Worship according to Walther

C.F.W Walther, first president of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, wrote the following in an ecclesiastical publication in 1853.

“Whenever the Divine Service once again follows the old Evangelical-Lutheran agendas (or church books) it seems that many raise a great cry that it is ‘Roman Catholic’: ‘Roman Catholic’ when the pastor chants ‘The Lord be with you’ and the congregation responds by chanting ‘and with thy spirit’; ‘Roman Catholic’ when the pastor chants the collect and the blessing and the people respond with a changed ‘Amen’…

“Those who cry out should remember that the Roman Catholic Church possesses every beautiful song of the old orthodox Church. The chants and antiphons and responses were brought into the church long before the false teachings of Rome crept in. This Christian Church since the beginning, even in the Old Testament, has derived great joy from chanting….For more than 1700 years orthodox Christians have particpated joyfully in the Divine Service. Should we, today, carry on by saying that such joyful particpation is ‘Roman Catholic’? God forbid! Therefore, as we continue to hold and to restore our wonderful Divine Services in places where they have been forgotten, let us boldly confess that our worship forms do not unite us with modern sects or with the Church of Rome; rather, they join us to the one, holy Christian Church that is as old as the world and is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets.” (Der Lutheraner, 1853)

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4 thoughts on “Worship according to Walther

  1. Walther’s comments only prove how woefully ignorant he was of the felt needs of his congregation. Had he employed the New Measures of drum set, guitar, and liturgical dance, he might have set the then-known world Ablaze!(TM). Thank God Walther is dead (wishing the same to those rascally GenX and Y-ers and Z-ers who keep pining for the liturgy).

  2. Rob Contra Mundum:

    I am sorry for not including the full reference. I found it in Dean Wenthe’s paper entitled “The Character of God” which was included in the book, “Church and Ministry: The Collected Papers of the 150th Anniversary Theological Convocation of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.” It was a book published through the President’s Office in 1998. I don’t know where you can get it.

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