Also sprach der Vorsteher. Ein Blog für Alle und Keinen.
Von Terence J Maher, PhD.
Morgendämmerung, oder, Wie man mit dem Hammer theologirt.
Nescire autem quid ante quam natus sis acciderit id es semper esse puerum.
Orandum est ut sit mens sana in corpore sano. Semper idem sed non eodem modo.
Verbum domini manet in aeternum. The word of the Lord endures forever. 1 Peter 1:24-25, quoting Isaiah 40:6,8. Motto of the Lutheran Reformation.
Fayth onely justifieth before God. Robert Barnes, DD The Supplication, fourth essay. London: Daye, 1572.
Lord if Thou straightly mark our iniquity, who is able to abide Thy judgement? Wherefore I trust in no work that I ever did, but only in the death of Jesus Christ. I do not doubt, but through Him to inherit the kingdom of heaven. Robert Barnes, DD, before he was burnt alive for "heresy", 30 July 1540.
What is Luther? The doctrine is not mine, nor have I been crucified for anyone. Martin Luther, Dr. theol. (1522)
For the basics of our faith right here online, or for offline short daily prayer or devotion or study, scroll down to "A Beggar's Daily Portion" on the sidebar.
If you, like good king Wenceslaus in the song, looked out on the Feast of Stephen -- that's 26 December, but we'll get back to that -- you might think Christmas is over. Already on the evening news on Christmas day the local stations are posting Christmas tree pick up sites and times. Some hang around for a week to give a festive atmosphere to New Year's Eve and Day, then come down. On 2 January, Valentine's Day candy is in the stores.
That fits with the world's Christmas season. The church has a little different season going on. December is largely taken up with Advent. The idea is preparation there too, but not as in buying presents and food. It's about a preparation of repentance for celebrating the coming in the flesh of God as Jesus who will die to save us from our sins, for the coming of faith in him into our hearts, and for the coming of Jesus again in glory to judge the living and the dead on the Last Day.
For which reason the colour of Advent is purple, the colour of royalty and also of repentance. Neither his coming in history or our hearts nor his return is prepared for by buying stuff.
Christmas Is Not Just One Day!
The church's celebration of Christmas does not begin with December and end on Christmas with New Year's tacked on. It begins on Christmas and continues for several days! Our Christmas manger scenes often have the "humble" shepherds and the "important" visitors -- called Magi, Wise Men, or Kings most often -- all there. But as the story reads the Three Kings were not there at Christmas! They arrived twelve days later, 6 January, which we celebrate as Epiphany. These twelve days from Christmas through Epiphany are the Twelve Days of Christmas.
Now how did that happen? No-body knows. The thing is, Epiphany is a much older feast than Christmas, yet is now largely forgotten by most, lost in the shuffle by many, and celebrated by a few. Now how did THAT happen?
The Original Christmas.
Well, to me it looks like this. By the late fourth century after Christ, 6 January as the Epiphany existed. The earliest known reference dates from 361, and in those days the references indicate not just the appearance of the Three Kings -- epiphany is an English form of a Greek word meaning "appearance" or "manifestation" -- but rather the appearance or manifestation, the epiphany, of God, including his birth!
It's not that there wasn't Christmas, this is "Christmas" as well as a celebration all the other events of the young Jesus up to and including his Baptism and his first public miracle at the wedding in Cana. A very big day!
Developments In The Western Church.
In the Western Church, these events began to be spun off from Epiphany. By the sixth century 25 December had become the celebration of his birth. His baptism began to be celebrated after Epiphany, so Epiphany itself in the West fairly early on narrowed its focus to the arrival of the Three Kings (Magi, etc.), who, not being Jews but Gentiles, give it the significance of the appearance or manifestation of the Messiah to the Gentiles.
I'm of English descent, but I was adopted by people of Irish descent, and my Dad, growing up pre-conciliar RC, always referred to Epiphany as "Little Christmas", an Irish custom from when 6 January in the pre-Gregorian calendar was also Christmas. In later life I was to find out this is one echo of all the stuff mentioned above. Growing up, decorations were always left up through Epiphany, and there was one more "Christmas" gift. I do the same in my house now. And I'll post about Los Tres Reyes (Spanish for The Three Kings) on 6 January, having been culturally adopted by the Puerto Rican contingent at university.
Developments In The Eastern Church.
This did not happen in the Eastern Church, where it retained its original character much longer, with many places much later adopting 25 December as the feast of his birth but keeping the celebration of his baptism on Epiphany, and in a few places yet keeping the Nativity on this day. And there's the added complication that 6 January in the older (Julian, as in Julius Caesar) calendar still used liturgically by the Eastern Church is 19 January in the Gregorian (as in Pope Gregory) calendar used in the West and now pretty much world wide as a convention.
