LUTHER’S LITURGICAL WRITINGS
The strictly liturgical writings which came from Luther’s pen and other related writings, together with a great number of allusions, assertions, denunciations, etc., of things liturgical in still other documents, comprise the material on the basis of which an estimate of Luther’s activity and value in liturgical reform must be established and examined. Two diametrically opposite estimates are not only possible but may be drawn in fairness from these writings; and for each of these there is evidence enough.
The first estimate is not much to Luther’s credit. It shows. him as either an opportunist or a self-centered, opinionated, determined leader who wants to dominate this field as he does others. Or, even more, it shows him forced to action much against inclination or desire, and meeting the enforced issue with comparatively meager ability. This estimate. shows Luther to be an amateur, dabbling in a field of ecclesiastical learning with which he, at best, is but little acquainted; lacking both knowledge and a native sense of appreciation; uncertain not because of timidity but because of ignorance; nevertheless entering it with self-reliant boldness; — a “liturgist” of the poorest sort. But Luther was not a liturgist!
The other estimate is quite the opposite. As lacking and fully equipped for the task as the first estimate would have him be, the second reveals him as one imbued with the highest and finest appreciative sense of the whole cultus of the Church; wedded to it and lovingly loyal to its spiritual beauty and worth; with a reverence for the historic; a full devotion to the pure and true; a holy determination to centralize all in, and measure all after, the teachings and tradition of the Christ and His ancient Church. In this estimate every act at reform is emancipation of the inherently high and holy, ancient and pure, from the shackles of man-welded misuse and superstition and time’s corroding accretions, and the restoration of and to the rule and purpose of Christ Himself, and the simple and purposeful application of that to the worship-life of the believer. The liturgical, — the Cultus, — is not system and form and action, rite and ceremony and custom, to an objective end in itself; but it is the exponent of faith’s life in Christ and the servant of the believer in Christ in his approach to his Lord.
Only in this is it a true means to the one and only end. But Luther was not an historical idealist!
Evidence, abundant evidence, exists to substantiate both of these estimates.
Is it a tribute to Luther’s greatness that he presents such a complex? Is it not rather evidence of transition and the reflex of very marked situations and influences?
The first estimate is as much of an under-estimate of the Reformer’s interest, gifts, and activities in this phase of church life as the second is over-estimation and idealization; neither of them is either fair or wholly true. Fusion of elements in both is not dodging any issue but the only fair thing to assert.
Luther did not know “liturgics” as he knew other branches of theological science; as a branch it had no existence whatever as far as he was concerned. But the practical things that are now the very center of liturgics, the Liturgy, the Offices, rites, ceremonies, and customs, these were everyday acquaintances. He had as much knowledge of these as the average monk of his day at least: these were the means and the dress of his own devotions and his priestly acts; and after early reaction against mere formalism and slavish mechanism, they still remained the vehicles for the expression of the deeply spiritual. As exhibits of a branch of theological science they probably never stirred his thought, but as the means and the dress of the worship of the child of God they were subjected to searching scrutiny to the end that they might wholly fulfill their purpose.
This lack of a so-called scientific liturgical knowledge may account for some of the things in Luther’s attitude which bear all the marks of evasion and uncertain opinion; it may also account for manifest misdirection as it was a fruitful field for revolutionary actions. Great though he was in many respects and his mighty mind and force notwithstanding, he was no more perfect in this field than in any other. It certainly is as just to mark his mistakes and lack of judgment as it is to laud his lasting contributions to the worship of the Church. The former, as well as the latter, go to show his remarkable activity in this field, only one of many in which he was busy constantly.
Luther had a native sense both of the fitness of things liturgical and of their honest purpose; and, deeply spiritual man that he was, he could not help but follow the feel for the loftiest and holiest in expressing his own worship, and what was an intense desire on his part, in desiring to provide for the expression of the worship of the common people as well. These things were life, — the practical in church-, spiritual-, worship-, life; but they must express the true faith; there must be complete harmony there; this must be the glorious dress of the more glorious Jewel; the Supreme must have the supremacy, of its very essence, dominate, radiate, diffuse, infuse, give and receive. With the Word primary, evidential, all embracing, here is the vehicle of the Word and the Way to it.
So, rightly judged, the one all-controlling principle in every liturgical reform and application is the centralization of and approach to the Word.
That which he and they possessed, in which they were expressing their worship-life, which had become part and parcel of their life, was not to be thrown aside ruthlessly either as inadequate or worthless; for that it was not: life had proved, and was still proving, otherwise. But it was to be measured by, and treasured for, the life it had found in and through this Word and only as it had served this Word. Only such elements as met this standard could be retained, Here reformation meant cleansing and retention of the pure and true, and not necessarily rejection or revolution or a new building; rather a restoration on the foundation of the ancient holiness and singleness and simplicity.
Luther’s liturgical reform must be considered as dealing with a body of material already existing and in present, common use; likewise admitting that in this body of material is the expression of essential, pure worship in ancient simplicity and in harmony with the Word of God. This is capable of discovery; more, it is patent. Therefore, the purpose is not so much to abrogate or to east aside the existing, but to retain, preserve, and continue it, in whole or in part, — much as is expressive of pristine teaching, simplicity, and purity. The essential of the Reformation is perpetuation of the true, not abrogation; renewal, not invention and fabrication de novo. “It is not our intention to discontinue the Liturgy, but to restore it again to proper and correct usage.” — Von ordenung.
Now there are two ways of viewing Luther’s activities and interest in liturgical reform and of attempting to evaluate the results.
The first is to subject them to a thoroughgoing review from the strict standpoint of the Cultus of the Church in general and historic liturgies, — principles, forms, and practices, — in particular. Naturally the method will be from this point backward, and matters which were not intended as mere liturgical productions will be subjected to a liturgical consideration and estimation only. This would presuppose acquaintance, equipment, and purposes which did not exist, and put Luther’s liturgical writings and activities at a decidedly unfair disadvantage. This would serve to throw out of consideration contributory elements vital to a true estimate of the situations, and confine the examination to the limit of resultant forms, merely as such, as compared with relative forms preceding in point of development. An historical liturgico-critical method, in all fairness, dare not be the starting point; although it may be used to advantage at certain places in the study.
The other way is to attempt to approximate the situations in which Luther found himself and to discover his actual reactions in general as well as in these particulars.
As full knowledge as possible of the state of affairs in general is necessary.
We must know as much as we can about the atmosphere and the means of worship then current. These can never be dissociated from the fact that they are definite expressions of the faith, — doctrine, — of the Church. We must see the people as related to, living in, and using this. We must become acquainted with the Church and its vast liturgical mechanism, and with its priesthood as a part of this. Then we must follow the rise of Reformation principles and consequent activities: their effect in practical relations, faith, life (works)of leaders, priests and people. As these principles are asserted, proven, and established in wider circles, we must see how they react there, how they are actualized in life, rather effects shown in externals. Here one deals with a cross-section of real action.
Here, too, are rebounds and reactions of various types, and personalities and unique characteristics bear unmistakable influences. But only in such fashion, by creating a fair exhibit of the then situation, can a fair approach be made to these activities of Luther and a real understanding gained of the reasons which actuated him.
The first of these approaches will eventuate in an estimate of Luther’s activities akin to the first referred to above. The second will afford the opportunity of seeing him as he was in the atmosphere in which he worshiped and among the people with whom he worshiped, making use of the means common to both. A truer valuation of his principles and writings will be had by pursuing the latter method.
Luther, a son and priest of the Church, had not come to the place of prominence which he held in his Order without exhibiting some marked abilities. He had more than a fair amount of theological and other learning, as those things were counted in those days, and he was not without ambition to acquire more. He knew the people from whom he had sprung and among whom he lived; he knew their life in every phase of it; he was one of them; he learned to know his Church more and more. And he was beginning to find his way to Christ, beginning to discover that this Way diverged from the way he had been going guided by his Church. The new Way called; more and more intensely he sought it. Luther’s own spiritual experiences colored everything from these days forward.
For the cloister life he had his Breviary for his daily devotions; when it was his privilege to say Mass, he had his Missal and the book with the Ordinary of the Mass and the minute rubrical directions for its celebration, — possibly a Plenarium. If he was called upon for other priestly ministrations, he had the ritual governing the administration of such offices, and a penitential system which governed matters connected with the confessional. He found, possessed and used, — was forced to, whether or no, — a vast system of worship, canonically established and ordered and well-nigh in universal use. Normally an average priest’s life and ministrations would seldom demand of him the exercise of anything out of this category: his office centered and expended itself in the administration of the externals; seldom did “doctrine” appear save as related to and imbedded in the externals. That was not a matter of faith and life but of practice. Naturally this sort of thing made for just what existed, a tremendous over-emphasis of the means used mechanically by an unthinking priesthood. What chance for incitement to thought or warmth of spirituality when almost every external contact was canonically governed and every action definitely ordered? Under such circumstances even the glory and beauty and spirit of the means would fade away and leave an emptied form slavishly, mechanically performed. Fortunately, there always are exceptions.
One cannot imagine Luther using Missal or Breviary or Ordines perfunctorily. His reaction against a slavish recitation of the daily Hours, merely to get them in or to make up for those omitted a previous day, came early in his experience. Disgust is a mild word to describe his criticism of formalism and the multiplicity of the forms and the superstitions surrounding them. He reacted; he voiced his disgust; he criticized; but nevertheless he continued to use. This was either because he, too, was a slave to this use or had found spiritual satisfaction in it. He was too honest to be a hypocrite. Is it too much to wonder whether his approach to these matters had not been spiritual and that he had found their true purpose and real beauty? — that their spirit responded to his hunger on his new found Way? At least he did not want to lay violent hands upon them; it was rather a gentle hand that wanted to be really helpful. Is this not borne out as from time to time he tries carefully to separate the wheat from the chaff? He could be emancipated from their formalism and still retain the form!
Every angle seems only to add to the proof that Luther really had studied what he was using. He had interest enough in other matters, which moved him to seek knowledge about them, to permit the supposition that here, too, he sought a closer acquaintance with the vehicles he used for what came to be for him a more and more needed and blessed communion.
Already in his day there were well-known commentaries on the Mass and Offices, etc. Some of these had been widely circulated. It is not unlikely that some of these books may have been in the monastery library where Luther was not a stranger. Some of these writings were historical, others mystical and symbolic in interpretation. It would be ludicrous even to attempt to prove that Luther was a student of liturgics, but there are evidences a-plenty in his comments and writings which show an acquaintance with mediaeval mystical and symbolic interpretations of certain liturgical forms and actions; and that he had some knowledge of historical antecedents cannot be doubted. f2 That he was using the books of worship thoughtfully and unto edification his own critical attitude toward them shows; for he did not cast them aside, but centered his own spiritual needs’ expressions in these self-same vehicles; and it is these which are the objects of his interests in liturgical re form.
With the denunciation of the abuses and superstitions connected with the sacrifice of the Mass and met at every turn in the worship system of the Church, the Reformation Movement could not long remain confined to doctrinal matters to the exclusion of practical issues. Naturally an attack would be launched against the externals in which these superstitions were garbed. It was one thing to denounce the sacrifice and to assert the evangelical doctrine, but this asserted demanded ultimately the consideration of a harmonious dress and a practice as evangelic as the doctrine. Then, too, if the common people who had been deprived of the blessed privileges of the Gospel were to receive them, these would have to be brought to them in a form which they could comprehend. Those things which held them bound had to be loosed; their enshrouded knowledge and life in the superstitious had to be displaced by knowledge of the Truth.
It is a mistake to assert that the common people were wholly ignorant.
They were ignorant, worse than ignorant, in rudimentary education, but they were educated to and possessed full knowledge of the teachings of the Church. But these teachings were only such as the Church saw fit to give them, — a method of life, devised by the Church, deliberately taught her children, centered wholly in and fostered by mechanical obedience to ordered acts. The way to salvation was by the stairs the Church had erected. The child of the Church could climb, he did what he was taught, — accompanied by a glorious company of friendly saints, but with just as mighty a company of terrifying spirits lurking in the near distance. Every step was an externality bathed in the colors of attractive superstition and nourished by the play on human fear; any view to right or left was carefully curtained by the pomp of rite and ceremony. There was but one way, — up the stairs of the Church.
Oh, yes! — the common people were learned! They knew when to bow, to cross themselves, to beat their breasts; what to do today, what not to do tomorrow; what to eat, when to fast. They knew just which saint was effective in this situation, which in that; where they should make a pilgrimage, what to do and how much to “give” when another need arose.
They knew the salutary strength of a vow, and exactly to whom to pray under certain necessities; what blessed trinket in pocket or wallet would protect from robbers or accident. They knew what would happen to them if they did not make their communion on at least one day of obligation; that they were perfectly safe for the day if they had gone to Mass; and how effective all this obedience was for the Future! Oh, yes, — the common people were learned!
Luther, who in days gone by, just like any other common man, had called on Good Saint Ann for aid, now begins to criticize the whole system. At a comparatively early period in the Reformation Movement the abominations of the Mass are declared, the worship of the Church cluttered with superstition denounced. As time passes these references become more and more frequent and more and more pronounced; at times he waxes mightily eloquent; at others he is bitter, even vitriolic. However, he seems to have been satisfied to confine his criticisms to such statements and in expressing a wish that a change for the better might be made, but not to have made any definite or deliberate attempt at change or reform before 1523.
Others, who were sympathetic to the Movement and who agreed with Luther’s criticisms and added their own, were not as patient in their own attitude toward these matters or disinclined to make any move. The result was that following the verbal lead of Luther, others began to make independent attempts at actual reform. These were, naturally more or less sketchy, tentative, and not at all far reaching; but they were the beginning, inspired by Luther’s deliverances, but independent of him and without consultation.
Luther’s activities, other than verbal, were slow in coming. In almost every case they must be considered as not having been planned, but rather due to force of circumstances. A need, imperative, no longer to be evaded, was one cause; the actions and propositions of others, who had more zeal than balance, was another; and in time, “popular demand” a third.
The first things attempted centered in two objectives: The desire to harmonize the worship with evangelical teaching; that is, to make it expressive of what they asserted was the Truth; and to make it possible for the common people to participate intelligently in the worship by having it in the language they understood.
The former of these grew out of the serious indictment of the Canon of the Mass, but the first practical outcome was nothing more than saying the Words of Institution in the vernacular. The second, at the start, brought the Liturgical Lessons to the people in the vernacular in addition to the Words of Institution. A modest beginning surely. This was as early as 1519 and due to the activity of others than Luther. Other efforts followed rapidly.
Some of the age-old customs long imbedded in the life and liking of the people, but none the less superstitious and subversive to the evangelical teaching, became the object of reform. Certain Offices, for example, such as Baptism, were administered here and there in the vernacular, that the people might understand both action and teaching. But whatever these early attempts, they were at best hesitant and gradual, and looking back on them from the present day they were often insignificant.
However, this group of apparently insignificant attempts became more and more formidable, particularly as some of the more impetuous personages in the Reformation Movement threw their interest into their wider-spread development. Here one must consider the activities of such a person as Carlstacit, who as early as 1519 began a definite attack on the traditional worship of the Church with: attempts at reform. Of admitted ability and occupying a fairly prominent position, his activities gradually assumed the proportions of leadership, especially as Luther did not interfere. Apparently feeling his. way at first, but as the reforms he instituted seemed to meet with popular favor, he became more and more aggressive, zealous and revolutionary. His teachings, influence and example fired others; among them Zwilling, who with other zealous companions committed scandalizing excesses in the name of reform. Carlstadt, Zwilling, et al, with their “Evangelical Mass” and wide open altar, their denuded churches and celebrants in everyday clothes, their sudden and almost complete abrogation of the established and their asserted “freedom” that was only license and excess, were examples of how quickly, hard, and far the swing away could go. Had Luther felt this possibility and therefore bided his time, moving very slowly? Had the fear of such things caused him to hesitate?
But with Carlstadt and Zwilling so zealously and outrageously active at the very center of things, Wittenberg, Luther did not long hold back.
Fortunately there was but one aggressive Carlstadt; but he was not the only one interested in these matters. Others acted with more discretion and finer sense, but just as earnestly to serve. Kaspar Kantz was one of these, and he has left an “Evangelical Mass” to testify to his earnest purpose.
By the time Luther takes his first formal step in liturgical reform, the appearance of his Von ordenung gottis diensts inn der gemeyne, the churches espousing the evangelical cause presented a variety of results in practices and purposes which indicated a fairly widespread feeling for a cleansing of the worship of the Church and a practical approach to the same. This movement was here; here to stay and work its way out. How would it be worked out? Who naturally would direct it?
One must remember that the Liturgy of the Mass was not the only thing to be considered. The atmosphere of worship, the Church Year with its saintburdened days; ecclesiastical conditions which were part and parcel of the life of the common people; the rites and ceremonies attending almost every phase of their relationship with the Church from the cradle to the grave and the attendant superstitions which bound the people and well-nigh blotted out all that was good; — all of these, because they were saturated with the spirit and cultus of Rome, came in for careful scrutiny and were the natural objects for reform. The field in its many ramifications was tremendous. The whole situation and the possible effects which might result by disturbing the situation and attempting reform were enough to make one pause and consider seriously. Results were not to be arrived at in a moment.
Immediate needs might be met by a suggestion here or a suggestion there; but whether they would carry sufficient “authority” to insure acceptance; or wear, serve the purpose and minister unto spiritual edification, at the same time satisfying a people wedded to almost opposite things, was a serious question.
Another matter which is seldom considered in this situation is the fact that of all the men earnestly interested in the Reformation Movement there were comparatively few who had the knowledge requisite for conservative reform, or what one, for want of a better term, must name, the feel for it.
Strange to say, the best ability for this sort of thing seems to have been in possession of men who ran to excess. In the few other cases, where there might be hope that this ability would come to the fore, Luther’s dominating personality almost overshadowed and acted as a check.
Luther, himself, is a peculiar mixture viewed from the standpoint of things liturgical. At times he may be considered the last word in keen appreciation, apparently possessing a fair knowledge of the matters with which he is dealing. At another time he seems to lack the very first thing necessary. Sometimes his acts, or his writings, or his dicta are nothing more than a tryout and an uncertain thing at that, or a mere politic move, or a deliberate counter-irritant. At other times he reaches a lofty plane of idealism and beauty, and harmony with the historic which leaves little to be desired.
