Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Comme les Français I

Upon our own Fr. Beane's suggestion I picked up a copy of Liturgies et Cantiques Luthériens, the new hymnal of our brothers in the LCC/ELC (l'Église luthérienne du Canada). From conversations with various friends and acquaintances, I know that the ELC worked closely with CPH on putting this together - but that would have been obvious anyway. LCL shares with LSB the same dimensions, fonts, type-setting, and so forth (though in Bourbon or et bleu).

The similarities don't end there - these are, after all, hymnals of two churches in fellowship with each other - but this is in no way a French LSB. Even where the editors took over features they liked from LSB, LCL is its own book. Indeed, it is clear they benefited from seeing LSB and building on the fine work done in that hymnal. For example, the choice of prayers in the inside cover was obviously influenced by this feature in LSB. But the LCL editors added a prayer for "After Individual Confession and Absolution" and the wording of many of the prayers is not a French translation of the English. For example, compare this translation (all translations below are mine) of LCL's prayer before Confession & Absolution to LSB's collect:

My God, give me the light necessary to recognize my sins and the grace to hate them with all my heart and to confess them with sincerity. I ask thee this grace by the merits of Jesus Christ my Savior. Amen.

Almighty, everlasting God, for my many sins I justly deserve eternal condemnation. In Your mercy You sent Your dear Son, my Lord Jesus Christ, who won for me forgiveness of sins and everlasting salvation. Grant me a true confession that, dead to sin, I may be raised up by Your life-giving absolution. Grant me Your Holy Spirit that I may be ever watchful and live a true and godly life in Your service; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

Both prayers are good, right, and salutary - but the LSB prayer is, shall we say, a little preachy: its intent is obviously to teach. The LCL prayer is simple and devotional. Both kinds of prayer are good - but I think LCL struck the better tone in matching this kind of praying to a pre-confession prayer.

The sanctoral calendar in each volume provides interesting comparisons - no St. George, patron of the English, for our francophone friends; no saint Denis for us. LCL has a bit fuller calendar than LSB - about 10 more commemorations are listed, something of an improvement, but one still wishes for a full Lutheran calendar from a major denomination. Daily Divine Service Book reproduces such a calendar based on Loehe's efforts - but a daily meditation on the lives of the saints is still not available from any major Lutheran body.

The LCL includes only a version of the three year lectionary. As someone who is quite fond of the historic lectionary for a number of reasons - not least of which is the ability to read the sermons of the fathers on every Sunday's text - I find this disappointing. In the comments, perhaps someone can fill us in on the status of the historic lectionary up North.

Closing out the lectionary section is a very handy calendar showing the dates not only for Easter but also Ash Wednesday, Ascension, Pentecost, which proper number in the 3 year system falls on the week after Trinity (and Fr. Stuckwisch wonders why I don't like this lectionary!), and the first Sunday in Advent all the way out to 2054 (LSB does only Easter out to 2050).

The Psalms in LCL are a great improvement over LSB save in one regard: LCL also does not include all the Psalms, in fact, it appears to include even fewer than LSB. This is a much lamented "feature" of our hymnals and I won't spend time on it here. The improvements over LSB come in the music and layout of the text. The text is very easy to read, in a single column, and uses bold print to show where the movement in the tone comes. Several psalms also have antiphons, which remind me of the psalm settings in Hymnal Supplement '98. The psalm tone itself is on a different system than LSB and is obviously more akin to the Gregorian originals - which is not surprising as the way in which French is sung is more amenable to the Gregorian stress patterns. And the tone for each psalm is not only included above each psalm, but also repeated if the psalm spans more than one page. For those of us who find it very helpful to keep our eyes on the notes when we sing the Psalms, this is a big plus. Another user friendly feature is that the upper outside corners of each page give what Psalm is on that page whereas LSB simply has "The Psalms." As my elementary school students can attest: it can be tricky to find a Psalm in LSB.

This is getting long and I'm not even out of the Psalms yet. . . next time: at least one of the three Suites liturgiques for Holy Communion.



  1. Fr. HRC, that's an interesting distinction you make, "devotional" vs. "preachy". I think that deserves more examination. Thank you.

  2. Though I have nothing against the setting of the Psalms in LSB, the HS98 setting of Psalm and antiphon offers the parish with, ah, more limited musical resources a great way to introduce Psalm singing in an easy and non-threatening way... in some ways I miss the HS98 format...

  3. By the way, the CTS bookstore has a few copies for sale. I bought one myself, but haven't had much time to look through it....Does CPH still sell "Culto Christiano?"


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