Thursday, December 13, 2012

Valerius Herberger on St. Lucy

The Feast of St. Lucy, Virgin.

Veri Christiani, Luminaria mundi.
A heart that pleases God is a light of this world.

In the Name of the greatest, most noble Light of the World, Jesus Christ, who in the holy Gospel  from the lofty lampstand of His Cross, shines upon the whole Church, and so loves believing hearts that He shares His name with them, and not only calls them Children of Light, but "Lights of the World." — Most blessed with God the heavenly Father and the Holy Ghost in eternity. Amen.

Dear devout hearts, consider with diligence the beautiful words of the Lord Jesus from Matthew 5:14–16. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Lucy in German means an illuminatress, or a child of the light, as our Savior calls all His Christians, John 12:36; Luke 16:8. For she knew the great Light of the World, Jesus Christ, John 1:4; 8:12, and to His glory let the light of her faith shine before men by the beautiful rays of Christian virtue, according to the instruction of the Lord Christ, Matt. 5:16. For this reason I have undertaken to expound these words of the Lord Jesus. Wherefore let us briefly (1) summarize the words of Christ, and hear how He describes His sincere Christians, and then (2) consider how St. Lucy's faith and life agreed with what the Lord Jesus says.

O Lord, send Your Light and Your truth, that they may lead me and bring me to Your holy hill, and to Your habitation. Ps. 43:3.

Part II.

We are given a beautiful example in St. Lucy, who was also a light of the world. For she carried the Light of the world, the Lord Jesus, on the lampstand of her faith, and to His glory shone with beautiful rays of virtue as a light in the world

She was constantly asking her wealthy mother to do good to the poor. Her mother said, Wait till I kick the bucket, then you can give everything away. Then good Lucy said, Dear Mother, Da dum vivis, "Give while you live; then God will pay you back. For what you give when you die you give by necessity, only because you cannot take it with you. Otherwise you just leave it there." This is a good rule for those who always talk and prattle about what they will bequeath after their death and never get to it. Behold how her faith burns with beautiful rays of love for her poorer brothers and sisters in Christ!

When the wreath of her virginity was threatened to be taken by force, she said, Si inviolatam me violabis, castitas mihi duplicabitur ad coronam; non enim inquinatur corpus, nisi de consensu mentis, " 'If you violate me who am inviolate, I will gain a twofold crown for my chastity; for the body will not be defiled unless there is consent.' — But that shall never happen with my will."

When she was ordered to make offerings to false gods and to adhere to the older form of worship, she said, "I am assured what is the best, oldest, and most beautiful form of worship, a pure and spotless worship of God the Father, to wit, visiting widows and orphans in their affliction and keeping oneself unstained by the world." These words are found in James 1:27. Behold how her love for God's Word shone forth. How closely she must have listened to the sermon! Then the judge said, "Enough of this foolish talk, I pray you. Tell it to those who lack wisdom. I will abide by the counsel of those who rule the Roman empire." Then Lucy said, "Listen well, then. You shall abide by the counsel of those who rule the empire on earth, and shall I not abide by the counsel of the Most High who rules in heaven? John 6:29; Matt. 3:17; 17:5. You fear rulers, and shall I not fear God? You refuse to anger worldly powers, and shall I anger God? You delight to please princes, and shall I not delight to please God? Do what you cannot avoid; I will do what I know shall profit me for ever. Behold how her Christian heart shone forth!

Therefore God wrought great wonders in her: She could not be moved from her place. God protected her virginity as He did that of Susanna. She could not be burned, like the three confessors, Dan. 3:18. The ancient God was living yet. She could not be executed by the sword before she had been given the most worthy Supper. For the LORD does what the God-fearing desire, Ps. 145:19. The heathen said, "These are very tricks of sorcery. But she said, "Not at all. Rather, they are true and miraculous proofs of My Savior Jesus Christ's power."

There was also a famous Lady Lucy at the time of the cruel emperor Diocletian. She was treacherously exposed as a Christian by her own son, and was delivered over to death. No doubt she saw what Christ, Luke 12:51ff.… God grant all pious hearts patience who must still mourn such things today. Amen.

(From Valerius Herberger, Evangelische Hertz-Postille; translation © 2012 Matthew Carver.)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Johannes Schrader's Formular-Buch (Vol. 1)

Friedrich Lochner, discussing the chanting of the lessons in the divine service (Der Hauptgottesdienst, 1895)  says:
The manner of liturgical recitation of the pericopes was followed throughout in Saxony, as also in Pomerania, the Mark, and part of Lower Saxony; in another part of Lower Saxony, and in Austria, it was left free whether the pericopes were to be spoken or sung, while in other areas, speaking was only permitted if the pastor did not have a sufficient gift for singing. And so it remained for some time. Thus Johann Schrader, in his Formular-Buch (1621) bears witness that it was still “in use in larger cities” and that in Magdeburg some years before, a book had been printed in folio “in which all the Epistles and Gospels were set to notation.”
Thus Johannes Schrader is an interesting witness to the continuation of liturgical practice in the era of Lutheran Orthodoxy. With this in mind, I offer here a brief survey of his aforementioned Formular-Buch, using the 1670 edition (5th edition).


The title indicates the purpose and function of the Formulary: "All Manner of Christian Expressions and Ceremonies Which a Minister May Employ in the Execution of His Office; with particular care that hardly the most insignificant requirement of the minstry should slip through and not be included . . . by Johannes Schraderus Aegelensis, Pastor of Alvensleben in the Archbishopric of Magdeburg, and Poet Laureate.

In the preface to those preachers committed to the unaltered Augsburg Confession, the author appeals to scripture (Rom. 12, Jer. 48) to exhort ministers to careful diligence in their office, warning that they will be called to account (Ezek. 33). Many, he notes, are very lazy and neglect their sheep out of greed, seeking only temporal sustenance. Many others do not know how to come to their aid with salutary teaching, consolation, and reminders, or assist the ill quid pro quo like an inexperienced physician, or put the same kind of bandage on every kind of wound. Though he is weak and cannot himself boast of any greater ability in this regard, the author hopes by God's help to fulfill his office faithfully and not to eat his bread with sin. As St. Paul admonishes in 2 Tim. 1, formam tene sanorum verborum, Keep the form of sound words. He has not simply babbled whatever came to mind, but having meditated on scripture and church agendas as well as Luther's hymnal, Catechism, and other authors, the author compiled this book for cases of need from various formulas of absolution, consolation, prayer, and similar required acts of the ministry, intending its use only for private circles. After being encouraged by friends, he decided to share it for the good of his neighbors in the ministry as well, and have it published. In the process it increased greatly, and the little Absolution book became much longer than he had originally meant. The power of the keys is an important part of the holy ministry, and is very encouraging in private absolution (as held in the Lutheran churches) when a father confessor can relate to his sheep and call them by name according to his opportunity (John 10), and bring old and new treasures out of his treasury and not always wander with the same thread. For this reason he has gathered together a great variety of formulas and examples of Absolution, not only for his own parishioners, but also for those doesn't know, and not only for chief festivals, but for every Sunday of the year. IF a faithful minister would simply look through this book for fifteen minutes before hearing penitents confess in church, or making visitations to the sick, he will usually find something of service, and perhaps that he had not thought of before. So pastors, both young and seasoned veterans, should read this book with the author's best intentions in mind, and without a feeling of duress or compulsion; and older, learned pastors should not think that the author hereby prescribes anything for them, but he counts them rather as his teachers, and commends all to the Lord's grace and protection. The signature is dated 1619.


