Friday, December 13, 2013

Received for Review

Bollhagen, James. Ecclesiastes (Concordia Commentary). St. Louis, Concordia, 2011. 475 Pages. Cloth. $49.99. (P)

Voelz, James. W. Mark 1:1-8:26 (Concordia Commentary). St. Louis, Concordia, 2013. 737 Pages. Cloth. $49.99. (P)

Peters, Albrecht. Translated by Holger K. Sonntag. Creed (Commentary on Luther's Catechisms). St. Louis: Concordia, 2011. 588 Pages. Paper. $42.99. (P)
Peters, Albrecht. Translated by Holger K. Sonntag. Lord's Prayer (Commentary on Luther's Catechisms). St. Louis: Concordia, 2011. 222 Pages. Paper. $42.99. (P)
Peters, Albrecht. Translated by Holger K. Sonntag. Baptism and Lord's Supper Commandments (Commentary on Luther's Catechisms). St. Louis: Concordia, 2012. 248 Pages. Paper. $42.99. (P)
Peters, Albrecht. Translated by Holger K. Sonntag. Confession and Christian Life (Commentary on Luther's Catechisms). St. Louis: Concordia, 2013. 280 Pages. Paper. $42.99. (On sale: $36.99.) (P)

Order the entire five-volume set of Peters' Commentary on Luther's Catechisms:
Set now on sale for only $99.99!

Enter promo code LLC at checkout.
(A $214.95 value)
LHP QBR reviewed the first volume of this set back in 2010:

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

FW: Liturgy wars. . .

More from Peters…


Feed: Pastoral Meanderings
Posted on: Saturday, November 30, 2013 5:00 AM
Author: (Pastor Peters)
Subject: Liturgy wars. . .


A friend directed me to an interesting paper by Dom Alcuin Reid on The New Liturgical Movement After the Pontificate of Benedict XVI.  It was interesting although the worship wars of the Roman Catholic Church are distinctly different than the worship wars of Lutheranism.

The paper begins with a note to the difference in dress between BXVI and Francis upon their election and first appearance from the central loggia of St. Peter's Basilica.  At that point the whole world knew that Francis was not Benedict.  His attire said as much.  He made a personal decision to reject how popes had traditionally vested for the Urbi et Orbi moment.  Dom Alcuin Reid cautions about making each pope's style or personal preference the victory or defeat of the liturgy.  In fact he goes on to cite the difficulty in a media age from distinguishing the words of the pope when speaking ex cathedra and when he is speaking according to his own manifest mind and will.  He urges respect for the later but the acknowledgement that idolizing everything the pope says is nothing more and nothing less than ultramonantism (the belieef that any opinion, act or judgement of the pople is above criticism or infallible and to be followed as the teaching of Christ Himself.

Long before he became pope, Cardinal Ratzinger made exactly the same point.  The Pope is not an absolute monarch and demand obedience to himself but is supposed to be the premier guardian of the authentic Tradition and obedience is to that Tradition whom the pope preserves.  He cannot simply do as he likes.  In fact, Ratzinger wrote of this as the difference between a technician who builds new and discards old machines on a junkpile and a gardener who nurtures the living tradition by handing it on faithfully.

Dom Alcuin Reid continues by suggesting that part of the problem is this confusion of personal choice with the preservation of the authentic tradition, even saying out loud what many have whispered:  that Paul VI imposed his own personal will on the liturgical tradition when he implemented the Vatican II reform and went well beyond what the explicit words of the Council had said.  In March of 1969 one of the Cardinals write "If the Holy Father has decided to reform the Liturgy, we must accept."

But maybe they should not have just accepted.  For clearly the spirit of Vatican II became a spirit in conflict with the express pronouncements of the Council and indeed a distinct influence upon the liturgical reforms of communions well beyond Rome.  Reid insists that the personal style or preferences of a given pope are not law and it is possible that a pope can make errors of judgement or give confusing and even misleading witness to the church and world.

With respect to the worship wars of Lutherans, personal preference is indeed the name of the game.  The witness of the Confessions, the example of the Reformers and their earliest successors, the church orders of Lutheranism from the sixteenth century, and the practice of the Church of the Augsburg Confession have all become less important than what either the people in the pews or the people not in the pews or those leading worship desire.  We have an anarchy of personal preference in which the particular desires, preferences, or style of one becomes papal in authority over the many.

Some would say that is exactly what I do as a Pastor working to restore the liturgy, manifest the full resources of our Lutheran liturgical tradition, respect the Confessional words and practice of our Church, and maintain an identity on Sunday morning which is consistent with what we believe, confess, and teach.  I am accused even in this blog of playing pope to the detriment of the wishes of the people whom I serve.  But I would maintain that I am not advancing personal preference or style but preserving the faithful tradition as a gardener tends the garden.  What has happened, however, is that our practice has come so far from our Confession that when we restore that evangelical and catholic tradition, we are accused of Romanizing or of imposing personal preference over the preferences of the congregation.

Lets cover a few of the hot button items. 

  • Chanting is not personal preference.  It was and is the accepted practice of the Church before Luther and it was the customary tradition of Lutherans after Luther.  That we forgot it for a time is our failing and not a virtue.  
  • Weekly Communion is not personal preference.  It was and is the accepted practice of the Church before Luther and it was the customary tradition of Lutherans after Luther.  
  • Full eucharistic vestments is not personal preference.  It was and is the accepted practice of the Church before Luther and it was the customary tradition of Lutherans after Luther. 
  • Liturgical integrity is not personal preference.  It was and is the accepted practice of the Church before Luther and it was the customary tradition of Lutherans after Luther. 
  • Kneeling is not personal preference.  It was and is the accepted practice of the Church before Luther and it was the customary tradition of Lutherans after Luther. 
  • Crossing oneself is not personal preference.  It was and is the accepted practice of the Church before Luther and it was the customary tradition of Lutherans after Luther. 