In the Eastern Church the day is more commonly called the Theophany -- divine appearance or divine manifestation -- and is considered the third most important feast in the church's observance, Easter (Pascha) being first and Pentecost second. There ain't no Twelve Days of Christmas for our brethren in the Eastern Church, it's a Western thing, but on the other hand Theophany is more in line with the original of what we in the West call Epiphany, if we remember it to call it anything at all.
And Then Came Vatican II, Oy.
And to complicate it further, after a millennium and one half of usage, Rome, ever at the ready to tinker with the very tradition it says it conserves, decided at its last council, Vatican II in the 1960s, to make it a moveable feast, not on 6 January but on the Sunday after the first Saturday in January. So, if you listen to Rome (and if you listen to Rome, quit!) there ain't no Twelve Days of Christmas in the West now either! Nice going, guys.
For us confessional Lutherans -- those who seek to hold to the catholic, as distinct from the Catholic, faith and church -- while our latest service book, Lutheran Service Book, is infected with the latest Roman virus (please support research that a cure may be found in our time!) it appears that Epiphany has survived as 6 January.
So What's This Feast of Stephen Thing?
"Good King Wenceslaus looked out, on the Feast of Stephen". Getting back to that, you think Epiphany got lost in the shuffle, what about this Feast of Stephen? It's 26 December, the day after Christmas. Why? Well, the Stephen remembered on this day is the first recorded martyr for the Christian faith, in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, and, it being the custom in the church to commemorate someone not on the day of his earthly birth but the day of his birth to eternal life -- generally called death in the world -- the first person known to have been born to eternal life by martyrdom for his faith is celebrated right after the earthly birth of him who came to make eternal life available to us.
So Who's This Wenceslaus, Why Is He Good and Why Is He Looking Out?
Wow, has this guy got a story. Right here, call it ironic, coincidence, or one of those divine consistencies that look like loose ends until you know what they are, but he ended up being a martyr for the Christian faith just like the first one, Stephen, on whose feast he looked out.
Here's a short version of the rest. Wenceslaus, also Wenceslas, is English for his name Vaclav. He was functionally king of Bohemia, which is now part of the Czech Republic. But, as he was backed by the German Holy Roman Empire, his title was not actually king but duke, which is just below a king.
This was first via the Duke of Saxony and King of the Germans Henry the Fowler/Heinrich der Vogler. But then via his son Otto I, who was crowned Holy Roman Emperor on 2 February 962 by Pope, aka bishop of Rome, John XII -- who, btw, then turned on Otto who went back to Rome and had a layman elected pope instead as Leo VII, Otto being used to naming bishops and abbots, and then, when John staged a comeback but died and left Benedict V on the papal throne, Otto went back to Rome yet again to get rid of Benedict and make them promise to quit electing popes without the Emperor's (his) OK. There's some hermeneutic of continuity for ya, to paraphrase another Pope Benedict, XVI. Otto was the first clear Holy Roman Emperor since Charlemagne (Carolus Magnus, Charles the Great, Karl der Grosse) was crowned the first Imperator Augustus in the West since the Fall of Rome on 4 September 476 by the bishop of Rome Leo III on Christmas in 800.
Wenceslaus being backed by such a power did not sit well with some Bohemians, including in his own family, all of them caught between changing religions along with their entire social order.
He's called good because he stayed with the Christian faith of his grandmother who raised him, St Ludmilla, who was herself converted by Saints Cyril and Methodius no less, the "Apostles to the Slavs". His brother Boleslaus (Boleslav) though stayed with the native Bohemian religion of their mother Drahomira, who had Ludmilla killed. Boleslav didn't like the Germans or their state-run Christian church. The martyrdom happened when Boleslav arranged to have Vaclav killed, then took the throne. But, he ended up having to work with the Germans anyway and then his son, also named Boleslav, became Christian and took over from him and established the bishop's seat in Prague!
The irony, coincidence, or divine consistency continues to our time. This man Vaclav who in his own time was killed for selling out to the Germans and their power and new religion is now the patron saint of the Czech Republic, which in 2000 established his feast day of 28 September as Czech Statehood Day, a national holiday.
Yeah, that's a short version. Oh, and what was he doing looking out on the Feast of Stephen? Checking things out after he woke up, but the rest of the story is told in the carol by John Mason Neale, same guy who wrote O Come, O Come Emmanuel based on the O Antiphons posted about earlier. Small world, huh? Or another of those consistencies. Ain't it great when loose ends become consistencies!
