Gottesdienst
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Gottesblog

A blog of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy

Playing the Das-Ist-Katholische Card, Part 2

Gottesdienst strives to bring back the liturgical practices, the rites and ceremonies, that have always been part of the Western liturgical tradition retained by the Reformers of the sixteenth century. And in so doing, we often here the charge, "That's Catholic" or "That's Romanist," or some other comment meant to poison the well. 

One such practice is the chanting of the Words of Institution in the Service of the Sacrament. Now, of course, we could all make the case that singing these words are helpful to children because music helps to imbed these words, the Gospel in a nutshell, in their hearts and minds. After all, everyone has learned the alphabet by singing it to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. How much more important, then, is it to learn these words of our Lord and take them to heart than by music. 

But there's more to it than that, as we learned from Fr. Weedon at our annual Oktoberfest. The chanting of the Words of Institution is actually a Lutheran innovation. The Roman Church not only didn't sing them, they didn't even speak them aloud for the congregation to hear. They were spoken sub voce. For more on that you can read Luther's "A Treatise on the New Testament, that is, the Holy Mass,” in Luther’s Works, volume 35, and his "Formula Missae" and "Deutsche Messe," in Luther's Works, volume 53. 

So next time someone lays the charge that singing the Verba is Catholic or Romanist or popery, you can simply state that not to sing it is. And singing it is truly Lutheran, and not to mention good for the kids.