I wasn’t born into the Lutheran Church, at least not in the earthly sense. In every way, it’s a miracle that I, a child born to a single mother in post-Soviet Russia in the late 1990s, would ever hear about the Lutheran Church, much less The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.
The Beauty of Constancy in the Church Service
But, as God would ordain it, my earliest memories stretch back to life a few years after my adoption at two years old. Those memories often involve my brother and parents as we sat in the pews of our rural LCMS congregation just outside of the western St. Louis, Missouri, suburbs.
We didn’t just sit, though; we stood and sang, folded our hands to pray, and participated in the various rites and ceremonies week after week throughout the Church Year. I imagine I quickly picked up “what to do” during church. At least, that’s what I’m told.
An array of psychological research has been done on the cognitive development of infants, toddlers, and young children and their need for structure. For two young orphans who probably lacked the opportunities for that development and structure, my brother and I certainly found some of that needed structure and constancy in the church service.
I’m reminded of Jesus’ words in John 14:18:
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
Jesus’ promise here is within the context of His promise to send the Holy Spirit to His disciples. And still today through the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus comes to us in Word and Sacrament, in the church service, again and again. None of us are left as orphans. He comes to us.
Memories of Using the Hymnal
An indispensable tool in providing that valuable structure and the limitless riches of the Lutheran heritage was the hymnal. The hymnal situated the deliverance of the Word and Sacrament. I learned the constancy of the rites and ceremonies of the service from page 15 of The Lutheran Hymnal (TLH). I began learning some of the great hymns of the church from TLH and some of the newer or newly uncovered treasures from Hymnal Supplement 98 (HS98). I don’t think I realized at the time that my dad had a hand in the creation of HS98. Neat!
I do, however, remember realizing that he was “in charge” of “the new hymnal.” This was exciting. Upon its publication, Lutheran Service Book (LSB) became the hymnal in the pews at our small parish. I was still a young child, but I knew what to anticipate during the church service and was familiar with many of the hymns we sang. I also learned different rites, canticles, and hymns (some “new,” but some not), which was beneficial. All the while, the structure was still there. It worked.
Lutheran Service Book Companions
Several years ago, CPH published LSB: Companion to the Hymns, which provides extensive background on every hymn and canticle in the hymnal. This summer, a sister resource will be published, LSB: Companion to the Services. Just as the Companion to the Hymns is an invaluable resource for the hymns in LSB, so the Companion to the Services is for the services in the hymnal.
The Companion to the Services unpacks the history, theology, and more behind the services portion of LSB. It answers the questions “Where did this come from?”, “Why was this included?”, and “What does this mean?”, among many others. Companion to the Services is a historical, theological, and practical resource. Pastors, church musicians, and laymen alike will find its thoroughness enlightening and useful.
Five Things to Expect in LSB: Companion to the Services
I asked my dad, editor Paul Grime, to provide five brief points on what readers of LSB: Companion to the Services should pay attention to. Here’s what he provided:
- First, it’s helpful to sharpen our language when talking about worship. The English word worship, for example, doesn’t fully describe what takes place when God’s people gather around Word and Sacrament. Likewise, the word liturgy is often misunderstood. The lead essay in LSB: Companion to the Services presents a helpful examination of how Lutherans have thought about worship.
- Second, we ignore history to our detriment. This is as true of worship as any other subject. The Companion to the Services takes a deep dive into how our services have developed over the centuries. What we discover is both an amazing commonality of practice and a rich diversity that provides for various shades of expression.
- Third, the services themselves, the Divine Service and the Daily Office, are rich in meaning. The Companion provides more than 275 pages of commentary that explores not only their historical development and theological significance but also practical guidance for worship planning and rubrical direction.
- Fourth, LSB is the first LCMS hymnal to contain services for the chief pastoral acts of Baptism, Confirmation, marriage, and burial. The Companion appropriately provides commentary on these services.
- Fifth, over the past few decades, more congregations have made greater use of the special services for Holy Week that in some cases date back to the fourth century. Commentary in the Companion will assist pastors and musicians in making even fuller use of those services in coming years.
- As a little bonus, there is an extensive chapter titled “The Making of Lutheran Service Book.” Here is your chance to go behind the scenes to learn about the process of developing LSB and its related resources, including some of the more controversial decisions.
I’ve enjoyed the irreplaceable blessing of growing up in the church and learning and participating in the church’s liturgy and song. Even now as a church musician and teacher, I’m always learning new things about the deep meaning, history, and significance of the church’s treasures. These treasures are gifts to God’s people, and they continue to provide the setting for the free deliverance of His gifts to His church, day by day, week after week, and year after year.
Order a copy of Lutheran Service Book: Companion to the Services for your pastoral, personal, or musical library today.