Sunday, June 12, 2011

Anglo-Lutheran worship

For the first time since they processed away from their building, today I attended Holy Trinity (ACNA) in San Diego, which now worships at the LCMS parish next door to their longtime sanctuary.

As it happens, it was also the observance of feast of Pentecost, so I was able to witness their high feast worship style. It was nothing but “bells and smells” (as my choir buddies used to call it) with full incense at the most Anglo-Catholic of the Schism II parishes in San Diego. I estimate about 75 people were in the sanctuary for the 8 a.m. service.

The choice of the opening and closing hymns were about as Anglican as you can get — both with Vaughan Williams tunes from The English Hymnal: “Hail thee festival day!” (Pentecost edition) and “Come down, O love divine.”

However, the “Hail thee” was rendered in an unusual format by the Lutheran hymnals that Holy Trinity is using while temporarily meeting at Bethany Lutheran in OB. One unusual quirk is that the Lutherans decided that RVW only gets one hymn for three feast days — Easter, Ascension and Pentecost — with 3 variants specified for the chorus, verse 1 and verse 2. Without having the hymnal in front of me, it was impossible to say what damage this did to the CoE conception of the hymn.

The other change was more obvious. Instead of the PECUSA (1940, 1982):
Hail thee, festival day! blest day that are hallowed for ever;
Day whereon God from heav’n shone in† the world with his grace.
the Lutheran Book of Worship (and also the other Bethany parish hymnal, the Lutheran Service Book) render the refrain as
Hail thee, festival day! blest day to be hallowed forever;
Day when the Holy Ghost shone in the world with his grace.
(† The English Hymnal (#630) says “shown on the world” but the refrain is otherwise the same.)

The translation of the Fortunatus was attributed to the LBW, a ELCA hymnal that was rejected by the LCMS due to doctrinal errors. But the LSB translation is no better.

As far as I could tell, the other RVW hymn was divine (with words similar to those of H40 #376).

In the middle, Holy Trinity sang as its second communion hymn “O Lord, we praise you” which was unfamiliar to these Anglican ears but with a pedigree about as Lutheran as they get: verse 1 from 15th century Germany, verses 2-3 from 16th century Martin Luther hymself, and a 1524 tune from a German hymnbook.

So in the end, this was an English-American-Lutheran blended worship service — a bit unfamiliar but better than a rock band playing 19th century hymns.

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