Saturday, March 9, 2013

Difficulties of the LCMS Visited on LSB and CPH

Our lives on this side of glory are full of compromise and darkness. None of us has perfect practice even as none of us are free of regret. 

LSB has strengths. If a pastor is well-trained and discerning and has deep support in his congregation, he can choose to use only the strongest things. But because it was borne in our turbulent times, and was designed to not rock the boat, the hymnal is chock full of weaknesses. To be sure, weakness is not the same thing as heresy, even as chocolate pudding is not the same thing as poison. There is room in a healthy diet for chocolate pudding. Sometimes it helps the medicine go down. So, also, a wise pastor might indulge his congregation in some of LSB's weakest stuff for the sake of helping them swallow some of the better stuff. 

That is sometimes necessary because the best stuff is not easy to add if a congregation doesn't already love it. It is almost always more difficult, less television jingle-like. It wears far better, over time, of course, but many people show up tired on Sunday morning. They don't want to work at learning things, especially hymns. The weak stuff is shallow. If it isn't already well-loved and known because it is being sung at every funeral in town and is on all the Christian broadcasts, it is very easy. It doesn't wear well, over time, but like an annoying pop song, it is catchy at first. They are designed along the lines of ear worms and they are also, by design, meant to feel modern. 

This is simply the reality of the compromises LSB made. Let no one judge the faithful men who sweated much blood over these decisions. Much was sacrificed to make room for the weakest things so that the hymnal would be immediately usable to our weakest congregations and not require them to change their Sunday services. It was a hugely profitable compromise. At last report, even though prices have gone up recently on the hymnal and the Catechism seems to be going up by the day, CPH was sitting on over 30 million dollars. I think that was mostly made on the hymnal, but I don't actually know that. I don't even know if we're allowed to know. I don't know if CPH reports its finances to synod members of not. I'd guess not. 

Sadly, CPH, and the synodical president, fear giving away the Catechism despite that nest egg and the huge salaries paid to the top CPH executives. I have to admit that even as I don't know how CPH managed to stockpile $30 million, I am not a business man. I am pastor. There aren't any pastors in top positions at CPH. Maybe that is because pastors would make the Catechism free to the world and that would in fact somehow ruin CPH. I can't imagine that it would, but, again, I don't have any business training or experience. Maybe the Catehism, at $14 a pop, is holding up the whole thing. Still, for me, since I love the Catechism as second only to the Bible, I would actually say that the demise of CPH is a price I'd gladly pay to give the world the Catechism. 

But as I've suggested before, why can't the synod underwrite CPH? The executive salaries could be reduced to something less competitive with Zondervan and more in keeping with LCMS parishes and they could be freed of the need to make such a huge profit on hymnals and catechisms? No one has yet explained to me why synodical subsidy for this wouldn't work.

I am glad for a few things that CPH does. I am not glad for everything it does. I wish it would stop its constant push for contemporary worship. I've been told, casually, that they have to do this also for a profit. If we lost CPH, I would surely miss the valuable work that is being done with Gerhard and Luther. Still, to actually put the Catechism out there, to make it available to the world, that would be worth even losing the good work CPH does and losing CPH's weaker stuff, like the LSB Service Builder's built-in liturgy editor, Creative Worship, and the vapid VBS songs might actually help us. Am I wrong in seeing all of the problems, both in what they push, and in their refusal to free the Catechism and the high prices of the hymnal, as driven by their need for profit? I am not trying to take pot shots here. I think this is not only the kindest explanation but that is accurate as well. 

In any case, whatever the wisest course is with regard to pricing or controlling the Catechism, we certainly don't serve the church well by pretending that LSB isn't full of weaknesses forced upon it by the political necessities of its time, that everything in it is good and usable, or even that it is the only source for the LC-MS. In that line, I received the following note from one of our elders this morning regarding the Luther hymn "O Lord, Look Down from Heaven, Behold." Note that Psalm 12, which inspired Luther's text, didn't make the cut either. LSB just wasn't big enough for the whole Psalter. 

So what is a faithful pastor to do? It depends largely on the history, circumstances, and abilities of the congregation, the cooperation (or sabotaging) of the musicians, and the good will (or lack thereof) of the congregation. LSB has done us many favors. There are things that very helpful, particularly in the Agenda. But having LSB also open us up to a whole of host of the weakest hymns and several settings and "liturgies" that rather unfortunate. Working with LSB means the pastor has to really work and sometimes he has to suffer the decisions that the hymnal committee has made. It is part of the sad state of our synod and the tyranny we simply suffer. In our case, we are able to print the hymn below from TLH and sing it as part of our Sunday Services. We can't avoid the weakest hymns at funerals all the time but we are able to keep them out of Sundays. At to this particular hymn, even apart from its history, I think we need it today more than ever. It is worth it to us to print it. But without it in the hymnal many will find it hard to add, if they are even aware of it.