Anyway, good duke Vaclav spotted a guy scrounging for food and asked his page where the guy lived. He then set out with his page to bring the man and his family aid. The page started faltering due to the cold and snow, but when he followed in Vaclav's footsteps found the ground warm to his feet. Now how's that for being, uh, ablaze!
We Still Got 'em, The Twelve Days of Christmas!!
Guess what, you can still follow in the good king's footsteps. Neale's carol concludes:
Therefore, Christian men, be sure, wealth or rank possessing, Ye who now will bless the poor, shall yourselves find blessing.
So let's get on with the Twelve Days of Christmas like, give him his due, Good King Wenceslaus!
NOW is when all the fun and festivities are supposed to happen! LEAVE those decorations up, right on up through Twelfth Night! That's the night of 5-6 January, in case you weren't counting, and yes, it's that from which the title of Shakespeare's great play is taken. So far, Twelfth Night has not been retitled First Sunday After The First Saturday In January Eve, though who knows, sillier revisionism happens all the time. Maybe even GIVE A GIFT to someone special for Epiphany, which in some places in the gift giving day, not Christmas, just as God gave himself to us and the Three Kings brought gifts to him. BAKE A CAKE; that's how Kings Cake started and still is done in some places. HAVE FRIENDS OVER -- you get the idea! And like good king Wenceslaus, DO SOMETHING TO HELP SOMEONE IN NEED! Ye who now will bless the poor, shall yourselves find blessing.
The appearance or manifestation of God is just too big to contain in one day!!
And therefore the church doesn't, but extends the celebration of God's coming among us over twelve days, so don't let the world, or, sadly, some entities called church, take a bit of it away from you!
In addition to the many other things remarkable about Christmas, it is so rich in significance for the Christian faith that over time the church has evolved, unlike any other feast in the church calendar, three distinct masses at three distinct times of the day to contain it all.
That's exactly what the word Christmas is, a contraction of Christ's Mass. The first appearance of the word in English, Old English, to be exact, that survives is from 1038, Cristes maesse, which became Christemasse in Middle English, and now Christmas.
25 December is not Jesus' date of birth. The actual date is unknown. Scripture does not record it according to any calendar, although context clues would suggest sometime in about what we call October. From which I think it is safe to conclude that the exact and actual date of Jesus' birth is not important since if it were God would have seen that it got recorded in Scripture.
So why 25 December? Well, in the larger culture around the Hebrews in which Christianity first took hold, the day and the general time of year already had a religious significance. In a world ruled by Rome, every year at the time of the winter solstice was the Saturnalia. What's a Saturnalia? Originally it was held on 17 December and later expanded to one week. Saturn, known as Cronus to the Greeks, was the son of Heaven, Uranus, and Earth, Gaia. Saturn took power from his father Uranus/Heaven and castrated him. But a prophecy arose that a child of Saturn's would one day overthrow him, so to prevent this Saturn ate his children.
That's right, ate his children. But Saturn's wife, Opis, known to the Greeks as Rhea, hid their sixth child Jupiter, known to the Greeks as Zeus, on Crete and gave Saturn a big rock in a blanket instead. Yeah, he ate it. Jupiter/Zeus thus survived and, with his five brothers and six sisters, all called Olympians from their hang out Mount Olympus, did indeed overthrow Saturn/Cronus and his own five brothers and six sisters, all twelve called Titans. (If you're hearing modern words like Titanic and Olympics in here, you're right.)
Now in the Greek version of this story the losing Titans got sent to Hell, well, Tartarus actually, meaning a deep place. But in the Roman version Saturn escaped the rule of Jupiter/Zeus and the Olympians and went to Rome where he established a rule of perfect peace called the Golden Age. In memory of this perfect age, Romans celebrated Saturnalia, when no war could be fought, no business conducted, slaves ate with their masters, and everybody set aside the usual rules of propriety for eating, drinking, gift giving and even getting naked in public.
Right after this came Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, The Day of Birth of the Unconquered Sun, celebrated on 25 December, which in the calendar of the time was winter solstice, the day with the shortest daylight hours of the year, demostrating that darkness cannot completely overcome light. A number of the early Christian Fathers, St Cyprian among them, spoke of the parallel that Jesus the Son of God and Light of the World was born on the same day as the physical sun and light of the world, neither to be overcome by the forces of darkness.
In addition, other religions in the Roman world had a god's birthday on 25 December, for example the Babylonian sex goddess Ishtar, and the Persian mediator god Mithras, whose mystery cult was popular in the Roman army and carried throughout the Empire. On top of that, the barbarians living to the north of the formal boundaries of the Roman world (sorry, Germanic types) where Winter is harsher had their own winter solstice observances.