I could expand the list but I am sure this is enough to cause a few comments from those reading....  No Lutheran Pastor who works to restore these items is acting papal or imposing personal preference.  These are who we are as Lutherans.  Just because we have allowed personal preference to dispose of these practices does not mean that to restore them is to invoke personal preference.  As someone once said of Lutherans, our problem is not that we do not have a pope but that we have too many.  At the core and center of the liturgy wars in Rome (EF or NO) or worship wars in Lutheranism is the confusion of personal preference with tradition (the good kind, that kind that Pelikan called the living faith of the dead as opposed to traditionalism, the dead faith of the living).  Rome may be listening too much to the personal style and preference of its current pope but Lutherans have made personal preference the pope and listen to much to what people want and too little to what is faithful and authentic practice of what the faith of our Confessions.

I know I will have stirred up a hornets nest here but I think these words need to be said.  We are not Calvinists imposing something foreign to our tradition on Sunday morning.  We are Lutherans acting like the Lutherans we say we are in our Confessions.  If you like or dislike these things, well, you like or dislike them;  to make conflicting and competing likes and dislikes papal pronouncements is to miss the forest for the trees.  We do not do these things because we like them but because we are Lutheran.  I write this only because I find it confusing and frustrating that our failure to be who we are on Sunday morning has become normal and trying to restore the integrity of our practice to the integrity of our Confessions has become the odd man out. 

View article...

Received for Review

Hodge, Bodie, General Editor. The War on Christmas: Battles in Faith, Tradition, and Religious Expression. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2013. 144 Pages. Paper. $17.99. (LHP)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Closing Issue 7.4 and Volume 7 and Opening Volume 8 and Issue 8.1

Advent: Closing Issue 7.4 and Opening Issue 8.1

This post will mark the last entry in QBR 7.4, Angels' Tide,
and the opening entry in Christmastide, QBR 8.1

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Advent Music

Page CXVI. Advent to Christmas. Boulder: SoundCloud/Page CXVI, 2013. mp3 audio download. $9.99.  (H)
Advent to Christmas is the first of three projected Church Calendar albums by a group we've reviewed on a couple of occasions, Page CXVI.

This brief album of seven tracks left me wanting more. I pray there will be more in their Church Year series. Tracks include:
  1. Awake My Soul
  2. Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus
  3. Comfort, Comfort, Now My People
  4. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
  5. Angels We Have Heard on High
  6. O Come, All Ye Faithful
  7. Silent Night
Expect new and modified melodies. Expect to be able to sing along to the hymn texts you already have memorized while listening in your car.

This album is more edifying to me than secularized "Siberian Steamroller" mall musak that retailers have already begun playing. Hear comfort in Christ. Hear words supported by freshened music.

Advent to Christmas releases on December 3.

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Yellowstone Circuit Visitor (LCMS Wyoming District), a permanent member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, Editor of QBR, and author of 5 Things You Can Do to Make Your Congregation a Caring Church.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Received for Review

Ham, Ken. Six Days: The Age of the Earth and the Decline of the Church. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2013. 256 Pages. Paper. $13.99. (LHP)

Purdom, Georgia, General Editor. Galapagos Islands: A Different View. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2013.  104 Pages. Cloth. $18.99. (LHP)

Schroeder, Joel Allen, Director. Dear Mr. Watterson. (Documentary about the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes and its enduring cultural legacy) Pre-release online screener. LINK TO PHOTOS: (LHPN)

Finale 2014. Eden Prarie, MN: MakeMusic, 2013. Music notation/composition software. Windows/Mac. (Retail: $600; Academic/Theological: $350; Upgrade from Finale, previous version $139.95; Trade up from Allegro: $300; Trade up from PrintMusic: $400. Trade Up from SongWriter: $450; Switch from competitive product $139.) (LH)

Lectionary Psalms: the Revised Grail Psalms (As Found in Lead Me, Guide Me Second Edition). Chicago: GIA, 2013. Audio CD set. $29.95. (LH)  

Lectionary Psalms: the Revised Grail Psalms (As Found in Lead Me, Guide Me Second Edition). Chicago: GIA, 2012. Spiral sheet music. $34.95. (LH) 

Lead Me, Guide Me (Second Edition). Chicago: GIA, 2013. Cloth Hymnal. $15.50. (LH) 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Received for Review

The Project. Martyrs Prayers. Indianapolis: Saints and Survivors, 2012. (Audio CD, $12.99.) mp3 audio download, $9.99. (HN) 

Page CXVI. Advent to Christmas. Boulder: SoundCloud/Page CXVI, 2013. mp3 audio download. $9.99.  (H)

Getty, Keith and Kristyn Getty. Live at the Gospel Coalition: Modern and Traditional Hymns (Songbook). Nashville: GettyMusic, 2013. 44 Pages. Paper. $14.99. (downloadable version available for $11.99) (LH)

Carrico, David. 1635: Music and Murder (Ring of Fire). Riverdale, NY: Baen, 2013. 518 Pages. Kindle e-book. $4.99.  (N)

Flint, Eric, David Carrico. 1636: Seas of Fortune (Ring of Fire). Riverdale, NY: Baen, 2013. 485 Pages. Kindle e-book. $8.59.  (N)

Flint, Eric, David Carrico. 1636: The Devil's Opera (Ring of Fire). Riverdale, NY: Baen, 2013. 528 Pages. Kindle e-book. $8.59. (Hardcover available for $18.48.)  (N)

(The books above are available in digital and paper formats.)

