Welcome to Saturday Book Review time! On most of the Saturdays this year we’re looking at a liturgy-related book noting (as applicable) its accessibility, devotional usefulness, and reference value. Or, how easy it is to read, the prayer life it engenders, and how much it can teach you.
It’s been a couple weeks but we left off with a couple non-Anglican liturgical books, and today we’re picking that trend back up again with The Lutheran Service Book (2006), which is basically the official liturgical text for the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS).
This book is basically a Prayer Book and Hymnal in one, which is super handy. What’s strange about it, from an Anglican perspective, is the ordering of its contents.
Church Year, Sunday & Holy Day lectionaries, Dates of Easter, Glossary, instructions for chanting psalms
Most of this makes sense to us, the only oddity is that the Sunday / Holy Day lectionaries are placed up front with the calendar – historically that’s where we would have the Daily Office Lectionary, though the 2019 BCP has all its lectionaries toward the back instead.
Interestingly, this book includes two choices for the Calendar and Sunday lectionary: one is their version of the 3-year Revised Common Lectionary (essentially the same as ours, only minor differences), and the other is the traditional one-year calendar and lectionary (essentially the same as in the classical Prayer Books). Although I’m not surprised the 2019 Prayer Book didn’t provide both calendar & lectionary options, I kind of wish it had.
The chanting instructions make sense here because the first primary section of this book is:
Yes, all 150 are here, and they’re even pointed for chant! For example, from Psalm 15:
O Lord, who shall sojourn | in your tent? *
Who shall dwell on your | holy hill?
He who walks blamelessly and does | what is right *
and speaks truth | in his heart.
So that’s pretty useful. The chant style is very similar to Simplified Anglican Chant, which is great. Functionally it’s strange that the psalter should be put first like this: this means that you “have to know” where the right worship service starts in the book, increasing the necessary page-flipping. But in another sense, giving the Psalms place of preference is a theological statement: this is where our worship begins. Virtually every worship service in the liturgical tradition utilizes the psalms, and biblically they are our greatest model for faithful prayer.
The Divine Service
The next nearly-60 pages are taken up with five “Settings” of the Divine Service, or Holy Communion. “They have five different eucharistic texts!?” you ask. Yes. But they are all extremely similar to one another.
The primary difference between the order of service here and in the 2019 Prayer Book is that this starts with a confession and absolution, rather than placing it after the Prayers of the People. Setting One’s confession prayer in particular is clearly based upon our confession in the Daily Office. For the Creed, both the Nicene and Apostles’ are offered. Two sequences of Communion Prayers are typically offered, one placing the Words of Institution before the Lord’s Prayer, and the other after. In general, the style and wording of the prayers – particularly the Communion prayers – progress from traditional to contemporary as you look through from Setting One to Setting Five; the last of which sounds the most like the 1979 Prayer Book.
Another fascinating, and consistent, feature of the Lutheran liturgy is the use of the Canticle Nunc dimittis as a Post-Communion praise, just like how the classical Prayer Books employed the Gloria in excelsis. This has prompted and encouraged me to explore different Canticle options after the administration of Holy Communion in my own church’s worship services, rather than always simply employing a Communion Hymn.
Another curiosity, perhaps marking the most obvious distinction between the five Settings, is the music. Settings One through Four each have a particular collection of Service Music printed right into them. This is useful for those who desire to use them, though a bit odd from my observing perspective, as it ties you to particular combinations of musical settings with the variations of prayers. I assume it’s permissible for them to mix and match text and music, but it just seems an odd way of printing it. Whateverso, the range of styles are interesting: different forms of chant (some like plainchant, some like Anglican Chant, including the Old Scottish Chant of the Gloria in Setting Three). Setting Five has no music printed in it, though, preferring the simplicity of spoken liturgy, and indicating a few hymns to sing in place of the standard Kyrie and Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus Dei.
The Daily Offices
Where the Daily Offices hold pride of place in Anglican Prayer Books, the Lutheran Service Book starts them on page 219, after the Communion settings. These, too, include musical settings of various Canticles and Psalms right in the text, as well as other chanted parts for the dialogues and blessings and whatnot. Five Offices are provided: Matins, Vespers, Morning Prayer, Evening Payer, and Compline. Again this is a “huh?” moment for Anglicans, as Matins & Vespers are the Morning & Evening Offices.
