Thursday, February 22, 2007

Liturgical Continuity

Liturgical Continuity

— Immovable Faith —

For the Last Sunday in Epiphany, Quinquagesima, TLH hymn # 47, “Savior, Again to Thy Dear Name We Raise,” served as our final hymn for the day. In the first stanza a very wonderful knowledge and appreciation for the historic liturgy is displayed by the author. Consider the words of first stanza:
Savior, again to Thy dear name we raise
With one accord our parting hymn of praise.
Once more we bless Thee ere our worship cease,
Then, lowly bending, wait Thy word of peace.

First is the clear recognition of the one of whom we sing when worship is rightly focused. His office and ministry is before the congregation as the reason for gathering. His name is the reason for all confidence and joy.

The next point shows in the second line. The gathering is of one accord, praying, singing, communing as one body. As St. Paul admonishes in 1 Corinthians 11:27-29 those singing have examined themselves to know that they are part of a communion that truly is the Lord’s body, and having partaken together of the Holy Communion, they acknowledge again the unity that the Lord has created and maintained. This understanding is stressed also in the fourth chapter of Ephesians:
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

Then, once more before the divine service ceases, the congregation blesses the Lord. This is a reflection upon the way that the service begins, with the Invocation, whereby those gathered call upon the name of the Lord given to them in their baptism and bless the name by which all blessing has been poured out upon them. This name is what unites them in common faith as the body of Christ. This is the name of their Salvation. Naturally, in drawing near to the close of the divine service they will once again bless, that is, to speak well of, this holy name of blessing.

Finally the service closes with this holy name being spoken over the congregation in the benediction. To receive this benediction from the Lord the congregation humbly bows their heads as the pastor puts the threefold name of peace upon those who bear this name and trust in the Lord and depart to go about their daily activities in the peace that surpasses all understanding.

This very beautiful hymn demonstrates the unity and continuity that the historic liturgy preserves for those who do not abandon it. From beginning to end the mighty arm of the Lord acting on behalf of His children is emphasized.

How anyone could hope to improve upon this focus I do not know. What could possibly be more blessed than this focus handed down even from the time of Moses and continued by the apostles of our Lord?

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