Grantville Gazette, Volumes 42-50. Moore, OK: 1632, Inc., 2012-13. Digital downloadable file (various formats). Subscription rates vary. (N)

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Received for Review

Getty, Keith and Kristyn. Live at the Gospel Coalition: Modern and Traditional Hymns. Nashville: Gettymusic, 2013. Audio CD. $13.99. (H)

Ham, Ken, General Editor. The New Answers Book 4: Over 30 Questions on Creation/Evolution and the Bible. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2013. 410 Pages. Paper. $14.99. (LHP)

Ham, Ken, and Bodie Hodge. The Answers Book for Kids 5: 20 Questions from Kids on Space and Astronomy. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2013. 48 Pages. Cloth. $7.99. (LHP)

Ham, Ken, and Bodie Hodge. The Answers Book for Kids 6: 22 Questions from Kids on Babel and the Ice Age. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2013. 48 Pages. Cloth. $7.99. (LHP)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Received for Review

Hawn, C. Michael, compiler and editor. Foreword by John L. Bell. Preface by Pablo Sosa. New Songs of Celebration Render: Congregational Song in the Twenty-first Century. Chicago: GIA, 2013. 460 Pages. Cloth with audio CD. $42.95. (LHP) 

Tice, Adam M. L. Stars Like Grace: 50 More Hymn Texts. Chicago: GIA, 2013. 128 Pages. Spiral. $19.95. (H) 

Gathered for God. Chicago: GIA, 2013. Sheet music: $18.50. Audio CD: $16.95. (LHP) 

Haas, David. We Are Not Alone: Hymns, Psalms and Songs for Eucharist and the Hours. Chicago: GIA, 2013. Sheet music: $26.50. Booklet of Reflections and Prayers: $9.95. Audio CD: $16.95. (LH) 

Alonso, Tony and Marty Haugen. The Lyric Psalter: Revised Grail Lectionary Psalms (Year A). Chicago: GIA, 2013. Spiral music: $25.00. Audio CD set: $39.50. (LH) 

Lowenberg, Kenneth. Gregorian Preludes for the Liturgical Year. Chicago: GIA, 2013. 47 Pages. Paper. $25.00. (LHP) 

Joncas, Michael. God of All Beginnings: Liturgical Music for Choir and Assembly. Chicago: GIA, 2013. Sheet music: $20.00. Audio CD: $16.95. (L) 

Cry Out with Joy: Responsorial Psalms, Gospel Acclamations and Universal Prayers for the Liturgy of the Word (Christmas, Triduum, Solemnities, and Other Celebrations). Chicago: GIA, 2013. Spiral sheet music: $33.00. Audio CD set: $25.95. (LH) 

Cry Out with Joy: Responsorial Psalms, Gospel Acclamations and Universal Prayers for the Liturgy of the Word (Year A). Chicago: GIA, 2013. Spiral sheet music: $33.00. Audio CD set: $25.95. (LH) 

Cheppponis, James. Mass for the People of God (Choral Accompaniment Edition). Chicago: GIA, 2013. Paper. $4.50. (L)  

Bell, John L. The Truth that Sets Us Free: Biblical Songs for Worship. Chicago: GIA, 2013. Sheet music: $14.95. Audio CD: $16.95. (H) 

Tate, Paul A. Seasons of Grace, Volume 5. Chicago: GIA, 2013. Sheet music: $20.00. Audio CD: $16.95. (LHP) 

Lawton, Liam. Eternal. Chicago: GIA, 2013. Sheet music: $20.00. Audio CD: $16.95. (LHP) 

Stuempfle, Herman G., Jr. The Song of Faith Unsilenced: Hymns, Songs and Carols. Chicago: GIA, 2013. Spiral. $21.95. (H) 

Blest Are Those Who Mourn: Music for the Order of Christian Funerals. Chicago: GIA, 2013. Paper. $3.95. (LH) 

Schrock, Dennis. Handel's Messiah: A Performance Practice Handbook. Chicago: GIA, 2013. 111 Pages. Spiral. $16.95. (LHP) 

Lawton, Liam, with Theresa Donohoo. Catholic Irish Classics. Chicago: GIA, 2013. Audio CD. $16.95. (H) 

My Lenten Prayer: Morning and Evening Prayers for People on the Go. Chicago: GIA, 2013. Audio CD set: $25.95. (LH) 

Lectionary Psalms: the Revised Grail Psalms (As Found in Lead Me, Guide Me Second Edition). Chicago: GIA, 2013. Audio CD set. $29.95. (LH) 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Closing Issue 7.3 and Opening Issue 7.4

Michaelmas: Closing Issue 7.3 and Opening Issue 7.4

This post will mark the last entry in QBR 7.3, Apostles' Tide,
and the opening entry in Angels' Tide, QBR 7.4

Friday, September 27, 2013

Received for Review

Thompson, John J., Annotator. NIV Worship Together Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013. 1267 Pages. Cloth. $34.99. (P)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Received for Review

DeYoung, Kevin. Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book About a (Really) Big Problem. Wheaton: Crossway, 2013. 124 Pages. Paper. $11.99. (LHP)

Grudem, Wayne and Barry Asmus. Foreword by Rick Warren. The Poverty of Nations: A Sustainable Solution. Wheaton: Crossway, 2013. 399 Pages. Paper. $30.00. (LHP unsol)

Chapell, Bryan, General Editor. Dane Ortlund, General Editor. Gospel Transformation Bible. Wheaton: Crossway, 2013. 1904 Pages. Cloth. $39.99. (LHP)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Received for Review

Countdown Commemorative Medallions to the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation (Dr. Martin Luther; Luther Caught in a Lightning Storm; Luther Becomes a Monk; Luther Travels to Rome; Luther Receives Doctor of Theology Degree; Luther's Tower Experience). Delhi, NY; American Lutheran Publicity Bureau 2011-2013, projected through 2017. Prices vary from $1 to $18 each. (LHPN)

Jenson, Robert W. A Large Catechism. Delhi, NY: American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, 1991, 2013. 72 Pages. Paper. $6.00. (P)

