The Lord is in His Holy Temple: Liturgy in The Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church, 1860-1928   10 comments


Above:  Gethsemane Lutheran Church, Austin, Texas, 1961

Image Created by the Historic American Buildings Survey

Image Source = Library of Congress


Reproduction Number = HABS TEX,227-AUST,7–3




We would gladly behold the day when the One, Holy, Catholic, Christian Church shall use one Order of Service, and unite in one Confession of Faith.

–From the Preface to the Common Service (1888); Quoted in Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church (1917), page 308


The Lord is in His holy temple:  His throne is in heaven.  The Lord is night unto them that are of an humble and contrite spirit.  He heareth the supplications of the penitent and inclineth to their prayers.  Let us therefore draw near with boldness unto His throne of grace and confess our sins.

The Hymnal and Order of Service (1925), page 587



In U.S. Lutheran Liturgy, Part I (, I wrote about the process which culminated in the unveiling of the Common Service in 1888.  I chose not to write about that liturgy because I had already entered twenty-four pages of writing from a composition book.  In U.S. Liturgy, Part II (, I focused on the Common Service.  In U.S. Liturgy, Part III (, I wrote about it in The United Lutheran Church in America (1918-1962) and The American Lutheran Church (1930-1060).   Now, in Part IV, I focus on The Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church (1860-1962).

I have been studying this material closely, trying to record information accurately as I have reviewed primary and secondary sources.  This has required a commitment of much time, for there are so many synods about which to read.  And, since I grew up United Methodist in southern Georgia, U.S.A., in the Baptist Belt, Lutherans were scarce, if present at all, when I was quite young.  My spiritual journey has taken me into The Episcopal Church.  Anglicanism and Lutheranism have many theological and liturgical similarities and considerable theological overlap, but my adopted vantage point is still one outside of Lutheranism.  If I have misstated anything, I can correct it.

The material is, by its nature, complicated.  I have tried to organize and format it for maximum ease of reading and learning, however.  So, without further ado, I invite you, O reader, to follow the proverbial bouncing balls with me.  Breaking up content into a series of posts should help in the process of digesting the material intelligently; that is my purpose and hope.



Many Scandinavians who had joined the Northern Illinois Synod, an affiliate of the General Synod, left in 1860.  They formed the body which, in time, called itself The Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church, the full name I will use for it from its beginning, abbreviating the name as “Augustana.”  Augustana merged into the Lutheran Church in America (LCA) in 1962.  The LCA, in turn, helped to form the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) in 1987.

Augustana liturgies were initially those of the Church of Sweden or adapted from them.  (There were Church of Sweden liturgies over time.)  Worship in Swedish continued as worship in English became more popular.  So, naturally, English-language liturgies were initially translations of Swedish-language ones.  The Hymnal for Churches and Sunday-Schools of the Augustana Synod (1899) ( offered forty-one pages of rituals–for Sunday School, morning worship, Holy Communion, and evening worship–based on Swedish liturgies.  Some of the content appeared again in the Sunday School Book Containing Liturgy and Hymns for the Sunday School (1903) (

The first official English-language Augustana hymnal to get to the pews was the Hymnal and Order of Service for Churches and Sunday-Schools (1901) (  This volume, intended to be an interim hymnal, lasted for twenty-four years.  It provided not only hymns but various liturgies:

  • Morning Service;
  • Holy Communion;
  • Evening Service;
  • Litany;
  • Burial of the Dead; and
  • Order for the Service of the Sunday School.

Most of these were repeated from the 1899 Hymnal for Churches and Sunday-Schools.

The Hymnal and Order of Service (1925), keyed to the American Standard Version of the Bible (1901), offered some different (and some same) liturgies:

  • Morning Service;
  • Holy Communion;
  • Matins on Christmas Day;
  • Matins on Easter Day;
  • Vespers;
  • The Litany;
  • General Morning and Evening Prayers;
  • Order of Service for the Sunday School; and
  • the Common Service.

The first Morning and Communion rituals were different from their counterparts in the 1901 book.

In 1928 Augustana published The Junior Hymnal Containing Sunday School and Luther League Liturgy and Hymns for the Sunday School and Other Gatherings (  After the hymns came the Order of Service for the Sunday School, Psalms and other responsive readings, and an Order of Worship for Luther League.



I found a wonderful paragraph which is especially appropriate for this purpose:

During the first half of the twentieth century, Lutheran churches in America were divided into a confusing assortment of districts, synods, and general or national church bodies.  From colonial times the immigrant church had perpetuated its original linguistic, ethnic, cultural, and theological differences into separate organizational structures from shore to shore.  The multiplicity of Lutheran groups and especially the alphabetical abbreviations by which they were known were largely incomprehensible not only to non-Lutherans but also to the vast majority of Lutheran pew sitters.

–Marilyn Kay Stulken, Hymnal Companion to the Lutheran Book of Worship (Philadelphia, PA:  Fortress Press, 1981), p. 108

Immigrants brought liturgies and attachments to the old countries with them.  Over time, however, ethnic populations enriched and assimilated into the broader culture.  The Common Service, which drew from a variety of sources, represented a multi-ethnic, history-based liturgy, one which Augustana accepted fully with the Service Book and Hymnal (1958), which included the Common Service but not any Swedish one.










As much as possible I prefer to work with primary sources, although secondary sources frequently prove invaluable in making the best sense of those primary sources.  And I prefer to work with actual bound volumes as much as possible.  For this post, however, some of my sources have been electronic, and I have provided links to them.  So I consider those linked ones cited properly.  I did find certain bound volumes invaluable.  Those credits follow:

Commission on the Liturgy and Hymnal, The.  Service Book and Hymnal.  Music Edition.  Philadelphia, PA:  United Lutheran Publication House, 1958.

Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church.  Philadelphia, PA:  The Board of Publication of The United Lutheran Church in America, 1917, 1918.

Hymnal and Order of Service, The.  Lectionary Edition.  Rock Island, IL:  Augustana Book Concern, 1925.

Melton, J. Gordon.  Encyclopedia of American Religions.  4h. Ed.  Washington, DC:  Gale Research, Inc., 1993.

Pfatteicher, Philip H., and Carlos R. Messerli.  Manual on the Liturgy:  Lutheran Book of Worship.  Minneapolis, MN:  Augsburg Publishing House, 1979.

Reed, Luther D.  The Lutheran Liturgy:  A Study in the Common Service of the Lutheran Church in America.  Philadelphia, PA:  Muhlenberg Press, 1947.

__________.  The Lutheran Liturgy:  A Study in the Common Liturgy of the Lutheran Church in America.  2d. Ed.  Philadelphia, PA:  Fortress Press, 1959.

Stulken, Marilyn Kay.  Hymnal Companion to the Lutheran Book of Worship.  Philadelphia, PA:  Fortress Press, 1981.

Wentz, Abdel Ross.  The Lutheran Church in American History.  2d. Ed.  Philadelphia, PA:  The United Lutheran Publication House, 1933.



Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

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

%d bloggers like this: