Module 6 - Liturgy (Music and Roles)

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Gospel Procession during the installation of a new pastor at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Charlotte, NCOverview

Singing the liturgy and the congregation's participation in that singing sets Lutheran worship apart from other protestant worship services. The LBW provides a wealth of excellent music for all types of worship services. As you look through the services, pay close attention to the rubrics (the instructions written in red type). The rubrics give you alternatives. Remember, "may" means it could be omitted, while "shall" or "is" means it must be included.

I encourage you to meet with the musician(s) at your church and go through all the liturgical music. They will have the accompanist version so that you can hear the harmonies, which can give them a different flavor than just listening to the melody alone.

We will cover the following during this module:

Settings of the Holy Communion

The LBW has four settings of the Holy Communion Service. These follow structure of the Roman mass with the Kyrie, Gloria, Creed, Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei. Besides the Gloria for the Hymn of Praise, we also have "This is the Feast." We speak the creed rather than sing it, and have several versions from which to choose. The Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy) and Benedictus (Blessed is he) follows the preface during communion. The Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) comes during the ministration of communion. These are the Ordinary parts of the mass, meaning they don't change. The variable portions, or those that change depending on the day or season, such as the lessons, are called the Propers

Setting one is the most contemporary and was composed by Richard Hillert. There is an anthem version of the Hymn of Praise "This is the Feast," which has a really nice descant. You may want to purchase a few copies for the sopranos in your choir to sing at special occasions, such as Easter or Pentecost.

Setting two is more hymn like and was composed by Ronald Nelson. In each of the settings, there are three choices for the prayer after communion (rubric 40). The first one ("We give you thanks...") is from Luther's German Mass of 1526, the second is the post-communion prayer for Easter in the Roman missal, and the third is the prayer for the second Sunday after Easter in the 1549 Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England.

Setting three is based on the second setting from the Service Book and Hymnal, which was based on European chant. New music for the setting was composed by Gerhard Cartford. As mentioned in the last module, I suggest adding a recessional or closing hymn before the dismissal in each of these services.

The fourth setting is the Chorale Service. This setting follows the tradition of Luther's German Mass where hymns replace the usual liturgy. You do not have to use the suggested hymns, but select your own to support the theme of the day. Reformation and Christmas Eve lend themselves well to this service.

You will notice that in rubric 29 there is a note for using the appropriate preface. The Minister's Desk Edition of the LBW, as well as the edition that resides at the altar, have all the proper prefaces with music. There is a preface for each season. These lead directly into the Holy, Holy, Holy (Sanctus).

Adding a gospel procession on special occasions is a wonderful way to enhance a worship service. You may use a hymn or an anthem, which replaces the verse (rubric 14). As the congregation and/or choir sing the first part of the hymn or anthem, the procession forms, led by the crucifer and followed by torch bearers (if available), the book bearer, and the presiding minister. The procession goes to the center of the congregation, where all turn and face the group. The book bearer needs to hold the book, preferably a large Bible, so that the presiding minister may easily read the gospel. Once the group reaches the center of the congregation, the gospel is announced with the appropriate responses (rubrics 15 and 16). As the procession returns to the chancel after the reading, the remainder of the hymn or anthem is sung.

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Prayer Services

Morning Prayer (Matins), Evening Prayer (Vespers) and Prayer the at Close of Day (Compline) have their basis in the Roman liturgy where monks attended services every few hours of the day. Known as Offices or Canonical Hours, they included Matins (before daybreak), Lauds (at sunrise), Prime, Terce, Sext, Nones (respectively at about 6 a.m., 9 a.m., noon and 3 p.m.), Vespers (at sunset) and Compline (at bedtime).

Morning Prayer was composed by Richard Hillert and Dale Wood. If this service is used on Sunday morning, there is an alternate ending that includes the Paschal Blessing and the Te Deum. This is a very uplifting service and does not require an ordained minister. You might consider this service when all the pastors are at the annual convention. They'll be sorry they missed it.