Braaten, Carl E., Editor. Preaching and Teaching the Law and Gospel of God. Delhi, NY: American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, 2013. 174 Pages. Paper. $14.00. (LHPQ)

Wilcock, Penelope. 100 Stand-Alone Bible Studies: To grow healthy home groups. Oxford, England: Monarch Books, 2013. 233 Pages. Paper. $19.99. (P)

Hill, Kathryn Ann. To You It Has Been Given: The Parables of Jesus in Picture and Verse. Fort Wayne: Lutheran Legacy, 2011. 100 Pages. Paper. $13.95. (HQ)

Corzine, Jacob and Bryan Wolfmueller, editors. Theology is Eminently Practical: Essays in Honor of John T. Pless. Fort Wayne: Lutheran Legacy, 2012. 272 Pages. Paper. $16.95. (LHP)

Gerhard, Johann. Translated by Elmer M. Hohle. Edited by Heidi D. Sias. Postille: Sunday and Main Festival Gospels, Parts III and IV. Fort Wayne: Lutheran Legacy, 2012. 388 Pages. Paper. $19.95. (P)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Hymnody and Pulpit Review: Herberger

Herberger, Valerius. Translated by Matthew Carver. The Great Works of God Parts One and Two: The Mysteries of Christ and the Book of Genesis, Chapters 1-15. St. Louis: Concordia, 2010. 401 Pages. Paper. $44.99. (P)

Herberger, Valerius. Translated by Matthew Carver. The Great Works of God Parts Three and Four: The Mysteries of Christ and the Book of Genesis, Chapters 16-50. St. Louis: Concordia, 2011. 513 Pages. Paper. $44.99. (P)

"All Theology is Christology" is proved once again by this set published by Concordia, translated by Matthew Carver, and authored by pastor, author, hymnwriter, and "Jesus Preacher" Valerius Herberger.

Herberger (1562-1627), a Lutheran pastor in Fraustadt (now Wschowa), Poland, at the turn of the seventeenth century, preached through the books of the Old Testament from Genesis through Ruth, producing devout meditations on the Scriptures. "These he regarded rather like the linen cloths that wrapped the infant Jesus in the manger, and traced his Lord in every little wrinkle" (from the translator's preface).

Two Book Set Includes:

The Great Works of God Parts 1 & 2: Genesis 1-15
The Great Works of God Parts 3 & 4: Genesis 16-50

Pastor Valerius Herberger
(1562-1627) served St. Mary's parish church in Fraustadt (now Wschowa) Poland during the most difficult days of the Counter-Reformation when a royal decree ousted the congregation from its building in 1604. As a deacon and preacher in the congregation for nearly forty years, Herberger left us a remarkable example of biblical interpretation, application, and sincere devotion.

Matthew Carver
, MFA, is a translator of German and classical literature. He resides in Nashville, TN, with his wife Amanda, where they pursue interests in art, orthodox Lutheran theology, liturgy, and hymnody. (Publisher's Website)

Christ is the focus of this two-volume Genesis Commentary, expertly translated by Matthew Carver. His translation style and hymnological expertise is a great fit for Herberger's writing style, exegetically rich like Luther, and also personal and rich with Bible connections like Gerhard. (Our review of Carver's translation of Walther's Hymnal:

I loved Herberer's intoductory dedications, pithily quoting Bernard, how he parallels the passion of Christ with Joseph, Isaac, Jacob, and the other patriarchs, and a section on Adam and Even and Holy Matrimony that is comforting, instructive, and timely today.

We'd love to see more from Herberger/Carver. The Great Works of God was completed through the book of Ruth. Perhaps Concordia would consider adding to this set?

Order your set today at a bargain price!

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Yellowstone Circuit Visitor (LCMS Wyoming District), a permanent member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A New Classic: Martin Luther: Preacher of the Cross – A Study of Luther’s Pastoral Theology


Endorsed by LHP QBR


Feed: Cyberbrethren Lutheran Blog Feed
Posted on: Tuesday, September 03, 2013 2:59 PM
Author: Paul T. McCain
Subject: A New Classic: Martin Luther: Preacher of the Cross – A Study of Luther's Pastoral Theology




Endorsements are coming in for Professor John Pless' latest book: Martin Luther: Preacher of the Cross – A Study of Luther's Pastoral Theology and it would not be far from the truth to say we have here "a new classic." In this superbly done study of Luther's pastoral theology, Pless provides resource both for pastors and laity alike. For pastors, a book offering them the wisdom of Luther as pastor and for laity, the wonderful Biblical comfort and counsel that animated Luther's preaching and teaching, applied specifically to various situations in life.

Following the list of endorsements is a PDF file you can download to preview the book, view the Table of Contents, etc.

Here is insight to do a daily ministry of teaching, challenging, and comforting that truly cares for souls. Pastors facing requests to be all things to all people will find in this guide a basis for discerning what is important from what is not. They will find focus and energy to fulfill their God-appointed calling.
—Dr. Mark C. Mattes Professor of Philosophy and Theology Grand View University, Des Moines, Iowa

John Pless has distilled twelve years of teaching experience into a valuable and insightful book. Theology is a practical aptitude (Theologia est habitus practicus), especially for Lutheran pastors. Pless demonstrates the integration of heart and mind, faith and knowledge, experience and pastoral care by examining "how Luther put his evangelical theology to work in actual cases of pastoral care" (14). Pastoral care is spiritual warfare against the evil one. It is time we reclaimed that focus and seriousness in soul care. We can learn much from the "how" and "what" of Luther's Christ-centered preaching.
—Rev. Paul J Cain Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming Editor of Liturgy, Hymnody, and Pulpit Quarterly Book Review

