… only by this means can there be a bonding of families with the Catechism, agreement between educated and uneducated, or a closing up of the vast gulf between elite Christianity and Christianity for the common folk …, the fact that the rift can only be healed by way of a discipline which treats the one as the other with the same elemental portions of God’s Word, that is, the Catechism, makes it the severest task of the office of shepherd first to proceed evenhandedly with this discipline, without respect of rank, educated or not.
A.F.C. Vilmar, The Theology of Facts versus the Theology of Rhetoric” (Lutheran Legacy, 2008), 103.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
In the name of ✠ Jesus.
But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.
Throughout the Church’s history, there have been approaches to putting together the lectionary, the sequence of readings from one service to another. Often in the early church, they used a continuous lectionary: one one Sunday, the preacher would expound a part of a book of the Bible, and the following Sunday he would simply carry on from where he left off, until he got to the end of the book and start on another book.
It would seem that Luther’s decision to add the word ‘allein’ (alone) to Rom. 3:28, for which Roman Catholic apologists have pilloried him and his followers ever since, wasn’t quite such an innovation after all:
God is gone up with a triumphant shout!
The Lord with sounding Trumpets’ melodies:
Sing Praise, sing Praise, sing Praise, sing Praises out,
Unto our King sing praise seraphicwise!
Lift up your Heads, ye lasting Doors, they sing,
And let the King of Glory enter in.
Methinks I see Heaven’s sparkling courtiers fly,
In flakes of Glory down him to attend,
And hear Heart-cramping notes of Melody
Surround his Chariot as it did ascend;
Mixing their Music, making ev’ry string
More to enravish as they this tune sing.
Text: Edward Taylor (1646–1729)
Music: Gerald Finzi (1901–56)
Hymn singing in church is actually a fairly recent innovation: traditionally, hymns were mainly sung at Matins and Vespers, but not in the Sunday main (Communion) service. The practice of hymn-singing in the Communion service was a Lutheran innovation at the time of the Reformation. It serves a simple purpose: to put the word of God in the mouths and ears of the congregation. (Col 3:16).
Hence, the hymns are part of the day’s liturgy in the same way that the readings and prayers are, and for the same reason. The different hymns of the service have their own role in the service.
1. The opening hymn is usually either a hymn of invocation, asking for God to bless the congregation that has gathered to receive His gifts, or a hymn of confession, preparing them for the confession of sins.
2. The sermon hymn, or hymn of the day, is linked specifically to the day’s readings, and its main role is to teach the word to the congregation.
3. The communion hymn should really be a distribution hymn, sung during the Communion to assist the congregation to appreciate and rightly to receive the Sacrament.
4. The closing hymn is frequently a hymn of praise, thanking God for the gifts received, or a commissioning hymn, sending the congregation back into the world with the word of God on their lips as they prepare to serve God and neighbour in their daily lives.
Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
What starts as a piece of common-sense advice on good manners and a constructive attitude to conversation—essentially: speech is silver, silence is golden—very quickly turns to something a whole lot more serious. St. James, the brother of the Lord Jesus, is not writing a letter to the Christians of Asia Minor in order to improve their social skills or make them better learners. What he has in view is nothing less than the righteousness of God.