Evening Prayer is for the early evening, possibly a mid-week service. There is an alternative version for use with a sermon that adds an additional hymn and prayer. The Gospel Canticle from this service may also be sung (preferably by a woman) on the Sunday in Advent when the gospel lesson is Luke 1:46-55, which is the text for this canticle. The pastor reads the gospel up to the point of the song (the Magnificat), which is then sung. There is an abbreviated form of the litany in this service. When using the choral version, the singing of the word "Lord" may be overlapped by the Leader and the Congregation and the final chord of the response sustained through the following petition until there is a note change. This provides one long continuous sound and is really lovely. The choir should be well trained to lead this version of the litany.

Prayer at the Close of Day was composed by Carlos Messerli and is meant for a late evening service. Since this is a more contemplative service, I would suggest selecting a more contemplative hymn.

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The Litany

The Litany was composed by Gerhard Cartford and the petitions are the same as those in Luther's German litany of 1529. Although it could be spoken, the music is not difficult and with a well trained choir leading the congregation there is no reason not to sing the litany. It could be incorporated into most any service, especially one with an emphasis on prayer.

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The Psalms

The LBW provides ten tones for singing the Psalms. Tones 1 through 5 are in two parts, while tones 6 through 10 are in four parts. Four-part tones are more appropriate for longer Psalms and those with an even number of verses. There are numerous ways to sing the Psalms. The choir and congregation can alternate verses or complete tones. A cantor can alternate with the congregation, or the congregation can sing the entire Psalm without alternating.

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The Canticles

There are 21 canticles provided for use in various services and music is provided for the first 17. Numbers 13 and 14 are easily learned and good for use with the Service of the Word. Some of the canticles can be a bit tricky to sing. Most of these have a response for the congregation that is easier to master and also provides a nice contrast.

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There are several roles of participation in the liturgy and these are marked in red with the letters P, A, C and L. The choir also servers a leadership role.

P or Presiding minister presides over the service. The presiding minister is ordained and is usually the one who preaches and presides over holy communion. If there is more than one ordained minister on staff, another ordained minister may participate in the service as well, but whoever preaches should also preside over holy communion. Most pastors with good speaking voices should be able to learn to sing "P" portions of the liturgy. If not, those portions could be spoken. Usually if the presiding minister speaks the liturgy, the congregational responses are also spoken.

A or Assisting minister does not have to be ordained and is an excellent way for lay people to get involved in leading worship. Besides the "A" portions of the liturgy, the assisting minister may also assist with the distribution of communion. Usually the presiding minister administers the bread and the assisting minister administers the wine.

C or Congregation has many opportunities to participate and respond. In order for the congregation to fully participate, they need to be familiar with the service and the music they'll be asked to sing. Even though the LBW has been around for over 20 years, many congregations know only one communion setting and the same familiar hymns. It's never too late to introduce new liturgy to your congregation. For instance, if you have mid-week services during Advent preceded by a meal, you could take some time after the meal to teach portions of the liturgy, such as Evening Prayer, and then go directly to the service using that liturgy.

L or Leader presides over the prayer services and the Service of the Word. Again, this is an excellent opportunity to have lay people involved in leading worship as these services do not require an ordained minister.

The choir has a very important role in worship. Their main purpose is to lead the congregation in the sung portions of the liturgy, including the hymns. They may also provide special music. They should always be well rehearsed and sing to the best of their ability.

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Address the following topics and questions. Draw on your reading and personal experience. Respond to other's posts.

Group Activities

Continue to work through the planning phase.

Weekly Worship Attendance

What house of worship besides your home church did you attend? Did you feel welcome? How was it different from what you're used to? How was it similar? What about it did you like? Was the service easy to follow? Did you learn anything new you could use in the services you are planning for this course?

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Individual Feedback about Group

Send an e-mail to me at describing how the week went for you. Since no one will see this but you and the instructor, feel free to be open about any frustrations you experienced. How would these frustrations apply to "real life" in your congregation? What insight did you gain about the role you played in this class? Discuss what worked and what didn't and why. Would you use this process in your congregation?

Module 6 Feedback

Please take a few minutes to fill out an evaluation for this module.

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