So it looks like the whole Christmas thing originates with the Christian Church adopting and adapting familiar material from the world around them, Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, Saturnalia, and the widespread observance of Winter Solstice, to create a time of celebration for the birth of Jesus. What does this mean, a Lutheran might ask. Well, anybody might ask, but I'm trying to get a chuckle out of Lutheran readers, who'll recognise the phrase often used in Luther's Small Catechism to introduce an explanation. Is Christmas and the observances that go with it simply another step in the evolution of stories about the sun and light not going away but coming back, gods getting born and golden ages, another recasting of universal human themes -- maybe just like Christianity itself?
Don't think so. Consider. What did Saturn do? Here's a god who had kids all right -- then ate them to prevent them from doing to him what he did to his own father. In contrast to the stories Man makes up about gods, the story God reveals to Man is just the opposite. Man is a creation, not a child, of God, lost in his own nonsense, some of which he encapsulates in mythology and some of which he considers the latest of enlightened thinking, Man who will thus destroy himself, to avoid which God becomes Man in Jesus, whose body and blood will be given for our salvation on the Cross that the creation of God may become children of God, and in the mass as the pledge of that salvation.
A child of God who does not overthrow his father but lives in perfect submission to his will;`who does not banish his father's rule but proclaims his kingdom; a God who does not eat his child in fear but gives him to us in love so we could eat his body and blood as the food of eternal life, a real golden age to come; a mother who has to hide her newborn son not from God but Man for his survival. And the imagery of light, not validating all sun gods but demonstrating that even in its fallen and broken state Creation still shows that the Creator will not be overcome no matter how the darkness gathers.
These pre-Christian observances are not the real roots and story of Christmas, but rather aspects of God's truth written into both Man and Nature even in its fallen state, which we now see in retrospect point to the truth we could not see in prospect, looking forward and trying to make sense of our situation, so God reveals it to us. Which the liturgy will exactly sum up in the Introit, the introductory Scripture passages, for the first mass of Christmas: Why have the Gentiles raged, and the people devised vain things? -- The Lord has said to me, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten Thee (Psalm 2:1,7. See below, or with my fellow geeks and wannabes, vide infra).
We call this coming of God into Man's flesh the Incarnation, from the Latin that means exactly that, to become in the flesh. To be born. For which another word is Nativity, from the Latin to be born. Christ comes into Creation, into the flesh, is born into our world, on three levels: his historical birth in the flesh as a human baby, his spiritual birth in the hearts and souls of those justified by faith because of Christ, and his eternal birth or generation from the Father in the Godhead.
Consequently, the church celebrates a mass for each of these three.
The First Mass of Christ's Mass, at midnight. The Historical Birth in Bethlehem. Introit Psalm 2:7. Psalm verse 2:1. Collect O God, Who hast made this most sacred night to shine forth with the brightness of the true Light, grant, we beseech Thee, that we may enjoy His happiness in heaven, the mystery of whose light we have known upon earth. Epistle Titus 2:11-15. Gospel Luke 2:1-14.
The Second Mass of Christ's Mass, at dawn. The Spiritual Birth in the Believer. Introit Isaiah 9:2,6. Psalm verse 92:1 Septuagint, 93:1 Hebrew. Collect Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that we, who are filled with the new light of Thy Incarnate Word, may show forth in our works that which by faith shineth in our minds. Epistle Titus 3:4-7. Gospel Luke 2:15-20.
The Third Mass of Christ's Mass, during the day. The Eternal Generation in the Trinity. Introit Isaiah 9:6. Psalm verse 97:1 Septuagint, 98:1 Hebrew. Collect Grant, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that the new birth of Thine only begotten Son in the flesh may deliver us who are held by the old bondage under the yoke of sin. Epistle Hebrews 1:1-12. Gospel John 1:1-14
May I take this opportunity to wish all who visit this blog Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad, Fröhliche Weinachten!
Antiphon is a word transliterated from Greek words that mean "opposite voice". What does this mean? Or for you non-Lutherans, what does that mean?
Well, originally, which is to say in ancient Greek music theory, it means something sung and also sung an octave higher, like C and the next C on a piano. That's antiphonia, as distinct from symphonia, singing in unison, or paraphonia, singing a fifth higher, like C to G on a piano.
Doesn't seem to describe what we mean by antiphon, does it? So how did we get from what the word actually meant to what we mean by it now?
The Psalms aren't texts, they're lyrics -- all that survives of musical compositions whose music is lost. They have a parallelism in structure that suggests they may well have been performed by alternating singers or groups of singers. As Christian worship emerged from the synagogue, that's exactly what they were, performance of the Psalms by alternating choruses. At first this was repetition of the males by boys an octave up, hence it was called antiphonia, not because it was alternating choruses but because the boys sang an octave higher than the adult males, just like the term means.
