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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.

20 December 2007

A Carol Communion Service

Holy FamilyAs I grew up in the Church and matured in the Faith, my appreciation for the Liturgy gradually deepened. Yet I also learned that we are not bound to form. Rather, a number of different settings convey the fullness of its expression through varied yet reverential types of music. Among these, one of my favorite is the Deutsche Messe, the German vernacular setting written by Martin Luther. A variation appeared in Lutheran Worship while a more substantial setting is in the Lutheran Service Book.

Along these lines, I several years ago encountered a carol setting for the Lord’s Supper. It used the music of Christmas songs for the Communion liturgy. However, it only involved the Preface through the Benediction. It also interrupted the Words of Institution with singing.

While I lived in Texas, I slowly worked through a complete responsive liturgical setting, from Invocation through Benediction, using familiar Christmas music. I tweak it every once in a while — this year, I made several minor adjustments while completely rewriting the Agnus Dei. It got a new meter, therefore a new tune had to be selected. I also added the Nunc Dimittis.

The pastor’s parts are written in regular type, the congregation’s responses in bold. The names of the tunes link to the Cyber Hymnal, so if you’re not sure of the melody, you can hear it for yourself.

Each section of the service appears in subsequent posts rather than trying to fit it all into one. I’ve several times vetted this with brother pastors, but welcome any new comments and suggestions, especially involving doctrine, clarity of expression, and metrical flow. I’d appreciate if you let me know if and when you use it. And if you do, please respect the copyright, give proper attestation, and make no changes without permission.

Because of the first liturgical tune, you might want to begin with “O Come, All Ye Faithful” and segue into the Invocation. Should you want to use it, I created a copier-ready, print and fold order of service (118.4k PDF) ready to download. Since the Confession of Faith is sung immediately before the sermon, I suggest singing the Hymn of the Day between Epistle and Gospel. Solos, choir anthems, and the like may be substituted or inserted as needed.

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