Thursday, January 14, 2010

A 21st century Lutheran canon of Epiphany

On his blog Thinking Out Loud, pastor Rick Stuckwisch lists the LCMS hymns for the Advent, Christmas and Epiphany seasons from the Lutheran Service Book (2006).

Since I haven’t written about the canon of Epiphany, the list by Rev. Dr. Stuckwisch got me thinking. Many of these would be familiar to the Anglican singers — and to readers of this blog.

Some — like “Wake, awake, for night is flying” (Hymnal 1940 #3) and “Break forth, O beauteous heav’nly light” (H40 #25) I would consider to be an Advent hymn or a Christmas hymn, but since they are both originally German, I’ll assume the LCMS (founded and populated by German-Americans) knows what they’re doing.

Others are recognizable from the Epiphany section of Hymnal 1940, including “As with gladness men of old” (H40 #52) by William Chatterton Dix and “Songs of thankfulness and praise” (H40 #53), which both have English words and German music.

Sadly, his list (and perhaps the LSB) seems to omit two of the prettiest Epiphany carols. One is the Prudentius poem “O sola magnarum urbium”, i.e. “Earth has many a noble city” (H40 #48). The other is “What star is this, with beams so bright” (H40 #47), with the tune Puer Nobis by Praetorius. While I don’t own a copy of the LSB — and there is no Lutheran equivalent of Oreumus — neither hymn is in my copy of The Lutheran Hymnal (1941), the LCMS counterpart to Hymnal 1940.

So while there are many important overlaps between Anglican and Lutheran worship — and of course between Anglicans and Catholics — we still have important divergences.

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