Reliable markers are life saving to navigate any jungle. As Lutherans in Africa, we are grateful for the clear and joyful song from that Wittenberg nightingale, dispelling fear of eternal damnation by vocalizing the accomplishments of the One who overcame sin, death, and devil for the entire world. In this practical study, crucial highlights from Luther's pastoral treasury masterfully guide readers, whetting the appetite for more. This is a most suitable handbook for all who study and teach theology.
—Dr. Wilhelm Weber Rector of Lutheran Theological Seminary in Tshwane and Bishop of the Lutheran Church in Southern Africa

John Pless shows with many examples and rich quotations from Luther how the reformer brought consolation to troubled consciences and set them right with God through the encounter with both Law and Gospel. This is an important book for those who care to mine Luther's insights in assisting them in pastoral care for their own lives and the lives of those entrusted to them.
—Prof. Dr. Hans Schwarz Full Professor of Systematic Theology and Contemporary Theological Questions Institute for Evangelical Theology, University of Regensburg, Germany

The craft of responsible soul care in our confusing times is greatly enriched by Martin Luther: Preacher of the Cross—a master class in the care of souls. John Pless's long pastoral experience and years of Luther studies provide a rich storehouse of Christocentric treasures from which contemporary pastors may draw both inspiration and insight for faithful and sensitive care of the sheep and lambs of Christ.
—Rev. Harold L. Senkbeil, STM, DD Executive Director for Spiritual Care DOXOLOGY: The Lutheran Center for Spiritual Care and Counsel

The precious art of communicating Law and Gospel in pastoral situations, such as distress, despair, illness, and death, is here compactly presented with the wisdom of experience, not only John Pless's years as pastor and professor, but also and especially Martin Luther's experience of prayer and trial as seen in his catechisms and "Letters of Spiritual Counsel." The Luther quotations are ample and apt, the secondary bibliography judicious and current.
—Dr. Paul Rorem Benjamin B. Wareld Professor of Ecclesiastical History Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, New Jersey

Doctrine and life, for Luther, belong inseparably together. Therefore, the care of souls is not a distinct discipline or technique for Luther; it is not a theory but an activity. This book by John Pless is an introduction to this activity by leading the reader through the various areas of the care of souls as it is given and received. Due to the many citations, Luther himself speaks, and in this way the reader discovers what we as Christians through Christ are and what Christ has done for us and presently through Word and Sacrament does to us. This is a book that, in its clarity, serves not only to educate pastors but also to edify the congregation.
—Prof. Dr. Reinhard Slenczka, DD Professor Emeritus Erlangen Faculty of Theology, Erlangen, Germany

This book offers a sensitive, insightful assessment of how Luther opened Scripture to the daily life experiences of individual acquaintances and his Wittenberg congregation. Pless's judicious selection of texts from concrete contexts provides a bridge over the centuries that models application of God's Word today.
—Dr. Robert A. Kolb Professor of Systematic Theology Emeritus Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri

Martin Luther: Preacher of the Cross opens to us the heart of the Reformation, including the use of sacraments and vocation, and succeeds in revealing the rich practical and theological resources at our church's disposal for comforting troubled souls from cradle to grave. The insights Professor Pless offers on marriage and care of the poor alone are worth the price, to say nothing of how Luther teaches our faith properly to fight against the attacks of sin, death, and devil. This is a great, useful, and inspirational book that sets a new standard for the pastoral care of the future. It is not to be missed!
—Dr. Steven D. Paulson Professor of Systematic Theology Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota

This book is a significant contribution to pastoral theology. Not only do we read much about Luther, but this book also beckons pastors to follow suit. Pastors are entrusted with the task of being caretakers of people's troubled consciences and struggles in life; this book will again bring to the attention the truth and seriousness of pastoral care and ministry.
—Dr. Klaus Detlev Schulz Chairman, Pastoral Ministry and Missions Supervisor of PhD Missiology Program, Dean of Graduate Studies Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana


 Luther: Preacher of the Cross — Sampler


You may place an order to receive your copy as soon as we receive them from the printer in late September/early October. Click here.

We will offer it as a Kindle eBook as well, and I'll let you know when that becomes available, shortly.

The 20% professional church worker discount applies on this volume, and, as always, be sure to select "media mail" in the shipping options for the lowest shipping cost.

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Luther-Preacher-of-_sampler.pdf (234 KB)


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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Liturgy and Hymnody Review: Sacred Choral Music

The Voices of Anam Cara. James Jordan, Conductor. Inscape: Choral Music of Gerald Custer.  Chicago: GIA Publications, 2008. Audio CD. $15.95. (LH)

The Voices of Anam Cara. James Jordan, Conductor. Angels in the Architecture.  Chicago: GIA Publications, 2010. Audio CD. $15.95. (LH)

Ruff, Anthony, OSB. Canticum Novum: Gregorian Chant for Today's Choirs. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2012. 230 Pages. Paper. $16.95. (LH)

Ruff, Anthony, OSB. Canticum Novum: Gregorian Chant for Today's Choirs. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2012. Audio CD. $16.95. (LH)

Gloriae Dei Cantores Schola. The Chants of Angels (Gregorian Chant). Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press, 2011. Audio CD. $18.95. (LH)

McCabe, Michael. All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name (Hymns of Praise Anthem Series). Brewster: Paraclete Press, 2012. Hymn Anthem for Organ, Trumpet, SATB, and Congregation. $2.20. (H)

Halls, David. Ye Servants of God (Hymns of Praise Anthem Series). Brewster: Paraclete Press, 2011. SATB [sheet music] with organ, congregation, and optional trumpet. $3.10. (H)

Lau, Robert. Sing, Ye Faithful (Hymns of Praise Anthem Series). Brewster: Paraclete Press, 2011. SAB [sheet music] with organ, congregation, and optional trumpet. $2.20. (H)

More traditional sacred choral music fills this review. Let's get started!

With this recording, Gerald Custer firmly establishes himself as a major talent in choral composition. Gloriously performed by the voices of Anam Cara, conducted by James Jordan, this CD is simply breathtaking.

