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Lutheran Service Book: 4 years & counting

February 3, 2011

My congregation began using Lutheran Service Book (LSB) on the last Sunday in September, 2006. Having lived with the hymnal for well over 4 years, I had a few thoughts about why I like this hymnal so much more than Lutheran Worship (LW), the previous hymnal.

1. Harmonizations – The harmonizations in LSB are vastly superior to those in LW. With LSB we’ve had a throw-back to the harmonizations of The Lutheran Hymnal (TLH), which were written with 4-part singing in mind. While these type of harmonizations did exist in LW, there were also many harmonizations that were not easily singable in parts, and were often strange harmonically. I like altered harmonizations and use them often, but I use them as the exception, not the main harmonization for a hymn. LSB has (mostly) restored the TLH philosophy of hymn harmonizations.

2. Divine Service 3 – LSB has restored The Order of Holy Communion (pg. 15) from TLH to (mostly) its original form. The version in LW (Divine Service 1) made many changes that were unnecessary, including altering melodies or changing the text (mostly updating it from King James style English). I do agree that it was good that LW lowered the music of TLH to make it more singable, which was also done in LSB.

(Interestingly enough, I was not raised on TLH but LW, so Divine Service 1, the altered form of TLH pg. 15, was what I was used to. However, after we moved and attended a church that used TLH, the original felt more familiar and more comfortable almost immediately.)

3. New Hymns – While I do not like all the new hymns in LSB, there are so many good additions that I can overlook some of the stinkers. I particularly enjoy the hymns of Pr. Stephen Starke, who is quite prolific in LSB. A great example is LSB 941 "We Praise You and Acknowledge You" which is a versification of the Te Deum set to a tune from Gustav Holst’s Jupiter. What a magnificent hymn!

4. Lutheran Service Builder – Our congregation prints the liturgy in the bulletin each week, to make it easier for those in attendance to follow along and participate. When I arrived here, the secretary would have to manually cut and paste (as in, with paper and tape) the parts of the liturgy into the service. I had to help with that once and decided then and there to put the whole liturgy into Finale, which I did and which worked well. But Lutheran Service Builder has taken that to a whole other level. I agree that the Builder can make it easy to make liturgical mischief (such as combing parts of Divine Service 1, 3, & Evening Prayer, as I’ve seen done), but it also has made my job much easier. Producing a professional looking bulletin is much simpler, that’s for sure.

Lutheran Service Book is an excellent hymnal that I look forward to using for many years to come.

Do you use Lutheran Service Book and have thoughts? I’m curious about the perspective of someone sitting in the pew, as my perspective is certainly different than most in attendance.


From → Church Music, Hymns

  1. Vicki Schnack permalink

    I agree, Nathan, with what you have said. LW was more of a musician’s hymnal than many congregations felt comfortable with. I thought it was poorly put together from the beginning. We dedicated our LSB’s just last Sunday and have been using them since last Sept. They are much easier for a congregation to use, the harmonizations are wonderful and very singable, and I especially enjoy Divine Service III. Our congregation has only used Divine Service III both with and without Communion and Matins. I am thankful that in Matins the beautiful Te Deum is as “it should be!” I enjoy some of the new hymn additions, but not all of them. Our church still seems to feel we need to do more gospel-type things which I can do without!

  2. At First Lutheran in Little Rock, we use LSB. LSB is really the only hymnal I have used for any length of time. I became a Lutheran in 2005 so I only used LW for a year. I like LSB, but I really have nothing to compare it too in my experience. First uses DS 3 most exclusively with and without Communion. I also like Pr. Starke’s hymns even though we don’t use them much.

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