Truly Meet, Right, and Salutary: The Common Service in The United Lutheran Church in America and The American Lutheran Church, 1918-1930   16 comments

142605pv

Above:  Detail of the Pulpit and the Altar, St. James German Evangelical Lutheran Church, Altoona, Pennsylvania

Image Created by the Historic American Buildings Survey

Image Source = Library of Congress

(http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/pa2541.photos.142605p/)

Reproduction Number = HABS PA,7-ALTO,78–2

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U.S. LUTHERAN LITURGY, PART III

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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

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It is truly meet, right, and salutary, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O Lord, Holy Father, Almighty Everlasting God.

–The Common Service (1888)

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I.  INTRODUCTION

In U.S. Lutheran Liturgy, Part I (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/muhlenbergs-dream-the-road-to-the-common-service-1748-1888/), 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 (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/17/the-missing-canon-the-common-service-1888/), I focused on the Common Service.  Now, in Part III, I write about it in The United Lutheran Church in America (1918-1962) and The American Lutheran Church (1930-1060).

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.

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II.  THE UNITED LUTHERAN CHURCH (1918-1962) AND ITS PREDECESSORS

Dr. Martin Luther nailed the Ninety-Five Theses to the church door at Wittenberg in 1517.  1917 being the 400th anniversary of that event, many U.S. Lutherans focused on the occasion to reduce factionalism and to establish a measure of organic unity.  That year three Norwegian synods merged to form the Norwegian Lutheran Church of America, which renamed itself The Evangelical Lutheran Church in 1946.  (I will write about this branch of U.S. Lutheranism in a subsequent post.)  And, in 1917, the General Synod (1820), the United Synod of the South (immediate roots back to 1863), and the General Council (1867) agreed to reunite the following year as The United Lutheran Church in America (ULCA).

The ULCA’s hymnal and service book was the Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church (1917) (CSB), prepared by the denomination’s three predecessor bodies and modeled after the General Synod’s Church Book, itself a towering liturgical achievement.  The CSB followed the Table of Contents of the Church Book closely, down to the CSB‘s Occasional Services, which resemble the Church Book‘s Orders for Ministerial Acts.

Fixed feasts interest me.  So I note that the General Synod’s Liturgy for the Evangelical Lutheran Church (1881) (http://archive.org/details/liturgyofevangel00gene) had only four such feasts:

  • Christmas Day (December 25),
  • the Circumcision of Jesus (January 1),
  • the Epiphany (January 6), and
  • Reformation Day (October 31).

The General Council’s Church Book had those also and added the feast days for St. Stephen, St. Michael the Archangel, the Conversion of St. Paul, the Presentation of Jesus, the Annunciation, the Visitation, and the Apostles (including St. Matthias).  The Southern Book of Worship had all of these except the Feast of All Saints.  The CSB followed the lead of the Southern Book of Worship.  And none of these volumes recognized the Holy Innocents or the Confession of St. Peter.  As for the latter omission, I suppose that “…upon this rock…” was too hot a potato for people who did not want to call the Church “Catholic” as late as 1917.

The Icelandic Evangelical Lutheran Synod of America (formed in 1885) merged into the historically German-American ULCA in 1942.  Thus the ULCA became more heterogeneous.

The ULCA 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.

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III.  THE AMERICAN LUTHERAN CHURCH (1930-1960) AND ITS PREDECESSORS

On August 11, 1930, three historically German-American denominations merged to form The American Lutheran Church.  The Buffalo Synod had formed in 1845.  The Iowa Synod had broken away from the Missouri Synod in 1854.  And the Joint Synod of Ohio and Other States had broken away from the Ministerium of Pennsylvania and Other States in 1818 ahead of the creation of the General Synod in 1820.  The American Lutheran Church was an ecumenically active denomination more conservative than The United Lutheran Church in America and more liberal than the Missouri Synod.

The Buffalo Synod used German liturgies initially.  Its first English-language hymnal and service book, produced with the Joint Synod of Ohio and Other States, was The Evangelical Lutheran Hymnal (1880) (http://archive.org/details/evangelicalluthe00evan).  The Sunday morning service in the 1880 edition resembled that of the Southern Book of Worship, but the same sort of material in the 1908 version (http://archive.org/details/evangelicalluthe08van) looked very much like the Pennsylvania Liturgy of 1860 (http://archive.org/details/liturgyforuseofe00np).  The Evangelical Lutheran Hymnal also offered various forms for evening worship and provided an afternoon service.

The Iowa Synod published the Wartburg Hymnal for Church, School, and Home (1918) (http://archive.org/details/wartburghymnalfo00hard).  The Common Service formed the basis for the Communion and the Vespers liturgies there.

The American Lutheran Hymnal (1930), less stately and artsy than the Common Service Book (which came with calligraphy on some pages) offered fewer services than the CSB yet duplicated much material (such as the Common Service) from it.  Other liturgical material came from the 1908 and 1918 hymnals.

The American Lutheran Church (1930-1960) merged into The American Lutheran Church (TALC) in 1960.  TALC, in turn, helped to form the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) in 1987.

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IV.  CONCLUSION

The three main predecessor bodies of The United Lutheran Church in America had prepared the Common Service.  They had been using it for decades when the Common Service Book (1917) debuted.  Adoption of the Common Service in the denominations which formed The American Lutheran Church in 1930 was gradual, however.  Immigrant patterns were giving way to a dominant American liturgy.

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KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 17, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF BENNETT J. SIMS, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF ATLANTA

THE FEAST OF THE MARTYRS OF COMPEIGNE

THE FEAST OF THE RIGHTEOUS GENTILES

THE FEAST OF WALTER CRONKITE, JOURNALIST

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

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 has 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:

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

Lutheran Intersynodical Hymnal Committee.  American Lutheran Hymnal.  Music Edition.  Columbus, OH:  The Lutheran Book Concern, 1930.

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.

KRT

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16 responses to “Truly Meet, Right, and Salutary: The Common Service in The United Lutheran Church in America and The American Lutheran Church, 1918-1930

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