I. Protestation. Admonish penitents to three things:
  A. True repentance and sorrow for sin.
  B. Faith in Christ the Mediator.
  C. New obedience and Christian life. * The author notes: "And though Master Sophisticus and Brother Envious, whose tricks have long been known, wrinkle their nose at this and try to accuse me of teaching three parts in penitence, I protest and explain that I call for the third, namely, newness of life, as a fruit of true repentance and conversion, not as a part in itself, as can be seen from the First Formula and others.
II. Quotes and prayers on hearing confession.
III. First Formula of Absolution for General Cases.
  A. Longer examples.
  B. Shorter examples (from Luther's SC and various Church Agendas and Orders).
IV. Second Formula: for appropriate persons on certain feasts.
  A. Formulas for festivals: Christmas, Circumcision, Epiphany, etc., also useable for other days.
  B. Formulae "imperfectae": formulas for non-festival Sundays (Advent I to Trinity XXVI)
V. Third Formula: special cases.
  A. For various sacred and profane callings, the sick, widows, mothers, etc.
    1. Many are given in Latin first, followed by a German version.
 B. Formulae "imperfectae": merchants, laborers, soldiers, sailors, heralds, condemned to death, etc.
VI. Fourth Formula: public absolution.
  A. Formulas for groups from church orders.
  B. Formulas for those doing public repentance.
  C. Formulas for excommunication from church orders, etc., long and brief.
  D. Formulas for receiving the excommunicated.


 Volume Two deals with prayer, the celebration of the Sacrament, churching of new mothers, catechesis, the coupling of spouses, ordination and investiture of new preachers, and burials. Appended are two indices for psalms on various feasts and Sundays. Volume Three contains formulas for use with the sick, dying, afflicted, and all in tribulation, pregnant women in travail, for dealing with a stillbirth or birth of a physically handicapped child, for widows and orphans, for those driven to misery, or having suffered by fire or water, for the melancholy and depressed, for those bodily possessed, and for criminals condemned to death. These will be looked at more closely in a future post.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Herberger on the Exaltation of the Cross (Sept. 14)

Crucis Jesu Exaltatio, Firma Cordis Consolatio
The Exaltation of Jesus’ Cross is the Devout Heart’s Sure Comfort.

In the name of our Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ, who on the tree of the Holy Cross was lifted up between heaven and earth, that we in body and soul might be lifted up from earth into heaven on the Last Day,—forever Blessed and Adored with God the heavenly Father and the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Heraclius bearing the cross to Jerusalem.
DEVOUT HEARTS! This day in the Calendar is called Exaltatio Crucis, or Exaltation or Lifting Up of the Cross. This feast is older than the year 980 [?380], and has a very noteworthy origin, wherefore I will provide a brief report of it. But that it may be done with much benefit, let us join together and pray from the heart: “O LORD, be merciful unto me, and raise me up” (Ps. 41:11).

Hear the appointed Gospel from the John 12:31–32: “The Lord Jesus said, Now judgment comes upon the world, now the prince of this world shall be cast out,  And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw them all to Myself.”

(You will find these same words, along with the remainder of this chapter,  explicated in the first part of Stoppel-Postille, pp. 529ff.)

Devout hearts! In the days of Emperor Phocas, Christians had a horrible foe in the person of Chosroës, the heathen king of Persia. In the year of Christ 615 he made war on the Promised Land and took many Christians captive. The heathen bought from his soldiers and savagely murdered some 90,000 Christians. He took away with him also Zacharias, the bishop of Jerusalem, as well as the wood of Christ’s cross, which in those days Christians did not worship but rather held in great honor, as it were ancient token of His monument; for children of good upbringing commonly have a special fondness for the things of their ancestors. Now then, after Heraclius became Emperor in Phocas’ stead, he sent envoys to Persia exhorting Chosroës to peace. The arrogant king mockingly answered, “I will give you no peace until you renounce your crucified God and with me worship the sun.” Heraclius set out with great force to save Christendom, and God granted him several fortunate battles, but Chosroës was ever too powerful for him. Hear, then, by what wonder God saved His people: God struck Chosroës with a manner of blindness, such that he stirred strife between his children (whereas it is the way of wise parents to direct all their thoughts toward preserving concord among their children). Having two sons, he had it put down in his testament that the younger should inherit the crown, at which the elder was sorely vexed. Wherefore he, taking both father and brother captive, caused the latter to be hacked to pieces before his father’s eyes; howbeit his father he had kept in a pit, fed on bread and water, made a sport of the courtiers, and at last shot with arrows. Behold, no man was strong enough for the contest, wherefore the devil’s kingdom had to be divided and work its own ruin. The new king, Siroës, became a good friend of Christians, and returned all the prisoners, including the Bishop Zacharias, as well as the Holy Cross, which had been taken away by his father twelve years earlier. Heraclius came with great splendor to Constantinople, bearing the cross of Jesus in his imperial hands as he rode to the gate on his victor’s car. After two years, being of a mind that the Cross of Christ belonged not in Constantinople, he arose with a great multitude of people and brought the Cross with the priest Zacharias to Jerusalem. On the 14th of September, then, laying aside his imperial regalia, he carried the Cross of Christ on his shoulders, entering barefoot into the gate, and so put the whole matter right again. Thereupon there was great merriness, for God had bestowed peace on the land, and had restored to the Christians of Jerusalem their faithful minister, and because the Cross of Christ had come to its place. With one accord they approached the Emperor, beseeching him at once to establish a memorial of this great benefit. And so this festival was ordained in Christendom in the year of Christ 629. This is a certain and noteworthy account which our forefathers were very pleased to write down.

We see from this, firstly, that it is no new thing in our day that Christians fall into trouble and distress; we are not the first, neither shall we be the last. So do not despair: Sanguine fundata est ecclesia, etc. In blood the Holy Church was founded, etc.

Secondly, there was never any advantage gained by pious Christians being attacked. It is not good to jest with the name of Christ; it did Chosroës as much good as grass does a dog. With the Lutheran religion it goes: “Noli me tangere, Touch me not,” as Stephen Bathory, king of Poland, said. Yea, so says the psalm: Nolite tangere Christos meos, Touch not Mine anointed ones [Ps. 105:15; cf. 1 Chron. 16:22]. Dr. Luther sings, “They yet have won no (or at least, very little) gain” [“Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott,” st. 4, l. 8]. In our day, while our enemies clean out our purse, God is able to provide (for we should have henceforth learned more to put aside the Gospel at our own expense), but as soon as they deal too roughly, and take our conscience captive, and seek to drink our blood, then they will knock the floor out from under them and, like Chosroës, get themselves a bloody head.