The elder writes:

I thought of you while I was working on my dissertation this week.  A while ago, we sang TLH 260: “O Lord, Look Down from Heaven, Behold” in Bible study.  It’s all about teachers of bad doctrine, and you said something about how you never hear the hymn sung at synodical gatherings – no wonder it didn’t make it into LW or LSB.

Anyway, I was reading Joseph Herl’s Worship Wars in Early Lutheranism, and he recounts this from one of the church orders on pp.89-90.

“In 1527 a visiting preacher from Magdeburg, in his first and only sermon in Braunschweig, extolled the saving virtue of good works; whereupon: ‘a citizen by the name of Hennig Rischau began and said in a loud voice: “Father, you’re lying!” He then just as loudly began to sing the twelfth psalm, which Dr. Luther had just recently set in thought-provoking German verse as “Ach Gott, vom Himmel sieh darein”’ (the above-mentioned TLH 260)…  In 1529 in Lübeck and 1530 in Lüneburg congregations distrupted the sermons by singing, seemingly spontaneously, Luther’s ‘Ach Gott, vom Himmel sieh darein’. This hymn seems to have been so ubiquitous as a protest song that it, rather than the better-known ‘Ein feste Burg,’ deserves the epithet ‘battle hymn of the reformation’.”

"O Lord, Look Down from Heaven, Behold" TLH 260
by Martin Luther, 1483-1546

1. O Lord, look down from heaven, behold
And let Thy pity waken:
How few are we within Thy Fold,
Thy saints by men forsaken!
True faith seems quenched on every hand,
Men suffer not Thy Word to stand;
Dark times have us o'ertaken.

2. With fraud which they themselves invent
Thy truth they have confounded;
Their hearts are not with one consent
On Thy pure doctrine grounded.
While they parade with outward show,
They lead the people to and fro,
In error's maze astounded.

3. May God root out all heresy
And of false teachers rid us
Who proudly say: "Now, where is he
That shall our speech forbid us?
By right or might we shall prevail;
What we determine cannot fail;
We own no lord and master."

4. Therefore saith God, "I must arise,
The poor My help are needing;
To Me ascend My people's cries,
And I have heard their pleading.
For them My saving Word shall fight
And fearlessly and sharply smite,
The poor with might defending."

5. As silver tried by fire is pure
From all adulteration,
So through God's Word shall men endure
Each trial and temptation.
Its light beams brighter through the cross,
And, purified from human dross,
It shines through every nation.

6. Thy truth defend, O God, and stay
This evil generation;
And from the error of their way
Keep Thine own congregation.
The wicked everywhere abound
And would Thy little flock confound;
But Thou art our Salvation.


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    1. Thanks for you prayers, Paul. I trust this is sincere and you'll actually offer them, that you don't throw such promises around lightly. We shouldn't use the offer of prayer as way of belittling someone.

      While you're at it, please pray also that the Catechism would be studied and prayed freely everywhere, without any hindrance from the devil.

      For what it is worth, I have been praying for you, by name, every day, for years.

    2. Quick question for you, Paul: Would it be within the legal disclaimer if someone were to make a YouTube of the text of the Small Catechism with it being read as a means to help children and adults memorize the texts so long as the project were made available at no cost?

      I remember a few years ago when Pastor Weedon was putting the collect of the week on his blog and was told this violated CPH's copyright privilege. He then swithed over to publishing the ELS versions on his blog (which were put into public domain). William was not making money off of his blog, but nevertheless was scolded for violating CPH's copyright.

      This kind of thing is just not going to endear people (who are not profiteering but simply trying to teach and edify) to CPH, Inc. Think of the goodwill if CPH were to put the entire Book of Concord (even the McCain version!) into public domain.

    3. Larry, if somebody wants to read into a YouTube video the text of the Small Catechism, they are free to do so as long as they use a text in the public domain.

      If they wish to use the copyrighted version of the SC, which is what I think you are referring to, yes, if they do so only for private use in their congregation, not for distribution beyond it. You should clarify which text of the SC you are referring to.