As it turns out, Matins and Morning Prayer are very similar in this book, containing largely the same elements. Like the Communion Settings, the music and chant is the most obvious difference between the two, Matins is the most like the Prayer Books’ Morning Prayer; the Morning Prayer in this book lacks the Te Deum and rearranges the prayers after the Canticle.
None of these offices include Confessions or the Apostles’ Creed, which is another difference between this book and our tradition.
Vespers and Evening Prayer are similar to one another, but start markedly different: Vespers more resembling the Prayer Book tradition, and Evening Prayer starting off with that curious “Service of Lights” thing in the 1979 Prayer Book.
Compline is very similar to as it is found in modern Anglican Prayer Books. I assume, since it was not taken up in most Protestant liturgical books during the Reformation, that it saw the least amount of editing and change in unofficial use, such that when it started to reappear in the late 20th century it had undergone the least amount of denominational divergence.
Other Services and Resources
From here the book includes a collection of other liturgies that a Prayer Book would be expected to have: Holy Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Matrimony, Funeral Service, Responsive Prayers, a Litany, Corporate and Private Confessions & Absolution, Daily Prayer for Families, a Daily Lectionary, table of Psalms for the Offices (though not covering the whole psalter or the whole year), Occasional Prayers, the Athanasian Creed, and Luther’s Small Catechism. All this is comparable to what one would expect in an Anglican Prayer Book, and much of its contents are recognizably similar to our own.
The first “Other Service”, however, does not have an Anglican counterpart (unless you delve into England’s controversial Common Worship). It’s called Service of Prayer and Preaching, and it seems to be a what-to-do-on-a-Sunday-morning-when-the-ordained-minister-is-away sort of service. Opening Verses, an Old Testament Canticle (known to us as #8 Ecce Deus), Scripture readings, dialogued responses, a congregational reading from part of the catechism, Sermon or Catechetical Instruction, (Offertory) Hymn, several Prayers, a New Testament Canticle (known to us as the Pascha Nostrum), and a closing Blessing.
636 hymns follow, arranged by Church Season, Person & Work of Christ, the Christian Church, the Christian Life, other Times and Seasons, additional Service Music, and National Songs. Naturally there are quite a lot more German Chorales here than in a typical Anglican hymnal (though the 2017 hymnal has quite a few!), and several hymns well-known to us with different arrangements – occasionally entirely different tune settings. For example Here, O my Lord, I see Thee face to face is set to FARLEY CASTLE instead of PENITENTIA, and At the Lamb’s high feast we sing is set to SONNE DER GERECHTIGKEIT instead of SALZBURG (ALLE MENSCHEN).
The ratings in short:
Page-flipping within a particular worship service (especially the Sunday Communion) is minimal. The main challenge is making sure you know what service you’re actually doing (five Communion rites, remember). If you’re trying to use this for the Daily Office then things are rather more complex as you have to hunt for the lectionary and psalms with rather more vigor than a typical Anglican Prayer Book.
Devotional Usefulness: 3/5
This book is not the sum total the LCMS expression of Lutheran worship, but all the basics are here. As Anglicans we could use this book and find a faithful approximation of our own liturgical tradition. The Communion Prayers are all significantly shorter than ours (even shorter than what’s in the 1662 Prayer Book), but on the whole theologically compatible with ours. The lack of clarity regarding daily psalmody would be a loss, however. This book also has a nice collection of hymns that could supplement our own hymnals. And to be fair, if I was a Lutheran, I’d rate this as either a 4 or a 5, depending upon what I’d thereby know of the historic liturgies before this book.
Reference Value: 2/5
It’s hard to rate this score. For most of us, we have no reason to pick up the liturgical text of a different tradition, even one so closely-related as the Lutherans. The similarities of English-language Lutheran worship with Prayer Book worship also makes it clear that they have taken several queues from us. As such, this Lutheran Service Book is probably best understood as an expression of historic Lutheran worship using the Anglican Prayer Book as a useful filter from time to time. If you really want to explore historic Lutheran liturgy, you probably have to pick up the Book of Concord or something to that effect. But I haven’t done that yet.