21 September 2017

What a day!

Heard as I was leaving for work that grand-baby #7 was preparing to make his entrance into the world. Got to meet him this afternoon. His parents still have not decided on exactly what he will be named (or should I say, the order of his names). [Update: His name is Oliver James Weedon]

But also at work learned of the tragic death of co-worker's nephew... saw the Ruesch family, missionaries who had just been evacuated from Puerto Rico... And the sad news that continues to roll out of Mexico. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

As ever in life, the joys and sorrows mingle and yet we confess that joy will have the final word. "There'll be joy in the morning on that day!"

20 September 2017

A wonderful visit...

...with my oldest brother. Who always manages to live in gorgeous locales. Idaho. And a great visit with the saints of Zion Lutheran Church in Nampa for their 100th anniversary. 

11 September 2017

One beauty

Of the gift of prayer is that it admits of no distances. You can be miles and miles away from the one you love who is hurting, and yet when you pick them up in prayer and carry them to Jesus, you find yourself with them before Him. And with Him there is no distance. He fills heaven and earth. And this makes your prayer closet cozy indeed. When your heart aches for those who are miles away and hurting, there is nothing like prayer. Nothing at all. 

You really should give a listen

To this stunning keynote by Kantor Hildebrand that was the concluding plenary at this summer's Institute on Liturgy, Preaching, and Church Music (sponsored by the Center for Church Music of Concordia University, Chicago):

 “The Just Live by Faith: Make It Plain in Song!”

You will be blessed. Promise!

Patristic Quote of the Day

A psalm is sung at home and repeated outdoors; it is learned without effort and retained with delight. A psalm joins those with differences, unites those at odds and reconciles those who have been offended, for who will not concede to him with whom one sings to God in one voice? It is after all a great bond of unity for a full number of people join in one chorus.—St. Ambrose, PL xiv, 925

10 September 2017

Kudos to our Brothers and Sisters in WELS

For their proposed revision of the Common Service. Quite nicely done. I especially appreciated their Prayer of Thanksgiving (post-Sanctus, pre-Our Father). But before we get to that, some notes in general. The Introit has gone AWOL, or rather has been replaced by the Hymn which begins the liturgy and by the fuller responsorial Psalm between first and second readings. Then Invocation, Confession of Sins, Absolution. Kyrie (the longer form we have in DS 1, 2) and Gloria in Excelsis. Then Salutation (not titled) and Prayer of the Day, First Reading, Psalm of the Day, Second Reading, Verse of the Day, Gospel, Hymn of the Day, Sermon, Nicene Creed (alas, still fully human), Prayer of the Church (SEATED???), Offering, Preface, Sanctus, Prayer of Thanksgiving (on which anon), Lord’s Prayer, Words of Institution and Peace (not titled), Lamb of God, Distribution with hymns, versicles (BOTH from the old Common Service), Post-Communion Collect and Benediction (called Blessing), and a final Hymn. I suspect it will be imminently accessible and the new music is pretty good. Here’s the text of that Prayer of Thanksgiving:

M: Blessed are you, Lord God, eternal King and gracious Father. In love you made us the crown of your creation. In mercy you planned our salvation. In grace you sent your Son to redeem us from sin.

We remember and give you thanks 
that your eternal Son, Jesus Christ, became flesh and made his dwelling among us, 
that he willingly placed himself under law to redeem those under law, 
that he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death on a cross, 
that he has destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 

Bless us as we receive your Son's body and blood in this Sacrament. Forgive our sins, increase our faith, strengthen our fellowship, and deepen our longing for the day when Christ will welcome us to his eternal feast. Praise and thanks to you, O God our Father, and to your Son, and to the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

C: Amen.

So there is recognition of creation, of salvation history culminating in the sending of the Son. An anamnesis composed of Scripture’s own words and a prayer for worthy reception and that the Sacrament may have its fruit in our lives AND a reference to the parousia. And all that in a shocking economy of words! I think this is quite well done.

07 September 2017

Two things

And they aren't related, except they are at the deepest level.

First, at my sister-in-law's recommendation, I've been listening to a series of lectures titled The Story of Human Language. It is an amazing presentation and invites us to step outside of the textbooks and look at and think about language as the living thing it is; ever changing; ever moving from this to that. It is absolutely riveting. I have been listening on Audible and the lecturer, Dr. John McWhorter throws out tangents like fireworks and without ever slowing his pace. The pace is ridiculously fast and that makes it all the more intriguing. Information flows at you from languages around the globe and yet it is quite accessible. Highly, highly recommended.

The other thing was tonight's choir rehearsal. Wow. We started with Bach and Jan said quite simply: "The Bach chorale is the backbone (or did she say foundation?) of the Lutheran Choir." YES. And then a lovely piece she composed, striking in its chord changes. Then to Pachelbel ("On God and Not On Human Trust") and finally to Buxtehude ("Lord, Keep Us Steadfast"). It was fun, challenging, amazing.

The deeper relation is that music is a language and language is "musical." They draw toward each other. Music has even been called "the universal language" and not without reason. But music begs for words. It just does. I suppose it makes me a defective human being, but I can suffer through a Beethoven Symphony. Shoot, I even rather enjoy the pastoral one before it goes on forever. BUT what I have always been drawn to is the magical dance of music and words. My German is just sufficient to enjoy the entirety of Pachelbel's Mass for Christmas Day, or Sch├╝tz' Christmas Vespers. I did take a couple semesters of Russian in College but somehow memorizing how to say: "Is Peter Ivanovich at home? No, he is at work. Where does he work? At the factory" never equipped me to understand the sublime words of Rachmaninov's All Night Vigil. And even though I don't know what they're saying (other than the odd "Slava" and "alleluia"), I could listen to it for hours on end. I don't know the words and yet at some level I'll never understand I know that they FIT the music.

And that is what I love about the music we sang in choir tonight. The words and the music really and truly DANCE together. It's hard to stand still. Just as with moments in the Rachmaninov you WANT to fall flat on your face before the beauty of such Divine Love, so in the Pachbel "On God and Not on Human Trust" you want to twirl about like David before the Ark. The words and the music are not in any tension, but the one illumines the other. Language is more than communication. Language is magical and the ability to tell stories to one another is probably the key thing that makes human being BE human beings, looked at anthropologically. And what people does not sing? But there can be no question that the singing took on a whole new direction and opened new vistas when music found its home in the Word of God. Oh, they're not equal. The music is there to serve the Word, not vice versa. And the Word is what calls forth the music (just think of how we can't stop making new hymns about Christmas, about Easter). But the music is true when it lets the Word lead the waltz, set the tone, and fill it to overflowing; then it is the sung story of Divine Love, shining forth from manger, from cross, from shattered tomb.

Patristic Quote of the Day

A psalm is the blessing of the people, the praise of God, the commendation of the multitude, the applause of all, the speech of every man, the voice of the Church, the sonorous profession of faith, devotion full of authority, the joy of liberty, the noise of good cheer, and the echo of gladness.—St. Ambrose PL xiv:924

06 September 2017

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Thus He teaches us to correct others more by the godly attitude of praying than by the troublesome impulse of speaking. --Martin Luther LW 11, p. 488.

05 September 2017

Patristic Quote of the Day

Thus let the servant of Christ sing, so that not the voice of the singer but the words that are read give pleasure; in order that the evil spirit which was in Saul be cast out from those similarly possessed by it, and not introduced into those who have made of God's house a popular theatre.—St. Jerome, PL 26:529