      By the way, you may have missed this link before, so I'm happy to repeat it. I'm unaware of any online resource that provides as extensive and comprehensive a collection of the texts of the Lutheran Confessions along with supporting documents, etc. than is to be found here:

      Now back to your original question about YouTube recording of the Small Catechism. I'm not sure why anyone would want to take the time to do that, since there are so many better and inexpensive and modestly priced options

      Here is a great professionally done recording:

      Or, you can buy a professional recording on CDs, in packs of ten:

      Or, you can purchase a professional recording of the SC that contains the entire SC text and ALL of Luther's Catechism hymns! For download via iTunes. For only $9.99.

      Or, you can have the entire Small Catechism set to song, produced by Phil Magness. We also have a printed songbook and piano accompanist book:

      Here is the iTunes version of the Magness project:

      I'd suggest using the sung version of the SC to teach your son the text. Music helps it "stick" better than anything else.

      The Small Catechism along with the text of the entire BOC (the McCain edition!) and many other resources for teaching the Faith are available for a modest annual subscription in our online Confirmation Builder web based resource, that offers Catechists online record keeping, test giving, test recording, student progress tracking, etc.

      We have the Small Catechism integrated into multiple confirmation/catechetical teaching tools for various ages and styles of learning.

      My First Catechism:

      We also have for My First Catechism an activity book and Answer Key.

      Living in Christ, a more traditional/classic approach:

      Living in Christ is available with a student workbooks and teacher's guide as well.

      The catechism is available in packs of twelve for $5.00:

      And we have dozens more resources to help people use, teach, learn, pray and live the Catechism.

      I'd be happy to speak personally with anyone who has further questions, call me at 314-267-1781 or e-mail me at: and I'd be happy to explain everything we offer by way of Catechism resources, for those who learn and those who teach.

    4. Thanks for all the links, Paul. I will check them out.

      But I am still unclear about reading the CPH translation on YouTube. Is that considered a "commercial" endeavor when it is being offered without charge?

      Could you please clarify that?

      And what would it cost for me to get permission from CPH to put out a YouTube? What would be the fee? And are these fees the same across the board, or are they negotiated at different rates for different people?

      Finally, what would happen to a person who did put up a YouTube or blog and offer these texts free of charge? Would CPH initiate a lawsuit? Or would they push for criminal proceedings?

      I can certainly see why pastors and other teachers just use public domain translations instead. Maybe the 1943 translation will soon be in the public domain. Certainly, CPH would have no qualms about that translation being used, would they?

      And I'm sure you appreciate the Online Editors allowing you to advertise here at GO free of charge and promote CPH's products. You're welcome! ;-)

    5. Larry, let me refer you to the copyright notice as posted on the previously provided link.

      From Luther’s Small Catechism © 1986 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved. Other than reproduction in whole or in part for noncommercial personal, congregational, or classroom use, no part of this material may be reproduced or stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission of Concordia Publishing House. Concordia invites you to place links to this site on your Web site and other social networks. To obtain permission for other uses, please contact Concordia Publishing House at 800-325-0191 or e-mail us at

      It appears, Larry, and maybe I'm wrong, you are either not understanding what I'm saying or I'm doing a horrible job explaining things. Could be both.

      If you want to use the copyrighted version of the SC (again, this is what you referring too, I'm sure), then please us the contact information in the copyright notice as provided above.

    6. Anyone should be able to record a CD and provide a download of the SC and pay "mechanical" (automatic, statutory, mandatory, non-negotiable) rights on it. For legal CDs, YouTube already pays download royalties to many, many publishers. That's how so much stuff is able to stay there.

    7. Dear Paul:

      I don't think you're doing a horrible job, nor do I think I am. I think some specificity may be called for.

      My question is with "noncommercial." Putting something up on YouTube is "noncommercial" so long as you are not making money on it. Therefore, that (making a YouTube production using the CPH-copyrighted Small catechism) would be allowed under this disclaimer, yes?

      If I am missing something, please correct me.

      And since the topic did come up, how much does Pr. Bender pay CPH as a fee for using the copyrighted version? You used the term "modest" - but that is, of course, very subjective. I had asked before, is the fee the same for everyone, or is it negotiated at different rates for different individuals? Certainly it isn't some sort of "secret."

      Thanks so much for your patience.

    8. Larry, it does get complicated!

      I'm going to use ALL CAPS for emphasis, I'm not yelling. I don't know how to use "bold" here.