Thirdly, behold what wondrous ways God takes when He wills to help. Here one devil was made to gobble up the other so that the Christians might have peace. When we do not know which way is out and which way in, God takes His own way and does it better than we could conceive.

Fourthly, we also see what uncanny means God employs when He wishes to punish. Chosroës was slain by his own son, even as Sennacherib was murdered by his own children [2 Kings 19:37; Is. 37:38]. Whether Siroës was just or unjust cannot be disputed here at length, but God’s just punishment must be acknowledged: what Chosroës did not merit from his children he merited from poor Christians. Therefore the ancient theologians say: Actio saepe est injustissima, et passio tamen justissima, The foregoing deed is often utterly wicked, but God’s punishment of the wicked is justly free from blame. In Wittenberg, a thief once said to the chaplain, Master Fröschel, “I say, is it just for a man to hang another?” Whereat the good Master quickly replied, “I say, is it just for you to have stolen so much?” So in this case, too, it was not patently unjust for the son to have murdered his brother and father, but the latter was unjust in murdering so many innocent Christians. God paid him back with the same coin, and gave him a full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over into his bosom [Luke 6:38]. Seldom is one so severe that he is not met with one severer still.

Fifthly, we learn how becoming it is for God’s gracious works to be remembered with care, as David says in Psalm 103:2ff. These Christians were all of one accord that God’s great benefits should not be forgotten. It was one year ago this day that a storm struck our great city church and ground certain of its rafters into so much sawdust and toothpicks, and yet it was not damaged by the fire. For this and other benefits were are duly grateful. Alas, how the other matters of the church have cracked since that time! It has often seemed as if Chosroës were about to take away Christ’s cross from us. God be praised, who has sustained us, and may he make His old faithfulness new unto us every moment.

Now because the Emperor Heraclius not only lifted up the Cross of Christ in his imperial hands but also in his heart (for had he not highly esteemed in his heart the Cross and death of Christ, he would no doubt have been content with this outward exaltation of the Cross; the work of his hands is a clear window to his heart), therefore our dear forefathers allowed these words to stand in the place of the Gospel. For the Lord Jesus said plainly that He would be lifted up from the earth on His cross. But because they are beautiful words, it would be an eternal shame if they were not familiar to us. For this reason let me direct my words and your thoughts to two points:
  1. For what reason the Lord Jesus had to be lifted up and exalted on the cross, and how the exaltation of His cross helps us.
  2. How all godly hearts lift up and exalt the Cross of Christ, and how it will help them…

(V. Herberger, Evangelische Hertz-Postille… [Leipzig, 1721] vol. 2, pp. 323–325; translation copyright © 2012 Matthew Carver.)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Friedrich Balduin, Commentary on the Pauline Epistles (1655)

Friedrich Balduin's Commentary on the Pauline Epistles (first published in 1655) is a major 17th-century Lutheran commentary on St. Paul's epistles. This volume covers Romans through Galatians. For each chapter of Paul’s epistles, Balduin gives the following sections:

* Summary and general outline.
* The text in Greek and Latin.
* Analysis and explanation.
* Paraphrase.
* Questions that arise from the text, with their answers. (These seem to address apparent contradictions.)
* Theological aphorisms.

Here are the questions from 2 Cor. 3:

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Herberger on Arbogast, Praxedes, and Mary Magdalene

Feasts on July 21.

ARBOGAST, Bishop of Strasbourg, in his childish humility, requested in his will that, since Christ had lain not far from Golgotha, his body should be buried under the gallows. This is like the actions of Celestine V., the Roman pope, who insisted on riding on a donkey in keeping with Christ's example; or else like Wulfstan, who only wore a robe of lambskin, declaring, "In the Church we always sing Agnus Dei, 'Lamb of God'." Richard, duke of Normandy, wished simply to be buried before the Church door, that he might be trampled upon by all men and drenched by the dripping from the roof.

PRAXEDES, a God-fearing Roman virgin, daughter of St. Pudens, joined her sister Pudentiana in distributing all their wealth to the poor. When the persecution of Christians increased, she besought God to deliver her from misery by a blessed death, and was taken to everlasting blessedness.

The Feast of St. Mary Magdalene (July 22).
Poenitentium lacrymae; Dei et angelorum deliciae resipiscentium lacrymae reputantur pro baptismate.
The tears of penitent hearts are surely able to still the wrath of God.

In the name of Jesus Christ, the Consolation and Joy of all repentant hearts, who not only received mournful Mary Magdalene to grace, but will also have mercy on us, should we but seek it in due humility; who for which humility is most blessed and adored together with the heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit, one God in eternity. Amen.

Devout hearts: we turn our attention to the comforting Gospel of penitent Mary Magdalene. Now therefore, in order that we may with all our heart oppose the sin which afflicted Mary Magdalene, and, where we have erred, yet not despair, but repent with her and, having received the forgiveness of sins, endeavor the more fervently and deeply to love the Lord Jesus, let us pray sincerely: Save me, O God, in Thy name; O God, give ear unto my prayer, hearken to the utterance of my mouth (Ps. 54:3-4).

Attend to the comforting Gospel, which Luke describes in the 7th chapter, verses 36–50. "One of the Pharisees invited the Lord Jesus… Go in peace."

Devout hearts: the ancient doctors of the Church are mostly of the opinion that Mary Magdalene was the same sinful woman of whom Luke writes in this passage. Scholars may read what Dr. Major relates in Farragine annexa vitis Patrum. Gerard of Nazareth, Bishop of Laodicea, wrote a whole book, Contra Salam Presbyterum, in which he attempts to show that this Mary Magdalene was Mary, the sister of Lazarus. We will not turn our hair gray over this dispute, but rather go straight to what was just read, which is a choice, delectable, and comforting text for all poor, afflicted sinners. For in it is displayed for God's children the highest art whereby they may be united with God and be absolved of their sins. Qui peccare desinit, iram Dei facit mortalem, says Lactantius. He that ceases to sin makes the wrath of God to have an end. Per miserere mei tollitur ira Dei, said our forefathers: Through my repentance, God's wrath is allayed. Isaiah gives this clearly in chapter 1, verses 16–18: "Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean, put away your wickedness from My sight, cease from evil; learn to do good. Though your sin be as red as blood, yet it shall become as white as snow; and though it be as the color of a rose, yet it shall become as wool."

In this text we have clear proof that God was true when He said (Ezek. 33:11–12), "As truly as I live, I have no pleasure in the death of the sinner, but that he turn and live" Here we have a manifest example of the words of St. Paul in 1 Timothy 1:15): "This is most certainly true, and a precious, worthy saying, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners."

This account is also necessary for us pastors to know, that we may not deny any truly repentant heart Absolution, nor succeed in making the grace of God too cheap, as the devil reproached St. Martin. (Read Gloria Lutheri, or Luther's Crown of Glory, which may be found under the title Martin in the appendix to my Epistolary Heart-Postils, p. 233.) Why would we ministers delay and indulge ourselves when our Lord Himself, who obtained the Absolution with His blood, was so kind and gracious?

