January 18, 2004
Sign o' the times

What with everything going on I hadn't been to church, or anything related to it, since that caroling outing. It had been even longer since I'd been to its 9 a.m. service. For some reason back when I drove across town to Christian Assembly I didn't have much trouble getting there at 9, but now I'm going to a church with half the commute time I sleep in more often. Maybe it's because I know even in my sleep that this service, which is shorter, without the driving and without a long confab with Telford, isn't going to take as big a chunk out of my day. But this morning I woke up early, so I made the early one.

Grace Lutheran's early service is "contemporary" and its 11 a.m. service is "traditional." From the ones I'd attended before I saw little difference; the early show had a low-key band playing as people wander in (some of the songs I remember from CA), the choir sang a newish tune before Communion, and the Lord's Prayer was in modern rather than King James English. Other than that, they were identical.

But for the New Year, apparently, they changed all the liturgical music. The variable hymns are still from the same hymnals, but the Kyrie and other sung bits of the standard service had changed. For instance, here's the beginning the traditional hymn following the Kyrie:

Worthy is Christ, the Lamb who was slain, whose blood set us free to be people of God. Power and riches and wisdom and strength, and honor and blessing and glory are his. This is the feast of victory for our God. Alleluia. Sing with all the people of God and join in the hymn of all creation.

The new version goes:
(chorus) Now the feast and celebration, all of creation sings for joy to the God of life and love and freedom; praise and glory forever more;
Now is the feast of the Lamb once slain, whose blood has freed and united us to be one great people of God. (chorus)
Power and riches, wisdom and might, all honor and glory to Christ forever (chorus)

As you can see, the lyrical changes rearrange the words without really changing their meaning. But the music is quite different. Normally some spritely organ music would accompany this, but the mod version featured an electric keyboard, a tamborine and conga drums played, like all the new musical bits, at a dreamy andante tempo.

Somewhere around the communion hymn, it hit me what it all reminded me of: those William Shatner Priceline.com ads. Once I had that image in my mind, it was pretty hard to keep a straight face. I don't know, maybe I should stick with the 11 o'clock service. I don't think Lutherans, God love 'em, should try to be cool.

Posted by Camassia at January 18, 2004 10:20 PM | TrackBack

I believe the contemporary version of the Hymn of Praise that you experienced ("Now the feast and celebration") is from a liturgy written by Marty Haugen. It's actually quite popular with Catholics and other denominations, too.

Come to think of it, this particular liturgy has been around for a long time; twenty years maybe? (Gosh, I'm old.) If you'd like to know more about Marty Haugen, I think his website is www.martyhaugen.net.

Here's a thought: If the work of someone like Marty Haugen has become so popular that in contemporary services, it has become an accepted standard, at what point did "contemporary" become "traditional"?

I gotta chuckle about that.

Posted by: Dash on January 19, 2004 12:18 PM

I checked the date on "Now the Feast..." It was published in 1990, so 14 years. My mistake.

Posted by: Dash on January 20, 2004 02:10 PM
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