      If you record something on YouTube and restrict its distribution to your congregation, fine, no problems. But the use can ONLY be within YOUR CONGREGATION and for YOUR OWN PERSONAL ministry needs there.

      If you post something on YouTube and distribute it beyond your congregation, no, that is not permitted.

      I don't know how much Pastor Bender pays. Since he likes to print out the entire Catechism and distribute it with his materials, I know he probably pays a few bucks per copy. Not sure.

      For that matter, I'm not sure why he just doesn't buy the 40¢ a copy version instead. Probably would save him some money.

    9. Dear Paul:

      The disclaimer reads: "Other than reproduction in whole or in part for noncommercial personal, congregational, or classroom use..."

      These days, classrooms extend beyond walls, and certainly most members of our congregations access YouTube and other electronic media. Moreover, the idea behind the gospel is to spread it beyond "noncommercial personal, congregational, or classroom use." To jealously guard the exact combination of words of a particular English translation of a German-Latin ecclesiastical document that is 483 years old and demand that one publicly write and say "this is certifiably veritable" (or whatever) instead of "this is most certainly true" - unless one pays money for the privilege strikes me as worldly rather than churchly. Others are free to disagree, but that is how I see it. I find it, frankly, repulsive and disturbing that the publishing organ of our church body has this policy. I am not calling anyone evil, but it is my opinion that this policy ought not be so among us. The Anglican Communion has demonstrated that it need not be!

      I think the only way to rectify this is for the synodical a convention to adopt a memorial ordering CPH to place the Small Catechism (and I don't see why it should stay there, why not the entire BOC?) into the public domain. I believe some districts have already started this process.

      This situation is like that of a bridge that makes use of tolls to pay the cost of the bridge, but the state continues to collect revenues even after the bridge has been paid for. How much tribute are we Lutherans expected to offer? Hasn't the translator been paid many times over in royalties for this work? This profit-taking on the catechism is just gratuitous at this point, in my opinion.

    10. Long ago (but not too long ago - maybe during the Barry Era - someone in St. Louis sent out a 'file' with the entire CPH/Synodical Catechism...

      Paul - do you remember WHO might have sent out that file - and perhaps answer WHAT we are allowed to do with the data??

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  3. The Anglican Communion has placed the Book of Common Prayer into public domain. If CPH were to do this with the Small Catechism, other authors would be free to incorporate the CPH translation into other devotional works. I know that (?) has (or had) many wonderful resources, such as a books-on-tape sort of CD available as a free download of the Small and Large Catechisms. What a tremendous blessing! But because of CPH's refusal to share, he uses the older public domain version from the Triglot. As my son is getting old enough to start memorizing the catechism, I am considering using the public domain texts so as to make use of other resources without the threat of violating civil law.

    Similarly, Rev. Robert Smith made his own translation years ago in order to provide free electronic versions of the catechism on the internet. This only serves to create a multiplicity of translations whereas if CPH were to release the SC into public domain, it would further cement their translation as the standard (instead of a proprietary work).

    I know of one recent situation where a friend requested permission from CPH to incorporate the 1986 translation of the SC into his devotional work. The fee quoted by CPH was ridiculous. So he published his work and used the Triglot translation as well.

    If CPH were to release the SC into public domain, people would still buy the catechisms from CPH. It would simply expand the ways in which pastors could incorporate the CPH translation into their own works and could only have a liberating effect on these texts - not to mention (once more) give CPH further gravitas by being "the" English translation.

    And anyone who says it can't be done need look only to the Book of Common Prayer to see that it has been done for a very long time.

    I disagree with treating these texts as "intellectual property" - especially when the author has been dead for centuries. These texts are a treasure of the Church Catholic and should not be under the control of any agency. Can you just imagine Luther forbidding their publication or taking someone to court for printing copies of his Small Catechism to use for the sake of Christian education? Surely CPH can turn a profit based on its many other offerings. I understand that CPH needs to make money. But some things ought to be done out of love for the good of the Church without concern for making a profit. I find it hard to believe that CPH has not made enough profit from the aggregated sales of its catechisms to pay for the translation many times over.

    1. Larry,
      CPH does not own the "work" titled Luther's Small Catechism." Nobody does and from my reading of Katie's laments, even Luther would not take money for his works when they were printed out and sold by money making printers, the main one being right there in Wittenberg.