Then, by about the 300s, they started adding another verse, generally a related Scripture verse to the Psalm, sung by all before, and generally after each Psalm verse or two. Before you know it, antiphon doesn't have a bloody thing to do with octaves which is what it really means, but is associated with the idea of two alternating choruses singing back and forth, and also with the added prefatory text and tune which was called antiphon all by itself.
Confused? It gets worse, or better, as you may see it. Books containing the texts to the sung parts of the Mass came to be called antiphonales, and books containing texts to the spoken part of the Mass were called lectionaries, literally, stuff that is read, not sung. Then, antiphonale came to mean a book of chants for the Divine Office (Matins, Vespers, Compline etc) as distinct from a graduale, a book of the chants for Mass.
Enough to drive you nuts, or reach for the St Louis Jesuit stuff, huh? A word that means at the octave means alternating choruses except when it means added prefatory verses unless you mean the book of chants for Divine Office. Don't worry, took me a while to catch on too -- and I was a music major in the pre-conciliar Roman church.
Some say antiphonal singing of the Psalms started with St Ignatius of Antioch, who was an Apostolic Father and traditionally is said to have been a student of St John the Apostle. It really only caught on in the Western Church with St Ambrose, who compiled an antiphonale, yeah that word again and here with a different meaning yet, that being a collection of stuff suitable for antiphonal, as in alternating choruses, singing.
OK. Now to the "O" antiphons -- antiphon here in the sense of the prefatory text itself. There are various versions in various places going back centuries so far that my man Boethius mentions the practice.
I say my man because the title of my doctoral dissertation is "On a Contemporary Boethian Musical Theory". Boethius was born the same year as St Benedict, founder of the grand and glorious Order of St Benedict, the SOBs, I mean OSBs, as well as the wider even grander and gloriouser "Benedictine tradition" found cited in all the recruiting material of universities sponsored by the Benedictines, like the one I graduated from. (A false comparative and a dangling participle in the same sentence: we Benedictines may not always follow the rules but we know what the hell they are.) That would be 480 or thereabouts, in case you got lost there.
He died in 524 or 525, depending on who's counting. It would have been later except the Western Roman Emperor, Theodoric the Great, who was an Arian, had him executed on grounds of treason for conspiring with the Eastern Roman Emperor, Justin I, who was orthodox and catholic, as distinct from Orthodox and Catholic because we all know he'd be Missouri Synod Lutheran to-day. While he was awaiting execution he wrote his most famous work, On the Consolation of Philosophy. God bless me if I'm not going to post on its Rota fortuna, the original Wheel of Fortune, just as soon as I'm sure a really great picture of Vanna White won't land me in copyright problems.
But I digress. Some form or another of "O" antiphons have been around for almost the entire history of the church, but the Benedictines arranged what has become the standard, one each at Vespers each day from 17 through 23 December, right up to Christmas Eve. Each one starts with a salutation of Christ by "O" and one of his Biblical attributes. In order, they are: O Sapientia (Wisdom), O Adonai (Lord), O Radix Jesse (Root of Jesse), O Clavis David (Key of David), O Oriens (Morning Star), O Rex gentium (King of the Nations), O Emmanuel (God With Us).
Now, it's Advent, right, and late in it and about to be Christmas. So looky here -- starting with the one the day before Christmas Eve, put the first letters going back of each attribute of Christ and what do you get? Ero cras, that's what, Latin and guess what that means in English, I will come to-morrow! Benedictines man, are we good or WHAT! The whole series sums up the Advent preparation then concludes it, right down to a Psalm-like acrostic in the titles!
Never heard of such a thing? Sure you have. The popular Advent/Christmas hymn "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" is a composite of the whole series! You can find some excellent meditations on them on some of the blogs listed in my blogroll, and start with Pastor Weedon's.
6 December is the feast of Bishop St Nicholas of Myra. That's not at the North Pole, but a town in Lycia which was in what is now the southwestern coast of Turkey.
OK "everybody knows" that "Santa Claus" has his origins in the stories about St Nicholas, "St Nick" or -- nicknames in some languages coming from the last rather than the first part of a given name -- Santa Klaus morphing into Santa Claus, and he went around giving anonymous gifts to kids tossing them over the transom into their shoes, which is where putting the shoes or hanging stockings comes from.
Now what was the point of that, so there's be kids like you see in the commercials waking up in nice homes and being all happy with their yet more stuff for Christmas?
Hell no. St Nicholas came from a wealthy family, and as a pastor gave pretty much all his inheritance away to help poor children and families. And particularly, in those days, poor girls without a dowry would likely not end up wives and mothers in nice households and likely would end up as prostitutes. So the gifts had a real rough practical edge to them, to help turn a life around by giving them a start their circumstances couldn't.
