Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Learning a New Setting of the Divine Service

From Messiah Lutheran Church's June newsletter

During the summer months, our congregation will learn a new musical setting of the Divine Service in Lutheran Service Book. Our congregation already knows Divine Service 1 very well. We also know Divine Service 3 (especially those of us who have been Lutherans for a very long time). Setting 4 has become a favorite, too, ever since it was introduced in Hymnal Supplement ’98. Once in a while, we will also use Divine Service 5 with some modifications. But most of us may have never learned Divine Service 2.

Why learn a new musical setting? Some people may feel that it’s unnecessary, even overwhelming, since we already know four settings (not to mention Matins, Vespers, and Evening Prayer which we use at other times). But there are other congregations around our synod that use Setting 2 as their primary setting of the Divine Service. You may happen to visit them when you are on vacation. Or suppose you move to a different part of the country, and you transfer to another congregation that uses Setting 2. It would be helpful to have at least a minimal familiarity with this particular musical setting so that you can join in worship with a certain measure of comfort.

Setting 2 will already be partially familiar to us. The text of this setting is identical to Setting 1. However, the music of Setting 2 will be new to most of us (unless you learned it in a previous congregation, as I did; two churches of which I was a member in California used it as their primary setting). Both Setting 1 and Setting 2 of the Divine Service were written in the 1970’s when the LCMS and the predecessor bodies of the ELCA were jointly working on a new hymnal. The LCMS eventually withdrew from the joint project and produced its own hymnal, Lutheran Worship, in 1982 (the blue hymnal which was replaced by Lutheran Service Book in 2006). Both new musical settings were included in the publication. They retained their popularity and were therefore included in our current hymnal. Prior to that, the only musical setting that was familiar to LCMS congregations was what we know now as Setting 3 (contained in The Lutheran Hymnal of 1941 and even earlier in the Evangelical Lutheran Hymn-Book of 1912, the first official English language hymnal of the Missouri Synod).

As we learn Setting 2, you will find some challenging sections to be sure. For the most part, you will find it very singable. I have full confidence in our ability to learn it together. You are a very musically talented congregation. You love to sing (one of the things I love about you!). You have learned many new hymns over the years. Eventually, perhaps we will be able to say that we have learned all of the musical treasures that are a part of our hymnal.

In Christ’s Service and yours,
Pastor Onken

P.S. For further reading on the history of hymnals in the LCMS, here are few links for you…

Sing to the Lord a New Song: A Brief History of Our LCMS Hymnals

A Brief History of LCMS Hymnals

A Brief History of Hymnals in the LCMS

Or, if you are really ambitious, here are some books you may be interested in…

God’s Song in a New Land (Carl Schalk)

Gathered Guests: A Guide to Worship in the Lutheran Church (Timothy Maschke)

Lutheran Worship: History and Practice (ed. Fred Precht) (also available in our church library)

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