Yet no one is to abuse this blessed consolation. Non est exemplum imitationis, sed consolationis; It is not an example that we should follow but one from which we should derive comfort. One should learn from Mary Magdalene not to sin but to part from sin by true repentance. Whoever impudently sins against God's grace should look to it, that he is not repaid with eternal disgrace. Today, if ye hear God's voice, harden not your hearts (Ps. 95:8). Multum diligere Jesum, to love the Lord Jesus much, will be our last lesson today.

Let us train our thoughts upon the kernel of the account and examine three points:
  1. What kind of sin Mary was in.
  2. How she rightly repented the sins that she had done.
  3. How her repentance was heartily pleasing to the Lord Jesus.
The Lord Jesus herewith fruitfully stir our hearts by His Spirit. Amen…

[For further excerpts from this sermon, see Treasury of Daily Prayer (St. Louis, 2008), pp. 548–549]

Translation © 2012 Matthew Carver, from Valerius Herberger, Herzpostille II, pp. 242–244.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Johann Gerhard on John the Baptist

In honor of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, here's a selection from the latest volume of Johann Gerhard's classic work of theology, Theological Commonplaces: On the Ministry, Part One (St. Louis: Concordia, 2011). Gerhard has an interesting section about how the Jews at the time of Jesus believed in the transmigration of souls. This explains a number of NT passages, and it is plausible that the Jews came to this wrong understanding by misunderstanding verses like Mal. 4:5.
§ 20. In this place the question arises: (I) In what sense and respect is John the Baptist called “more than a prophet” (Matt. 11:9; Luke 7:26)? We respond. The reason is given in the same places: because “he went before the face of the Lord, preparing the way before Him” [Matt. 11:10; Luke 7:27]. That is, the prophets of the Old Testament prophesied about the Messiah, who would finally come after many centuries. For instance, Balaam says, “I shall see Him, but not now; I shall behold Him, but not near” (Num. 24:17). Malachi, the last prophet of the Old Testament, prophesied 466 years before Christ was born. But John pointed his finger at Christ, who was present; he began the ministry of the New Testament; by divine authority he instituted the new sacrament of Baptism. This did not happen to any prophet of the Old Testament. Irenaeus, bk. 3, ch. 11, p. 185: “All the other prophets announced the coming of the Father’s Light. But they deeply wished to be worthy to see Him whom they were preaching. John, however, prophesied similarly to others but saw His coming, showed Him, and persuaded many to believe in Him, such that he himself held the position of both prophet and apostle.”

(II) [The question arises:] In what sense does this same [John the] Baptist deny that he is a prophet (John 1:21), even though he was considered as and honored with the title “prophet,” not only by his father Zechariah (Luke 1:76) but also by all the people of Israel (Matt. 14:5; Mark 11:32)? We respond. Some people take the question of the messengers from Jerusalem as referring to the outstanding prophet promised in Deut. 18:18. However, because they had already asked John if he was the Christ, the question of whether he was that great prophet would have been repeated uselessly. You see, it could be said only about the Messiah that He was that outstanding prophet who had been promised through Moses, unless we wanted to say that those messengers and the Sanhedrin of Jerusalem had completely erred from the true meaning of this prophecy, something that anyone who notices their stupidity and blindness would easily believe. Some respond by saying that John denied that he was a prophet because Christ said he was greater and more excellent than the prophets. Some claim that when John denies that he is a prophet, he was regarding the fact that he is not one of prophets of the Old Testament, about whom it was said in Matt. 11:13: “For all the prophets prophesied until John.” Some claim that the messengers asked and John replied about Elisha, who himself had ordered Naaman to be dipped in the waters. Some think that John denied that he was a prophet because of his humility, even though he truly was a prophet. Some people suspect that John refused to accept the honor of prophet because he was not undertaking a duty of the political office, which the prophets in the Old Testament used.

But it is more simple to respond that John adjusted his response to the question of the messengers. They were asking him if he was a prophet, that is, if he was one of those ancient prophets, long dead already, who had been recalled to life through a Pythagorean transmigration of souls. You see, Elias Levita testifies in Thisbi that the Jewish leaders at that time had embraced the idea of the transmigration of souls, something we also conclude from the words of Herod (Matt. 14:1; Mark 6:14), where he makes this judgment about Christ: “John the Baptist has risen from the dead. That is why these powers are at work in Him.” However, the sense of the question is revealed especially from what comes before it. They are asking whether he is a prophet in the same sense as they ask whether he is Elijah. But they are asking if he is Elijah in this sense: Is he that Elijah, the Tishbite, who was carried into heaven by a fiery chariot and whose return in his own person they were awaiting, according to the misunderstood prophecy in Mal. 4:5? Therefore they are also asking him if he is a prophet in this sense: Is he one of the ancient prophets recalled to life by a divine miracle? This we conclude very clearly from the words of Luke 9:7–8: “Now Herod the tetrarch heard all that Christ was doing, and he was perplexed because it was said by some that John had been raised from the dead, by some that Elijah had appeared, and by the others that one of the ancient prophets had risen.” Therefore John had first denied that he was Elijah in that sense in which the messengers had asked if he was Elijah in his own person, even though the angel (Luke 1:17) and Christ Himself (Matt. 11:14) call him “Elijah” in a different sense: because he went ahead of the Messiah in the spirit and power of Elijah. In the same way, he denies that he is a prophet in that sense in which the messengers had asked him if he was a prophet, that is, one of the ancient prophets brought back to life, even though in a different sense he truly was a prophet: a herald of repentance and righteousness, the forerunner of the Messiah, a minister of the New Testament, etc.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Valerius Herberger on St. Vitus, Martyr (June 15)

Devout hearts! Just as our Savior Jesus was already a wondrous mirror of unprecedented wisdom at twelve years of age (Luke 2:42), so the godly boy Vitus was a wondrous mirror of Christian constancy at twelve years of age. Therefore it is well worth the labor for our dear young men and women to be told of him so that they may devote their tender hearts to the Lord Jesus while they are still in their early years, in keeping with that saying of Solomon in Ecclesiastes 12:1 which Discipulus treats on the feast of St. Vitus: “Remember your Maker in your youth, before the evil days come, and before the years approach when you will say, They please me not.” Those young persons are worthy of praise who have the mind, manner, and character of pious, old, wayworn men. “For surely age is not that which lives long or has many years. Wisdom among men is the true gray hair, and an unspotted life true old age,” as it says in Wisdom 4:8–9.

St. Christina too, when she was only twelve years old, gave glory to Christ with her death. Flocellus, in the days of Caesar Anthony, was only ten years old. Mammes of Caesarea was only seven. Agrippitus, in the days of Alexander of Mammea, was fifteen, as also was Agapetus (in Marullus, bk. 5, ch. 5). In Nicephorus, a little boy climbs up to his mother at the stake and yields himself to burning. Another mother of Edessa took her boy with her to church that he might be a little martyr at her side. (See the appendix to the Vitae Patrum Majores.)