Remembering his many-sided and constant activities, the amount of interest he showed in things liturgical and the results of his thinking, — r nonthinking, — which came from his pen are remarkable. He has expressed himself on almost every phase of the worship of the Church and by and large, has been a fairly good diagnostician. But sometimes he permitted himself to run to the novel, whether because of sheer perversity of spirit or a childish smartness or a desire to experiment, and then the results are by no means happy.
It required a tremendous amount of self-confidence to face the issue of breaking with tradition, universal custom and wedded practice and to advance counter propositions, at the same time making adequate provision for their introduction. For example, he not only proposes a vernacular service and insists on the active participation of the people, but sets about providing the means by which the people may participate. Luther not only became a hymnist to satisfy this need but was active in providing the music to which the hymns were to be sung. Translation of the Scriptures served this end likewise. The Litany “corrected” and translated into German; translated collects, etc., gave the people prayer forms. And finally in his Deutsche Messe, he has not only a vernacular Mass, but a congregation participating most actively, and in by far the greater part, the means to this end are of his providing!
Of course, all of Luther’s activities in this field were bound and colored by the doctrine which he espoused, The centralization of the Word and the constant and great emphasis, — almost amounting to over-emphasis, — which he placed upon it quite naturally forced him to break with the practices of the Roman Church which centralized and constantly emphasized the sacrificial. While Luther does not neglect the Mass, — the celebration of Holy Communion, — or over-shroud it, he does place a tremendous importance on the preaching of the Word. The read Word, of course, has its place, which in all respects remains quite normal to Roman use, — and Luther never breaks with Roman use without definite reason and deliberate purpose, — but the read Word is never to appear unless accompanied by exposition or preaching. In fact a constantly reiterated principle is that the congregation is not to gather for worship unless the Word be preached, and the idealized service of Divine Worship is just this in which the Word is centralized. This objective brought about some remarkable suggestions and experiments; for one may say they showed uncertainty as to just what he wanted done in this particular. For example, the daily services he suggested in his Von ordenung gottis diensts are to have definite readings of Scripture always followed by the exposition of the portion read. This is to be both morning and evening. In his most conservative writing, the Formula missae, the Sermon finds a fairly normal position consequent to the reading of the Word; but he nevertheless suggests that it might be placed at the very beginning of the service, “before the Introit of the Mass;” similar suggestions are made at other places, — variety of uses proposed. This is a fair example of Luther’s uncertainty in liturgical matters, something which is met with frequently in his writings; but it also reveals his purpose in seeking the best; in this particular, where the sermon, which is so important to him, will be distinctively outstanding and given a weight and value which it never had before.
Luther asserts emphatically that he has no intention of abrogating the accustomed services. Whatever the revisions or suggestions he may make, these are to be on the basis of the practices in use. The services of the Church remain the vehicles of Divine Worship, capable of expressing the pure and the true again, which they certainly did in time gone by, but which have been driven out or overshadowed by superstition and man’s invention. Here he acknowledges more than mere historicity. He sees in these appointments the Church’s worship from the earliest ages, still preserving evidences of the primitive and reflecting the simplicity of purest and highest purposes. His own purpose in the cleansing is to restore the original intention and action. These ancient actions and forms are sacred; they reflect the spirit of the earliest Church; they harmonize completely with the purest teaching of Christ and His Apostles, therefore they are not only worthy of retention, but should be retained and treasured in evangelical practice.
This reverence for and true valuing of the services of the Church never left him: his Formula missae and even the Deutsche Messe witness this; he is reformer not revolutionist; his spirit is that of devotion and churchliness.
But simplicity and doctrinal purity are not the only objectives; the worshiper is to participate in every action not only intelligently but worshipfully. These forms are not only to enrich him, but to serve as the vehicles of his own actions in Divine Worship: to participate is to receive and to give.
The “form,” however, as a mere form, is worthless; for that devitalizes and becomes mere emptiness. But that which serves unto edification is to remain. The principle of judgment and the basis of retention or rejection is wholly that of the Gospel and this service unto edification. In this the Christian is the judge! — but his decision must subserve, the ancient law of liberty, — love; and in the final analysis, only as the Church is the unity of Christian believers may she determine and project such matters.
As the form, — the worship, — is to enrich the believer and to serve as his own expression of spiritual outgiving, it must be his own possession, part and parcel of his life. Therefore the vernacular and needed exposition and the expressed hope of making all this really his possession by placing it in his hands for home as well as church use.
Then lest “liberty” be misunderstood and result in a variety of form and practice, which because of the lack of uniformity throughout the churches may be a cause of offense to the simple minded, a common practice is to be sought not for the form’s sake, but for love’s sake. Uniformity is desirable, but desirable only because its opposite is destructive of the harmony and unity of Christians and their spirit of worship.
Luther’s three major liturgical writings, the Von ordenung gottis diensts inn der gemeyne, the Formula missae, and the Deutsche Messe, represent three distinct phases in his attitude toward liturgical reform; they likewise represent the limit to which he was willing to go. These documents are his personal releases; and they must be considered with all of his position and influence attached to them; but they cannot be valued properly without consideration of the circumstances immediately preceding them.
The Von ordenung, Luther’s first formal step definitely related to congregational worship, holds every evidence of being a first writing on the subject; it likewise betrays evidence of haste. It is sketchy, and as one reads it, one is constrained to feel that Luther wrote it primarily because he had to. Carlstadt’s over-zealous activities culminating in marked and disturbing changes in the practice of the Stadtpfarrkirche at Wittenberg; the disorders attending his disrupting teachings; and the Leisnig request, are to be considered as the main causes of this first writing. The first paragraph is Luther’s answer to these disturbers and their new measures; and throughout the entire document is a constant assertion of opposition to a break, dean and decisive, with the old use, and at the same time a quite definite, but, in places, simplified, retention of the accustomed.
Undoubtedly his writing acted more like a brake than an aid; probably that was the intention. There are typical Luther criticisms a-plenty.
The Formula missae is a quite different document. It is Luther’s best and outstanding liturgical writing. Issued but a few months after the release of the Von ordenung, it reveals a Luther who has had to think these matters over seriously and carefully and who is now ready to write about them in that spirit and at length.
The movement for liturgical reform has become widespread. Section after section is attempting an “Evangelical Mass,” with many varieties resulting and many spirits evident. Thomas Munzer has added his contribution (not a poor one at that! — but from the Reformer’s point of view a contaminated source). Luther’s friends are insistent that he declare himself and give direction. The call for help, for definite direction, is insistent; those espousing the Reformation want the reformed Mass, but they want it as the Faith alone will dress it. The Formula missae is the answer to this.
It is a conservative, helpful, constructive document. Here is revealed the sometime son of the Church treading his new found Way but still valuing the treasures of his heritage, purposing to cleanse it of the impure and useless and to glorify the worship of God with that in this heritage which always has been and still is expressive of the age-old experience of Christendom. That he alludes to the genesis of certain rites or to certain liturgical antiquities will at least quiet the assertion that he was altogether without historical knowledge of these matters. There are criticisms which compared with others in other writings are quite mild; there are suggested departures from current practice; but for both criticism and departure there is apparent good reason. These are harmonious with the evangelical doctrine, and, yet, they are expressive of historic continuity: the very thing Luther quite evidently set out to prove not only possible but as being truly indicative of every edifying rite and practice. He again writes about unity of practice and the Christian’s liberty as related thereto. Of course there are weak spots and not all that he has suggested is worth while, but, nevertheless, this writing is the high point reached in his liturgical activities.
It is a pity he was not satisfied to stop with this, for his last major liturgical writing, the Deutsche Messe, rivaled the conservative spirit of the Formula and nourished another “tendency” which found living strength and its “authority” for existence in the Messe.
The Deutsche Messe arrived three years after the two foregoing documents. If one were looking for a descriptive phrase that would distinguish it, in contrast with the other conservative writings, this is distinctly a “popular” production. As such, it quite naturally exerted the greater influence on those sympathetic to the Reformation, without being as truly expressive of the real genius of the Movement as was the Formula missae. The Formula lacked the vernacular adaptation but it retained the historic, simplified and purified. The Messe is thoroughly vernacular and as thoroughly congregational, and experiment after experiment is suggested, and carried out; but it lacks the conservative spirit of the Formula. The full swing away from the conservatism of the distant and not so distant past is in the making; and the opening wedge for independence and looseness in practice is ready at hand. A fine ideal is deliberately and painstakingly pressed to the limit; but this document only goes to show how a fine ideal successfully realized may be at the expense of other important issues.
Luther was attempting a fuller and greater service of the common people.
In contrast with their almost complete inactivity in the old-time Mass, the Messe makes them constantly active in act after act of worship, even placing in their hands substitutes for previous choir acts against which no serious objection could be advanced. There is a forced and entirely overemphasized introduction of the congregational hymn, with its kindred versification of liturgical parts, — the poorest versification of which Luther was guilty. His whole-hearted provision for the participation of the common people in the worship led Luther into suggestions which he apparently did not think through. Unfortunately others proceeded to adopt them without doing any more thinking through than had he.
These two almost diametrically opposite types of liturgical writing do not represent Luther so much in a process of transition as they show him to be rather changeable, and careless and indifferent, at length, to the high service of the past and the present, and ready to do almost anything that will harmonize with “his Gospel” or that will express his present thought.
It is a pity that the Deutsche Messe became the influential document that it did. It had been born of much demand and constant urging, and Luther had put a great deal of work upon it, much more than is apparent at a general reading. The musical settings and directions are in themselves a work of no little labor; and break as he did in this writing with more than one conservative practice in favor of a more popular use, he still retained the old churchly mode both in the directions and in the musical forms. But it was to apparel this common people’s Mass in a complete dress, ready for use by each and all. It was decidedly a popular issue and the Messe became a popular Order. It certainly satisfied a people who were uncertain as to where they stood in their worship, — priests and people, — and who were demanding more and more release from age-old habit and practice. It exhibits the marked reaction of a reform movement, which is always a quite natural outcome of such movements, whether there is actual necessity to take as far-reaching steps or not. And. viewed from the standpoint of reaction, one does not wonder at its popularity; but viewed from the standpoint of liturgical history and Reformation principles and claims, one is surprised at the resultant influences.
One of the most popular acts of the worship of the common people which felt and yielded to the force of the early wave of reform and cleansing, was the Litany, rather Litany of All Saints. Its use was discontinued almost from the time of Carlstadt’s radical changes, and it remained unused by the Evangelicals for some years. But it was not forgotten. It was one of the comparatively few activities in worship which the common people possessed. It had become deeply imbedded in their life and practice. It was a devotion which was cherished. Luther, too, must have cherished it; for he speaks of it in highest terms, even saying it is the finest prayer under heaven next to the Lord’s Prayer. Of course, the “abominations” therein were not included in the praise! — these removed, it was prayer, — in the most glorious Christian sense.
The first allusion to the Litany in years comes in a writing of Luther against the Turks in 1528, where he speaks of the great necessity for the people to unite in prayer against this calamity, — “in the Mass, in the Vespers, in the Litany.” We do not know definitely, but it is possible that the Litany was then in process of reintroduction in the Wittenberg church. But this necessity was but one contributing cause; another and probably more important was Luther’s policy of providing the means for a more and more helpful worship for the common people. This form of prayer was preeminently fitted to his ends. It afforded opportunity for the inclusion of petitions related to the many needs of life. It meant an active participation on the part of the congregation. It had not been forgotten and it still was loved; and, if cleansed, it was a real treasure house of devotion.
Luther dissociated it from the processions, and located its use in the church in congregational worship. It now becomes one of the high points in their formal worship practices and a use distinctive of the Reformation.
Luther’s revision of the Litany of All Saints is one of the finest pieces of liturgical work accomplished by him. It was carried out with appreciative feeling and marvelously good taste. It represents both cleansing and construction, but this is always carried out in the ancient, spirit of the prayer. Then, too, there are elements representing independent thought and writing, which reveal Luther in his true light, a man of power in prayer. He has given the Church a blessed heritage in the “Litany corrected”: exactly that, corrected, not revised: — the genius of the Reformation was to correct and construct on the basis of the ancient and pure pattern.
The general supposition is that the Litany first appeared in German and was used in the Wittenberg church, although this would seem to be the unnatural order, as the revision would proceed from the Latin first. After this try-out it was printed first in separate form; this was as early as 1528.
The following year it is found in three forms: as a separate print, in the Enchiridion, and in the Geistliche Lieder (Klug), which three classifications of publications show how widely it was introduced and how popular it became in a short time. The Latin form, — Litania correcta, — after being printed as a separate pamphlet, appeared in the Latin edition of Luther’s Betbuchlein, 1529. From these beginnings the Litany went throughout the Church.
With Luther interested in the reform of the cultus to the extent of issuing formal writings embodying his suggestions and proposals, one may suppose that his desires would not rest with mere suggestions. His objective was the congregation and their complete, intelligent, and spiritual participation in the worship. Pious hopes and wishes were one thing; ideals another; but Luther would not have been Luther had he not at least attempted to realize hopes and ideals to the extent of his ability.
The year 1523 was the real beginning of his personal activity in cleansing the services; all that he wanted done here was not accomplished at once by any means; but a good beginning had been made. Under the inspiration of this beginning and with the school children and his “common man” ever in view, and with his usual enthusiasm, Luther embarks on another venture.
Had he been able to find just what he wanted, the probabilities are that he would have been satisfied with that; but not finding it, he set about providing it. the evangelical, congregational hymn. This sounds rather deliberate; but had he not set just this ideal? Was he not constantly emphasizing it?
By the end of 1523 Luther had written a number of Christian songs and hymns, and in 1524 the Geystliche Gesangk Buchleyn, commonly spoken of as the Walther Choir Book, was issued at Wittenberg. This book was issued with a Preface by Luther and contained twenty-four hymns from his pen! — one pauses here, simply to repeat, “twenty-four hymns,” remembering his many other activities. f7 This was a brave beginning, indeed; valued from the standpoint of the people it was probably his most helpful and by all odds the most popular of his productions. In this connection many of his natural gifts had full play.
Luther was clever in adapting; he was successful in versified translating; and to these he added original hymn poems. He was mightily in earnest in his desire to put hymns into the hands, hearts, and mouths of his school children and other followers. Lover of music himself, he wanted the services of that art to uplift the spirits of the common people in prayer, praise, and thanksgiving; to enhance their worship with all its inspiring beauties.
Naturally all of his hymns are not of equal merit, or even of medium merit; but Christian hymnody is made the richer by his Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott, — where is a finer hymn? — by his Vom Himmel hoch, — where is a more tender, intimate, Christmas hymn? — by his Erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort, — where is a more majestic, profound, prayer for the Kingdom?
Most of his hymns were written to meet a direct need or under an immediate inspiration; but the fact that he was able to meet such need, and in most cases to do it so well, is but another testimony to his versatility and unique greatness.
As these hymns were primarily intended to be sung and as such were his gifts to the worship of the common people, his interest in their publication and dissemination in hymn books is another phase of his activity. For such books Luther wrote three Prefaces in the course of years which are distinctive of his interest and spirit. And again in these Prefaces we find him going back to the Scriptures for precedent and foundation for the provision he is making for the masses in their worship. In the more formal connection of congregational worship his fullest purpose is reached in his Deutsche Messe, where the congregational hymn is introduced in almost every connection. But his other desire is accomplished when his books enter the home and are used there in the worship of the household and in the private devotions of the individuals.
The popularity of the privilege of singing and of the hymns themselves enlisted the interests of various printers who ventured to issue his hymns in books of their own on their own responsibility. One case is a reprint, pure and simple, issued anonymously; another is an “edited” edition with some changes made in the text, etc. It is not surprising to find Luther, in one of the later Prefaces, resentful of plagiarism of his work and of anonymous publication of the same and of tinkering with it, and to find him issuing a very frank warning against printing his hymns without his permission.
One of his books is unique in Christian hymnody. It is the little book of funeral hymns; probably the first of its kind ever issued.
In this field of churchly activity, Luther again has left the Church a blessed heritage. First his principles and purposes, which have been wonderfully, and universally, realized in Protestantism’s worship; then the hymns themselves, all of which have been translated into English and a number of which are in almost universal use; and finally his example, which has eventuated in that great body of Christian hymnody contributed by the sons and daughters of the Reformation. Every age of the Church’s life has made its contribution to this treasure, but from the Church of the Reformation has come the hymn that reaches the intimacies of spiritual experience, that burns with the fire of faith and love, that pours itself out in the closeness of personal union with the Lord Jesus. This is the unique gift and outcome of this activity.
There is a little known writing of Luther’s which dates from the year 1525, in which he joins with two other leaders of the Reformation Movement in advising a congregation in Livonia about externalities in worship and uniformity of practice. This is of more than passing interest as it covers questions and offers advice in situations which disturbed the unity and harmony of the Church in that day and still exist in equally disturbing character in the Church of the Reformation today.
It is an important document because of the position taken by Luther on the question of adiaphora: on the surface one quite the opposite to his previous rather emphatic assertions on the subject. It must be placed beside his previous deliverances; but one must remember, as one studies it, that time has passed since these were made; that meanwhile practical issues have arisen and presented a difficult problem which demanded solution.
The situation facing the Livonian congregation was not an isolated one.
The like existed at many other places.
Practices, rites, ceremonies, forms, etc., are adiaphora. This was true; there was no law about them. This Luther asserted repeatedly. That liberty in deciding matters connected with worship rested with the local congregation or authorities (I); that this whole question was “free,” Luther had likewise asserted in unmistakable language. Perhaps he was right to a greater degree than he was wrong; but he left the door open for a lot of unwelcome visitors to enter! For did he not fail to take into consideration certain definite practical values, — those of organization, authority, and much to be desired uniformity? Had his ideal only been reaction from the Roman example where all of these were in force?
The churches espousing his Cause might be individualistic; but relation to and espousal of the common Movement brought corporate responsibilities.
The Church of the Reformation has been a long time arriving at this consciousness! — -but on the other hand it was quick to assert then, and always has been, and to practice liberty of action in these and many other matters. What Luther laid down as an ideal principle and, if rightly comprehended, the ideal method, became through sheer force of the assertive will of others a disturbing element in the development of the Church’s life. Was it possible that there might be a time and a situation when such matters might no longer be adiaphora? — when the ideal would yield to a practical expression on quite different terms?
Luther was seeing and reaping a certain kind of harvest that man could make out of his sowing, when he faced situations such as this in the Livonian congregation. This document recognizes the difficulties. It does not voice any betrayal of the ideal, or any yielding of it; but here he faces the practical issue growing out of the ideal’s failure! This in its way was as much of a scandal as the former abominations had been in theirs. It was not the first time in Luther’s experience that the ideal had not worked out successfully; human nature did not always absorb idealism even under Gospel freedom. More than one priest, more than one congregation, more than one section, soon grasped their “freedom” and forthwith became a law unto themselves.
