The Wisdom and Benefit of Retaining Traditional Lutheran Worship Practices
Some time back I think I heard somebody say that it is no longer our grandfather’s Synod anymore, but it seems, when it comes to issues like this, more’s the pity! I’ve also heard it said that the problem with common sense is that it is so uncommon, but I really don’t understand why it is so hard to put the pieces together when it comes to these kinds of issues. A Lutheran Church that no longer looks, sounds, or acts Lutheran in worship practices won’t long remain a Lutheran Church. Here is an interesting quotation from one of the earliest theological journals published in the Missouri Synod, in English:
It appears to be our duty to aid in spreading a knowledge of the rich treasures of our Lutheran Church among those in our country who are unacquainted with German. A good liturgy, the beautiful Lutheran service form part of those treasures [of the Lutheran Church]. Church usages, except in the case when the confession of a divine truth is required, are indeed adiaphora. But they are nevertheless not without an importance of their own. Congregations that adopt the church usages of the sects that surround them, will be more likely to conform to their doctrines more easily and quickly than in those that retain their Lutheran ceremonies. We should in Lutheran services, also when held in the English language, as much as possible use the old Lutheran forms, even if they are said to be antiquated and not suitable in this country. We will mention here the words of a pious Lutheran duchess, Elisabeth Magdalena of Brunswick-Luneburg. Her court-chaplain Prunner relates as follows: ‘Although her ladyship well knew that the ceremonies and purposes of this chapter (at which Prunner officiated) must have appeared to some to be, and was even said by some people to be, “Popery,” she still remembered the instructions which the dear, venerable man, Luther, had once given to her father concerning such ceremonies. I remember in particular that her ladyship several times told me that she did not desire at these present times to begin discontinuing any of these church usages, since she hoped that so long as such ceremonies continued, Calvinistic temerity would be held back from the public office of the church.
August Graebner, "Review of Church Liturgy for Evangelical Lutheran Congregations of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession." in The Saint Louis Theological Quarterly August 1881 (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House), pages 77-78.