Divine Service in the LCMS? I attended an LCMS church in another state this past weekend, anticipating the old TLH service I had grown up with, only to discover that they had switched to Setting I — which is the prevalent liturgy in the churches here in New York — that is, among those churches that bother with the liturgy at all.

With all due respect to those who deserve all due respect, I find settings I and II to be flat, uninspiring, dissonant, and boring. It’s as if a suicidal podiatrist had been asked to write an anthem for the next foot convention. None of it even rises to the level of authentic chant but sounds more like the congregation is reading a Chinese menu. In Chinese. At a funeral.

Setting III, however, has those rousing and inspiring hymns of praise: from the Introit to the Gloria and Sanctus, with the beautiful and moving preface to the Distribution, the Agnus Dei. 

I’ve never been able to experience Setting V, which is described on the LCMS website as a fleshing out of Setting III and is “based on Luther’s German Mass of 1526, in which parts of the liturgy for Holy Communion are replaced with hymns by hymns (metrical paraphrases).”

Why do people insist on monkeying with what’s already perfect? Whatever happened to Order of Matins and Order of Holy Communion — and that’s that. The lectionary readings and the sermons will change from week to week, obviously, but why can’t even the confessional Lutherans just leave well enough alone? I am subjected to enough change and choice once I’m outside the church doors, honestly. I want to know that SOME THINGS never change.

Forgot to HT TMH over at BHT.

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9 thoughts on “Anglicans Gone Wild! A Radical Gospel AND Bondage of the Will!

    • Both, if I’m not mistaken. The church I attended Sunday had the new, cranberry, Lutheran Service Book. But most of the churches I attend here in NY use the LBW.
      Here’s a link to the service I’m talking about.
      Granted, it is not identical to the service found in the old, 1941 Lutheran Hymnal — but it’s close enough.
      One of the reasons the old hymnal was chucked was that it still employed the KJV. The LSB uses the ESV, although the church I attended had the NRSV in the pew — which was annoying. Pick a translation and stick with it, please! And what was wrong with the old RSV — has textual criticism made that many breakthroughs?!

  1. Setting IV is a poor stepchild–a wannabe. I can’t help thinking it was given a place on the liturgical menu as a bone thrown to an entrenched anti-chanter, but without abandoning liturgy altogether.
    The Gloria Patri concluding the Nunc Dimittis of Setting III is what a conclusion to Divine Service ought to be. Heaven is here, and we are in it, and it’s utter peace.
    Visit our congregation in Mississippi on Reformation Sunday for Setting V. You’d be most welcome. This setting’s hymns-as-liturgy format does what IV only dreams of doing.

  2. Come see us in Southern AZ some time. Our itty bitty congregation in Bisbee–Hope Church–uses setting three faithfully, though I can’t say we make a joyful noise. We use setting five now and then too, but our creaky voices aren’t up to some of the more robust hymns, and we try some tactful changes.
    How do you get nice pictures like the one on this post? Do you buy a service? I’ve been looking for some place on the web that makes them available, but I can’t find any.

  3. The ESV is a conservative adaptation of the RSV. My understanding is that the original RSV is no longer published, and the copyright holders will no longer allow anyone to publish it.
    In regard to Shelia’s request for context, Setting Three in the cranberry book (Lutheran Service Book)is a revision of page 15 of the Lutheran Hymnal. Lutheran Worship (the blue book) made a dog’s dinner of it as Setting One (the cynic in me said they did it so that people would move to the other services),. LBW (the green hymnal) had no equivalent to this at all, nor even to the orders from the Service Book and Hymnal (the LCA/ALC red hymnal).

    Hope this helps!

  4. As an organist, I really don’t like playing setting III. It can drone/drag and I have to be very, very firm in my playing of this setting. Mixtures and reeds also help…. Setting I should not be “flat, unispiring, dissonant and boring” if your organist is playing it properly. The registrations should be changed for each part, not left the same and sounding like a theme song for a children’s show. (That goes for all the settings!) My Sanctus is floor shaking (seriously, the sub-woofer is behind the altar and I use a few 32′s and a 64′ pipe in the pedal!), as we ARE singing with “the angels, archangels and all the company of heaven…”. But my Kryie and Agnus Dei are much softer as they are more contemplative. At the other church for which I play, they also have used setting III, IV, Matins, Vespers, Morning prayer and the Service of Pray and Preaching. They all have their merits. The Te Deum in the Matins is quite lovely. David Cherwin wrote some excellent settings for some of the liturgies and I would encourge organists/churches to invest in these. Really. Our liturgies are wonderful and rich in theology and should be properly played. Nothing is more disappointing when I attend church on the rare Sunday I have off and no thought or care is put into the liturgy or the hymns.

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