Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A new liturgy this Sunday: Don't worry, be happy

This week we will switch to ELW setting 1 of the liturgy.  Whenever we make such a switch, we get compliments and complaints.  (What I love, though, is that we get comments at all!)  One of the purposes of singing the liturgical texts to different tunes is to help keep them fresh and draw our attention once again so that we don't fall into mindless repetition of the texts.  I know the music might not be as familiar this week, and it might take a few weeks to feel confident with the new tunes.  But I know that soon we'll all be singing the new music as confidently and comfortably as the "old" liturgy.

The church has its own unique pace of change.  One week can bring an entirely new sound to the service, yet the texts are ancient.  There are still plenty of liturgi-geeks in the world calling this Sunday "sexagesima," even though the term hasn't been officially in a Lutheran hymnal for years and was set aside by the Second Vatican Council.  When even the Catholic church stops using a Latin word, you have to wonder if there's still any point in it!  Incidentally, I've heard it said that the only reason for the pre-Lenten Sundays to have special names was so that people could start their Lenten fasting early enough to be allowed to skip the fast on both Thursdays and Sundays during Lent.  Certainly that practice seems to be both antiquated and poorly founded on Biblical principles.

So we set aside some old practices and sing new music.  Perhaps as consolation, we'll be singing very familiar hymns, including "Children of the Heavenly Father" and "How Great Thou Art."  Even if the Gloria provides a challenge, I hope there will be plenty of singing on those well-known hymns.

But as Sunday approaches and I continue to work on the plans for Transfiguration, Lent, and Easter, I'm comforted by this week's Gospel: "And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?"  There's no sense spending my time fretting about potential problems; just keep working on the next task.  In other words, this week's Gospel to me simply says: don't worry, be happy.

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