Luther clung to the ideal, but he faced the situation! This is not his first deliverance on the subject; previous writings had held warnings and also suggestions. Is it remarkable that he now advises uniformity of practice?
This is not a swing about, but it is his answer to the situation as he leaves theorizing and faces practice on the basis of his theory. Had he not interpreted, more than once, the individual’s freedom to be the slavery of love to his fellows? It is a freedom which lives only in the good of all and not in selfish emphasis of individual right and decision! So the problem is solved, and the solution is evangelical: the unity of faith, of love, of fellowbelievers in the Lord Jesus is the answer.
In the many practical issues and problems connected with the externalities of worship in the Church today, it would be well if the Church would go back to this writing of Luther, “read, mark, and inwardly digest it”; and in the spirit of the “freedom” and love he there inculcates, take his, good advice and practice it! — the gracious attitude toward each other as a real beginning, is an admirable starting point, as he suggests; is it not?
Luther is likewise responsible for three Orders for pastoral or ecclesiastical acts. These are the Order for Baptism (1523; revised 1526), the Order for Marriage (1529), and the Order for Ordination (1539). The necessity once more in all three cases is the inspiration of his writing.
The Order for Baptism is the only one of the three which conforms with the historical tradition. The Order of 1523 carries but minor changes, the whole objective seems to have centralized in putting the current Order into German. The revised Order of 1526, however, bears the imprint of the Reformation; here is cleansing and simplification. This Order exhibits Luther’s translation and editing of Roman collects; his work is interesting; his expansions are not always original.
The Order for Marriage does not deserve the name. It is even more uncertain than the uncertain opinions connected with the rite current at that time. Neither Luther nor the others had found themselves as yet to any degree of certainty here. But one thing seems to stand out, namely, putting the churchly touch to a civil contract. Perhaps this was due to the strong reaction from the traditional ecclesiastical rites and the emphasis of the rights of the State over against arrogated rights of the Church. Then, too, connected customs, some centuries old, were offensive; the desire was for simplification. The Church today still puts her imprimatur on a civil contract; this is her inheritance from this so-called Order; and she, no more than they, has not successfully answered the question raised by the transition from the old, — the tradition, into the spirit of the new, although she has striven to emphasize the spiritual in her present Order.
The day was bound to come when men would have to be ordained to the ministry of the Church of the Reformation. When it did arrive two important matters had to be settled. Essentially what is the Ministry, and what is ordination? These questions are answered in Luther’s Order for Ordination. This is expressive of the doctrine of the Reformation Movement and opposite to the Roman conception and to the Roman Order. Luther’s Order must be viewed as a step in transition and possibly as the first-definite contribution to meet a necessity which had but lately arisen in Evangelical circles. As such it is blazing the way, and is open to further adaptation in the course of time.
When one remembers the vast amount of work which occupied Luther in other connections, one is amazed at the sum-total of his liturgical activities.
These did not eventuate in a mere group of writings, exhibits of opinions or summaries of teachings; they were effective contributions, — the practical instruments for active use. Here were the furnishings for the house of worship which the Movement possessed.
The success of Luther’s contributions and their real value can, at this day, be estimated from an angle other than the liturgical; that is, from the standpoint of their influence and abiding worth. They outlived the period of their immediate service; they have never ceased living, or for that matter contributing their influence. The results of Luther’s liturgical activities remain in the life of the Church today.
While he was not the pioneer in using the vernacular in worship, nor the one to make the first practical attempt, or the first to issue the first complete vernacular service, his Deutsche Messe, outfitted with his hymns and prayers and the New Testament lessons in the vernacular, was the climax of this effort and became the most popular service of the period. It was successful not alone as an experiment but as a lasting use. It became the authoritative norm for this type of service.
The Deutsche Messe with its great popular appeal and its wide reach of freedom and simplicity, on the one hand, and the constructive, churchly Formula missae with its traditional values and its liturgical conservatism, on the other hand, have made a lasting impression on the worship life of the Church. The probabilities are that the Messe wielded the stronger influence, but the Formula exerted the better. It was this latter type of service that Luther really preferred. The other had been forced by popular demand in part and was something of an interesting experiment, — an attempt to complete wholly what he had held up as an ideal, toward which he had been working when, for example, he provided the vernacular hymns, etc., for the use of the people in worship. Its greatest appeal and cause for popularity was in that it made the congregation a constantly active participant.
Results were greater than Luther had anticipated. Many sections adopted the Deutsche Messe as their service use or made it the model of what was there authorized. And this tradition has obtained in these sections ever since!
The Formula, however, was not forgotten; nor did it lack friends. It became the model for the more conservative sections of the Reformation group.
These two documents must be accepted as the leading influence in the worship life of every section of the growing Church of the Reformation.
One or the other or both inspired the many Kirchen Ordnungen of Germany. Their influence was felt in the Scandinavian, Austrian and Baltic Orders. They contributed to the liturgical reforms instituted in England.
Through the KOO they have molded the services of the Common Service Book of the American Church in use today.
All of his hymns have been translated into English and a fair part of them have made their way into wide usage: some of them are in universal use.
Elements of his Order for Baptism are perpetuated in the present Order of the Church; his other Orders, likewise, have borne influence.
His Corrected Litany is the Litany we use today; its influence is apparent in the Litany in the use of the Anglican Church.
The conservatism of the Luther of the Formula is the spirit of the Church’s attitude in things liturgical today. His Collects are in the Church’s Service Book.
But one thing out of the great variety of all that he has done in this great field of Church work seems to have been ignored, and that is his advice concerning uniformity of practice.
When all the criticisms have been made; when all of our dislikes for some of the things for which he stood have been recorded; when sometimes we fail to appreciate his motives and cannot understand how he could be so vacillating and uncertain; when all of his mistakes have been enumerated carefully and deliberately, and sometimes maliciously— when all of this is said and done, Luther must still be accorded a recognition in things liturgical which is both fair to him and to the great tasks he set out to do and his performance of those tasks. He still lives in the imprint that he has made upon the worship of the Church.
PAUL ZELLER STRODACH
LUTHER’S LITURGICAL WRITINGS AND OTHER WRITINGS RELATED TO OR CONTAINING REFERENCES TO LITURGICAL MATTERS
Ein sermon you dem hochwurdigen Sakrament des heiligen wahren Leichnams Christi und you den Brudershaften — Tr.* W — 2:739 C — 1:196 B — 3:259 English — Eine kurze Unterweisung wie man belchten soll E — 21:244 Ein sermon you dem neuen Testament von der heiligen Messe W — 6:349 C — 1:299 English — De captivitate Babylonica — Tr. English — W — 6:489 C — 1:426 B — 2:375 English — *ABBREVIATIONS B — Buchwald C — Clemen E — Erlangen Kl. Tx — Lietzmatm Kleine Texte W — Weimar Wa — Walch English — Works of Martin Luther Tr — Translated for English Edition of Luther’s Works Daniel — Codex liturgicus Richter — Kirchen Ordnungen Hering — Hulfsbuch De abroganda missa privata W — 8:398. Text Von beyder Gestalt des Sacraments zu nehmen W — 10:1. Text C — 2:311 Acht sermone, gepredigt zu Wittenberg in der Fasten — Tr. W — 10, Pt. 3:1ff B — 1:317 English — Das Hauptstuck des ewigen neuen Testaments von dem hochwurdigen Sacrament beyder Gestalt E — 22:38 Von dem Miszbrauch der Messe B — 2:175 Betbuchlein Wm — 10:331. Tx. 375 Von ordenung gottis diensts ynn der gemeyne — Tr. Jena (1558) — 2:257 f Wa — 10:263 f E — 22:151 W — 12:32 C — 2:424 B — 7:151 Kl. Tx. — 36:3 Daniel — 2:75 Richter — 1:1 Das Taufbuchlein verteutscht — Tr. W — 12:38 E — 22:157 Wa — 10:2622 Wie man recht und verstaendlich einen Menschen zum Christenglauben taufen soll — Tr. W — 12:51 E — 22:166 De instituendis ministris Ecclesiae W — 12:160 Formula missae et communionis pro Ecclesia Vittenbergensi — Tr. Witt. (1546) 2:412 ff Jena — 2:556 W — 12:201 C — 2:427 Kl.Tx. — 36:11 Daniel — 2:80 Richter — 1:21 Hering — Ein weyss christlich Mess zu halten — Speratus’ Tr. of the Formula Jena — 3:269 Wa — 10:2744 Ein Sermon you der Beichte und dem Sakrament. Item vom Brauch und Bekenntniss christlicher Freiheft W — 15:438, 481,497 Wie man die Ceremonien der Kirchen bessern soil Verdeutschte Schrift an das Capite zu Wittenberg Preface to Geystliche Gesangk Buchleyn — Tr. W — 35:474 B — 8:3 Wa — 10:1722 Ein Sermon you der hochsten Gotteslasterung, die Papisten taglich brauchen, so sie lesen den antichristlichen Canon in ihren Messen W — 15:760 Von dem Greuel der Stilmesse, so man den Canon nennt W — 18:8 Hauptstuck des ewigen und neuen Testaments Vermahnung an die Christen in Liefiand vom auszerlichen Gottesdienst und eintracht — Tr. E — 53:315 Wa — 10:286 Formular einer deutschen Prafation vor dem Abendmahl — Tr. E — 53:285; 54:30 Wa — 10:2776 Sermon von dem Sacrament des Leibs und Bluts Christi wider die Schwarmgeister Deutsche Messe vnd ordnung gottisdiensts zu Wittenberg furgenommen — Tr. Witt — 7:369 ff Jena — 3:277 Wa — 10:268 f E — 22:226 W — 19:60 B — 7:159 C — 3:294 K1.Tx. — Daniel — 2:97 Richterm1:35 Das Taufbfichlein aufs neu zugerichtet — Tr. E — 22:290 C — 3:310 Vom Abendmahl Christi Bekenntniss W — 25:252 C — 3:352 Unterricht der Visatatoren E — 23:1 Ein traubuchlein fur die einfaltigen Pfarrherrn — Tr. Wa — 10:854 E — 23:207 W — 30, Pt. 3:74 C — 4:100 Latina Litania Correcta — Tr. Wa — 10:1761 W — 30, Pt. 3:36 Die Deudsch Litaney — Tr. Wa — 10:1758 W — 30, Pt. 3:29 Kurze Vermahnung zur Beichte Wa — 10:2641 E — 23:85 Ein Kurze weise zu beichten, fur die einfaltigen, dem Priester — Tr. B — 3:119 Preface to Geistliche Lieder auffs neu gebessert zu Wittenberg — Tr. Wa — 10:1726 W — 35:475 B — 8:7 Der Segen, so man nach der Messe spricht uber das Volk W — 30, Pt. 3:572 Von der Winkelmess und Pfaffenweihe W — 38:182 C — 4:239 Ein brief you seinem Buch der Winkelmesses Ordinations formular — Tr. W — 38:423 (Tr. from 1539 MS.) Ein Brief wider die Sabbather [Unterricht der Visitatoren] Preface to Christliche geseng lateinisch vnd deutsch, zum Begrebnis — Tr. W — 35:478 B — 8:9 Kurtz Bekenntniss vom heiligen Sacrament Preface to Geistliche Lieder — Tr. Wa — 10:1724 W — 35:476 B — 8:16 NOT DATED Ein Kurzer Unterricht fur die Schwachgluubigen, wie man sich in der Kreuzwochen mit der processionen halten soil(Probably 1524) E — 20:294
See the Introductions to each of the Luther writings for specific references to the more important collected Works of Luther, or foregoing list of Liturgical Writings.
Schling , Kirchen Ordnungen Koestlin , Geschichte des christlichen Gottesdiensts Jacoby , Liturgik der Reformatoren Hering , Hiilfsbuch Rietschel , Lehrbuch der Liturgik Smend , Die evangelischen deutschen Messen bis zu Luthers deutscher Messe Fendt , Der Lutherische Gottesdienst des 16 Jahrhunderts Drews , Beitrage zu Luthers liturgischen Reformen Real-Encyklopadie fur protestantische Theologie und Kirche (3 ed.
Hauck) As exemplifying and discussing the liturgical principles of the Church of the Reformation:
Ehrenfeuchter , Theorie des christlichen Kultus Kliefoth , D. Christlichen Kultus Schoberlein , Liturgische Ausbau des Gemeindegottesdiensts Achelis , Praktische Theologie, 2, vol. 1. P. Z. S.
CONCERNING THE ORDERING OF DIVINE WORSHIP IN THE CONGREGATION [Von Ordenung Gottis Diensts Ynn Der Gemeyne] INTRODUCTION A reformation in the Cultus of the Church was bound to come with the wider dissemination and firmer adoption of Evangelical teachings. The complex of the machinery of worship of the Roman Church, voluminous, detailed, canonically ordered, methodical, mechanical, and yet so firmly imbedded in and gripping the life of the people, could not escape the opening up of the flood-gates of the Gospel with its outpouring of privilege and possibility.
Reactions resulting from these teachings were twofold. The first tendency, born of the impetuous, fostered by haste and unthinking, akin to the rebellious, and expressing itself in a desire to be rid of burden and compulsion, — misread “liberty,” — struck first at the unimportant, the periphery, and from there sought the center. The other, slow in starting, but forced by circumstances, rain which the first tendency had part, into begin, strove to deal with the practical and fundamental at one and the same time. The latter effort had to make its way against the former.
A thoroughgoing approach to or weighing of matters involved either historically or practically was impossible. The situation must have presented itself pretty much as a confusing, almost terrifying maze, — a state of affairs one was forced to face and meet, whether one desired to or not; and the outcome had to be immediate, harmonious to the general movement, considerate of inborn prejudices and accustomed and beloved practices, and at least adequate to the immediate need. The answer had to be strong enough to stand and carry authority; broad enough to overcome prejudice; historic in its relation to the past use; living and constructive in its outlook; and withal, as true and free as the Gospel.
One really wonders at the courage with which this situation was met; one does not wonder at the hesitation and indecision so frequently evident in the way in which it was met; and one is bound to honor the spirit which produced the guiding suggestions and which continues to live in the results. The hope seemed to be: “This, — so much, — for the Now. The Future? — meet the need as it comes!” But the important part was to make the “This” the right, the fundamental, the evangelical beginning and yet do no outrage and cause no offense in establishing it.
Not all of the men who reached a position of more or less prominence in the early years of the Reformation Movement were blessed with ability to analyze conditions and to think things through to practical issues. To weigh; to view the many-sided situation genuinely, carefully; to move slowly, — much of this is prominent by its absence! Step by step crises arise and issues are met. How much of impulse, of sudden determination, of ill-advised action, is buried behind many a writing or statement or deed!
Carlstadt, for example, flames forth as an impetuous soul bent on cleansing the Church and its cultus of all that offends, clutters and enshrouds the pure worship of God in one grand gesture. His rather suddenly instituted and far-reaching changes in the worship of the Wittenberg church probably were nothing more than the culmination of a variety of efforts at reform during the preceding year or more. All of these changes are indicative of his personal attitude and inclination, of his enthusiasm and impulsiveness.
He did not show any strength in thinking things through carefully and solidly. His actions smack more of a resolve to go the limit according to his own interpretation of certain evangelical principles which had been thoroughly threshed out and firmly established. His zeal was one thing; his purpose another; and his accomplishment a third. All three combined eventuated in being one of the situations which forced Luther to enter and virtually take the lead in this particular field of activity also.
Late in 1521, another interesting personality in the Reformation drama was present at Wittenberg and more or less closely associated with Carlstadt This was Thomas Munzer. Carlstadt’s lead was not copied slavishly by Munzer, although it probably gave him the assurance he needed to go forward with reform in the cultus on his own account. His activities in this direction appeared shortly at Zwickau and later at Alstedt.
Here was another intense spirit, zealous, purposeful, adventurous. But here, too, and in this connection oddly enough, was deep appreciation, a fine sense of the churchly and of the spirit of worship, balance and constructive conservatism. However excellent his efforts may have been, the mere fact that he was active in this connection would be enough to rouse Luther to action. And this must be considered another reason for Luther’s activity in liturgical reform.
Apart from Carlstadt’s efforts the years 1521 and 1522 saw definite, although tentative, steps in the direction of an “Evangelical Mass” and of a reformation of certain parts in the Roman use. A vernacular Mass was the ideal and also the objective. It was approached but slowly: possibly the farthest reach of success at first was the Consecration (strictly the Words of Institution) and Distribution in the vernacular and the reading of the Liturgical Lessons likewise in the vernacular. Then, too, the effort usually was either individual or local. Of course, someone had to make the beginning! But the feel for, and the forcing of, these things was becoming more and more pronounced and general. By the end of 1522 quite a number of towns and cities were seeing experiments in an “Evangelical Mass” carried out. Probably the most interesting of these is that of Kaspar Kantz at Nordlingen.
But Wittenberg was the center of this activity. Luther was away. Carlstadt with his dominant personality was the leader. He had already been responsible for many changes, but he finally reached the limit of radical reform when on Christmas Day he celebrated Mass in German, clothed in his street clothing. On this occasion he not only denounced confession and the customary preparation by fasting, but made a general invitation to all to come to communion, and then administered in both forms, placing the Host in the hands of the communicant and allowing him to grasp the Chalice also. Attendant ceremonies, such as the Elevation, etc., were omitted, and virtually the entire Canon was cast aside. Thus the Mass, according to Carlstadt’s ideas, was made evangelical in form and in practice. ‘This was the direct opposite to the accustomed: it was typical of Carlstadt; no halfway measures here and quite a grand gesture! But it likewise evidenced his inability to comprehend the true objective and effectiveness of reform. To Carlstadt, “reform” meant a complete and immediate abrogation of all that was denounced as unevangelical: his objective seemed rather to be the Mass, rites, customs, than the people and their benefit. His principles made for revolution and fanned the spirits of unrest and dissatisfaction to the devouring flames of excess and revolt.
This showed itself in the excesses of Zwilling and his fellow-Augustinians which began with abrogation of daily Masses and Masses for the dead and ended with the denuding of the churches, destruction of pictures and ornaments and riotous interruption of the Mass by an easily led body of students. In the midst of these excesses Luther returned from the Wartburg; and while he may have expressed a sympathy for the general tendency at one time, his actions now are eloquent, and proof of his own attitude toward the harvest of the sowing of Carlstadt and others.