As beautiful as this music is, most is readily accessible to high school and college choirs, and is published as part of GIA’s Evoking Sound Choral Series. This project is a culmination of a remarkable friendship and true synergy between Custer and Anam Cara.

Writes Jordan: “I hope this recording will serve to introduce you to this honest, fresh, and gifted compositional voice. Gerald Custer is an amazing combination of composer, poet, and scholar, which produces choral music of not only great beauty but also profound message…As choral musicians, we all know that great choral music takes us on such profound inner journeys.”

This recording certainly achieves its ambitious goals.

Gerald Custer is an award-winning composer known for his deeply lyrical and melodic choral compositions. He is presently Director of Music at the First Presbyterian Church of Farmington in Farmington Hills, Michigan.
(Publisher's Website)
Borrowing the term "inscape" from the language and poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins, the voices of Anam Cara, under the direction of James Jordan, explore the inner human landscapes of the soul.

I mentally divide the disc into four segments that work well together as a whole ranging from grief and despair under the law and suffering to comfort and peace in the grace and love of Christ Jesus:
  • Hymns of Christ and the soul
  • Yeats texts
  • Elizabethan Lyrics
  • Spirituals
A highlight is track 5, a Scottish lullaby translation of Luther's Vom Himmel Hoch!

Anam Cara's soaring and heavenly vocals continue on our next disc.

"...the composer list reads like a veritable Who's Who among leading 20th Century and contemporary masters...On top of these peerless performances, we get pristine recorded sound and a solid [CD] booklet...Choral music just doesn't get any better than this."
—Lindsay Koob, reviewer for
American Record Guide (November/December 2010)
"...a magnificent outpouring of intimate and forceful choral artistry."
—Gramophone (September 2010)
Premiere recording of Blake Henson’s “My Flight from Heaven”

In this brilliant audiophile recording from James Jordan and the Voices of Anam Cara, composed of singers from his Westminster ensemble, The Westminster Williamson Voices, it is truly the angels that are in the details.

Jordan selects his favorite works by the great masters of choral composition… and then pairs each work to its ideal acoustical environment. The choir is joined on the recording by organ virtuoso Ken Cowan and Eric Schweingruber, trumpet.

The seven-second reverb in the Immaculate Conception Church in Trenton, New Jersey, to the pristine resonances of The Lawrenceville School Chapel, The Girard College Chapel, the Philadelphia Cathedral, and St. Clement’s Church in Philadelphia provide the stunning acoustics for this musical and sonic adventure.

This recording includes two works by Moses Hogan, “Wade in the Water” and “Ole Time Religion,” a tribute to Hogan’s musical genius. The premiere recording of “My Flight for Heaven” by Blake Henson is destined to be a classic. This recording also includes one of the rare recordings of the choral masterpiece by Sandstrom, a mystical setting of "Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming.

Works by Morten Lauridsen (Sure on This Shining Night), James Whitbourn (Hodie), James MacMillan (In Splendoribus Sanctorum), Felix Mendelssohn (Psalm 100), and other master composers make this an essential recording for any lover of the choral arts.
(Publisher's Website)

I found calm and solitude in the midst of stress and traffic while listening to Angels in the Architecture. From "My Flight for Heaven," track 1 to the latter spirituals and Latin of the end of the disc, I was amazed how well conductor Jordan's attempt to "record works in varing acoustics that would match the aesthetic of each piece" worked out. This demonstrates the fruit of the conductors GIA text books in the real world.

The liner notes also answered my questions about what Anam Cara and her conductor had been up to since our review of their previous recording years ago. 

We are very pleased with these two recordings and how well they represent the best of traditional choral sound in the modern world. We commend GIA for bringing them to the public and for making sheet music available for choirs and congregations (and secular audiences) to enjoy.

GIA is also the source of our next two resources, a book and CD pair on gregorian chant, the original mission and title of the Gregorian Institute of America!

From renowned chant expert and scholar Anthony Ruff, OSB, comes an incredible collection of Gregorian chant for choirs. The book contains 100 hymns and antiphons with psalm verses for every season and occasion. Word-by-word English translations of the Latin responses are provided to aid the singers’ understanding. The psalm verses are in Latin and English on facing pages with easy-to-follow pointing to match the psalm tones. The English psalm verses are from the Revised Grail Psalms. A demonstration recording of chants from Canticum novum is also available. This disc provides a very helpful model of singing these chants, while representing the broad range of chants in the complete collection. This groundbreaking work is sure to become a foremost resource for teaching and learning chant.
(Publisher's Website)

The recording provides twenty exemplar changes in Latin and English to get a choir, small group, or solo singer started. This is a pair of resources usable among Lutheran Christians with a patient, informed, and brave choir director.

The facing-page format works well for those who do not yet read Gregorian notation or understand or sing Latin. Learning both Latin and Gregorian chant was a long-time goal of mine. I made progress to that goal as a younger pastor thanks to the Lutheran Liturgical Prayer Brotherhood and their Brotherhood Prayer Book. If I had the choir budget, I would purchase enough copies of PBP and Canticum Novum to bring back Gregorian chant for today's choirs.

Sticking with Gregorian chant, we next consider a recording distributed by Paraclete Press.

GloriƦ Dei Cantores Schola presents The Chants of Angels. Using the ancient melodies and texts of the early church, each Gregorian chant depicts a new aspect or story of these heavenly guardians, guides and friends, from the most intimate plea to our own guardian angels, to the great announcement made to the Virgin Mary by the Archangel Gabriel. For those who are new to Gregorian chant and for seasoned scholars, The Chants of Angels allows listeners to simply close their eyes, and be surrounded by these songs of prayer and comfort -- just as they are surrounded by angels. (Publisher's website)
I am convinced that Gregorian chant is among the forgotten, neglected, and still recoverable treasures of the Lutheran church. Lutherans regularly used Latin in worship until the days of J. S. Bach. 