      One would think, that just out of common human kindness, by making significant amounts of money off of Luther's works, that at least the Wittenberg printer would come round to the house and slip some of those earning to Katie because he knew the family could use it and Luther wouldn't allow himself to profit from his own writings when printed and sold. In our little southern town, it would have been expected of the printers, that a modest and quiet "kick back" would have been arranged with Katie as a donation or offering to feed and clothe the family.

      Katie was hard put by Luther's great big ethics and especially by his refusal to run from plagues, but to turn his monastery home into a hospital at every appearance of the plague, and the other to never take money for his Christian writings. Those who were making money off them should have cycled a portion, voluntarily and quietly, through Katie.

      Katie's scruples, when it came to running a very full and very gracious household, included getting enough money to be gracious (as a Lord). But, that's just the gossip around Wittenberg. Katie was ecstatic when Luther bought her a farm a few miles from Wittenberg where she could make large quanties of food items (and her tongue could be heard most often then only down on the farm).

      The author owns the work and has copyright for a certain number of years, this number of years has increased over time. And there are little tricks that an author can do to his work to add another round of copyright years. However, when the work finally comes into public domain, everyone can take the work and "add value" to it through editing, and printing, and indexing, and translation to create a new derivative work that is now copyrighted in it's own right though now as a derivative work is owned as a version/variant by the improver. CPH ownes it's traslation/version and has copyright of it, but not of the source work.

      But, we don't want the source work because we can't read it, only scholars of medieval texts can read the original today with any hope of understanding what it would mean in today's languages.

      I wouldn't remove the profit motive from any activity, but I would keep a judicious eye on any egregious profiteering. Had I been Bugenhagen and the printer came into the confessional with me, I would have some suggestions for him about how he might help the Luther family with all his well gotten gains derived from Luther's works. I would go so far as to channel a regular stipend to Katie from lots of the printers all across Germany, and especially in Saxony.

      I believe that the Princes would have done this, except Luther would learn of it and stop it. Gotta love them scruples which a married man with a house full of children, relations, and poor students could not afford. You have to be profitable before you can be generous. Unless of course, you're very good at begging.

      Now one has to wonder about a Latin version of the SC that would have been used in the Latein Schule. Surely, a young lad such as your fine Leo, on the cusp of entering a Latein Schule would have a Latin copy of the SC. Did Melancthon translate the SC into Latin, as I'm sure there is one in the Latin version of the BoC, right? So, most educated German Lutheran boys would know the SC best in Latin. I only mention this because I know you have a Latin proclivity.

      And, surely the Latin version would not have changed over the centuries, so that the original Latein would still be quite usable (or not?).

  4. Larry:

    Many translations of the Small Catechism are in the public domain. Take your pick, there are a variety of texts available, as I've pointed out previously.

    The copyrighted version of the SC that we use is available for the use of pastors and congregations in their own congregation's ministries, and for private non-commercial use, as per my previous post. I assume your son is a member of your congregation? And if not, a father teaching his children the Catechism is entirely free and cable to use the copyrighted SC text.

    *COMMERCIAL* use of the SC requires the express written permission of CPH. We have, for many years, granted such use to Pastor Bender, for instance, who pays a modest fee for using it in his materials.

    If you have further questions about this, contact me offline and I'll try to do a better job explaining things than I seem to be able to here in an atmosphere that seems to be more intent on venting personal venom and anger, than engaging in sober and rationale discussion.

  5. Dave,

    I am big supporter of LSB and use some of those things that you might not.

    This was a wonderful post. Some consider me an expert on the language of hate and discontent. I sensed not an iota of it in this post and it gave me a lot to think about

    1. "Some consider me an expert on the language of ... discontent. I sensed not an iota of it in this post."

      Well, now there's a big surprise, Tim.



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    1. Jane, I am sorry you believe I have "cast aspersions" ... let me respond to your other comments.

      As for your congregation's use of the Small Catechism, it is great to hear how you are using it.

      When you are distributing the book that we sell for $14.00 a copy, how many copies a year are you purchasing and distributing? I'm at home now, otherwise, I could check our records at CPH which are available to us via our software.

      The pastor and congregation just down the street from us in South Saint Louis distributes the SC like candy as he walks around the inner city surrounding his parish. The SC is the great "equalizer" in his words. He routinely buys this inexpensive version of the Enchiridion:

      These are twelve for $5, or 41¢ each,

      Here is a bit nicer version, with more content:

      $4.50 each.