Assuming the full garb of a monk, he enters the forsaken Augustinian monastery and leaves this to deliver the famous Eight Ser mons, preached successively, in which in a manner strangely restrained for Luther he firmly gives answer to the movement and its leaders. The climax is the Mass, celebrated in the accustomed vestments and in the accustomed manner — this by Luther in the face of that turmoil l Heretofore Luther had not hesitated to criticize in public utterances and writings, and in no unmistakable terms, the many marked abuses connected with the worship of the Church. Judging from the way in which he reacted in connection with other matters, he must, at least, have been restive at some of Carlstadt’s earlier activities. But now the situation cannot be longer ignored; it is forced upon him. Strange to say, it does not bring forth a mighty trumpet blast, but quite evident hesitation. It does not seem like Luther to hold back so patiently, to act with such restraint. Could he have judged himself inadequate to the task? He was not a well versed liturgiologist; but he had both native ability and good sense; and one may well imagine that his hesitation was born of an appreciation of the tremendous difficulties involved. Matters had reached such a climax that he simply had to face the issue and express himself definitely and formally on this very important phase of the developing Reformation Movement.
Circumstances noted above undoubtedly paved the way, but Luther’s first formal statement was actually the result of a direct request for advice from the Congregation at Leisnig.
In September, 1522, Luther had been at Leisnig to confer with representatives of the congregation over regulations for the administration of their common treasury. Out of this meeting grew the formal Regulation for which Luther prepared a Preface. Questions relative to their pastors arose, and in order to seek advice and proper direction, the congregation sent a deputation to Luther at Wittenberg, which laid this matter before him on January 25, 1523. At the same time they requested him “to appoint an Order for them according to which they might sing and pray.” On January 29, he promised to grant this request. The Von ordenung gottis diensts ynn der gemeyne is the fulfillment of that promise.
Just when or how soon after the date of the promise the pamphlet, — of four quarto pages in the original print, — was written and issued is uncertain. It was between the date of the promise and Pentecost of the same year, as one of the “original” editions of this pamphlet, printed at Zwickau in this year, bears the date, “Tuesday before the holy festival of Pentecost” — May 19.
An early date in this period rests on the assumption that Luther grasped this opportunity to meet the issue forced by Carlstadt’s radical changes introduced early in the year, making suggestions on his part which he thought sufficient for the immediate situation. In substantiation of this earlier date is the fact that on Monday after Judica, March 23, a simple morning devotion, modeled entirely on the suggestion in the Von ordenung, was instituted in the Stadtpfarrkirche.
The later date is based on the assumption that Carlstadt’s reforms had not only been introduced but had also become so “popular” that there was just fear of additional and even more radical changes following. To counteract anything of this sort the Luther writing appeared, presenting Ms own program of what he regarded as desirable. At the same time he was able to fulfill the promise he had made to the Leisnig church.
The document, although brief, is replete with interest. The situation at Wittenberg is revealed quite plainly. Luther rightly estimated Carlstadt as rash and the ends to which he might eventually go as altogether too revolutionary. His dictum at the very beginning concerning the nonabrogation of the cultus is worthy of special emphasis; this principle remains fundamental with Luther. The summary of the chief misuses current shows where he wants the emphasis of reform placed. These together with the emphatic centralization of the Word declared a little farther along are an enunciation of the principles which guided Luther throughout all of his efforts in this particular connection.
It is not at all strange that the place of prominence in this writing is occupied by a consideration of daily devotional periods in the church. The Mass as such receives nothing more than passing attention; the “reforms” here, which had already been tried out at a number of places, are not even mentioned. The one emphatic statement is that the daily Masses are to remain discontinued; but provision must always be made to meet the desire of such as would receive Holy Communion, even if this be on a weekday!
There is no objection to continuing the use of the customary singing at the Masses and at Vespers; but certain propers, which are purely legendary and unscriptural must be omitted.
But there is an extended program for the other services. Carlstadt had discontinued the daily Masses in the Wittenberg church early in 1523. After that the doors remained dosed during week days, except for an occasional preaching service. It is not difficult to realize Luther’s reaction to this when one begins to read the Von ordenung. The necessity of a daily devotion is demanded from the standpoint of read and expounded Word and congregational prayer. Purposes of worship and edification and pedagogic reasons are about equal. Hence his emphasis on these devotions; and the practical experiment was tried out in the Stadtpfarrkirche The simple morning service, outlined by Luther, was quite typical of the Evangelical Movement. It consisted of a lesson, mad prayer (intercession).
A similar daily evening or afternoon devotion was planned for early introduction, or at least when the proper person or person’s to conduct it would be at hand.
For the morning devotion, which still carried the name Matins, New Testament scriptures were appointed for reading and exposition; it was proposed to use Old Testament scriptures similarly in the afternoon. The procedure suggested was to have one person do the reading and another expound; for example, reading by the scholars, exposition by the pastor.
Luther was quite frank in stating his reasons for this. It would bring about the presence of the scholars at worship; it would insure their activity in it; it would familiarize them with the content of Holy Scripture; and as the lessons were still read in Latin, it would contribute various educational values. Some of the other elements of the old Hours were also retained in these new devotions: Psalms, antiphons, responsories, the last two only if “pure.”
Luther’s first effort at a cleansing of the Church Year is moderation itself, even including the broad abrogation of all saints’ days. Here is the very atmosphere of worship, where the common man would be affected and probably easily offended, as every tradition of spiritual life would be united with contacts of these many days; and the customs connected therewith, in some cases for centuries part and parcel of the life of the common people, could not be rooted out with impunity over night. Hence the agreement to the retention of some of the Virgin Mary’s days and the transference of observance of Apostles’ days to the Sunday nearest. But cleansing of all of these offices must be carried out as time passes, on the basis of scriptural fitness.
Church practices are necessary to the spiritual life, but they are in transition. There is a decided feel for something else; something other than they have; something freer, simpler, more completely expressive of the richness and intimacy of the blessed, precious Gospel. This is the treasure house supreme; the crown of all devotion; the key to every life; the Magna Carta of salvation! The urge to emphasize this first, last, always, is ever present, —THE WORD I And yet, the inheritance cannot, dare not, be ignored, nor dare it be forgotten. Its imprint on spiritual life is indelibe. The old is still present, loved, and cherished, and dare not be utterly cast aside because much of it is true gold, and many hearts and lives would be impoverished by its loss.
It would be a mistake to regard Luther’s writing (or his later writings for that matter) as in the nature of an ex cathedra statement, his position and influence notwithstanding. Such an inference would be unfair both to his principles and to his intention. He, like the matter with which he is dealing, is in a state of transition. This is his first attempt to solve some of the problems; he will meet others as they arise; so, for the time being this is his opinion and his advice.
PAUL ZELLER STRODACH
Bibliography — Original print. First Edition, quarto, Wittenberg, 1523; probably printed by Nic. Shifientz. In the writer’s library. Two other different quarto editions:
Krauth Memorial Library, Philadelphia.
Jena (1558) 2:257f Weimar 12:31ff, — Text, 35ff Walch 10: 262ff Erlangen 22:151ff Buchwald 7:151 f Clemen 2:424f St. Louis 10:221f Lietzmann , Kleine Texte, 36:3 ff Daniel , Codex Liturgicus, 2:75ff Sehling , Kitchen Ordnungen, I, Koestlin , Geschichte des christlichen Gottisdiensts, 145ff; 171ff Jacoby , Liturgik der Reformatoren, 1:271ff Hering , Hulfsbuch, Rietschel , Lehrbuch der Liturgik, 1:393ff Smend , Die evangelischen deutschen Messen bis zu Luthers deutscher Messe The translation has been made from the Weimar text; comparison was made with the text of the original print noted above. P.Z.S.
VON ORDENUNG GOTTIS DIENSTS YNN DER GEMEYNE Doctor Martin’ Lutther Wittemberg M.D.
CONCERNING THE ORDERING OF DIVINE WORSHIP IN THE CONGREGATION
The liturgy now in common use everywhere, like the preaching office, has a high, Christian origin. But just as the preaching office has been debased and impaired by spiritual tyrants, so also the liturgy has been corrupted by the hypocrites. Now as we do not abolish the preaching office on this account but desire to restore it again to its right and proper place, so it is not our intention to discontinue the liturgy but to restore it again to proper and correct usage.
Three great and serious misuses have entered into divine worship. The first, — God’s Word has been silenced, and only reading and singing remain in the churches. This is the worst misuse. The second, — When God’s Word had been silenced, there entered in its stead such a host of unchristian fables and lies, both in legends, songs and sermons, that it is a thing horrible to behold. The third, — Such divine service was performed as a work whereby God’s grace and salvation might be earned. The result of this was that faith disappeared and instead every one gave to churches, established foundations, and wanted to become priests, monks and nuns.
Now in order to do away with these misuses, it is necessary to know, first of all, that the Christian congregation never should assemble unless God’s Word is preached and prayer is made, no matter for how brief a time this may be. See <19A102> Psalm 101:2-3 — When the king and the people assemble for God’s grace, they are to proclaim God’s Name and praise. And Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:31 says, that in the congregation there is to be prophesying, teaching and admonishing. Therefore where God’s Word is not preached, it is better that one neither sing nor read, nor even come together.
This was the custom among the Christians at the time of the Apostles, and should also be the custom now. We should assemble daily in the early morning, say at four or five o’clock, and have God’s Word read, either by scholar or priest, or whoever it may be, in the same manner as the Lesson is still read at Matins; this should be done by one or two, or by one after the other, or by one choir after the other, as may seem most suitable.
Thereupon the preacher or whoever has been appointed, shall come forward and expound a part of the same lesson, so that all the others understand it, learn, and are admonished. The first of these Paul, in Corinthians 14:28, calls speaking with tongues. The other, he calls expounding or prophesying, or speaking with the sense or understanding.
And if this does not occur, the congregation is not benefited by the lesson, as has been the case until now in cloisters and other religious foundations, where they have only wasted their breath against the walls.
However, this Lesson should be taken from the Old Testament in this fashion: One of the books should be selected and a chapter or two, or half a chapter, should be read until all of it has been used. After that another book should be selected, and so on, until the entire Bible has been read through; and where one does not understand it, pass that by and glorify God. Thus through this daily use of, and training in, the Scriptures, the Christians will gain an intelligent knowledge of them and become familiar with them. For in this way, in former times, right excellent Christians were made, — virgins and martyrs, — and truly should continue to be made.
Now when the Lesson and its exposition have lasted a half hour or so, the congregation shall immediately unite in giving thanks to God, in praising Him, and in praying for the fruits of the Word. For this purpose the Psalms should be used and some good responsories and antiphons; but this all should be brief, so that everything may be completed in an hour, or in as long a time as may be desired; for one must not overload the souls so that they become weary and bored, in the same fashion as heretofore in the cloisters and institutions, where they loaded themselves with ass’ labor.
In like manner, gather again at evening around six or five. At this time the books of the Old Testament should be taken rip, one after another, namely the Prophets, in the same way as the books of Moses and the Histories are taken up in the morning. But since the New Testament is a book also, I use the Old Testament in the morning and the New Testament in the evening, or vice versa; and read, expound, praise, sing and pray in like manner as in the morning, also for an hour. For all this is to be done for the sake of God’s Word, to the end that it come into wide use and souls be uplifted and quickened and do not become careless and indifferent.
Should one desire to hold another such gathering once more during the day, after eating, this is entirely a matter of free choice.
Even if such daily services cannot be attended by the entire congregation, nevertheless the priests and the scholars and especially those whom one hopes will become good preachers and pastors should be present. And one should admonish them to perform this duty voluntarily, not of compulsion or with disinclination, or with the thought of meriting either temporal or eternal reward, but only to the glory of God and the neighbor’s good.
But on Sunday such gatherings shall be appointed for the entire congregation: these in addition to the daily gatherings of the smaller number; and at these times, as has been customary heretofore, Mass and Vespers shall be sung. But these services are to be so ordered that the congregation will hear preaching on both occasions, in the morning on the customary Gospel, in the evening on the Epistle, or it may be left to the choice of the preacher whether he will select one book or two for this purpose, whichever will seem to him the most profitable.
Now if anyone desires to receive the Sacrament at this time, it is to be administered to him; this can be arranged for properly in the usual order according to the circumstance of time and person.
The daily masses are certainly to be abolished, for the importance is in the Word and not in the masses. But should some desire the Sacrament on a day other than a Sunday, Mass is to be held, as devotion and time permit; for in this connection one cannot lay down either a law or a limit.
The singing in the Sunday Masses and Vespers may be retained. These parts are quite good and taken from the Scriptures; however one may lessen or increase their number. But it shall be the duty of the pastors and preachers to appoint the songs and Psalms to be used daily, morning and evening, appointing for every morning a Psalm, a good Responsory or Antiphon and a Collect, and for the evening, reading and singing by the congregation after the Lesson and its exposition. But the antiphons and responsories and collects and legends of the Saints and of the Cross, allow these to rest quietly for a while, until they have been purified; for there is a horrible amount of dirt in these.
All saints’ festivals are to be dropped, or where there is a good Christian legend, this may be added after the Gospel on Sunday as an example. But I allow the Festival of the Purification of Mary and of the Annunciation to remain; the Festivals of the Assumption and of the Nativity of Mary one must allow to remain a while longer even though the songs in them are not pure. The Festival of John the Baptist also is pure. Not one of the legends of the Apostles is pure, except St. Paul’s; therefore observance of these Apostle Festivals may be transferred to the (nearest) Sundays, or if preferred, they may be specially observed.
Further matters will be met and adjusted as the need arises from time to time. But the important thing is this, that everything be done so that the Word prevails and does not once more become a clamor or whine, and rattled off mechanically as it has been heretofore. It is better to abandon everything else except the Word. And there is no better practice or exercise than the Word; and the whole Scriptures show that this should have free course among the Christians; and Christ Himself, also, says, Luke 10:42, — One thing is needful, namely that Mary sit at the feet of Christ and hear His word daily. This is the best part, which she has chosen, and will never be taken away. It is an eternal Word; all the rest must pass away no matter how much work it gives Martha to do.
To this God help us. Amen.
FORMULA OF MASS AND COMMUNION FOR THE CHURCH AT WITTENBERG
[Formula Missae Et Communionis Pro Ecclesia Wlttembergensis]
Nicolaus Hausmann, pastor primarius of the Marienkirche at Zwickau and a most devoted friend of Luther, had written repeatedly to him requesting advice and direction in matters connected with church worship. One of these requests had been for an order for saying mass which would conform with the principles of the movement in which they both were so deeply concerned.
Luther had replied more or less promptly to all of Hausmann’s requests except the last, and only after repeated urging by letter, through Stephen Roth, who was studying theology at Wittenberg, and through other friends did Luther meet Hausmann’s hope and plea.
Luther sent Hausmann a copy of a pamphlet on another subject on November 13, 1523, and in the accompanying letter told him that he would send to him a copy of the form of mass which he proposed for the use of the Wittenberg church. This may have been ready for printing at the time of writing this letter, for a few weeks later, on December 4, Luther sent Hausmann a printed copy of the Formula missac et communionis pro ecclesia Wittembergensi. It reached him on December 11, and its arrival moved Hausmann to expressions of gratitude, joy, and satisfaction.
Luther inscribed this document to his cherished friend Hausmann. This was something more than a courtesy; it was an acknowledgment. Hausmann, gentle and kindly, not a leader but a faithful follower, loyal to the movement, was chief pastor of a thankless congregation located in the midst of the Munzer movement, and which showed the influence of Munzer teachings in its life.
Munzer had added a reform of the Mass and of the other services to his activities, and this had been pushed as zealously as his other interests. The effect of all this was felt in full force at Zwickau. Loyal Hausmann not only bore the burden of the heterodox teachings of these schwarmer but was forced to meet the demand for a reform in the services of his own church, inspired no doubt by the example of the radicals. This he realized had to come; but he would not, could not, model it after the Munzer example; nor was he so constituted that he could take the initiative successfully; and still more, his loyalty to Luther would not permit him to undertake action without consultation with him in every important detail. Hausmann’s own effort in preparing a “reformed” service had been submitted to Luther for criticism, but evidently did not meet with Luther’s full approval, and probably was never used. To this he added other requests from time to time, all of which Luther answered gladly and fairly.
Toward the close of 1523, reform of the cultus in general and of the Mass in particular, was not only in the air but taking definite form at many places. Carlstadt’s activities at Wittenberg, Munzer’s at a number of places, and other scattered efforts representing more or less honest endeavors had served to reveal the necessity of a straightforward consideration of the whole question and also acted as a warning, that if the matter were not met by those who were in a position to advise and control, the result would be a riot of individualism and work great injury to the cause.
This forced Luther to enter this field, and some months prior to this time he had issued his first general writing on this specific subject, the Von ordenung gottis diensts inn der gemeyne. The position taken here, at all events, according to Luther’s opinion one may imagine, was a beginning, and sufficient for the moment, since it revealed the limit to which he was ready to go at that time, — a very cautious attitude but also one ready to meet any further issue which might arise when it did arise. He said as much in this writing.
The movement for reform in cultus having grown in purpose and strength and also spread over a wider territory, and the question having demanded a detailed answer, which the Von ordenung did not give and never was expected to give, Luther again writes to meet the problem.
One may suppose that the very spirit, which seemed to possess his adversaries, the schwarmer, had an effect upon Luther in this particular situation as well. Luther’s attitude in general to the cultus of the Church was appreciative; but it also was critical and tinged with the free spirit of liberty, ready to cast away, also to make new if need be. He easily could have been both radical and revolutionary here: all seemed ready to this end.
There are many assertions and denunciations in his writings and sermons to prove this. But did this self-same spirit in others, who broke with his teachings, act much as a counter-irritant and serve to hold him, purely by a sort of contrariness, to the conservative? It is not an impossible point of view! — but it is not the whole story.
Viewed by the Romanists Luther was as much a radical and rebel as was Munzer to Luther’s point of view. In the latter situation the dislike was intense; and anything that Munzer might do, excellent though it might be, would suffer accordingly; nothing good could come from that source!
Luther might regard Munzer’s reform of the services as an exhibition of his destructive radicalism, but the Romanists put Luther’s statements and efforts in the added class of sacrilege.
