Monday, January 25, 2010

Liturgical Variations: Understanding Liturgical Worship, Part IV (d)

Lutheran Book of Worship and Lutheran Worship changed the scope of the Gloria and referred to this part of the Divine Service as "The Hymn of Praise." This carried over to Lutheran Service Book, which has the rubric

During Advent and Lent, the Hymn of Praise is omitted.

It should be noted first that the Lutheran tradition has two historic hymn paraphrases of the Gloria (LSB #947 and 948) plus the relatively new alternative "This Is the Feast" found in Lutheran Service Book's Divine Service I and II.

Here is a setting of LSB #947, All Glory Be to God on High, done in the classic tradition of an organ improvisation for the introduction followed by congregational singing.

Here is a wonderful setting featuring "a full medieval percussion section, penny whistles, and a saxophone ensemble."

The newest tradition is to substitute the Gloria for "This Is the Feast," first published as "Festive Canticle: Worthy Is Christ." As Lutherans follow the Latin Rite, they tend to assign Latin words to new liturgical works, and this is no exception, going by Dignus Est Agnus, or "Worthy Is the Lamb," taken from the first line of the first verse.

There is some discussion among Lutherans as to whether we should substitute ANYTHING for the Gloria. The text of "This Is the Feast" is drawn from the book of Revelation, and hence is appropriate for Easter and it's Season as well as any time there is an End Times theme, such as All Saints Day and the last Sundays of the church year. It is also excellent if the Divine Service is celebrated at a funeral.

As Micah at Liturgical Variations states

The image of Christ as the Lamb of God is repeated with added imagery from Revelation. The concept of praising God for Who He is and what has done is also continued. The imagery of Christmas has been replaced with the imagery of the End Time, when the angels will sing in response to Immanuel. "...has begun His reign:" We pray that Christ begins His reign in our hearts, through the hearing of His Word.

That being said, the chief text is the Gloria, and the secondary text is "This Is the Feast." Think of "This Is the Feast" as seasoning salt. It adds flavor to our church year. Think of it as coming alongside the Gloria and not replacing it. Use it wisely and use it when it is appropriate.

Here it is, sung at Easter Vigil. By the way, this would most likely be in place of the Gloria at a Roman Catholic church. They are using the Richard Hillert setting originally published as "Festival Canticle: Worthy is Christ." That last descant is always challenging, no matter who the choir is.

This is the forth and final post in a series about the Kyrie and Gloria in the Divine Service based on a post by Micah at Liturgical Variations.

Check out all of Micah's posts over at Liturgical Variations.  Micah is a student at Concordia University Texas.

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