And the same guy who did this -- whaddya wanna call it, outreach, winning souls, meeting needs -- also was at the Council of Nicea at a time when it seemed the whole church was heading into heresy of Arianism. And what did they do, say wow look at how those Arians connect with people, maybe we should quit worrying about all these barriers we put up and preach and worship more like they do with our content?
No, St Nick was among the most vocal standing for the catholic faith against Arianism, which led to the formulation of the Nicene Creed we confess at mass. So next time someone says we gotta get rid of all this hang up on doctrine and liturgy and get with the mission field and outreach, take a bloody clue from St Nick.
Or Wilhelm Löhe, whose half-fast Lutheran church body found him just not quite with it and stuck him in a little town in Bavaria, from which he arranged spiritual and temporal missionaries all over the world and worked mightily for authentic Lutheran liturgy and doctrine, whose good effects are bearing fruit to this day.
Hell yes there's a Santa Claus. It's you, me, us, St Nick and the whole communion of saints. So get out there and do something for somebody in a tight spot, and stand for the pure Christian faith and worship confessed in our Confessions, among which is the Nicene Creed btw, instead of all the bogus feel-good happy-clappy crap.
Ein Merkzeichen meiner Theologie. "This is my compendium theologiae." 8 Juli/July 1530
A Beggar's Daily Portion
We are beggars. This is true.
Those are Luther's last words, written, as he could not speak, the first in German, the last in Latin.
So how does a beggar get his daily food? Here's how.
Luther lays it out in the Small Catechism, Section Two, Daily Prayers. You can read these Daily Prayers from the Small Catechism online right away, and print PDFs in full and for free, here. We beggars find there what we need for devotional prayer -- the Sign of the Cross, the Creed, the Our Father, a short prayer for morning and evening, and for before and after meals. None of it original with Luther. Nothing in "Lutheranism" is.
The following links give basic sources for our faith. Most are online, and all available in print as well from Concordia Publishing House.
For beggars who are pastors, formerly "priests", Luther notes in the Large Catechism that they are relieved of the useless and burdensome babbling of the seven canonical hours in their personal prayer, and encourages them to drop that altogether for morning, noon, and evening reading from the Catechism or Bible, and the Our Father.
Food For A Beggar's Daily Portion.
The Small Catechism with Explanation. The Small Catechism is itself the handbook of our faith. You can read it online here, and get the app for your phone. The book, ePub or Kindle versions of the Small Catechism also have an Explanation and Appendices that are great for study. Sie können auf Deutsch hier lesen.
The Lutheran Study Bible.You'll want a Bible of course, and this is the best study Bible around hands down. If if isn't in the budget right away, don't hesitate to get the Concordia ESV Pew Bible. You can read the Bible in the English Standard Version here, oder die Lutherbibel hier, or the Clementine Vulgate here.
The Augsburg Confession. This is the primary specifically Lutheran statement of the Christian faith. You can read it online here. It and the Small Catechism are also included in Concordia, aka The Book of Concord, the defining statements, or confessions, of our faith. You can read the 1921 Bente edition online in English, German or Latinhere. Or get the more recent Readers Edition The Book of Concord. You can get Readers Edition The Augsburg Confession from it separately.
God Grant It, daily readings through the church year from the sermons of C.F.W. Walther, the first president of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, and
Portals of Prayer, an LCMS devotional quarterly. There is nothing better than the short daily readings and Scripture verses in these two for the "whatever your devotion may suggest" part.
The Lutheran Hymnal. TLH embodies the common worship of the pure Christian Church of all ages, and we beggars, past, present and future, pray as one as well as individually.
But don't make a burden or a law about these books. It is not necessary to learn everything at once, but one thing after another, so you don't get overwhelmed.
Further material is in the Reference Book List below in the sidebar.
The Food of Word and Sacrament.
And go to Divine Service every Sunday, that's your food too, and Divine Office if you are lucky enough to be in a parish that does it! Right in your own parish you find Baptism, the Sacrament, preaching, and your neighbour; this is greater than all the saints in heaven, as they were themselves made saints by Word and Sacrament.
Das sage ich aber für mich: Ich bin auch ein Doktor ... und muß ein Kind und Schüler des Katechismus bleiben, und bleib es auch gerne.
Divine Service / Liturgy
The service of God to Man of Word and Sacrament.
Our churches are falsely accused of abolishing the Mass. The Mass is held among us and celebrated with the highest reverence. Nearly all the usual ceremonies are also preserved, except that the parts sung in Latin are interspersed here and there with German hymns. These have been added to teach the people. For ceremonies are needed for this reason alone, that the uneducated be taught what they need to know about Christ.