But Luther’s position was the outcome of his liberty found in the Gospel, liberty safely trammeled by the Gospel; and this holy Word was the life, guide, inspiration, and norm, — not the tradition or pronunciamento of the Church. Against such things as the latter he was an honest rebel; he might be revolutionary, but after all it would be the revolution of the Word rebelling against the bondage of man-made interpretation and the shackles with which man would bind it to his own purposes. Reaction would not carry Luther any farther than the Gospel would go, — yen the “new” would be as old or as young as it was!
So he meets this issue in this spirit of liberty, and behold, he is not a revolutionary as the world defines, but a conservative, because his spirit is bound by the glorious liberty and harmony of the Word. The worshiping Church is the Church that glorifies this Word in all its grace and truth in Christ, in all its forgiving love and fellowship for man. The worshiping children of the Church are those who find their all in and take their all from the Word. When the Church or men bring and add their contributions to this, which do not spring from, center in, or glorify this Divine purpose, then the road away has been entered: man follows man, seeks man, glorifies man, and not God] But when the Church or men inspired by that Word bring their gifts and add their adoring offerings that God may truly be praised by His creature and man may be led to see Him and approach Him in that praise, then the Way is broad and fair, for it is the Way of Life in God and for God.
Luther valued the traditional worship of the Church from both of these angles. On the one side, the pure and true, the ancient, that of all time, that which glorified God in His Word, that which blessed man in his approach to God, this could not, dared not, be lost; and the vehicles which carried this, whether Liturgy, rite or form, were to be treasured for the high office they performed. On the other side that which bore the mark of man selfwilled and self-seeking and self-glorifying was veritable chaff, beautiful though it might be. To hold, preserve, the one was a continued blessing; to cast the other away was true gain! This is essentially the motivation of Luther’s “reforming” process in matters liturgical.
Luther’s Formula missae et communionis is the Ordo missae of the Roman Church “reformed” according to this process. Acquaintance with the Order of the Mass is a prerequisite to a consideration of Luther’s attitude and of the results of his work as they appear in the Formula missae.
There is something more back of a statement such as this which follows, than appears on the surface. Luther writes early in the Formula, “We assert, it is not now, nor has it ever been, in our mind to abolish entirely the whole formal cultus of God, but to cleanse that which is in use, which has been vitiated by most abominable additions, and to point out a pious use.”
This is an extremely interesting revelation of Luther’s point of view and declaration of purpose. It is not new; he had said as much some months before in the Von ordenung, only in other words; and what is more, — other evidence to the contrary, — he reiterates this in later years.
Back of this is the Luther of the old Church, against which he moves only in love that she may be cleansed and restored to the Divine plan and purpose. He recognizes the ancient glory of the Church’s Liturgy, the heritage handed on from age to age; the helpfulness of the external in expressing the spiritual, in translating this into terms easily comprehended by the common man. And with a spirit which treasures the real, the good, the helpful, — that which he had grown to love, — he seeks by careful, discriminating, and gentle touch to restore the ancient purity of this age-old worship. Further, he views that which the centuries have added, which conduce to true worship, as relative to this end and likewise to be continued. The standard is Christocentric. The form, the rite, the ceremony, these are not to be cast aside if they center in Him and from there shed their rays upon the hearts of men.
In the Formula Luther confines his effort entirely to the Order of the Mass, — the Service for the Celebration of Holy Communion; generalizations such as those found in the Van ordenung, or consideration of other matters of liturgical character unless they are related specifically to the Mass find no place in this writing. This is the worship of the Church, The Liturgy; and it is brought into harmony with the teaching he has been inculcating; and it is primarily intended for the uplift, and, finally, for the intelligent participation of the common man. Wittenberg will test the experiment; those interested may follow and try it out likewise, or if they are better able, improve on this: there is no compulsion to follow Luther’s lead. This in the face of the fact, that the many diverse attempts at ordering the Evangelical Mass brought Luther into this work, and that he stands out for a unity of practice as preeminently desirable!
The method in which Luther considers this matter is illustrative of his fundamental attitude.
He begins, after the introductory paragraphs, with a statement of our Lord’s Institution and the observance of the Holy Supper under the Apostles, — “most simply, piously, and without additions.” Here is the pristine Mass, — the supposition being that it was without formal liturgy or external rite. Then he writes of the early entrance into this “observance” of certain additions, — actions or formal functions, such as prayers, psalms, kyrie, epistles, gospels, etc. Clearly this is a reference to and an acceptance of the evolution of the Liturgy of the Mass and also an acknowledgment of what man contributed to its development. But he grants such things place gladly; they are “commendable,” because they serve to holy purpose and are “pure.” Throughout he asserts the standard whereby he is judging, “ancient purity.” These things are the treasures bequeathed by the Fathers.
But there carne a time when men departed from the ancient simplicity and began to change and add and build according to their own selfish purpose.
It was then that the abomination entered the Temple of God: this is the highly organized Mass with all of its mechanical and ceremonial furnishings, in particular that abomination of abominations, the Canon.
Man had done violence to the ancient Divine purpose and forced the man- made Mass to serve base ends. The light of the Gospel reveals all such abominations. “We will test all things; what is good, we will retain.”
This standard of judgment is made effective immediately; for Luther proceeds to consider the Ordo missae part after part, in the process of formulating the Liturgy which becomes his recommendation, eventually a formal Order of Worship, but not a new liturgy but the traditional Liturgy of the Church simplified, purified, restored.
In utter silence Luther passes by the Preparation of the Priest, which precedes the Introit in the Ordo. This means rejection; for it could not by any chance pass muster with its evident tinge of sacerdotalism; further it did not measure up to the standard of antiquity.
Then, starting with the Introit and going as far as the beginning of the Canon, Luther considers every step in the progress of the Ordo individually, subjecting these one after the other, to the test of the principles which he had laid down, and commenting upon them accordingly.
The proper Introits for Lord’s Days and the Greater Festivals are agreeable and therefore continued. These were scriptural. But preference is expressed for the use of the entire Psalm, — (this was the original use of the ancient Church), — from which the Introits were developed.
Here some comments relative to the Church Year enter. A strong desire to get away from and to simplify the multiplicity of observances due to the many saints’ days and to centralize all worship in the great Center of all, Christ, is evident in the method observed at Wittenberg. “If there is anything worthy in them (the saints’ days) we think they should be referred to in the Lord’s Day preaching.” This quite a departure from the customary liturgical “commemoration.” Further such Festivals of the Virgin as the Purification and the Annunciation are observed as Festivals of Christ.
Another interesting and centralizing use, which also tends to greater simplification, is suggested in repeating the Nativity propers on the Days of St. Stephen and St. John, which follow immediately in the Christmas Octave, instead of the customary propers of those Days. But this is suggestion only, not rule; and one must regard the sensibilities of those to whom great and sudden changes in observances to which they have been long accustomed might be harmful, lest they be offended thereby and their spirit of, and joy in, worship be disturbed. However, observances which are purely of human invention are abrogated without ceremony.
The Kyrie, according to its customary use and melodies and much beloved by the common people, and the Gloria in excelsis are continued. The latter is to be used uninterruptedly throughout the Church Year, although the “bishop” is free to interrupt its use at certain times as in the past. The proper Collect, “if it is pious,” is preserved, but other “commemorations” are discontinued at this place.
The liturgical lessons, the Epistles and the Gospels, while satisfactory to a certain degree, seem to present some difficulties to Luther, even while he favors their continuance. There should be some revision here sometime, in order to emphasize “faith” and get away from the predominating, present emphasis on “works.” The hope is that this will come in the future when the Mass shall be celebrated entirely in the vernacular; meanwhile vernacular preaching safeguards the situation.
Luther favors the retention of the simple Gradual and the Alleluia in connection with these liturgical lessons. The longer Graduals or Tracts are to be discontinued; nor are there to be ceremonial variations here, such as in themselves distinguish one day from another or one season from another. The idea seems to be to have uniform rites — a uniform service Liturgy except for the varying major propers, — throughout the entire year. Here again is another contribution toward simplification, and once more the emphasis is laid on the reason, pure worship and edification.
Ceremonial accompaniment to the reading of the Gospel, lights and incense, is left free.
Following the Gospel comes the Nicene Creed. This “is not displeasing.”
The Sermon may then follow here, or it may precede the Introit. Over against the former place, which is historic, Luther favors the innovation of Sermon before Mass, because the “Gospel is the voice calling in the wilderness and bidding unbelievers to faith.”
Up to this point in the Mass, i.e., the Sermon after the Creed, complete freedom prevails. This is the “human” contribution! — but one unto edification; it is not binding. The further progress, the celebration itself, centers in the Divine Institution. Here, too, the ancient distinction between the Missa catechumenorum and the Missa fidelium is unconsciously shown.
The first emphatic outburst against any part of the Ordo comes on reaching the Offertory. Now follows “that complete abomination”; — “everything sounds and reeks of oblation.” The Offertory and the entire Canon are repudiated. According to Luther’s principles this could not be otherwise; but observe how Luther proceeds to winnow and preserve what he judges pure and ancient and to be centered in the one and all important tradition, the Divine Institution.
Before he writes of this in detail he notes directions concerning the Preparation of the Elements, which is to take place during the Creed or after the Sermon. Connected with this is a short discussion on whether the wine should be mixed with water or be used pure. Luther’s inclination is to use pure wine and he states his reasons. But this, however, seems to be a rather hesitating break with ancient custom and tradition.
Then follows the Order of the Communion Office proper. The Salutation, Sursum corda and Vere dignum remain, but the Proper Preface is omitted.
Immediately after the Vere dignum come the Words of Institution. These are quoted according to the Gospel (Vulgate) and not according to the Missale Ramanum. After the Verba the Sanctus is sung, and at the Benedictus qui venit the Bread and Chalice are elevated. This, the Elevation, is retained “chiefly on account of the infirm who might be greatly offended by the sudden change.” Specifically, the Verba are the Consecration; although their immediate union with the Preface can be interpreted as making the Eucharistic Thanksgiving and the Verba the form of consecration. The Lords Prayer, introduced by the customary Introduction, is then prayed; but the Embolism and the Fraction and Commixture and the incidental signings with the Cross are to be omitted.
The Pax is said immediately after the Lord’s Prayer by the bishop facing the people, as in ancient times; for the Pax is “the Gospel voice announcing remission of sins.” This interpretation permits the deduction, that the Pax acts as the absolution prior to communion. Agnus dei is then sung; the while the bishop communicates himself first, then the people. Preceding the Administration, the celebrant may say one of the ancient prayers of the Mass (first words quoted) but the pronoun referring to the celebrant is to be made plural referring to all communicants. At the Distribution, the ancient Form of Administration is preserved; but this likewise is to have the plural pronoun.
In concluding the Office the customary Communion (chant) may be sung if the bishop desires, but the varying Post Communion (Collect) is displaced by two collects of the Mass, the latter having the complete Termination.
Mass is then concluded with the Salutation, Benedicamus with Alleluia and the customary Benediction. Variant forms of this last, which may be used, are the Aaronitic Benediction and one composed of Psalm verses.
This is Luther’s simplified, purified Order of the Mass and Communion.
The departures from the current Roman Ordo are comparatively few; probably not as many as one might be led to expect; but those that are made are positive and all-important. The accumulated mists and clouds are driven away to reveal the Sacrament for You surrounded with thanksgiving, adoration, prayer, and final thanksgiving and benediction.
It is to be noted that Luther’s effort is not centered in either destruction or construction. Some may say “Destruction” when his determined action at the Offertory and the Canon is met; others may say “Construction” when they point to a changing about of certain integral parts of the original structure. But neither of these entered into the situation as primary or as definite purposes later on. Luther did not have any desire to construct a new Liturgy; such a thing was utterly out of harmony with both his spirit and feeling. His Formula is the Roman Ordo simplified, purified, reformed, — and he felt he had every right to do just this, for it was the Church’s expression that he was seeking, not the Roman Church’s. And his confessed, purposeful trend backward to the purity of ancient uses is the triumphant forward going of the living Gospel into the lives of men, carrying the guarantees of faith’s union with the ever-present, living Christ.
It is sacramental and sacrificial; but sacrificial in the spirit of pure devotion, not in the Roman sense; what there is of sacrifice is the prayer, praise, and thanksgiving of man to the Dispenser of the Sacramental Gift. Luther held himself strictly to this, — to glorify Christ and make him the triumphant All-in-all and to bring to man the blessed privilege of joyful communion with Him in His instituted action for this end. That the Liturgy which was theirs met this purpose, he demonstrated; for is not the Liturgy one of the most practical expressions of doctrine? That it could be thus demonstrated solved the problem of worship itself and saved the situation among people who were not ready for the introduction of innovations of his proposing, — provided he was disposed so to do! — in order to replace customs he condemned.
Naturally Luther viewed the Liturgy only from his point of view, — not as a liturgical document; — it must be the vital expression of faith and its approach; it dare not be mere form or rite or even a “spiritual” mechanism.
Here he faced the building which the worship-spirit of the Church had erected through the ages, mighty in its accumulated deposits, mighty in its well-nigh world-wide use. He faced a structure built age after age into a harmony and unity which it would be folly to disturb save to preserve it and express it in a better, purer way than men were now expressing it.
Could this be done? Could this be made to express again what the Church had lovingly, joyfully confessed therein the pure teaching of the Gospel?
His Formula is his attempt to demonstrate that it can be done; and in doing so, he also sought to preserve the unity and harmony of the structure even though at times he leaves but the barest framework.
This is particularly true at the Consecration, where his reaction is most marked and his hand falls the heaviest. Did he follow blindly the formula ascribed to St. Augustine, “The Word is added to the Element and makes the Sacrament,” and then accept the dictum of Pope Gregory that the Consecration is effected by and in the Verba? At all events, to Luther the Verba alone are all that is required to “consecrate” the Elements for communion and to “validate” the Sacrament to the response of the believing Church to her Lord’s “This do.” Further, this much, and perhaps, this much only, is Apostolic!
That uncertainty of just what to do here existed in his mind seems to be borne out by the transference of the Sanctus to a place after the Verbs and by the paring down of the Preface to the barest possible introduction to the Verba; for introduction it is more than eucharistic thanksgiving. Yet he seems to feel that this “action” is formal, ceremonial in the highest, purest sense, on the part of the believing Church; not in the sense of a magnificent celebration but in the sense of profound adoration in all humble simplicity of communion with the Lord. The innigkeit of the spiritual, the personal, — believing and joyful, — is seeking expression here, and yet he strives to clothe this historically! Something must take the place of the abhorred Canon!
The problem was more than difficult; it was one that held grave dangers, — because of Luther’s utter abomination of the Canon; and again one is astonished to find that the determined swing away from the accustomed, inspired by such deep-set, conscientious and at times violently expressed feelings and opinions, has left as much remaining as this which is still preserved in his Formula!
That this is so was not because Luther feared or hesitated to change, but because he recognized dangers into which false moves would lead immediately. The greatest safety-check, next to the all-inspiring, allcontrolling Word, remained sure and true: Luther still felt the reality of the historic Church, — the Church of all ages, Christ’s Church, his Church, not the Roman!
After the outline of the Mass has been completed, Luther considers a number of practical matters related to its celebration. First comes the method of consecrating and receiving the species; whether both elements are to be consecrated at once and administered, or the one element consecrated and administered immediately and then the other element, — “after which manner Christ seems to have acted,” — is left as a matter of individual choice.
Then there is a careful discussion of rites and ceremonies. The one thing indispensable is the “Words of Consecration uncorrupted;” other matters are wholly free and may be changed at will! But all such things may be observed voluntarily; they dare not be made a law or be required as established indispensable forms. The Ancient Church affords the true example here. Luther even goes so far as to say that “if they have appointed something as a law in this matter, it shall not be observed.” Nor are others to be judged when their rites differ from ours; each may abound in his own opinion, but each must strive to understand the other and yield to him in that understanding. The external rite does not commend us to God, but the inner unity of faith and love does!
Use of the customary Mass vestments is left free, with the caution that “pomp and excess of splendor be absent.” If used, these vestments are not to be “consecrated” in the former ritualistic fashion, but they may be blessed “by that general benediction, by which it is taught that every good creature of God is sanctified through word and prayer.” This last established a new principle of practice in the Church of the Reformation; over against the perfunctory ceremonialism of Rome is placed the Evangelic benediction in its simplicity and spirituality.
With this the major portion of the writing ends; the concluding part carries the title “Concerning the Communion of the People” and discusses a variety of practical matters, most of which are related to the celebration of the Holy Supper.
Private masses are to be discontinued; a celebration is not to be held without communicants: this would be as ridiculous as preaching the Gospel without a congregation present, to the rocks and trees and empty air!
Notification of intention to commune is required. The reason for this is something more than good order; for the bishop or ministrant is to use this opportunity to inquire into the prospective communicants’ knowledge and understanding of what he desires to do and as to his fitness to do so.
Should he not give satisfactory evidence of this he is to be excluded; and while moral conditions must be considered he is not to be excluded if he shows repentance; for the Holy Supper is for just such as these.
Continuance or discontinuance of Private Confession is left to the decision of the bishop; and the customary rule of preparation by fasting and prayer is to be considered a matter of liberty. The inner spirit longing for the blessing, the repentant spirit seeking consolation and strength, these are far more vital and necessary. These suggestions relative to a pastoral, personal ministration are a complete turn away from the old, formal, definitely ordered requirements, and they emphasize the intimate, helpful contact which is to obtain between pastor and communicant. It is now to be soulcure under the ministration of the blessed Gospel of the forgiving, welcoming Christ, not a hair-splitting, soul-burdening, penitential system.
Luther then discusses the question of the administration of both forms, i.e., the elements, in his own typical way and at quite some length. Both forms are to be administered. It is not a matter of argument, but of the Scripture; nor is this to be postponed any longer. One is not to wait for a council to determine this matter; it has been determined by highest Authority. And if men will not accede to that, and must wait for the decree of a council, thus preferring and honoring the opinion of man more than the Divine instruction, then the council is to be ignored. And then under such circumstances should the council say, “Both forms,” then we will use one!
But the authority of the Word is supreme, and therefore there is no necessity to wait longer or require man’s opinion.
The question of celebrating Mass in the vernacular arises only incidentally in this document; there are no definite expressions, save a hope expressed, interjected in passing. At one place vernacular preaching is mentioned, and here vernacular songs. Apparently Latin continues to be the language of the Mass. Of course the hope is to have Mass, all services, in the language of the people in order that all may know and understand in what they are engaging. An important change such as this could not be hurried nor accomplished quickly. Luther realized, probably better than many others, how much was needed to this end. Here he writes of singing vernacular songs after certain Latin parts of the Mass. This is to be done by the congregation; and certain well-known hymns are suggested. Such as these must serve until gifted poets could provide others. This, too, would have to serve as a beginning; it was, at least, a promise of what was to come in fuller measure in time.
