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A blog of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy

How much variety is too much?

In the comments of the post below about the utility of keeping all of our parishes familiar with the Common Service, we wondered just how many options there really are for the ordinaries across LSB's five settings of the Divine Service. That is, using just the substitutions and options for the ordinaries listed in each of the five LSB settings, how many different orders of service does that make?

Enter the good vicar who took Altar Book and spreadsheet in hand and came up with the following.

The most conservative number we can arrive at is counting only the options listed for Confession, Kyrie, Hymn of Praise, Creed, Institution of the Supper, and Post-Communion Canticle in their various possible combinations as listed in the rubrics of the Altar Book (that is: we're not putting part of DS III in DS I or something like that). This yields 124 Divine Service orders in LSB - or, to put it another way, just using the options in the front of LSB according to the letter, you could go for over two years worth of Sundays without repeating the same order.

That's the conservative number counting only the ordindaries which the people sing and ignoring such things as placement of the Creed, having Communion or not, having an entrance hymn or not, differing distribution formulas, a common or proper Alleluia chant, the Introit/Psalm/Hymn option, different repsonses for the prayers, and different post communion collects. If all of those options are calculated you get 63,552 different options - or more than six score years worth of Sundays without repeating a service.

Now, that last number is more indicative of the vicar's zeal than anything else. But the first number, 124, is large enough and comes from what can only be called a conservative calculation based on a fair reading of the rubrics.

Of course, no parish is going to use all those. But it does point out the difficulty of really learning and being comfortable with all the settings and their major internal variations. And since just about all of those variations are used someplace on a given week, even if you happen upon a "hymnal only" parish on vacation, it's a roll of the dice as to whether you'll know the service coming in the door. As Fr. Beane said, this keeps noses in the book.

All the more reason for the modest proposal below. . .

Pr. H. R.5 Comments