Therefore, since the Mass among us follows the example of the Church, taken from the Scripture and the Fathers, we are confident that it cannot be disapproved. This is especially so because we keep the public ceremonies, which are for the most part similar to those previously in use. Only the number of Masses differs.
... we keep many traditions that are leading to good order (1Cor. 14:40) in the Church, such as the order of Scripture lessons in the Mass and the chief holy days. At the same time, we warn people that such observances do not justify us before God ...
from The Augsburg Confession, Articles XXIV & XXVI.
Calendar Of Annually Revised Posts. Scroll down to Blog Archive to find links.
Advent. Hell Yes There's A Santa Claus. (6 Dec) O What's an Antiphon? Christmas / Navidad / Weinachten. (25 Dec) The 12 Days of Christmas. Happy Whatever Day This Is. (1 Jan) Wilhelm Löhe. (2 Jan) Epiphany / Theophany / Los Tres Reyes. (6 Jan) Roman Empire/Church, East/West/Holy. (16 Jan) - founding day of the Roman Empire Candlemas. (2 Feb) A Love Story For St Valentine's Day. (14 Feb) The Confession of St Peter. On Chairs Too. (22 Feb) Readin', Writin', and Absolute Multitude. (25 Feb) - founding day of The University of Iowa The Transfiguration of Jesus. What's A Septuagesima? Gesimatide. What's A Quadragesima? Lent / Fastenzeit. Divine Service -- What's That and Why Bother? (12 Mar) - the real feast of St Gregory the Great, not 3 Sep Divine Office -- What's That and Why Bother? (21 Mar) - the real feast of St Benedict, not 11 July The Annunciation / Lady Day. (25 Mar) Palmarum and Holy Week. Maundy Thursday / Gründonnerstag. Good Friday / Karfreitag. Easter Vigil / Osternacht. Pascha / Easter / Counting the Omer. Paschaltide / Quinquagesima paschalis. The Founding of the City, 21 April. May Day, May Day! CFW Walther. (7 May) Pentecost / Shavuot / Pfingstfest. Armed Forces Week And Day. Memorial Day Is Not All Saints Day. (30 May) St Boniface, OSB. (5 June) When In Rome ... The Nativity of St John the Baptist. (24 June) The Augsburg Confession. (25 June) The Fourth of July. A Different St Nicholas -- and Alexandra, Passion-Bearers. (17 July) Robert Barnes. (30 July) The Dormitory of Mary. (15 August) On St Bernard, Sacred Heads, ATMs and Other Stuff. (19 Aug) St Monica and Vatican II For Lutherans. (27 Aug) - Vatican II's Monica feast day, the real one is 4 May Augustine and Happy Birthday, Western Catholic Church. (6 Sep) Holy Crap Day. (14 Sep) The Divine Environment. An Essay on the Lifted Cross. It's Fall, What Happened to the High Holydays and Sukkoth? St Michael's Day / Michaelmas / Michaelistag. (29 Sep) Jerome. (30 Sep) Boethius, Terence, Wheel of Fortune. (23 Oct) Reformation Day etc / Reformationstag usw. (31 Oct) Election Day. What's An Armistice? Veterans Day/St Martin's Day. (11 Nov) Thanksgiving. (19 Nov) A Thanksgiving That Lasts An Eternity.
A DAILY BIBLE VERSE, GREAT LUTHERAN BLOGS, THE LUTHERAN WITNESS, MY LUTHERAN HEROES, WE ARE BEGGARS. THIS IS TRUE, THE "PRELUDE" TO MY FAITH, THE ONLY THEOLOGIAN WORTH READING, THE ONLY PHILOSOPHER WORTH READING, ABOUT ME, FACEBOOK BADGE, OLD LUTHERAN TIDBIT OF THE DAY, ISSUES ETC. BUTTON, FEEDJIT LIVE TRAFFIC FEED, BIG BLOGROLL O'VARK ( BBOV), PAST ELDER PUBLISHED ELSEWHERE, LUTHERAN SITES, THE TIBER, REFERENCE BOOK LIST, SOME GOSPEL MUSIC AND PREACHING, NEWS, REFERENCE AND SEARCH SITES.
Which are Luther's last words, written as he could not speak, the first words in German and the last in Latin, 18 February 1546.
In a letter of 9 July 1537, Luther wrote that he really wasn't all that big on a plan to collect his works in a series of volumes, that he would rather see them consumed as Saturn, in Greek mythology, consumed his children, except maybe De servo arbitrio and the Catechism.
De servo arbitrio is a theological treatise, therefore in Latin, of 1525. The title is usually known in English as "On the Bondage of the Will". It more literally translates as "On (or concerning, or of) Bound Decision (or choice)". Both the title and the work itself counter Erasmus' treatise De libero arbitrio, or Of Free Will, of 1524.