Luther recognized outstanding educational values in the services, in addition to the spiritual. He recommended the continuance of the Daily Hours, in particular Matins and Vespers, because these afforded excellent opportunity for the active participation of the youth, especially the boys.
They were to read the Lessons and the Psalter, and to sing the Orders as well. But here again matters were to be simplified; the bishop is to be responsible for the needed weekly appointments.
The Formula is then brought to a close with a personal word to Hausmann.
The Formula is the most important of the three documents dealing with Divine Worship which Luther issued. It carried weight, coming from him, which no other document of similar purpose could equal; and its influence was far-reaching, continuing even after the appearance of the very popular Deutsche Messe. Its historicity and conservative spirit in themselves served to check the marked tendency to looseness and a complete break with the past. It had its defects, but it had its outstanding accomplishments; and it revealed Luther as a quiet, appreciative workman, holding his strong feelings well in check and not permitting them to wreck the beauties of the heritage which belonged to all by biased or intemperate action. It will ever remain a silent witness to the positive claim of the Church of the Reformation, — that the Movement was not to institute a new Church, but was a consecrated cleansing and reforming of the Church — a continuance of the pure and true! Here, through his pen, the historic past continued to live in the present.
Hausmann soon expressed the wish that this Formula, which had been published in Latin only, might be available in German also. Luther commissioned Paul Speratus to translate it. This translation appeared in the course of a few months, and was accepted as the authorized German version of this important document. Almost at the same time a second translation, this one anonymous, was issued by a Nurnberg press. Allowing for the difference in the personalities of the translators, the two German texts are very close to the original. These texts are important to any student of the Formula in that the translation will many times be interpretative of the Latin.
It was to be expected that the opposition, Rome, would not remain silent over this proposal of Luther. Emser was the first to attempt a reply, and issued his pamphlet in 1524. This was typical both of Emser’s spirit and methods. The second reply was a well prepared and well written pamphlet by Clichtoveus; this appeared in 1526. Neither of these writers admitted any principle of Luther to be correct or that his motive or purpose was devout and honest. Rome could not admit any of this without betraying her own position and admitting the truth of the assertions of the leaders in the Reformation Movement.
The example and influence of the Formula live in the Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church in America today. f4 The translation has been made from an original print, the property of the writer. Constant reference was made to the texts appearing in the original Jena edition and in the Weimar edition, and to originals of the German translations also in the writer’s library.
PAUL ZELLER STRODACH
Bibliography — Original; — First Edition, Wittenberg, 1523, quarto, Italian cursive type.
Title page and end-piece, woodcuts by Hans Cranach; printed by Nic.
Schirlentz, Writer’s library.
Edition , Wittenberg, 1524, 32 mo, printed in cursive text.
Krauth Memorial Library, Matthew Airy, Philadelphia.
Jena edition, (1556), Vol. II, p. 556ff Weimar edition, 12: 197ff. Text 205ff Erlangen , Op. Lat., 7:lff Clemen , 2:427ff Daniel , Codex Liturgicus, 2:80ff Richter , Kirchen Ordnungen, 1:2ff Sehling , Kirchen Ordnungen, I-4 Hering , Hfilfsbuch, Lietzmann , Kleine Texte, No. 36, p. 11ff Rietschel Lehrbuch d. Lit., 1:399ff Jacoby , Die Liturgik der Reformatoren (1871), I, 1121, p. 256ff.
Paul Speratus’ German translation of the Formula missae, Ein weyse Christlich Mess zu halten vnd zum tisch Gottes zu gehen.
Original ; — 1st Edition, Wittenberg, 1524; printed by L. Cranach.
Jena (1560) III:269 Erlangen , 7:11 ff Walch , 10: 2743ff St. Louis , 10:2230ff An anonymous translation originating at Nurnberg: Die weysse der Messz, vnnd geniessung des Hochwirdigen Sacraments.
Englished by H. E. Jacobs, The Lutheran Church Review, Vol. 8, July 1889, p. 226ff; Vol. 9, January, 1890, p. 72ff.
Richard and Painter, Christian Worship, p. 164ff.
In reply to the Formula missae Emser wrote: Missae christianorum contra Lutheranam Missandi formulam assertio. 1524.
Clichtoveus wrote: Propugnaculum ecclesiae adversus Lutheranos. 1526. P.Z.S.
FORMULA MISSAE ET COMMUNIONIS PRO ECCLESIA WITTEMBERGENSIS VENERABILI IN CHRISTO D. NICOLAO HAUSMAN EPISCOPO CYGNEAE ECCLESIAE IN CHRISTO SANCTO MART. LUTHER FORMULA OF MASS AND COMMUNION FOR THE CHURCH AT WITTENBERG By Martin Luther Wittenberg MDXXIII f15 To the Venerable in Christ D. Nicholas Hausman Bishop of the Church at Zwickau in Christ blessed.
Grace and peace in Christ he wishes (him). Thus far I have tried by means of books and sermons among the people to call their hearts away from godless opinions of ceremonies, thinking I would be doing something Christian and salutary if I would be the cause whereby the abomination, which Satan has set up in the holy place through the man of sin, might be removed without violence. Therefore, I have undertaken nothing either by force or command; nor have I changed old things for new, always being hesitant and fearful on account of those souls weak in the faith from whom the old and accustomed is not to be taken away suddenly or among whom a new and untried method of worshiping God is to be introduced; and especially on account of those light and fastidious spirits who, without faith, without reason, like unclean swine, rush wildly about and rejoice only in the novel, and as soon as the novelty has worn off forthwith become disgusted with it. A species of men than whom, as in other things, nothing is more troublesome than their sort; so, too, in sacred things they are most troublesome and intolerable. Nevertheless, even though I am moved with wrath, I am compelled to suffer them unless I would desire to have the Gospel itself taken away from the public.
But now since there is hope that the hearts of many have been enlightened and strengthened by the grace of God, and since the matter itself demands that the scandals be removed from the Kingdom of Christ, something must be dared in the name of Christ. For it is right that we provide for the few, lest while we fear constantly the levity and abuse of some others we provide for none at all, and while we wish to guard against the future scandals of such as these, we strengthen all of their abominations.
Therefore, most excellent Nicolas, since you have requested it so frequently, we will busy ourself concerning some pious form of saying mass (as they say) and of administering communion. And thus will we do: we will no longer rule hearts by word of doctrine only, but we will put our hand to it also, and make that effective in the public administration; nevertheless, prejudicing no one, nor forbidding any one to embrace or follow some other method. Indeed we beg through Christ, from the heart, if something better shall be revealed to those who are in advance of us in these things, that they command us to be silent so that by common work we may aid the common cause. f17 In the first place we assert, it is not now, nor has it ever been, in our mind to abolish entirely the whole formal cultus of God, but to cleanse that which is in use, which has been vitiated by most abominable additions, and to point out a pious use. For this cannot be denied, that masses and the communion of bread and wine are a rite divinely instituted by Christ, which was observed, first under Christ Himself, then under the apostles, most simply and piously and without any additions. But so many human inventions have been added to it in course of time, that nothing of the mass and communion has come down to our age except the name.
Now the additions of the early fathers, who are said to have prayed one or two psalms in a subdued voice before blessing the bread and wine, were commendable: such Athanasius and Cyprian were thought to have been. Then they who added Kyrie Eleison, these also pleased; for we read that under Basil the Great Kyrie Eleison was in public use by the whole people. Now the reading of the Epistles and Gospels was and is necessary, unless it be a fault to read them in a language which is not understood by the common people. Afterward when chanting began, the psalms were changed into the Introit: then the Angelic Hymn was added, the Gloria in excelsis et in terra pax; also the Graduals and Alleluia and Nicene Creed, the Sanctus, Agnus dei and Cornmunio. All these are such as cannot be censured, especially those which are sung as de tempore or Lord’s Day uses. These days only testify to ancient purity, the Canon excepted.
But when there was license to add and to change as it suited anyone, then because of the tyranny of avarice and sacerdotal ambition, those altars and images of Baal and all gods began to be placed in the temple of the Lord by our impious kings, that is, the bishops and pastors (shepherds). Here impious Ahaz took away the brazen altar and erected another brought from Damascus. But I am speaking about the Canon, that mangled and abominable thing gathered from much filth and scum. Then the Mass began to be a sacrifice; the Offertories and paid for prayers were added; then Sequences and Proses were inserted in the Sanctus and the Gloria in excelsis. Then the Mass began to be a priestly monopoly, exhausting the wealth of the whole world, deluging the whole earth like a vast desert with rich, lazy, powerful and lascivious celebates. Then came masses for the dead, for travelers, for riches, and who can name the titles alone for which the Mass was made a sacrifice?
Nor do they cease to add to the Canon today: now it is for these feasts, then for others; now these actiones, then other communicantes are approved. And I will keep quiet about the memores, the commemoration of the living and of the dead, not yet brought to its end.
And what shall I say of the external additions, vestments, vessels, candles, palls; then the organ and everything musical; images? There is scarcely one of the handicrafts in all the world, which does not contribute a great part of its activity to, and derive its gain from, the Mass. f43 Therefore, let these be passed by, and also let them pass, — all such abominations being revealed by the Gospel, — until they be entirely abolished. In the meanwhile we will test all things; what is good, we will retain. But in this book we omit saying that the Mass is (not) a sacrifice or a good work, because we have taught about it sufficiently at other places. We accept it as Sacrament, or Testament, or Blessing as in Latin, or Eucharist as in Greek, or the Table of the Lord, or the Lord’s Supper, or the Lord’s Memorial, or Communion, or by whatever pious name you please, so long as it be not polluted by the name of sacrifice or work; and we will set forth the rite according to which, as it seems to us, it should be used.
In the first place, we approve and preserve the introits for the Lord’s Day and for the Festivals of Christ, such as Easter, Pentecost, Nativity, although we prefer the Psalms from which they were taken as of old; but now we agree to the received usage. But if any desire to approve the introits for Apostles’ Days, for Feasts of the Virgin and of other saints, we do not condemn this, if they have been chosen from Psalms and other Scriptures. We, of Wittenberg, seek to celebrate only on Lord’s Days and on Festivals of the Lord, abrogating completely the festivals of all of the saints; or if there is anything worthy in them we think they should be referred to in the Lord’s Day preaching. We regard the Festivals of the Purification and of the Annunciation as Festivals of Christ, like the Epiphany and the Circumcision. In place of the Festivals of St. Stephen f50 and of St. John, the Evangelist, it pleases us to use the office of the Nativity. Let the Festivals of the Holy Cross be anathema. Let others act according to their own consciences, or according to the infirmity of others, — whatever the Spirit may suggeSt. In the second place, we accept Kyrie Eleison as it has been used customarily, with the various melodies for the different seasons, together with the Angelic Hymn, Gloria in excelsis, which follows; nevertheless its use rests on the judgment of the bishop, or, how often he desires its omission. f56 In the third place, the Oratio (prayer), or Collect which follows, if it is pious, (and those appointed for the Lord’s Days usually are), should be preserved in its accustomed use; but there should be but one. After this the Epistle lesson. Certainly the time has not yet come to attempt revision here, as nothing ungodly is read. But something seems to be needed, since those parts of the Epistles of Paul in which faith is taught are rarely read, but most frequently those parts dealing with morals and exhortations. While the originator of the Epistles seems to have been a singularly unlearned and superstitious friend of works, the office required the rather that, for the greater part, those sections in which faith in Christ is taught, be appointed. This certainly may be seen more frequently in the Gospels, whoever has been the originator of those lessons. But in the meantime vernacular preaching will supply this lack. If it shall come to pass in the future that Mass shall be celebrated in the vernacular (which may Christ grant!), attention must be given so that Epistles and Gospels, chosen from the best and more weighty parts of these writings, be read in the Mass.
In the fourth place, the Gradual of two verses, likewise with the Allehuia, or both, should be sung as the bishop decides. But the Quadragesima Graduals and the like, which are longer than two verses, any one who wishes may sing these in his own home. In church, we do not wish to extinguish the spirit of the faithful with tedious things. It is not fitting to distinguish the Quadragesima, or the Greater Week, or the Feria Sexta, with rites other than those customary elsewhere, lest we seem to banter and ridicule Christ further with half a mass and the one part of the Sacrament. For A11eluia is the perpetual voice of the Church, just as the memorial of His (Christ’s) passion and victory is perpetual. f72 In the fifth place, we allow no Sequences or Proses, unless it please the bishop to use the short one for the Nativity of Christ, Grates nunc omnes. Nor are there hardly any which are redolent of the Spirit save those of the Holy Spirit: Sancti Spiritus and Veni Sancte Spiritus, f78 which one may sing after breakfast or at Vespers or at Mass (if the bishop pleases).
In the sixth place, the Gospel lection follows, where we prohibit neither candles nor censing. But we do not demand this; let this be free.
In the seventh place, the custom of singing the Nicene Creed is not displeasing. Likewise concerning vernacular preaching, we are of the opinion that it does not matter whether this is done after the Symbolum or before the Introit of the Mass, although there is a reason why it might be more aptly done before Mass, because the Gospel is the voice calling in the wilderness and bidding unbelievers to faith.
The Mass indeed should be the use of the Gospel and also the Communion of the Table of the Lord, which certainly belongs to the faithful and is fitting to be celebrated privately; but nevertheless that reason does not bind us who are free, especially because all things which are done in the Mass up to the Symbolum are ours and are free, not exacted by God, on which account they do not necessarily pertain to the Mass.
In the eighth place, there follows that complete abomination, into the service of which all that precedes in the Mass has been forced, whence it is called Offerforium, and on account of which nearly everything sounds and reeks of oblation. In the midst of these things those words of life and salvation have been placed, just like in times past the ark of the Lord was placed in the temple of idols next to Dagon. And there is no Israelite there who is able either to approach or lead back the ark, until it has made its enemies infamous, smiting them on the back with eternal shame, and has compelled them to send it away, which is a parable for the present time. Therefore repudiating all those things which smack of sacrifice and of the Offertory, together with the entire Canon, let us retain those things which are pure and holy, and then we will order our Mass in this fashion.
I. During the Creed or after the Canon, let bread and wine be prepared in the customary way for consecration. Except that I am not yet fixed in my mind as to whether or not water should be mixed with the wine, f91 although! rather incline to the preparation of pure wine, because the indication strikes me as wrong which Isaiah advances in chapter I, “Your wine,” he says, “is mixed with water.” For pure wine symbolizes beautifully the purity of the teaching of the Gospel. Then, too, nothing has been poured out for us save the blood of Christ only, unmixed with ours, of which we make commemoration here. Neither can the dream of those stand who say that our union with Christ is here symbolized, the commemoration of which union we do not make here. Nor are we united before the shedding of His blood, otherwise at the same time we would be celebrating the pouring out of our own blood with the blood of Christ for ourselves. Nevertheless in opposition to liberty, I will not introduce a superstitious law. Christ will not care very much about this, nor are these matters worthy of contention. Enough foolish contention over this has been engaged in by the Roman and Greek Churches as also in many other matters. And because some assert that blood and water flowed from the side of Christ, that does not prove anything. For that water signifies something other than what they wish to be signified by that mixed water.
Nor was that mixed with the blood. Moreover the figure proves nothing, and the example does not stand; hence as a human invention it is held to be free. f93
II. The bread and the wine having been prepared, then let the order be in this manner: The Lord be with you. Response: And with thy spirit. Lift up (your) hearts. Response: Let us lift them to the Lord. Let us give thanks unto our Lord God. Response: It is meet and right. It is truly meet and right, just and salutary for us to give thanks to Thee always and everywhere, Holy Lord, Father Almighty, Eternal God, through Christ our Lord.
III. Then. …Who the day before He suffered took bread, giving thanks, broke and gave to His disciples, saying, Take, eat. This is my body, which is given for you.
Similarly also the cup, after He supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood which is poured out for you and for many in remission of sins. As often as ye shall do this, do it in memory of me. f100 I wish these words of Christ, allowing a moderate pause after the Preface, to be recited in the same tone of voice in which the Lord’s Prayer is sung at another place in the Canon; so that it will be possible for those standing by to hear, although in all these things liberty is allowed to pious minds to recite these words either silently or audibly. f104
IV. The Consecration ended, let the choir sing the Sanctus, and when the Benedictus is sung, let the bread and chalice be elevated f108 according to the rite in use up to this time, chiefly on account of the infirm who might be greatly offended by the sudden change in this more noted rite in the Mass, especially where they have been taught through vernacular sermons what is sought by this elevation. f109
V. After this the Lord’s Prayer is read. Thus: Let us pray: Taught by thy saving precepts, etc., omitting the prayer following: Deliver us, we beseech, with all signs, which they were wont to make over the host and with the host over the chalice; nor shall the host be broken f116 or mixed in the chalice. But immediately after the Lord’s Prayer shall be said, The Peace of the Lord, etc, which is, so to speak, a public absolution of the sins of the communicants, truly the Gospel voice announcing remission of sins, the one and most worthy preparation for the Lord’s Table, if it be apprehended by faith and not otherwise than though it came forth from the mouth of Christ Himself. On account of this I wish it to be announced with face turned to the people, as the bishops were accustomed to do, which is the sole vestige of the ancient bishops left among our bishops.
VI. Then let him communicate himself first, then the people; in the meanwhile let the Agnus dei be sung. But if he should desire to pray the prayer, O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, who according to the will of the Father, etc., before communing, he will not pray wrongly, only change the singular number to the plural, ours and us for mine and me. Likewise the prayer, The Body of the Lord, etc., guard my soul, or thy soul unto life eternal. And the Blood, of our Lord, guard thy soul unto life eternal. f123
VII. If he desires to sing the Communion let it be sung. But in place of the ad complendam or final collect which so frequently savors of sacrifice, let this prayer be read in the same tone: What we have taken with the mouth, O Lord. This one also may be read: Thy Body, O Lord, which we have received, etc., changing to the plural number. Who livest and reignest, etc. The Lord be with you, etc. In place of the he missa, let Benedicamus domino be said, adding Alleluia f132 according to its own melodies where and when it is desired; or Benedicamus may be borrowed from Vespers. f133
VIII. Let the customary Benediction be given. Or take that from Numbers 6:24, which the Lord Himself arranged and ordered: f136 The Lord bless us and guard us: May He show us His face and be merciful to us; The Lord turn His face ,to us and give us peace. Or that in Psalm 96, May God, our God, bless us: May God bless us and all the ends of the earth fear Him. Amen. I believe Christ used something of this kind when, ascending into heaven, He blessed His disciples.
