Or, Free Prayer: Ambassador Hymnal for Lutheran Worship (1994)   4 comments

Ambassador Hymnal for Lutheran Worship (1994)

Above:  My Copies of The Concordia Hymnal (1932) and the Ambassador Hymnal for Lutheran Worship (1994), July 22, 2013




or, Free Prayer

Ambassador Hymnal for Lutheran Worship (1994), page 2



This post, being Part XIV of an ongoing series, flows from previous entries, links to which I have provided here:  https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/12/guide-to-posts-about-lutheran-worship/.



Taylor’s Law of Denominational Mergers, as I call it, states that:

Whenever two or more denominations merge, two or more denominations are likely to form.

This law explains the creation of the Association of Free Lutheran Congregations (AFLC) (1962) from The Lutheran Free Church (LFC) (1897-1963), which merged into The American Lutheran Church (1960-1987).  I wrote about the AFLC in Part VII (https://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2013/07/20/that-by-thy-grace-we-may-come-to-everlasting-life-norwegian-american-lutherans-1853-1963/), to which I refer you, O reader.



The Concordia Hymnal (1932) was the closest thing the LFC had to an official hymn book.  It was the most widely used such book in the denomination and the volume which the Church encouraged congregations to use.  The Concordia Hymnal was so popular that most LFC congregations continued to use it after the Service Book and Hymnal (1958) debuted, at least for the the services, especially The Order of Morning Service II.

Promotional material for Ambassador Hymnal for Lutheran Worship which I found online tout it as flexible:

The worship settings represent a broader liturgical stance than other Lutheran hymnals….

Scant is more accurate.  The AFLC, with its Low Church roots, persists in anti-ritualistic error, a tendency to mistake simplicity of worship for purity thereof and to focus on personal piety at the expense of corporate worship.

Ambassador Hymnal offers the following, some of which will prompt comments from me:

  • Morning Worship;
  • Three forms of Holy Communion;
  • Personal Preparation for Holy Communion;
  • Holy Baptism;
  • Confirmation;
  • Church School Service;
  • Layman’s Service;
  • Youth Service;
  • Collects, Introits, Prefaces, Calls to Worship, Confession of Sin, Declarations of Grace, Confessions of Faith, Benedictions, and Doxologies;
  • Doctrinal content, such as Luther’s Small Catechism;
  • Lectionaries, and
  • Scripture Selections and Responsive Readings.

The language in these services ranges from contemporary to traditional and from stately to clunky.

Morning Worship, which can include “The Lord’s Supper,” is a sparse ritual which draws from established Lutheran rites.

Then there are the Eucharistic rites:

  1. Holy Communion I, which a pastor can tack onto Morning Worship, draws from established Lutheran rituals also.  But the full Bugenhagen service and the complete Common Service Communion rite are much more elaborate.
  2. Holy Communion II is based on The Order of Morning Service II from The Concordia Hymnal, with some other influences, including elements of Augustana Synod rituals, added.  In fact, the 1994 ritual is barely recognizable as an adaptation of the 1932 one.  But the official promotional material tells me that the familiar 1932 ritual is the basis for this rite.
  3. The Holy Communion rite based on the Common Service is greatly abbreviated.  But at least it allows for three readings.

Some traditions (other than opposition to social dancing) remain firm in the AFLC:

  1. The Church is still “Christian,” not “catholic,” in the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds.
  2. The Nicene Creed is still in the first-person singular.
  3. There are two lectionaries–the three-year Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship (ILCW) three-year plan, with three readings per Sunday and major feast day, and an adapted traditional one-year lectionary, also with three readings.  But the AFLC, unlike The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, has not adjusted to the changes the Roman Catholic Church made in the Calendar in 1969.  Thus there are -gesimas and Sundays after Trinity, not Pentecost.



Back in the bad old Lutheran liturgical days of the early 1800s, it was common for liturgy to be an afterthought in hymnals.  Ambassador Hymnal, with 634 hymns and only 163 pages of liturgy, harkens back to that time.







Ambassador Hymnal for Lutheran Worship.  Minneapolis, MN:  Association of Free Lutheran Congregations, 1994.

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.

Concordia:  A Collection of Hymns and Spiritual Songs.  Minneapolis, MN:  Augsburg Publishing House, 1917.

Concordia Hymnal, The:  A Hymnal for Church, School and Home.  Minneapolis, MN:  Augsburg Publishing House, 1932.

Evangelical Lutheran Synodical Conference of North America, The.  The Lutheran Hymnal.  St. Louis, MO:  Concordia Publishing House, 1941.

Fevold, Eugene L.  The Lutheran Free Church:  A Fellowship of American Lutheran Congregations, 1897-1963.  Minneapolis, MN:  Augsburg Publishing House, 1969.

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

Hymnal for Church and Home.  3d. Ed.  Blair, NE:  Danish Lutheran Publishing House, 1938.

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.

I also found some PDFs helpful:

“Ambassador Hymnal for Lutheran Worship.”  Hymnal Sales, Minneapolis, MN.  This is a document designed to convince congregations to purchase the 1994 hymnal.

Association Free Lutheran Bible School, Plymouth, MN.  AFLBS Student Life Guidelines 2009-2010.

__________.  AFLBS Student Life Handbook 2012-2013.

Erickson, Anne.  “God Wants to Help Parents Help Their Kids.”  Pages 8-9 in The Lutheran Ambassador (April 10, 2001).

Walker, Larry J., Ed.  “Standing Fast in Freedom.”  2d.  Ed.  Association of Free Lutheran Congregations, 2000.



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