Which is the whole thing, or nothing -- what is it to be saved, what is salvation anyway, and how does it come about?
Here is a link to an online posting of the first English translation, by Henry Cole in 1823, who literally translates the title as "On the Enslaved Will".
I'm glad the Saturn urge didn't prevail, though, because "Babylonian Captivity" (1520), the work that set an initially sympathetic Erasmus off against Luther, and the House (1542, 1549) and Church (1527) Postils (sermons on the lectionary -- the real one -- readings; homilies) I put right up there with "Bondage" and the Catechism (meaning both the large and small ones).
Hey, the Hauspostille are from after he wrote that letter anyway.
Not to mention, though Luther would mention it, that it is not about Luther or his writings, but the faith of Christ, which we hold with one heart is accurately stated in the Book of Concord, Concordia in Latin, which Luther never saw, complied 34 years after his death, and of whose contents he wrote only the Catechisms and the Smalcald Articles.
The Jerusalem Bible, Alexander Jones gen. ed. Garden City NY: Doubleday, 1966.
Three Treatises (Martin Luther), 2nd Rev Ed. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1970. (The 1520 treatises.)
Luther's Small Catechism with Explanation (1943) St Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1943. 1965.
* Luther's Small Catechism with Explanation (1991) St Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1991. 2005, 2008. (The 2008 version uses the ESV and the Concordia Reader's Edition BOC in the Explanation, neither of which existed when the volume came out it 1991, and the new illustrations from 2005. The first version is still in print too and uses the NIV and the Tappert BOC in the Explanation, with the new illustrations.)
Complete Sermons of Martin Luther (7 vols.) Grand Rapids MI: Baker Books, 2000. (Actually the complete Church and House Postils)
* Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, 2 ed. St Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2006.
* The Augsburg Confession. St Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2006. (Booklet of the AC from Concordia)
* Law and Gospel. A Reader's Edition. CFW Walther. St Louis: Concordia Pulishing House, 2010.
The Reformation Essays of Dr Robert Barnes. Eugene OR: Wipf and Stock, 2007.
The Apostolic Fathers, Jack Sparks ed. Nashville: Nelson, 1978.
* God Grant It. Daily Devotions from CFW Walther. St Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2006.
To Live With Christ. Bo Giertz. St Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2009.
* Portals of Prayer. St Louis: Concordia Publishing House, quarterly periodical.
Jewish Literacy. Rabbi Joseph Telushkin. New York: William Morrow & Company, 1991.
The Authorised Daily Prayer Book, 2. Ed. London: Eyre and Spottiswoode Ltd, 1962. The "Singer Siddur".
The Holy Scriptures. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1955. 1917.
* The Lutheran Hymnal. St Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941.
Lutheran Service Book. St Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2006.
Saint Joseph Daily Missal. New York: Catholic Book Publishing Co., 1950.
Manual of Prayers. Baltimore: John Murphy Company, 1916. 1888. Imprimatur by James Cardinal Gibbons.
1. This is a parody of Nietzsch's Götzen-Dämmerung, oder, Wie man mit dem Hammer philosophirt, meaning Twilight of the Idols, or, How to Philosophise with a Hammer. It means Dawn, or, How One Theologises with a Hammer.
2. The line comes from Marcus Tullius Cicero's work Orator ad M Brutus, About the Orator, Also Dedicated to Brutus, Chapter 34, section 120, and means Not to know what happened before you were born is to be forever a child.
3. The line comes from Decimus Junius Juvenalis' Satire Ten, line 356, and means You should pray for a sound mind in a sound body, asking, he goes on to say, for a strong heart that sees long life as the least thing giving the ability to endure anything, that has neither wrath nor desire, and would prefer the hard labours of Hecules to the self-indulgent pleasures and luxuries of Sardanapalus, the decadent Assyrian king of legend.
4. The line is a motto used by the Austrian (the part where he was born is now in the Ukraine) music theorist Heinrich Schenker. He may have based it on lines from either or both of Augustine's Confessions or Irenaeus' Against Heresies, that say God is always the same knowing in the same way things that are not the same nor in the same way. He saw tonality as the composing-out through structural levels in music of this divine attribute, for which the Nazis rejected him as having corrupted music theory with Jewish monotheism. He died in 1935 before Germany's annexation of Austria in 1938, but his wife Jeanette ended up in Theresienstadt, which the Nazis tried to make a showcase for how the camps weren't so bad (the same one from which Dr Viktor Frankl survived to give Man his greatest psychology, logotherapy), and died there four months to the day before the Soviet Army liberated the camp 8 May 1945.