And this, too, should be free to the bishop, namely, by what order he may desire either to receive or to administer both species. For assuredly he may consecrate both bread and wine consecutively before he receives the bread; or between the consecration of the bread and wine he may communicate with the bread both himself and as many as desire it, and thereupon consecrate the wine and at length give to all to drink of it. After which manner Christ seems to have acted, as the words of the Gospel reveal, where He commanded to eat the bread before He blessed the cup. Then is said expressly: Likewise also the cup after He supped. Thus you perceive the cup was blessed only after eating the bread. But this quite new rite will not permit the doing of those things following the Consecration about which we spoke above, unless they should be changed. f138 This is the way we think about the Mass, but at the same time taking care in all such matters lest we make binding things which are free, or compel those to sin who either would do some other thing or omit certain things; only let them keep the Words of Consecration uncorrupted, and let them do this in faith. For these should be the usages of Christians, that is of children of the free woman, who observe these things voluntarily and from the heart, changing them as often as and in whatever manner they might wish. Wherefore it is not right that one should either require or establish some indispensable form as a law in this matter, by which he might ensnare or vex consciences. Whence also we find no complete example of this use in the ancient fathers and in the primitive Church, save only in the Roman Church. But if they have appointed something as a law in this matter, it should not be observed; because these things neither can nor should be bound by laws. Then, even if different people make use of different rites, let no one either judge or despise the other; but let each one abound in his own opinion, and let them understand and know even if they do differently; and let each one’s rite be agreeable to the other, lest diverse opinions and sects yield diverse uses, just as happened in the Roman Church. For external rites, even if we are not able to do without them, — just as we cannot do without food and drink, — nevertheless, do not commend us to God, just as food does not commend us to God. But faith and love commend us to God. Wherefore let this word of Paul govern here: The kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Thus no rite is the Kingdom of God, but faith within you, etc. f139 We have passed by vestments. But we think about these as we do about other uses; we permit them to be used without restraint, only let pomp and the excess of splendor be absent. For neither are you the more acceptable if you should consecrate in vestments; nor are you the less acceptable if you should consecrate without vestments. For vestments do not commend us to God. But I do not wish them to be consecrated or blessed, — as if they were about to be something sacred as compared with other garments, — except by that general benediction, by which it is taught that every good creature of God is sanctified through word and prayer; otherwise it would be an utter superstition and impiety, introduced through the abominations of the pontiffs, as also other things.
CONCERNING THE COMMUNION OF THE PEOPLE
We have said these foregoing things about the Mass and the office of the minister or bishop; now we will speak about the custom of communicating the people, on account of whom chiefly this Supper of the Lord was instituted and is called by that name. For as it is most absurd for a minister of the Word to act so foolishly as to publish the Word in public ministration where there is no hearer, and to cry aloud to himself alone amid rocks and woods and in the open air, so it is most wrong if ministers make ready and adorn the common Supper of the Lord where there would be no guests who would eat and drink, and they alone, who ought to minister to others, would eat and drink at an empty table and in an empty sanctuary. Wherefore if we wish truly to prize the institution of Christ, no private Mass should be left remaining in the Church, unless in this connection either infirmity or necessity should be tolerated for a time.
Moreover the custom is to be preserved here which is observed in connection with baptism; namely, that notice must first be given to the bishop, by those who are about to commune, that they request to be communicated with the Lord’s Supper, so that he may be able to know both their names and manner of life. Then let him not admit those seeking, unless they should give a reason for their faith; and being questioned, should answer, whether they understand what the Supper of the Lord is; what it stands for; and of what they wish to become partakers by its use; to wit, if they are able to recite the Words of Consecration from memory and explain that they come because of the consciousness of sin, or the fear of death, or, troubled by some other evil of the temptation of the flesh, of the world, of the devil, they hunger and thirst for that word and sign of grace and salvation from the Lord Himself through the ministry of the bishop by which they may be consoled and comforted, such as Christ out of priceless love gave and instituted in this Supper when He said: Take and eat, etc. f148 But I think it will be sufficient if this questioning and investigation of him who seeks to be communicated is done once a year. Indeed it is possible that the one who seeks may be so understanding that he should be questioned either once only in his entire life, or in fact never. For through this custom we desire to guard against this: that the worthy and unworthy do not rush blindly to the Supper of the Lord, as we have seen done in the Roman Church hitherto, where nothing else is sought but to be communicated. Of faith, of comfort, of the whole use and fruits of the Supper absolutely neither mention nor consideration of these has had a place. Indeed they have concealed the very Words of Consecration, that is, the Bread of Life Itself, forcing this with vast zeal, yea, with highest frenzy, in order that communicants should perform a good work by their own merit, and that they should not nourish and strengthen faith through the goodness of Christ. But those who are not able to answer after the manner mentioned above, we desire such wholly excluded and banished from the communion of this Supper, as being without the wedding garment.
Then when the bishop has perceived that they understand these things, he should also watch this, whether they evidence this faith and knowledge in life and conduct; — -for Satan also both perceives all these things and is able to talk about them; — that is, if he should see some fornicator, adulterer, drunkard, gamester, usurer, slanderer, or one made infamous by some manifest crime, let him be excluded absolutely from this Supper, unless by evident proof he shall have witnessed that his life has been changed. For the Supper should not be denied those who sometimes fall away and return, sorrowing over the lapse; indeed we should realize that the Supper was instituted especially on account of just such as these so that they may be refreshed and strengthened; for we all offend in many things; and we carry each other’s burdens while we also mutually burden ourselves. But I am speaking of those contemptuous ones who sin shamelessly and without fear, yet, nevertheless, boast glorious things about the Gospel. f149 Then when Mass is celebrated, it is fitting that those about to be communicated gather together by themselves in one place and in one group. For to this end the altar was invented, also the choir. Not that standing here or there matters anything with God or adds anything to faith, but that it is necessary that they be seen and known openly, both by those who commune and those who do not commune; thus then their lives may be the better observed and proven and made known. For participation in this Supper is part of the confession by which they confess before God and angels and men that they are Christians. Therefore care must be taken lest they carry off the Supper stealthily, and then mingled with others it is not known whether they live well or badly. However, I do not wish this to be made a law here, but to point out this, — what honorable and fitting (thing) may be performed freely by free Christians.
Now concerning private confession before communion. I still think as I have taught heretofore, namely, that it is neither necessary nor to be demanded; nevertheless it is useful and not to be despised, since the Lord neither required this Supper as necessary or established it by law, but left it free to everyone, saying, As often as you do this, etc. So concerning the preparation for the Supper, we think that preparing oneself by fasting and prayers is a matter of liberty. Certainly it behooves us to approach in soberness of mind and earnestly and diligently, whether you fast nothing at best or pray ever so little. In truth, I say, moderation in drinking, not that superstitious practice of the papists; but moderation, lest you belch drunkenly and become sluggish and dull from a distended belly. For the best preparation is, as I have said, a soul moved and vexed by sins, death, temptations, and hungering and thirsting for healing and strength.
Whatever of these things is true, these are the concern of the bishop and it rests with him that he may teach the people.
This now remains to be considered, whether both forms, as they call them, should be ministered to the people. So here I say, Now that the Gospel has been inculcate among us these two whole years, at the same time sufficient indulgence also has been granted to infirmity. Hereafter one must act according to that saying of Paul: He who is ignorant, let him be ignorant. For it does not matter, if they, who for so long a time have not known the Gospel, do not receive again neither of the two forms, lest perchance bearing with infirmity perpetually may nourish obstinacy and result in proscription contrary to the Gospel. Wherefore simply according to the institution of Christ, let both forms be both sought and ministered.
Those who do not desire this, let them have their way; and let nothing be ministered to them. For we point out this form of the Mass to those to whom it is known in some part. But those who have not heard as yet, or who have ability to know, it is not yet possible to offer them any counsel concerning this matter.
Nor should this matter be delayed at all in order that they may call together a Council, in which this may again be sanctioned as allowable. We have the law of Christ and we do not want either to be hindered by or to hear a Council in those matters which manifestly are of the Gospel. Yea, we say more. And if by chance a Council would decide and permit this, then least of all do we want to partake of both forms; nay, on the contrary, then first in contempt both of the Council and its statute, we would wish to partake either of one or neither, but never of both; and we would hold those to be wholly anathema who would partake of both on the authority of such Council and statute. Do you wonder at this and ask the reason? Hear! — if you know the bread and wine were instituted by Christ, and both are to be received by all, as the Gospel and Paul testify most clearly, and as the adversaries themselves are forced to admit; nevertheless you do not dare to believe and trust Him so that you receive, but you dare to receive if men decide this in a Council: — then are you not preferring men to Christ?
Do you not extol sinful men above Him who is named and worshiped, God? Do you not trust in the words of men more than in the words of God? Nay rather, do you not utterly distrust the words of God and believe only the words of men? Moreover, how great is such hatred and denial of the most high God? What idolatry then can equal your religious obedience of a Council of men? Should you not the rather die a thousand times?
Should you not the rather receive one or no form, than receive under such sacrilegious obedience and apostasy from the faith?
Therefore let them stop talking about their councils continually; but let them do this first, let them replace their sacrilege with the divine glory; let them confess that with Satan their master they have held back one form; that they have lifted themselves up above God; that they have condemned the Word, and destroyed so many people through so many ages; and let them do penance for this unspeakable tyranny of inhumanity and impiety.
Then let them solemnly declare that we have done right when on our part and even against their dogmas we have taught and received both forms and have not waited for their Council, and let them give thanks because we refused to follow their perdition and abomination. After they have done this, we will be willing and well-disposed to honor and welcome their Council and ordinance. In the meantime should they not do this, but continue to demand that we await their authorization (for our action), we will listen to nothing; but we will continue both to teach and to do things which are opposed to them; in particular, those things which we know are especially displeasing to them. For what do they exact by this diabolical demand save that we exalt them above God, their words above His words, and erect the abominable monsters of their specters as idols in the place of God, when we want the whole world to be put under God and made subject to Him.
I also wish as many of the songs as possible to be in the vernacular, which the people should sing during Mass either immediately after the Gradual, and immediately after the Sanctus and Agnus dei. For who doubts that once upon a time all the people sang these, which now only the choir sings or responds when the bishop is consecrating? But these songs may be ordered by the bishops in this manner, they may be sung either right after the Latin songs, or on alternate days, now Latin, now the vernacular, until the entire Mass shall be made vernacular. But poets are wanting among us, — or they are not known as yet, — who can put together pleasingly pious and spiritual songs, as Paul calls them, which are worthy to be used by all the people in the Church of God. In the meantime it is proper to sing this after communion: Gott sey gelobet und gebenedeyet der uns setbet hatt gespeyset, etc.; omitting this small part: Und das heylige sacramente, an unserm letsten ende, aus des geweyeten priesters hende, which was added by someone of the cult of St. Barbara, who, holding the sacrament during his whole life as of little value, in death hopes, without faith, by this good work to enter into life. For both the meter and the manner of the music prove this part of the song is superfluous. In addition to that, this is good: Nu bitten wyr den heyligen geist. Also: Eyn kindelin so 1obelich. For you will not find many, which in some respect taste of a dignified spirit. I say this, so that if there are any German poets, they may be moved to and work out, pious poems for us.
Let these things said concerning the mass and communion suffice for the time being; other matters, use and the thing itself will teach; only let the Word of God be announced in the church actively and faithfully. For that which some require so strongly, namely, that all these things be proved by the Scriptures and the example of the fathers, does not disturb us greatly; because we have said above, that in these matters liberty ought to rule, and it is not allowable to captivate Christian consciences either by laws or orders. For this reason the Scriptures define nothing of these things but permit the liberty of the spirit to abound according to its own perception in the matter, according to the fitness of places, times, and persons. Indeed the examples of the fathers are in part unknown; those which really are known are so varied that nothing definite can be established about them, evidently because they themselves used their own liberty. And even if they would be altogether definite and simple, nevertheless they could not impose upon us either law or necessity of imitating them.
In connection with the rest of the days, which we call feriae, I see nothing which cannot be continued, only discontinue the Mass; for Matins of three lessons and the Hours, including Vespers and Compline de tempore, excluding the feriae of saints, are nothing other than words of divine Scripture. And it is fitting, nay necessary, that the boys be accustomed to reading and hearing the Psalms and lections of Holy Scripture. But if anything here ought to be made new, the prolixity of things can be changed according to and at the will of the bishop; however after this fashion, that three Psalms be appointed for Matins, three for Vespers, together with one or two Responsories. These matters cannot be ordered better than at the will of the bishop whose duty it is to choose the best of the Responsories and Antiphons and to appoint their use from Lord’s Day to Lord’s Day throughout the week, so that neither excessive repetition of the same things cause aversion, nor too much variety and multitudinous singing and reading generate weariness of spirit. But let the entire Psalter, divided in parts, remain in use and the entire Scriptures, divided into lections, let this be preserved in the ears of the Church. f173 Here, too, must be noted what I have suggested elsewhere, in order that this singing may not be a matter merely of tongue and of speech, or without sense like the sound of a pipe or harp. Therefore, daily lections must be appointed, one for the morning in the New or Old Testament, another for Vespers in one or the other testament with vernacular exposition. This rite is an ancient one, as is proven by both the custom itself and the word Homilia in Matins, and Capltulum in Vespers and the other Hours, namely, that the Christians, as often as they gathered together, read something and then it was interpreted in the vernacular, after the custom which St. Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 14. Then when more evil times came, when prophets and interpreters were wanting, only this voice was left remaining after the lections and capitula, Deo gratias.
Then in place of the interpretation, lections, psalms and hymns were multiplied and other things also in this wearying verbosity and superabundance. Although the hymns and Te deum laud amus bear testimony to this as does Deo gratias also, namely, that after the expositions and homilies they praised God and gave Him thanks for the true revelation of the Word of God. Such also I wish our vernacular songs to do.
This much, 0 best Nicolas, I have for you in writing about the rites and ceremonies of our Wittenberg church, already partly instituted and, Christ willing, to be completed at an early day; which example, if it pleases you and others, you may imitate. If not, we will give place to your wisdom, f179 being prepared to accept what is more fitting from you and any others. Let it not frighten either you or any others because that sacrilegious Tophet still persists in our Wittenberg, which is impious and wretched gain to the princes of Saxony; I speak of the Church of All Saints. For by the mercy of God there is antidote aplenty among us through the abundance of the Word of God, so that the pest, weary and faint in its own corner, may not be a pestilence to any save itself. And there are scarcely three or four swine and gourmands in that same house of perdition who worship that wealth; to all others and at the same time to all the people, it is a notable cause of loathing and an abomination.
Nor is it allowed to proceed against them by force or command, as you know it is not fitting for Christians to fight save with the power of the sword of the Spirit. For in this way I hold the people back daily, otherwise that house, now, for a long time, the House of All Saints, — nay rather the House of All Devils, — would be known by some other name in the earth.
But I have not exercised the power of the Spirit, which God has given us, against that, patiently bearing that reproach, if perchance God may give them penitence; meanwhile I am content, because our house, which more truly is the House of All Saints, may reign here and stand as a tower of Lebanon against the House of All Devils. Thus we torment Satan with the Word, although he simulates a laugh; but Christ will grant that his hope will fail him and that he will be overthrown with all beholding. Pray for me, O holy one of God.
Grace be with you and with all yours. Amen.
THE CANON OF THE MASS FROM CONCERNING THE ABOMINATION OF LOW MASS CANON MISSAE From VOM GREUEL DER STILLMESSE
Luther had entered the field of liturgical reform with some personal contributions which were far-reaching in their influence. His Formula missae, published late in 1523, had been received as a norm for the cleansing and continuance of the accustomed services of the Church. But this notwithstanding, agitation in these matters by others, both in harmony with Luther and not in harmony with him, kept the subject constantly to the fore. In some cases the conservative suggestions made by Luther were not acceptable because even these went too far; in others they were not satisfactory because they had not gone far enough. Between the two Luther stood, not to remain on the conservative middle ground, but to assault the one group with all of his ever-growing feeling against the superstitions and abominations with which the worship was cluttered and the people enshrouded, and eventually to yield to the other group in a document such as the Deutsche Messe where the break with the conservative past in spirit and in fact is demonstrated to the full.
The Vom Greuel der Stillmesse appeared in the course of the second year after the Formula and the year before the Deutsche Messe. It is no gentle or kindly document. It is revelatory of the Luther-transition in things liturgical between the time of the Formula and the time of the Messe. The Luther of the former period, while condemning the “abominations,” etc., of the Canon, would have written in a far gentler fashion. Since that time Luther had been in almost continual controversy in one place or another over matters related to the worship of the Church: the Mass, — the Canon of the Mass, holding pretty much the center all of the time; this seems to have been his pet aversion.
A situation had arisen at Wittenberg which centered in this very thing. This had been forced by the attitude of some of the clergy of the Stifftskirche who resisted abrogation of the Mass. The Vom Greuel der Stillmesse arose in this situation; just when cannot be definitely established; but the document is generally supposed to be a rewriting of a sermon which Luther delivered against the clergy November 27, 1524 Advent Sunday. f183 The writing is not only interesting but liturgically very valuable.
It is interesting because of the comments made by Luther on each part of the Canon missae. They are typical of his method of handling men and things with which he had no sympathy; and that means that his comments are not always in good spirit or good taste or fair.
The value of the document consists in this. The backbone of the writing is the Canon of the Mass which Luther had used in days gone by, with which he was thoroughly familiar; — it is the Canon of the Mass Book of his day.
This he translated into German, and his translation in every respect is an honest one. He did not allow his feelings to bias his faithful rendition of the Latin original in German.
Familiarity with the Canon of the Mass as used by Luther is requisite for any study of his liturgical activity as well as to enable a valuation of his opinions and suggestions relative to these matters. It is fortunate that the Canon has been printed in one of his own writings, put there deliberately by himself, and especially so because he took the trouble to translate it.
The Mass Books of the Luther Period are rare, especially those in which the Canon missae is printed. For this reason this document which contains the text with which Luther was familiar, which he himself had used in his earlier ministration, is of great liturgical importance.
It must be remembered always that the translation which follows is made from the Luther translation of the Latin and that it has been made without reference to the Latin text. Further no attempt has been made to “smoothe out” the translation or to approximate a liturgical style, — the English is the equivalent of the German.