The faithful schoolmaster Modestus carefully instructed Vitus in the catechism, which angered his pagan father. Therefore he struck the dear child. At last the matter came before Diocletian, who had Vitus, his tutor, and his mother [nurse] Crescentia put in jail, and afterwards boiled into bubbling pitch and molten lead, and (since God performed miracles as He did with John), thrown before wild beasts. At last, however, he was mercilessly matyred on the gallows. But when the innocent boy prayed with a loud voice: Domine, libera me! “O Lord, deliver me!” a great storm arose and the earth shook, so that Diocletian was compelled to leave the martyrs and escape. Meanwhile, the child was released by an angel and, being taken from this life by a blessed death, was transported to a better one.

What a veritable Vitus! Jesus meae vitae ipsius scopus, “Jesus has been the aim of my life,” as Emperor Jovinian's motto runs. Vitus was a friend of the Lord Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and died to His glory, refusing to be stained by idolatry. Vitavit vitia idolatrica, et spe vitae aeternae superavit omnes dolores in hac vita. He shunned idolatry, and by hope of eternal life he endured all the sorrows of this life in Christian patience. Neither did the span of his life depend on the will of his enemies, but it rested in the hands of the Lord Jesus. For him, too, Christ was his Life, as St. Paul says in Philippians 1:21.

In former times the Gospel for this day was Matthew 10:16[–22]: “Behold, I send you forth as lambs in the midst of wolves,” etc. But since I treated this in Funeral-Bands, part 2, let us on this occasion look at the meaning of the name Vitus and examine the noble saying of the Lord Jesus, Ego vivo, et vos vivetis, “I live, and ye too shall live” [John 14:19]. But that it may be done prosperously, pray with me: God be gracious unto me, deliver me feet from slipping, that I may walk before Thee in the light of the living. Amen.

(Translated from Valerius Herberger, Hertz-Postilla… [ed. Leipzig, 1721], vol. 2, p. 190. Text: © 2012 Matthew Carver.)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Baptism and Emergency Situations (Johann Gerhard)

Lutherans now and in the age of Lutheran Orthodoxy held that any Christian may perform a Baptism in a case of emergency, whether he is a pastor or not. But does this mean that there is no need for the office of the ministry? And how should the institution of Baptism in Matt. 28:16-20 be understood? Johann Gerhard comments on this issue in Theological Commonplaces: On the Ministry, Part One (St. Louis: Concordia, 2011), § 74, pp. 97-98.
Ordinarily the preaching of the Word and the administration of the Sacraments according to divine institution belong to the ministers of the church, who have been legitimately called to that office, as we have shown [§§ 51–63]. Against this divinely established order one cannot and should not set forth extraordinary examples of extreme necessity, which are indeed exempted from the common law but which do not at all overturn the general rule. Thus in the case of extreme necessity when either a man must die without Baptism or a private person must confer Baptism, it is better for a private person to administer Baptism than that the man die without being baptized. Nonetheless the administration of Baptism ordinarily belongs to the ministers of the church, as is gathered from Matt. 28:19 and Mark 16:15, where the duty both of preaching and of baptizing is committed to the apostles.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Holy Spirit, Author of the Holy Ministry (Johann Gerhard)

From Johann Gerhard, Theological Commonplaces: On the Ministry, Part One (St. Louis: Concordia, 2011), § 50, p. 70.
In time past the Holy Spirit spoke through prophets, who were divinely stirred up and sent as teachers to the church. 2 Sam. 23:2: “The Spirit of the Lord has spoken through me.” Acts 28:25: “The Holy Spirit spoke well to our fathers through the prophet Isaiah.” 1 Pet. 1:11: “The Spirit of Christ in the prophets predicted the sufferings.” 2 Pet. 1:21: “No prophecy ever was given by human will, but holy men of God spoke, φερόμενοι” (“moved and driven”) “by the Holy Spirit.” It is the Holy Spirit who anointed Christ according to the flesh “above His fellows” and “sent Him to preach” (Ps. 45:7; Isa. 42:1; 61:1; Luke 4:18). It is the Holy Spirit who was visibly poured out upon the apostles so that, “clothed with power from on high,” they would preach the Gospel to all nations (Acts 2:1[–4]; Luke 24:49). It is the Holy Spirit who, as the apostles were serving the Lord and fasting, orders them to “set apart Barnabas and Saul for the work to which He called them” (Acts 13:2). For this reason they are said to have been “sent by the Holy Spirit” (v. 4); and this is also affirmed regarding the bishops of the church at Ephesus. Acts 20:28: “The Holy Spirit has placed you as bishops to rule the church of God, which He obtained by His own blood.” It is also He who equips ministers of the Word with the gifts necessary to carry out their ministry correctly and salutarily. 1 Cor. 12:4–9: “Now there are diversities of gifts but the same Spirit; there are diversities of servings but the same Lord; and there are diversities of workings, but it is the same God who works all in all. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for usefulness. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith in the same Spirit, to another the gift of healings in the one Spirit,” etc. Verse 11: “All these are worked by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one as He wills.” From this, the ministry of the Gospel is also called “the ministry of the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:6), not only because the Holy Spirit is given through the word of the Gospel (Gal. 3:2) but also because the Holy Spirit is the Author and Preserver of the ministry and equips ministers with the necessary gifts. Thus when Christ wished to commit the ministry to His apostles, He first gave them the Holy Spirit by means of breathing on them (John 20:22). The result is that all that ministers of the church do correctly and salutarily in their office is correctly attributed to the Holy Spirit, who acts effectually in them and through them. Matt. 10:20: “For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.”

Friday, April 20, 2012

Valerius Herberger on St. George the Knight (April 23)

TODAY WE commemorate St. George, whom our forefathers called one of the chiefest of the saints because he did not go on foot like the others but rode a horse. Tres equites esse in coelo. “There are three who ride in heaven: Christ, Martin, and George.” Ambrose and Jacob de Voragine say a great deal about him, but already at the Council of Nicaea the holy fathers doubted whether the story were true. So because we do not like to build on shaky ground, let me merely draw from it what may redound to the glory of our paschal King, Jesus Christ… Formerly it was said that St. George was a noble knight and warrior in the time of Emperor Diocletian, and that he delivered the citizens of Silena from the hideous, venomous dragon, to whom they were daily compelled at first to give two lambs, and later, a lamb and a man—which misfortune at last fell upon the king’s daughter herself. All well-educated scholars count this a fabrication of a creative man who wished by such a parable to draw a picture of a faithful ruler, or perhaps of the Lord Jesus Himself. For a faithful ruler must be a valiant George, that is, a “builder up of land, city, and honor.” He must have the mind of a builder, as Moses says in Deuteronomy 1:13. (Those interested may read the sermon in Part 9 of Magnalia Dei, Medit. 5, on Deut. 1, p. 672.). And he must risk his own life and limb for his subjects, as King Alfonso reminds himself in his seal, where next to a pelican he has the words: Pro lege et pro grege. “For the law and the people.” 

