Soft Hymnal: Palm Sunday Edition

I actually really like LSB. There is much to commend it – the richest sacramental theology ever seen in an English Lutheran hymnal, a return to the historic 1 year lectionary option, restored hymns (eg “Thousand, Thousand thanks are due…” Yeesh).

But, as I’ve noted, it was made in a time of great fatness, and is a hymnal for comfortable middle class, middle aged folks who spend their days on the theological couch, looking more and more like theological potatoes.

One of the blessings of the last year is that many are waking up to this reality. I recently had a district president lament to me the softness of the hymnal! I would never have guessed such a thing was possible. He was noting that the prayers have taken out the rugged contours of the Jacobean translations and flattened them. So, instead of collects that help us lift up our eyes to the hills, from whence cometh our help, we have many collects that take us on a hike through Kansas – geologically flatter than a pancake.

There is another little thing that I noticed today – it only took me 16 years, and no one else seems to have publicly noted it, so I may be the first. The Palm Sunday procession skips straight to the collect of the day, omitting the Kyrie. The Kyrie is a prayer straight out of the Scriptures themselves. As Liturgical Ordinary, it is the the oldest prayer in the church besides the Prayer our Lord himself taught us. It dates from no later than 200 AD, and comes from Africa. It is the church’s prayer before the Lord Jesus, over and over again. It is the basis of the Litany: A prayer used for great needs or in distress since time out of mind. And, as we begin the commemoration of Jesus death, it is omitted. Shocking, once you realize what we have done.

But the truth is, it took 16 years for me to notice. And looking through the LSB committee minutes, no mention is made of the change. I wasn’t in on the discussion, but I know with about 90% certainty what happened. Because I had the same problem this morning, when I put it back.

You have the procession. This isn’t in the hymnal, so you have to have a printout. Then you have a hymn: the people turn to 443. Then you have the Introit, another printout. The Kyrie comes next, page 186. But it’s at the bottom of the page, the Gloria Patri having been omitted the previous week. And the salutation and collect are NOT page 187. (The Greater Gloria is omitted.) So you turn back to find the bottom of the page for a single line and then skip ahead. Too much flipping. Too much confusion. Just move to the collect, pick up there. Problem solved.

And for 16 years, it never even occurred to me that omitting the Kyrie was a bad thing. I knew it was a new thing. But it took the last year to get me off the couch on this one and realize what we had done. Another bit of softness expunged in my congregations. Another bit of prayer restored.

How I fixed it.

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