The Canon missae of the first printed Missal, Milan 1474, is printed in a parallel column in order to facilitate comparison. This will prove a very interesting study and also reveal the fact that the Canon of Luther’s own Mass Book did not depart from this of Milan in any particular. Except for the transposition of a word in one of the later sections the Canon of Milan 1474 is exactly, word for word, the Canon of the Missale Romanum in use today. As our interest in this pamphlet is a liturgical one only, the Canon alone has been translated.
For Text see Weimar 18:22ff.
PAUL ZELLER STRODACH
CANON MISSAE THE CANON OF THE MASS
As Luther translated it into German and quoted it in his pamphlet
VOM GREUEL DER STILLMESSE (1525) TRANSLATION OF LUTHER’S GERMAN TEXT
Thus beginneth the holy Canon or the Secret Mass. f185 We humbly beseech Thee, most gracious Father, through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, that Thou wilt deign to be pleased with and bless these gifts, this offering, this holy, unspotted sacrifice, which we offer Thee especially for Thy holy, universal, Christian Church, for which do Thou provide peace, protect her, help her, and rule her throughout all the world, together with Thy servant our Pope, N., and our Bishop, N., and all true believers, and those who are of the Christian and Apostolic faith. (W 18:24, 25) Prayer for the living f188 Remember, O Lord, Thy servants and handmaidens, N., and all who are here present, whose faith is known to Thee and of whose devotion Thou art sensible, for whom we offer to Thee, or who themselves offer to Thee this sacrifice of praise for themselves and for all their own, for the redemption of their souls, in the hope of their salvation and health, and pay their vow to Thee, the eternal, living, true God. (W 18: 26) During the consecration he introduces the impious, unfit prayer, which can in no way be reconciled with the Mass. f190 Those with whom we have communion, whose memory we honor, especially the greatly to be praised and ever-virgin Mary, the Mother of God and our Lord Jesus Christ, and also Thy holy Apostles and Martyrs Peter, Paul, Andrew, Jacob, John, Thomas, Jacob, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Simon and Thaddeus, Linus, Cletus, Clement, Xystus, Cornelius, Cyprian, Laurenflus, Chrysogonus, John and Paul, Cosmus and Damian, and all Thy saints, through whose merit and intercession do Thou grant that we may be guarded at all times through the help of Thy protection, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen. (W 18:27) During the consecration.
Therefore we pray, Lord, that Thou wilt graciously receive this sacrifice of our service, and in addition also all (sacrifices) of Thy servants, and complete our days in Thy peace and rescue us from eternal damnation and command us to be numbered in the company of Thy elect, through Christ our Lord. Amen. (W 18: 27) A prayer.
Which sacrifice, we pray, O God, do Thou in all things make blessed, write it down to our account, make it effective, reasonable and pleasing, that it may become for us the body and blood of Thy most dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. (W 18:28) Here he takes the host in his hands and says Who the next day before His passion took the bread in His holy and worthy hands, and with eyes lifted up to heaven to Thee O God, His almighty Father, gave Thee thanks, blessed, brake, and gave to His disciples and said, Take and eat of this all ye, for this is My Body. (W 18:28) Here he lays down the host and lifts up the cup and says In the same manner, after they had eaten that evening, He also took this glorious cup in His holy and worthy hands, and He gave thanks to Thee again, blessed, and gave it to His disciples and said, Take and drink out of it all ye, for this is the cup of My Blood of the new testament, a mystery of the faith, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins, as oft as ye do this, ye shall do it to my memory. Here he puts down the cup. (W 18:29) Therefore, Lord, we Thy servants also Thy holy People, remember both the holy passion, and also the resurrection from hell, and also the glorious ascension into heaven of Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, and offer to Thy glorious Majesty of Thy presents and gifts a pure offering, a holy offering, a spotless offering, the holy bread of eternal life and the cup of eternal salvation. (W 18: 29) A prayer.
Upon which mayest Thou look with gracious and benign countenance, and let them be pleasing unto Thee, as Thou didst permit the gift of Thy righteous servant Abel to be pleasing unto Thee, and the sacrifice of our forefather Abraham, and that which was offered unto Thee by Thy high priest Melchizedek, a holy sacrifice and spotless victim. (W 18: 30) Here he bows and says We humbly beseech Thee, Almighty God, command that this be carried by the hands of Thy holy Angel to Thy lofty altar before the face of Thy Divine Majesty, so that all of us who partake of this altar’s communion of the most holy Body and Blood of Thy Son, may be filled with all heavenly blessing and grace, through the same Christ, our Lord. Amen. (W 18:30) Remembrance of the departed.
Remember also, Lord, Thy servants and handmaidens; N., who have departed from us with the mark of the faith and sleep in the sleep of peace, for these and all who rest in Christ, we pray, Lord, grant them a place of refreshment, of light and peace, through the same Christ, our Lord. (W 18: 31) Here he smites on his breast and says somewhat loudly And also to us sinners, Thy servants, who hope in the multi-rude of Thy mercy, do Thou grant a share and fellowship with Thy holy Apostles and Martyrs, with John, Stephen, Matthias, Barnabas, Ignatius, Alexander, Marcellinus, Peter, Felicitas, Perpetua, Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, Cecilia, Anastasia, and with all Thy saints, to which communion, we pray, do Thou permit us entrance, not as one regarding merit, but as one who forgives, through Christ, our Lord. (W 18: 31) Through whom Thou, Lord, always createst all these good gifts, sanctifiest, quickenest, blessest, and givest them to us; through Him, and with Him, and in Him, Thou, God, Almighty Father, hast all glory and praise in the unity of the Holy Spirit. (W 18:31) Through all ages of ages. Response: Amen.
Let us pray. That which through the salutary commandment and under divine instruction we have been taught, we do say:
Our Father in heaven… Response : And deliver us from evil.
We beseech Thee, Lord, deliver us from all evil, past, present, and future, and through the intercession of the blessed and highly praised ever-virgin, the Mother of God, Mary, and Thy blessed Apostles, Peter, Paul, and Andrew, together with all saints, graciously grant us also peace in our days, so that we may be aided by the help of Thy mercy and may at all times be free from sin and secure from all manner of affliction. (W 18: 32) Here he breaks the host first in two parts and says Through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son Then he breaks the one part into two parts and says Who with Thee, God, liveth and reigneth in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Then he lifts the third part with the cup a little and says Through all the ages of ages. Response: Amen. Then he makes the sign of the cross over the blood and says The peace of the Lord be with you at all times.
Response : And with thy spirit. Here he lays a piece of the host in the blood and says This mixture and consecrating of the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ must nourish us who receive it to eternal life. Amen. (W 18:32) (Luther omits Agnus dei which follows here) f194 Then he prays again for peace, bows himself before the body of the Lord, and says Lord Jesus Christ, Who didst say to Thy apostles, My peace give I to you, peace I leave with you, Do not Thou regard my sin but the faith of Thy Church, and grant her peace according to Thy will, and hold her together, Thou Who livest and reignest, God, always and eternally. Amen. (W 18: 33) Then he kisses the altar, f196 A prayer.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, Who according to the Father’s will through the cooperation of the Holy Spirit hast quickened the world through Thy death, redeem me through this Thy holy Body and Blood from all my sin and all evil, and grant that I may cling to Thy commandments at all times, and let me never be separated therefrom, Thou Who with the same God the Father and Holy Ghost livest and reignest ever and eternally. Amen. (W 18: 34) A prayer.
May the reception of Thy body, Lord Jesus Christ, which I unworthy one am about to receive, result not in my judgment and condemnation, but aid me according to Thy goodness to the protection of my spirit and body, and be received as a (salutary) medicine, Thou Who livest and reignest with God the Father, etc. Here he takes the paten with the body of Christ and says I will take the heavenly bread and call on the name of the Lord. Then he beats three times on his breast and says Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldest come under my roof, but say it only with one word, then my soul will be well. Then he takes the body with great reverence and signs himself therewith. f197 The Body of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve my soul to eternal life. Amen. (W 18:34) Then he takes the cup and says What shall I recompense the Lord for all His benefits with which He has blessed me?
I will take the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. I will call on the Lord with praise, thus will I be saved from my enemies. Then he takes the blood to himself and says The Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve my soul to eternal life. When he has received the blood he says That which we have received with the mouth, that let us also receive in the heart, and may the temporal gifts become an eternal medicine for us.
Lord, may Thy Body, which I have received, and that Blood, which I have drunk, cling to my inward being, and grant that no spot of evil remain in me whom the pure and holy sacrament has refreshed. (W 18: 35) When the Mass is completed, and the Blessing is given, he bows himself before the middle of the altar, and says this prayer, afterward he kisses the altar.
Let our service be pleasing unto Thee, O Holy Trinity, and grant that the sacrifice, which I unworthy one have offered before the Presence of Thy Majesty may be pleasing unto Thee and through Thy mercy make satisfaction for me and for those for whom I have offered it, through Christ our Lord. Amen. (w 18: 35) CANON MISSAE FROM THE MILAN MISSAL, Te igitur clementissime pater per iesum christum filium tuum dominum nostrum supplices rogamus ac petlinus, uti accepta habeas et benedicas, hec dona. hec munera, hec sancta sacraficia illibata. In primis que tibi offerimus pro ecclesia tua sancta catholica, quaan pacificare, custodire.
Adunare. et regere digneris, toro orbe terrarum, tua cum famulo tuo papa nostro. N. et antistite nostro N. et omnibus ortodoxis. atque catholice et apostolice fidel cultoribus. (Milan 1:206) Oratio pro uiuis. f188 Memento domine famulorum famularumque tuarum. N. et omnium circumstanium, quorum tibi fides cognita est et nota deuotio. pro quibus tibi offerirons uel qui offerunt hoe sacrificium landis. pro se suisque omnibus, pro redemptione animarum suarum, pro spe salutis et incolumitatis sue tibi reddunt uota sua eterno deo uiuo et nero. (Milan 1:206) Communicantes et memorim uenerantes. In primis gloriose semperque uirginis marie genetricis dei et domini iesu christi. Sed beatorum apostolorum et martirum tuorum. Petri. Pauli Andree Iacobi loaniris Thorne Iacobi Filippi Bartolomei Mathei Simonis et Thadei Lini Cleft Clementis Sixti Cornelii Cipriani Laurentii Grisogoni Iohannis et Pauli Cosine et Damiani. Et omnium sanctorum tuorum quorum meritis precibusque concedas. ut in omnibus protectionis tue muniamus auxilio.
Per eundem christum dominum nostrum. Amen. (Milan 1:206, 207) Infra actionem.
Hanc igitur oblationem seruitutis nostre, sed et cuncte familie tue. quesumus domine ut placatus accipias, diesque nostros in tua pace disponas, atque ab eterna damnatione mos eripi, et in electorum tuorum iubeas grege numerari. Per chrisrum dominum nostrum, amen. (Milan 1:207) (No rubric) Quam oblationem tu deus in omnibus benedictam, ascriptam ratam, rationabilem acceptabilemque facere digneris, ut nobis corpus et sanguis fiat dileetissimi filii tui domini nostri Jesu christi. (Milan 1:207) Hic accipiat hostiam in manibus dicendo Qui pridie quam pateretur accepit panem in sanctas ac uenerabiles manus suas. et eleuatis occulis in celum ad to deum patrem suum omnipotentem, tibi gratias agens benedixit, fregit, deditque discipulis suis dices Accipite et manducate ex hoc omnesHOC EST ENIM CORPUS MEUM. (Milan 1:207) Hic deponat hostiam, et leuet calicem dicens Simili modo postquam eenatum est accipiens et hunc preclarum calicem in sanctas as unerabiles manus suas. Item tibi gratias agens, benedixit deditque discipulis suis dicens. Accipite et bibite ex eo omnes.HIC EST ENIM CALIX SANGUINIS MEI NOUI ET ETERNI TESTAMENTI MISTERIUM FIDEI QUI PRO UOBIS ET PRO MULTIS EFFUNDETUR IN REMISSIONEM PECCATORUM.HEC QUOTIENSCUNQUE FECERITIS IN MEI MEMORIAM FACIETIS. Hic deponit calicem. (Milan 1:207) Unde et memores domine nos serui tui. sed et plebs tua sancta christi filii tui domini nostri tam beate passionis, nec non et ab inferis resurrectionis, seal in celos gloriose ascensionis offerimus preclare maiestati tue de tuis donis ac datis, hostiam puram. hostiam sanctam, hostiam immaculatam, panem sanctum uite eterne, et calicem salutis perpetue. (Milan 1:207, 208) Oratio.
Supra que propitio ac sereno uultu respicere digneris et accepta habere sicuti accepta habere dignatus es munera pueri tui iusti abel, et sacrificium patriarce nostri abrae, et quod tibi obtulit summus sacerdos tuus melchisedech sanctum sacrificium immaculatam hostiam. (Milan 1:208) Hic inclinet se et die. at (Oratio) Supplices to rogamus omnipotens deus lube hec perferri per manus sancti angeli tui in sublime altare tuum in conspectu divine maiestatis rue. ut quotquot ex hae altaris participatione sacrosanctum filii tui corpus, et sanguinem sumpserimus omni benedictlone celesti et gratia repleamur. Per eundem christum dominum nostrum. Amen. (Milan 1:208) Oration pro defunctis.
Memento etiam domine famulorum famularumque tuarum. N. qui nos precesserunt cum signo fidel et dormiunt in somno pacis. ipsis domine et omnibus in christo quiescentibus, locum refrigerii lucis et pacis, ut indulgeas deprecamur. Per eundem christum dominum nostrum, amen. (Milan 1:208) Hic percutiat pectus suum aliquantulum altius dicens Nobis quoque peccatoribus famulis tuis de multitudine miserationum tuarum sperantibus partern aliquam et societatem donare digneris, cum tuis sanctis apostolis et martiribus, cum Ioanne Stephano Mathia Barnaba Ignatio Alexandro Marcelino Petro Felicitate Perpetua Agatha Lucia Agnete Cecilia Anastasia et omnibus sanctis tuis. intra quorum nos consortium, non estimator meriti sed uenie, quesumus largitor admitte. Per christum dominum nostrum. (Hic non dicitur amen) (Milan 1:208) Per quem hec omnia dominc semper bona creas, sanctificas, uiuificas, benedicis et prestas nobis. Per ipsum, et cure ipso. et in ipso. est tibi deo patri omnipotenti, in unitate spiritus sancti omnis honor et gloria. (Milan 1:208, 209) Per omnia secula seculorum. B. Amen.
Oremus . Preceptis salutaribus moniti, et diuina institutione formati. audemus dicere.
Pater noster qui es in celis… R. Sed libra nos a malo. amen.
Libera nos quesumus domine ab omnibus malls preteritis, presentibus et futuris, et intercederite beata et gloriosa semper uirgine dei genitrice maria, et beatis apostolis tuis petro et paulo atque andrea et omnibus sanotis. Da propitius pacem in diebus nostris. ut ope misericordie tue adiuti, et a petcato simus semper liberi, et ab omni perturbatione securi. (Milan 1:209) Hic frangit hostiam primo in duas partes dicens Per eundem dominum nostrum iesum Christum filium tuum. Deinde frangit unam partem in duas partes dicens Qui tecum uiuat et regnat in unitate spiritus sancti deus. Hic eleuet modicum terriam pattem cum calice dicens Per omnia secula seculorum. R. Amen. Hic facit signum crucis super sanguinem dicens Pax domini, sit semper uobiscum B. Et cum spiritu tuo. Hic pouat particulam hostic in sanguine dicens Fiat commixtio et consecratio corporis et sanguinis domini nostri Jesu christi. Accipientibus nobis uitam eternam amen. (Milan 1:209, 210) Sequitur. Agnus dei Hic inclinat se ante corpus domini dicens Domine iesu christe, qui dixisti apostolis tuis pacem meam do nobis pacem relinquo uobis ne respicias peccata mea. sed fidem ecclesie tue. eamque secundum uohmtatem tuam pacificare, et coadunare dignare. Qui uiuis et regnas deus. per omnia secula seculorum amen. (Milan 1:210) Hic deosculatur altare dicens Pax tecum R. Et cum spiritu tuo.
Oratio Domine Jesu christe fili dei uiui qui ex uoluntate patris cooperante spiritu sancto per mortam tuam roundum uiuificasti libera me per hoc sacrificium corpus et sanguinem tuum. ab omnibus iniquitatibus meis et universis malis, et fac me tuis semper inherere mandatis, eta to nunquam separari permittas.
Qui cum eodem deo patre et spiritu sancto uiuis et regnas in secula seculorum amen. (Milan 1:210) Oratio Perceptio corporis tui domine Jesu christe quam ego indignus sumere presumo, non michi proueniat in iudicium, et condemnationem, sed pro tua pictate prosit michi ad tutamentum mentis et corporis et ad medelam percipfendam. Qui uiuis et regnas cum deo patre, et cetera. Hic accipitur patena cum corpore christi Panem eelestem accipiam et nomen domini inuoeabo. Hic percutiat ter pectus dicens.
Domine non sum dignus ut intres sub tectum meum sed tantum dic uerbo et sanabitur anima mea. Hic sumat corpus reuerenter signans se illo dicens.
Corpus domini nostri jesu christ custodiat animam meam in uitam eternam amen. (Milan 1:210, 211) Hic accipiat calicem et dicat.
Quid retribuam domino pro omnibus que retribuit michi. Calicem salutaris accipiam et nomen domini inuocabo. Laudans inuocabo dominum et ab inimicis meis saluus ero. Hic sumat sanguinem dicens.
Sanguis domini nostri iesu christi custodiat animam meam in uitam eternam amen. Post sumptionem sanguinis dicat.
Quod ore sumpsimus domine. pura mente capiamus, et de munere temporali, fiat nobis re. medium sempiternum amen. Hic dick purificando.
Corpus tuum domine quod sumpsi et sanguis quem potaui. adhereat uisceribus meis et presta. ut in me non remaneat scelerum macula quem pura et sancta refecerunt sacramenta. Qui uiuis. (Milan 1:211) Finita missa et data benedictione inclinat se ante medium altaris et dicta hanc orationem qua finita osculatur altare.
Placeat the sancta trinitas obsequium seruitutis mee. et presta. ut sacrificium quod oculis tue maiestatis indignus obtuli tibi sit acceptable michique et omnibus pro quibus illud obtuli, sit to miserante propitiabile.
Per christum dominum nostrum amen. (Milan 1:211)