But above all, the Lord Jesus is very admirably depicted to us in this parable. The oppressed citizenry of Silena is mankind. We ought to have been eternally silenced and speechless before God because of our sin. We were brought into such great misery by the hellish dragon, who disguised himself as a venomous serpent in the Garden of Eden, and with his deceitful breath tricked Adam and Eve. Still today he seeks our doom and downfall. He is ever on the prowl, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). Yet in our sorry plight we are rescued by Jesus Christ, the noble Lord (Luke 19:12), the doughty Champion (Is. 9:6), the Giant of twofold substance (Gigas geminae substantiae), the true valiant George and “builder of the land” of His Church, with the true quick-witted mind of a builder. After all, He was the Craftsman present when God created heaven and earth (Prov. 8:22). He leapt down to us from heaven on the steed of His tender humanity, like a true leaper, in collibus saliens, leaping on the hills (Song of Songs 2:8). Therefore the Church sings on Ascension: Saltum de coelo dedit in virginalem ventrem, et inde pelagus seculi. “He leaped down from heaven into the womb of the Virgin, and thence to the sea of mortality.” “His right hand had to help Him” (Is. 6:53). He armed Himself with the javelin of His holy cross, and so overcame the hellish dragon. He trampled underfoot the head of the serpent (Gen. 3:15) and destroyed the works of the evil one (1 John 3:8) and bound the adversary of our soul with eternal bonds like a chained dog so that he can have no power over us. Now in what manner we ought to be grateful is shown to us by the rescued maiden and little lamb. We are to gain a clean heart, and a humble, timid, yielding, gentle mind, and to love Jesus with a virgin’s love (Rev. 14:4; Matt. 25:1). We are to follow Him as little lambs do their shepherd, and willingly to surrender ourselves to be slain for His glory. (As said above on Misericordia Sunday in Hertzpostille Part 1, p. 340.)

The Gospel that we read is therefore expounded today because the name George is clearly evident in this text: “My Father is a vinedresser,” or field-worker. In the Greek it says, “My Father is a Georgos,” or George, a builder of the land and worker of the soil…

(Translation © Matthew Carver, 2012, from Hertzpostille II, 148ff.)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Johann Gerhard, On the Ministry, Part One

The latest volume of Johann Gerhard's Theological Commonplaces is On the Ministry, Part One. The table of contents gives a great overview of what the volume is about.

Editor’s Preface
Comparison of Editions of Gerhard’s Loci

Commonplace XXVI/1: On the Ecclesiastical Ministry, Part One
The preface shows the connection of this commonplace with the preceding commonplace, § 1, and explains the three estates in the church, § 2, as well as the necessity of the ecclesiastical ministry, § 3, and its usefulness and dignity, § 4.

Chapter I: The nomenclature for the ecclesiastical ministry.
(I) As for the ministry, in Holy Scripture it is called: “The ecclesiastical order,” § 5. “Ministry” (διακονία), § 6. “Public service” (λειτουργία), § 8. “Watch,” “Service,” “Inspection,” and “Stewardship,” § 11. In writers of the church it is called: “Holy work, priestly service” (ἱερουργία) and “hierarchy” (ἱεραρχία), § 12. (II) As for the ministers, in Holy Scripture there are various titles, § 13. In the Old Testament, the proper titles are: “Priests,” § 14. “Patriarchs,” § 17. “Prophets,” § 18. “Seers,” § 21. “Men of God,” § 22. “Angels,” § 23. “Anointed ones,” § 24. The metaphoric titles are: “Watchmen,” § 25. “Builders,” “shepherds,” “fathers,” § 26. In the New Testament, the proper titles are: “Bishops,” § 27. “Presbyters,” § 28. “Deacons,” § 30. “Teachers,” § 31. “Presidents, rulers,” § 32. “Leaders,” § 33. “Scribes,” § 34. The metaphoric titles are: “Salt of the earth,” “light of the world,” “laborers in the vineyard,” “servants who invite people to the wedding,” “to a banquet,” “fishermen,” “laborers in the harvest,” “fellow workers in agriculture,” “stewards,” “physicians,” “ambassadors of God,” “witnesses,” “preachers,” “trumpeters,” “winds,” § 35. In ecclesiastical writers they are called: “leaders,” “parsons,” “priests,” § 36. The Papists call our ministers “preachers” as a term of contempt, and call their own ministers “clerics,” § 37.

Chapter II: Whether there is an ecclesiastical ministry.
(I) The existence of the ministry is proved: (1) By their titles. (2) By the continuous line of teachers from the beginning of the world to our times, in the Old Testament: Patriarchs, § 39. Priests and prophets, § 40. And in the New Testament: John the Baptist, the apostles, and bishops, § 41. The fathers and scholastic doctors, § 42. (3) By the divine promises concerning the preservation of the church and, consequently, of the ecclesiastical ministry until the end of the world, § 43. (4) By the distinction of this order from the other estates and orders, § 45. (II) Gerhard responds to arguments against the necessity of the ministry: That believers of the New Testament no longer need to be taught, § 46. That they have their anointing from God, § 47. That God can illuminue us without the work of the ministry, § 48.

Chapter III: The efficient cause of the ecclesiastical ministry.
The principal efficient cause of the ministry is the Holy Trinity, § 49. The distinction and order of Persons in this work is explained, § 50.

Section I: Whether a particular call is required to take on the ecclesiastical ministry.
What the call is, § 51. Whether it is distinguished from “choosing,” § 53. Its necessity is affirmed, § 54. Gerhard responds to the objections of the Anabaptists and Photinians, § 65.

Section II: How many kinds of call to the ministry there are.
Among various divisions of the call, § 75, the chief distinction is between the mediate and immediate call, § 76.

Section III: The immediate call specifically.
The questions arise: (1) In how many ways the immediate call occurs, § 79. (2) Whether the power to perform miracles is always connected with it, § 80. (3) How one should discern between it and the deceit of fanatics, § 81. (4) Whether it should be expected still today? § 82.

Section IV: The mediate call.
The mediate call is no less divine than the immediate, § 83. By what means it is accomplished, § 85. Each estate of the church participates in the calling of ministers, § 86. But the Papists argue that the laity and the Christian magistrate should be excluded from the call, § 99.

Section V: Episcopal right and the right of patronage, § 108.

Section VI: Things that must be avoided in the calling and selection of ministers, § 115.

Section VII: Controversies and some doubtful questions and cases that often occur in dealing with the call, § 117.

Section VIII: The call of blessed Luther.
The controversy concerning Luther’s call is reviewed, § 118. Luther’s call was mediate, § 120, was confirmed three times, § 121, and Luther often appeals to this mediate, solemn call, § 122. Yet something extraordinary was also present in Luther’s call, § 123. The Papists’ arguments against Luther’s call are refuted, § 124.

Section IX: The calling of ministers in the churches that they call “Evangelical,” § 127.