It may well be enjoyed simply for its beauty. It aught to be enjoyed in the act of singing. And it can and should be appreciated for its Divine Truth. It is good to join angels, archangels, and all the company of heaven in chants of praise to Christ.

The accompanying liner notes are a work of art, both beautiful and informative, complete with English translations of the sung Latin!

Finally, a word must be said about the Hymns of Praise Anthem series from Paraclete Press.

We were provided with three review copies of hymn anthems for three or four part choir, organ, congregation and trumpet:
  • Ye Servants of God
  • Sing, Ye Faithful
  • All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name
Anthems of this sort, involving the congregation, would be a great way to highlight a Hymn of the Day or introduce a hymn new to the congregation. I have not yet heard any of the three sung by a choir, but sitting at the piano for the purposes of this review, I very much enjoyed these settings.  

Sing to the Lord a new song! Since Christ Jesus is our eternally New Song, it matters not whether the song is brand-new from a composer's pen or Finale software or if it is merely new to us. Sing we of Christ always!

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Yellowstone Circuit Visitor (LCMS Wyoming District), a permanent member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.

LHP Review: ALPB Releases

Jenson, Robert W. On the Inspiration of Scripture. Dehli, NY: American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, 2012. 67 Pages. Paper. $TBA. (LHP)  

von Schenk, Berthold. The Presence: An Approach to the Holy Communion. Dehli, NY: American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, 2010. (Previously published by New York: Ernst Kaufmann, Inc., 1945, 1946.) 173 Pages. Paper. $12.50. (LHP)

Our friends at American Lutheran Publicity Bureau have new titles in their catalog. Here are two releases we had yet to read and review.

What does it mean that the Bible is inspired?

For many Lutherans, the inspiration of the Scriptures is mostly about why the Bible is rightly the source and norm for the church's teaching.

Robert W. Jenson, a life-long Lutheran and widely respected theologian and teacher, believes that this approach to the subject of the inspiration of the Scriptures obscures more than it illuminates. In this small book he first examines where this traditional approach falls short and then begins the process of constructing something more helpful to our understanding.

What is obscured, according to Jenson? For one thing, the actual "interests" or subjects of the Scripture itself: the stories, liturgies, visions and the rest of what is in the Bible which goes well beyond directives and information. For another, the continuing overarching narrative from Genesis to Revelation of God's action to save the world. For yet another, the actual uses the Spirit makes of Scripture in the church for worship, for preaching and meditation.

In the chapters devoted to building his new approach to the doctrine of biblical inspiration, Jenson considers what a religion's scripture is, how the Spirit's actions in the Old and New Testaments differ, Old Testament prophecy, the Old Testament's concept of inspiration, the Spirit in the Trinity, the Spirit's action in the church, and the narrative of the Scripture.
(Publisher's Website)

I do not see completely eye to eye with Dr. Jenson. We are not in fellowship. And I have concerns about his dogmatics text that deserve their own treatment on an other day.

As I ready On the Inspiration of Scripture, I asked myself, "Who is the intended audience of this little book?" Former students of Professor Jenson are now in multiple Lutheran church bodies, though most likely remain in the ELCA. I can easily believe that this book is a continued conversation with them. I'll leave the LCMS as a body aside for the moment. 

Perhaps Jenson himself is the audience and this unique slender volume is an insight into a conversation within himself, reflecting on his moderately pietist upbringing, his journey to and through the ELCA, to these later life thoughts on how Lutherans should (should have?) speak about Holy Scripture as God's Word. 

I must admit some discomfort moving from familiar terminology and concepts to new constructs or "construals." That's only natural. A healthy skepticism is a good thing in theology. The true value of this text by Jenson will be the discussion it generates in larger Lutheranism. No one can predict where that will lead. Is this on par with Sasse's Letter 14? We'll see.

The more reviews I do, the wearier I get in reading blogs that break the Eighth Commandment while purporting to uphold preservation of pure doctrine as a whole. It reminds me of the "drunk peasant" of Luther's writing who is pushed into the opposite ditch in order to "protect" him from falling in the one nearest to him. Being persecuted does not make one right any more than sinning while warning people against another sin is righteous.

Our next title is The Presence: An Approach to the Holy Communion by Berthold von Schenck. This isn't a brand-new title. It's a reprint of a primary book by a pioneer in liturgial renewal in the Lutheran church.

In Liturgy, Hymnody, & Pulpit Quarterly Book Review Volume 1, Issue 4, Angels’ Tide, 2007, we reviewed von Schenk's autobiography. It is reproduced below for your convenience and comparison.

Liturgy Book Review

Fry, C. George and Joel R. Kurz, editors. Lively Stone: The Autobiography of Berthold von Schenk. Delhi, New York: American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, 2006. 152 Pages. Paper. $12.50. (607) 746-7511 (L)

The Church lives under the cross. Such a statement might be surprising to a theologian of glory, but not to a theologian of the cross like the Rev. Berthold von Schenk. The parishes he served (and the condition in which he found them) were all on the brink of closure.

As John Hannah notes in the Forward, “….confessional revival did not extend to parish worship life” (5). This is unfortunate, as is the “Eucharistic minimum” that also prevailed. Upon reading the history of the Saxon migration, one mourns for those who died when the ship Amelia was lost at sea. In addition, one mourns in a different way for what the liturgical life of the LCMS could have been if the vestments and other liturgical traditions aboard had not been lost.

