Indifference is not characteristic of the liturgy
Gottesblog Revision2.jpg


A blog of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy

Appreciation for Setting One

For most of the year at Emmaus, we follow the order and form of Setting Three in LSB, which stands squarely in the 19th-century Lutheran "Common Service" tradition. It is a solid ordo with a strong form and sturdy musical setting of the traditional rite. Elegant in its straightforward clarity and simplicity, it has aged well and continues to serve as a worthy vehicle for the administration of the Divine Service. Easily enriched and adorned with the ceremonies and hymnody appropriate to the Sundays, festivals and seasons of the Church Year, there is nothing intrinsically stale, staid, or stodgy about it.

But for all of that, notwithstanding my love and appreciation for the "Common Service," I am also pleased to follow the order and form of Setting One in LSB from Maundy Thursday through Trinity Tide (that is, up until the Feast of St. Peter & St. Paul in late June). This has been my pastoral practice at Emmaus since the LSB was published, and before that I was doing essentially the same thing with the corresponding setting of the Divine Service in LW.

So we've just begun to use Setting One again this year. With daily Divine Service throughout the Octave of the Resurrection, we've sung all or most of that setting half a dozen times already. It offers a refreshing contour in the rhythm of the Church Year, while retaining the integrity of the Mass.

Honestly, the similarities between Setting One and Setting Three are far greater than their differences. Setting One does provide for alternatives to the historic Ordinary in some cases, but those options serve the purpose. Both in my pastoral practice and in my personal piety, I have found the use of those options during Eastertide to be a benefit; not only because those texts also have something worthy to confess, but also because the contrast encourages alertness, increases awareness, and heightens attentiveness to whichever text is being sung at any particular time.

Admittedly, the five orders of the Divine Service in LSB are not different musical "settings" of the same rite, but are actually four different rites following somewhat different orders. Even so, the fundamental ordo of the Mass is preserved in each case, well within the ancient parameters described in some detail by St. Justin Martyr already in the Second Century. I'm not in favor of attempting to use all five orders, especially not in frequent rotation. People need adequate time to settle into an order, form and setting of the Liturgy, so as to be able to rest in peace within it.

With Setting One, I appreciate the fuller and more ancient form of the Kyrie. The eucharistic rite is also a welcome contribution, an important step away from the loggerheads of the LBW and LW controversies of the 1970s. It is still a shame that two different orders and forms of the eucharistic rite had to be included, side-by-side. There were other, more felicitous ways of addressing the concerns, but, oh well. Such is the life of the Church on earth. The post-Sanctus prayer is richer and fuller than either of the corresponding prayers in LW, although it is still somewhat limited in its scope and too quickly focused on the Lord's Supper itself. The epiclesis, such as it is, tucked into the post-Sanctus, is perhaps more subtle and obscure than it might be. But these are minor criticisms. The anamnesis hits the sweet spot, following perfectly upon the Consecration and leading smoothly into the Our Father. It was never awkward or difficult, but it has only become the more comfortable and familiar over the past six years, both to me as a presider and to my congregation.

The strongest contribution of Setting One, in contrast to the "Common Service" form of Setting Three, is in the offertory rites. This is where LSB, along with LBW and LW before it, really gets it right. The Creed has been preferred in its rightful position following the sermon, as belonging to the Liturgy of the Faithful. The confession of the faith is the first and foremost offering of those who believe and are baptized into Christ. From this confession proceeds the Prayer of the Church, as the baptized pray and intercede according to the Word and promise of their great High Priest, Christ Jesus. It is then in this confession and prayer of the faith that the baptized contribute from their own means to the gathering of alms. The way these gifts are presented at the Altar, accompanied by the singing of Psalm 116, "What Shall I Render to the Lord," is truly an ideal approach and entry upon the eucharistic rite.

There is a genius to the movement of the offertory rites in Setting One (and Two) of LSB, which make for a natural transition from the Service of the Word to the Service of the Sacrament. This was neither an innovation, nor a departure from historic practice, but a worthy restoration of a "soft spot" in the Service, which had gotten jumbled a bit in the accidents of history.