Section X: The calling of bishops in the Papist church, § 130.

Section XI: The degree of doctorate: Whether it is a call to the ministry, § 136.

Section XII: Ordination.
(1) Whether ordination is absolutely necessary for the ministry, § 139. (2) Whether ordination is a sacrament, § 141. (3) Who the legitimate minister of ordination is, § 152. (4) Whether those whom heretics have ordained should be ordained again, § 155. (5) Whether one who has not been called to a certain place should be ordained, § 158. (6) The ceremonies of ordination: The imposition of hands, § 159. Anointing, § 160. Tonsure, § 163. (7) What the effect and fruit of ordination are, §165.

Section XIII: The examination preceeding ordination, § 166.

Section XIV: The investiture of ministers, § 170.

Section XV: The transfer of ministers, § 171.

Section XVI: The removal of ministers, § 174.

Chapter IV: The material cause of the ministry, 178.

Section I: The matter in which of the ministry.
(1) The matter in which, or subject, of the ministry is human beings. God ordinarily uses their work for the wisest of reasons, both with respect to God, § 179, and with respect to human beings, § 180. (2) What sort of persons are to be selected for the ministry is taught from 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, § 181. (3) The questions arise: (a) Whether the ministry is bound to a certain family, § 184. (b) Whether those who are to be called must have a certain number of years, § 185. (c) Whether women, too, should be used for the ecclesiastical ministry, § 186. (d) Whether the ministry should be entrusted to those afflicted with a bodily defect, 187. (e) Whether bastards may be promoted to the ministry, § 188.

Section II: The matter concerning which of the ministry.
The matter concerning which, or object, of the ministry is the Lord’s flock, committed to the care and protection of shepherds, § 189.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Johannes Bugenhagen on Psalm 3

From Johannes Bugenhagen, In Librum Psalmorum Interpretatio (Basel, 1524).

pp. 16–17, Ps. 3—Although his interpretation is from the Greek, he will not be concerned with interpreting the Greek titles of the Psalms, since they are of no use where they disagree with the Hebrew. But he will add the titles from the Hebrew almost according to the translation of Felix [of Prato] and give only a very brief interpretation. In the phrase Psalmus David, the name David is in the dative case, he says, so that it means “a psalm revealed to David.” In David’s persecution, many things were revealed to him about the persecution of his Seed, Christ, and again about His glorification. Hermeneutics: “Hence the Psalms were made to be of help to you not just in looking at those histories, except perhaps as in a figure. Just as David suffered many things from his people, the Jews, and from his own son, that he might not be king, so also Christ, etc. For the Psalms almost always describe glorification, but through the cross and shame. But by the light in the Psalms it will seem more clear that in many Psalms Christ is speaking. But when Christ speaks, all the godly are speaking, all those who from the beginning have believed in God, for they are all one body, whose head is Christ. They speak, I say, especially where the topic is persecution and glorification.”

p. 19, Ps. 3—Sometimes in the Psalms “mountains” means “heavens.” E.g., “I lift up mine eyes to the hills” is equivalent to “To Thee I have lifted up mine eyes, who dwellest in the heavens.” He says, “Therefore the temple and holy Jerusalem is now where God is worshiped in the Spirit: in the church of the saints, that is, of believers, who know they have the Father in heaven; this was never unknown by those who believed.”

p. 19, Ps. 3—“With my voice, he says, I cried to the Lord. This is the only remedy in every trial [tentatio], even if we are tested concerning faith so that we despair.”

p. 19, Ps. 3—“I slept,” etc. refers to Christ’s death and resurrection, though it is not one of the passages that Christians can emphasize against the Jews. For that purpose we have clearer testimonies about Christ.

p. 20, Ps. 3—“God’s blessing [benedictio, ‘well speaking’] is God’s benefaction [beneficentia, ‘well doing’]. For since, for God, saying is the same as doing, as it is written, ‘He spoke and there were done,’ it follows that ‘blessing’ is ‘doing good.’ Thus you read that God blessed Joseph in everything, etc. And elsewhere, ‘Blessing I shall bless you, and multiply you.’ From here I think it was transferred also to human beings in Holy Writ, so that ‘blessing’ means ‘a good prayer,’ ‘doing good,’ and ‘alms.’”

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Johannes Bugenhagen on Psalm 2

From Johannes Bugenhagen, In Librum Psalmorum Interpretatio (Basel, 1524).

p. 10, Ps. 2—He cites the interpretation of “Felix,” since he is interpreting from the Hebrew. Felix is the one Bugenhagen especially follows, except perhaps where he himself was not able to find the meaning, due to the difficulty of the passage being discussed.

p. 12, Ps. 2—Another reference to Felix. “I have been established as King by Him; I will proclaim the decree” points to the necessity of being called before presuming to teach, and also the necessity of teaching only what God has commanded.

p. 14, Ps. 2—“Today I have begotten You.” Regarding Augustine’s explanation, that this refers to the eternal begetting of God the Son from God the Father, Bugenhagen agrees with the thought, but finds it exegetically indefensible: “… and it seems more clever than theological, even though the meaning is true.” (Note: In a later edition of this work, the Psalterium Davidis, he changed his mind and saw the eternal generation as the native meaning of this text.) “Today” means the Christian era, according to the Epistle to the Hebrews. Paul in Acts 13 interprets this as referring to Christ’s resurrection. Thus, Bugenhagen understands “Today I have begotten You” not as referring to Christ’s divinity, but to His glorification according to His humanity. What about Heb. 1, where this passage seems to be quoted concerning Christ’s divinity? In Heb. 1–2, the author is proving that Christ is superior to angels not just according to His divinity but also according to His humanity. In Heb. 5 this is cited again, saying “Christ did not glorify Himself,” etc.

p. 16, Ps. 2—"And here you see fear mixed with rejoicing, which is truly faith: fearing with regard to God's Word and rebuke, and on the other hand rejoicing with regard to God's promisses and being secure regarding salvation due to God's Word."

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Johannes Bugenhagen on Psalm 1

During Lent I have begun to read Johannes Bugenhagen's Latin commentary on the Psalms, In librum Psalmorum interpretatio (Wittenberg, 1524). Although it is earlier than the age of Lutheran Orthodoxy, it was a commentary that remained popular throughout the 16th century and certainly influenced the Lutheran Orthodox. Martin Luther wrote a preface for this work (translated in LW 59, which will be available in June 2012 from, and in his preface he praised Bugenhagen as the first real commentator on the Psalms that the Christian Church has ever had--high praise, considering that Luther himself had lectured on the Psalms twice before, and considering Luther's high regard for St. Augustine, whose commentary on the Psalms had been the golden standard for a thousand years. Unfortunately Bugenhagen's commentary has never been translated into English.

When commenting on Ps. 1, Bugenhagen begins by saying that the "blessed man" is Christ, but then he quickly moves to describing the difference between the godly and ungodly on the basis of the Psalm.

