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Tuesday, March 11, 2008 

What I Learned At An Evangelical Wake

Les’s wake was held last night. There where some rough parts with family members angry about who might be included in the receiving line. But the evening ended about as well as it possibly could.

The one odd thing that struck me occurred after the viewing was over and only Anne, the kids and their wives or girlfriends, two or three members of Anne’s church, and myself remained. Their Pastor read a little bit of scripture and led the bunch of us in a prayer that was longer than most Lutheran sermons these days.

And then, the odd thingy, they broke out singing their favorite hymnody. And not just singing the melody but these folks were singing harmony as well. And unlike what I usually hear in many Lutheran churches today, they sang joyfully. I swear the ten of them sang louder and clearer and with more joy than even my own congregation is capable of at a midweek service.

I believe that most Lutherans would be put to shame if asked to sing ten entire hymns without their hymnals and sing them well or even in parts. With such a rich tradition in hymnody it would stand to reason that most Lutherans should at least be able to keep up with ten evangelicals, but that just sadly isn’t the case.

We certainly differ theologically with most evangelicals in America today, but one thing I think is clear, they love Jesus and are better about communicating that than most of us.


In your grief you may be romanticizing the situation a bit.

Lutheran hymnody is to teach, it is often more difficult to memorize as a result.

Most Lutheran midweek services are during penitential times -- the
"joy" of which you speak would be out of place.

Lutherans communicate their love for Christ through vocation, not by singing love songs.

Alot of Evangelical living the faith is based on feelings. Feelings deceive!

Ah, old long eye, I think you miss my point. Answer me this, do all the people in your church sing with joy? I’ve talked to many people in my own church that do nothing but complain about historic Lutheran hymnody and wish for fluffy songs that speak nothing of the hope that we have that is Christ. Would any of these actually learn the hymns? For crying out loud I heard the poor members of some Lutheran churches purchase hymnals and then print out everything because even picking up a hymnal is too difficult. Do you expect these people to learn their hymns and sing them with joy?
I’m saying there is joy in our hymnody even during the penitential season. If you cant see joy in a hymn that teaches and confesses Christ, I would be very concerned.

I would agree with r. Frank on this one. He is right in the fact that most of our brothers and sisters do not know there hymnody that well and that makes me said. I think that we shouldwork on that and it should start as children, during family devotions which has also left us these days.

I'm not sure on this one... but then, I grew up in the E Free church. In the church I grew up in, there were monthly "hymn sings" on Sunday Night. In the church my mom attended while I was in college, they sang first and forth verse only, but mostly they saing P & W. We now go to a large LCMS church that doesn't have hymnals in the pews. We sing about half hymns and half P & W; and everyone seems to know all the hymns... except the "obscure hymn of the month." But, Frank is right to an extent. We don't have the hymn sings or other traditions Evalgelicals hold dear.

Oh come now, the fluffy bits are the ones that evoke "joy" among the vast majority - evengelical as well as alleged lutheran.

While I do see your point - I'm not sure that "joy" is the word that I would choose to describe my response to the penitential hymns.

Perhaps that is semantics to a degree -- like what "fun" is --- syposia or a theme park.

While many of my fellow parishioners couldn't find joy in the Doxology, let alone a good Gerhard piece, I think you are a little hard on the Lutheran clan!

‘ole Longeye, I find it peculiar and amusing that your comments seem to be longer than your own posts, hmm.

Anyhoo, by you writing “many of my fellow parishioners couldn't find joy in the Doxology, let alone a good Gerhard piece” you make my very point. I’m not at all advocating that we chase after an emotional high as the end game for our services. I’m saying that with such a rich tradition of hymnody we should be ashamed of our lack of appreciation of it.

I used the midweek services as an example because the lower attendance not because of the penitential nature of the time of the year when they normally occur. This is where Liz is able to see my point and you fail. (Thanks Liz!)

If you fail to see the joy that I see in the penitential hymns, where do you find joy of the confessed Christ in any of your hymns?

Anonymous #1, what is the small case "r" in the front of my name for?

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  • I'm Frank Gillespie
  • From The Haut South
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