The editors do well to warn the reader about being shocked or infuriated by what he or she may encounter in these pages. (11) I could do without references to the LCMS as an old female dog (101), and unbecoming comments about J.A.O. Preus (104), Walther, Pieper, and others. Luther and Zwingli’s disagreement at Marburg was far from nonsense, as von Schenk claimed. (126) Perhaps he may have seen things differently after a conversation with Hermann Sasse, or after reading This Is My Body. Then again, perhaps not. The topic of children’s Communion (136) is again a topic of discussion in the LCMS. The author also was critical of what he called “Missouri Biblicism.” Maintaining pure doctrine is not loveless legalism. It is not an end in itself, but as a book title teaches us, Theology Is for Proclamation. Personally, I would much rather have the sermons of Oswald Hoffmann and Walter A. Maier and the theology they confessed than those of Von Schenk’s heroes, Norman Vincent Peale and Harry Emerson Fosdick. I agree with the author that the Reformation was unfortunate, but disagree with him in that it truly was necessary. (143)

The editors show common cause between von Schenk and his Atlantic district and the Wyoming district in opposing “church growth” techniques, which Von Schenk recognized as “none other than ‘the New Measures’ of the Old Frontier being readapted in the days of the New Frontier” (17).”Those living along the Willow Creeks have no sympathy for one who prophesied by the Streams of Babylon.”

Commenting upon his seminary training, Von Schenk speaks about Theodore Graebner’s opinion of liturgical theology. “His original judgment was that liturgical practices were adiaphoristic. There were many others who, like him, looked upon the liturgical revival only as a restoration of traditional ceremonies.” (30). Why ceremonies? He answers, “The primary reason I introduced ceremonies, liturgical vestments, and so forth, was not because they were intrinsically important—their introduction had the purpose of bringing color and beauty into the lives of people who lived in the ugly environment of the slums. Why should the Church not be concerned about beauty? Most of my members belonged to the disinherited class. By nature I am not a ceremonialist and ritualist, yet there must be form. It was natural that I should give thought to the form of the liturgy. I had to give my people beauty of form and worship, but sadly, this was misjudged by others” (47). When he needed a new vestment, he thought, “Why not purchase a cassock an surplice with stoles?”

Walter E Buszin and Arthur Carl Piepkorn both appear on page 116. Both played significant roles in the worship life of the LCMS. (Piepkorn’s gold cope was still in occasional use at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis when I graduated.)

Von Schenk had a passion for stewardship (64) and Evangelism (123). He saw leitourgia, missio, and diakonia as marks of the church. Consider “Do this in remembrance of Me,” “Preach the Gospel of the Kingdom,” and “serving all who need Him, especially the socially and economically disinherited” on pages 97ff and 124ff.

For an example of a “simple liturgy,” see 128, what Von Schenk considered to be “the most important contribution which I made.”

I am grateful to the ALPB for the publication of this book and welcome similar books in the future that highlight our Lutheran liturgical heritage as Christians, and those like Berthold von Schenk who retained, restored, and patiently taught others to love the gifts the Lord delivers to the people He gathers around Word and Sacrament. Even though not everything is said in the kindest way, this autobiographical volume is worthwhile, though a book to be read while putting the best construction on everything.

Disagree with von Schenk if you need to. Let's not be disagreeable about it.

Would you believe that under the LCMS Koinonia Project there is a plan underway for two conferences between the pastors of the Wyoming District and the Atlantic District? It's true! And I propose that The Presence be one of the books for pastors of both districts to read before we get together next Spring.

Berthold von Schenk (1895 - 1974) was a gifted parish pastor of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod. The Presence, originally published in 1945, brought to a wider audience what he had been meditating on and teaching his congregation for years about the meaning of Holy Communion for them and for all Christians.

What von Schenk believed about Holy Communion was thoroughly grounded in the Bible and in the historical Confessions of the Lutheran Church. But it led him toward, not away from, other Christians. Holy Communion was the way that Jesus kept his promise to be with his Church always, even unto the end of the world. "Do this," he had said, "in remembrance of me." Holy Communion therefore ought to be celebrated not just occasionally but on every Sunday and feast day of the year.
God did not just become incarnate long ago at Christmas; Holy Communion brings God incarnate to us today. Jesus did not give himself for us only long ago on Calvary; in Holy Communion Christ gives himself to us today. Pastor von Schenk shows how all the events of Christ's life confessed in the Apostles' Creed-his birth, his death, his resurrection, his ascension and the gift of the Holy Spirit-are all present for us in the Holy Sacrament he gave us.

Paul Robert Sauer is the editor of this new edition. He is today the pastor of the same church that von Schenk served in the Bronx from 1940 - 1961. He found a copy of The Presence at the church. "Some books change your mind," he told a group in a talk about von Schenk. "This one changed my life." He has provided an Introduction and many helpful footnotes for modern readers.
(Publisher's Website)
More frequent celebrations of Holy Communion.

Cassock and surplice with stole.

More widespread use of eucharistic vestments.

An appreciation of the Sacrament as high as Missouri's for the preached Word.

The reminder of the cross "For you, for you."

These are among the reasons to read and appreciate The Presence. 

As I have written recently, 

I have this strange idea that one can learn from the mistakes of others.

It is possible to learn something from someone with whom you don't fully agree.
It is also possible for many to avoid thinking and doing theology by avoiding difficult subjects.

Because of seeming differences of opinion on those topics, I have seen others therefore disregard the works of C. S. Lewis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Hermann Sasse, and Berthold von Schenk out of hand.

Their loss, I suppose. I pray you would be edified, challenged, and comforted by [this title].
I also appreciated this book (having read his autobiography) as autobiographical. It has devotional language qualities not unlike Gerhard's Meditations on Divine Mercy. And he taught the LCMS to remember our closeness to the host of heaven, including our departed loved ones who died in Christ, at the altar of the Lor (cf. 121, 113).

The Rev. von Schenk has fans and critics today as during his day. Nevertheless, The Presence is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand how and why liturgical and eucharistic practice in the LCMS today is the way it is.

We look forward to new titles from ALPB in the near future.

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Yellowstone Circuit Visitor (LCMS Wyoming District), a permanent member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.