He is comparing the Latin Vulgate text with not just the Hebrew, but also the Greek. He explains all the words of the first verse and deals with the "old man and new man" within each Christian, repentance, being "at the same time just and sinner," and a lot more. For example, Bugenhagen explains that "meditate" means not just to think about something, but "by thinking to speak and exercise something." Meditation on God's Word is like playing a flute, where one's whole mind, heart, breath, and body is concentrated on the music.

On p. 8 he refers to "our Philipp’s" translation of Ps. 1:5. What work or translation is this? He also speaks against those who suppose there are contradictions in Scripture, on the issue of Ps. 1:5, where the Vulgate says the ungodly "will not arise in the judgment." What this actually means, he says, is that the ungodly will not come to their senses, even though they hear the judgment of God's Word, which the congregation of the righteous speaks.

At the end of his comments on Ps. 1, he says, "Therefore in this Psalm you have the scope of all of Holy Scripture."

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Lutheran Translation Projects

Has that been translated? What is being translated right now? What other treasures of Lutheran Orthodoxy will we see in English in the next few years? How can I let others know about my translation project?

The answer is at Concordia Publishing House's Lutheran Translation Projects page.

Before starting a translation of a Lutheran writing, take a look here. If you have any additions or corrections, please go to the page and let CPH know.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Nicolaus Selnecker: a Scheme for Chief Hymns.

A selection of Nicolaus Selnecker, one of the authors of the Formula of Concord, on the contemporary usage of chief hymns in Leipzig, AD 1587.

IN OUR CHURCHES, we preserve the hymns of Dr. Luther and joyfully join one another in singing them and the others in his hymnal… We here in Leipzig have long had a good Christian scheme for which hymn is to be sung in church on every Sunday and festival, according to what best fits that day’s Gospel, and this scheme has been kept up to this day… 

To relate this order briefly for the instruction of others, the congregation, during Advent, sings “Savior of the Nations, Come” along with the German Litany.

During the Christmas holiday is sung: “We Praise Thee Jesus at Thy Birth”, “Now Praise We Christ, the Holy One,” “Thanks Let us Render” [the Sequence, Danksagen wir alle —MC], “From Heav’n Above to Earth I Come,” “From Heav’n the Angel Troop Came near,” “Why, Herod, Fearest Thou the Foe?”, and “Hail the Day So Rich in Cheer.” These hymns are cycled through until Candlemas. Now, if the Baptism of Christ is preached, as often happens, on the Second Sunday after Epiphany, then “To Jordan Came Our Lord the Christ” is sung.

On Candlemas is sung “Lord, Now Lettest Thou Thy Servant Depart in Peace” as well as “In Peace and Joy I Now Depart.” On the Fifth Sunday after Epiphany, the hymn “In Peace and Joy…” is repeated, or else “O Lord Look Down from Heav’n, Behold” is sung. Septuagesima: “Salvation unto Us Has Come”; Sexagesima: “Our Father, Thou in Heav’n Above”; Esto mihi: “By Adam’s Fall Is All Forlorn”; Invocavit: “O Christ, Who art the Light and Day” —which hymn is repeated with the German Litany in church every Sunday until Palm Sunday.

 On Palm Sunday, before the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the Gospel of St. Matthew is chanted, the hymn “From Depths of Woe I Cry to Thee” is normally sung. On Maundy Thursday, “Jesus Christ, Our Blessed Savior” (concerning the Lord’s Supper) is sung. On Good Friday, before the whole Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the Gospel of St. John is chanted, that excellent hymn “Dear Christians, One and All Rejoice” is sung. During the Easter holiday are sung “This is Such a Holy Day” [Also heilig ist der Tag - after Salve festa dies —MC], “Christ Is Arisen from the Grave’s Dark Prison,” “Jesus Christ our Savior True, Who Death Overthrew,”… and such are continued until Rogation Sunday and that week, when “Our Father Thou in Heav’n Above” is sung.

On Ascension, however, the comforting hymn “Dear Christians, One and All…” is repeated; also, “Christ rose to heaven” [Christ fuhr gen Himmel]. On Exaudi: “If God Had Not Been on Our Side.” During the Pentecost holiday: “We Now Implore God the Holy Ghost,” “Come, Holy Ghost, God and Lord.” On Trinity: “God the Father, Be Our Stay,” “May God Bestow on Us His Grace.”

On the First Sunday after Trinity is sung the last hymn named, and “The Mouth of Fools doth God Confess” is occasionally added on account of the Gospel. On Trinity II: “Lord, Hear the Voice of My Complaint”; Trinity III: “Have Mercy on Me, Lord my God” [Erbarm dich mein, o Herre Gott,” or “The Only Son from Heaven”; IV: “That Man a Godly Life Might Live”; V: “Were God Not with Us at This Time” or “If God Had Not Been on Our Side”; VI: “Wilt Thou, O Man, Live Happily” or “Salvation unto Us Has Come”; VII: “My Soul, Now Bless Thy Maker” or “My Soul Now Magnifies the Lord”; VIII: “O Lord, Look Down from Heav’n, Behold”; IX. “The Mouth of Fools doth God Confess”; X. “Beside the Streams of Babylon” [An Wasserflüssen Babylon —MC]; XI: “In Thee Alone, O Christ, My Lord” or “From Depths of Woe I Cry to Thee”; XII: “By Adam’s Fall Is All Forlorn”; XIII: “Salvation unto Us Has Come” or “That Man a Godly Life Might Live”; XIV: “Have Mercy on Me, Lord my God” or “In Thee Alone, O Christ, My Lord”; XV: “A Mighty Fortress Is our God”; XVI: “In the Midst of Earthly Life” or “In Peace and Joy I Now Depart”; XVII: “Dear Christians, One and All Rejoice”; XVIII: “The Only Son from Heaven”; XIX: “Lord, Hear the Voice…” or “My Soul, Now Bless…”; XX: “O Lord, Look Down from Heav’n, Behold”; XXI: “Salvation unto Us Has Come,” “May God Bestow on Us His Grace”; XXII: “Have Mercy…”, “From Depths of Woe…”; XXIII: “The Mouth of Fools…”; XXIV: “In Peace and Joy…”, “Lord Jesus Christ, True Man and God”; XXV: “God the Father, Be Our Stay”; XXVI: “Our Father…”; XXVII: “Dear Christians…” or “A Mighty Fortress.”

Similarly, on festivals we sing, e.g., on the Annunciation, “The Only Son from Heaven”; Conversion of St. Paul: “Have Mercy on Me, Lord my God”; Feasts of Apostles: “Lord God, We Sing Thy Praise” [i.e., the Te Deum]; on the feast of John the Baptist, “To Jordan Came Our Lord the Christ”; on the Visitation, “My Soul Now Magnifies the Lord”; On St. Michael, “Lord God, We All to Thee Give Praise” or “My Soul, Now Bless Thy Maker”… I say this all on account of the German hymns, which we… maintain every Sunday morning… Concerning which I must boast that a better scheme for hymns may not easily be established.”

(Translation © Matthew Carver, 2012, after the German text quoted in Kümmerle: Enzyklopädie…)