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Gottesblog

A blog of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy

How far we’ve veered . . .

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First of all it should be noted here that early Lutheranism was acquainted with daily services as a matter of principle. Sundays were observed, as far as possible, with Matins and the the chief service (the service with the Lord’s Supper) in the morning, and with a catechism sermon or catechism instruction and Vespers in the afternoon. Insofar as they were sung, the weekday services [i.e., Monday through Saturday], whose roots can be seen in the Catholic daily service, were generally carried by Latin school students in cities having these; the services consisted of Matins and Vespers, and therefore were essentially liturgical. In larger cities a daily sermon or summaries and the Litany might also have been included. In the country, where there were no advanced school students, if a preaching service could not take place on Wednesday and Friday, prayer hours were to be held at the minimum. Saturday was designated as a day for confession. The week was to be a miniature mirror of the church year, with Sunday recalling the Resurrection, Wednesday and Friday the Passion Week. In many places, such as Amberg, Regensburg, Nürnberg, and Magdeburg, the so-called Tenebrae was sung during Matins on Fridays with solemn bell tolls in remembrance of Christ’s death as in the Catholic period. On Thursdays in Nürnberg and Amberg, a Mount of Olives devotion that had grown from the Maundy Thursday Matins was observed; responsories and bell tolling in this devotion fostered thoughts of Christ sweating blood. The tradition of Catholic votive masses lived on in the numerous evangelical penitential services; thus the corresponding evangelical service orders knew masses for peace, for rain and good weather, and for remission of sins (pro pace, pro pluvia et serenitate, pro remissione peccatorum). Aside from this, the evangelical weekday services were particularly structured in accordance with an occasion or time of the church year; the Ember Days and Lent, for example, profoundly bolstered doctrine by means of catechism sermons.
— Ernst Walter Zeeden, Faith and Act: The Survival of Medieval Ceremonies in the Lutheran Reformation, (St. Louis, MO: CPH, 2012), 8–10.