      As for hymnal purchases, many small congregations have found that the easiest and quickest way to purchase hymnals is to announce the need and invite members to give copies in memory of loved ones, to the Glory of God, etc. Every significant event in the life of the parish and its families is an opportunity to commemorate that event with a tangible gift of hymnals, etc. Just a suggestion, but I've seen this work very well for many congregations and have talked to many pastors who have implemented these ways of paying for things in the parish, such as expensive chasubles and other liturgical finery of this nature, which I know your parish is richly blessed with.

    2. I would have to go back and look through records to find out how many we buy, especially since some are purchased directly from CPH, but more are purchased through the church resource and supply center here in Fort Wayne, so that we can get them immediately and not pay for shipping. I know about your less-expensive options, and have purchased some myself to give, but for our purposes, we want complete catechisms and--to avoid confusion--the same version that is used in catechism and Bible classes.
      As for asking for money specifically for the hymnals, that may be what we will end up doing. We don't usually make requests for donations for specific purposes, outside of something large like an elevator, a kitchen, or an organ. We have ended up with some beautiful vestments and paraments because certain members of the congregation have desired that we have them and have purchased them out of that desire, not because we have asked for money to purchase them.
      But all of this is just the practicalities, not addressing the heart of what Pastor Petersen posted, things which he is far from alone in thinking.

    3. Response to Jane:

      Jane, I'd simply suggest that if the parish finds people who are willing to spend thousands of dollars on multiple copies of multiple colors of chasubles and other liturgical findery, surely there are some kind hearted folks who would be able to donate $14 catechisms and $25 hymnals.

      And, I'm sure that as Pastor Petersen makes the rounds in the neighborhood reaching out to the community surrounding your congregation, a 40¢ copy of the Catechism would do quite nicely.

      I'd be happy to put him in touch with Pastor Wilken at Holy Cross so they could compare notes on what a wonderful evangelism tool the Enchiridion is.

    4. Paul,

      Maybe this is hard to understand. We like the Catechism with Explanation for evangelism calls and such. I am aware of the paper copies of the bare Catechism text.

      But I understand you are encouraging us to not use CPH products but to instead find cheaper versions with a public domain translation.

      You want us to use CPH VBS and envelopes and Creative Worship, things, I suppose, that have your finger prints, but not the Catechism with Explanation from CPH.


      As to the willingness of people to donate, and your suggestions for fund-raising, I am about to place an order for 30 more hymnals. Since you are so focused on our cause here and have so much money for guns, I'd think the $900 would be easy for you to donate. I think CPH will allow you to pay them directly but if you'd like a tax deduction send it to the Church and we'll get you a receipt.

      Surely, you think the hymnals are worth it? They are worth more than your guns, right? And you don't need that many guns, right? Just like Redeemer doesn't need vestments. Maybe you could teach us a lesson about priorities by a $900 donation.


  7. Dear Paul,

    I think this really should be discussed publicly and the costs and prohibitions ought to be transparent and public. The rules ought to be very clear and should apply equally to everyone. There needn't be any anger, venom, or defensiveness. I don't agree with CPH's policy. That's okay, isn't it? Can't we disagree with dignity and charity?

    Let me run a few hypotheticals by you, as you seem to be able to say whether this is within the allowed uses or not:

    1) Could I read the text of the Small Catechism (or any other text from the Book of Concord) and put the words on YouTube at no cost?
    2) Could someone compose music based on portions of the SC (as the Kantorei sang a version of the older translation of the Evening Prayer a decade ago) and publish and/or perform it?
    3) Can I publish a work on one of the documents of the Book of Concord (in paper or ebook form) and freely use one of the copyrighted translations of the Book of Concord?
    4) Can someone publish the entire Small Catechism on his blog at no cost to the reader?
    5) Can someone make audio files of the documents of the CPH-copyrighted Book of Concord and distribute them free of charge?

    We could always use a different translation, but I do see value in a common translation - which is why I use the ESV in Bible class and in private study even though I believe the NKJV is better translation. I'm not fond of some parts of the CPH 1986 Catechism, but that is the version in the hymnal and in our common lexicon.

    Just let us know what the boundaries are, Paul, and we should not have to fear your wrath or mockery if we don't agree with you. I don't want to be hounded by lawyers, so I will abide by the rules - even if I think they are wrongheaded. But there is a bit of gray area here with the word "commercial." Please clarify the policy, and please don't demonize people who disagree with you or perhaps implore CPH to adopt a new policy. It should be considered a compliment that people wish to incorporate CPH's translations into our ongoing conversations and devotions.

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    2. I should have mentioned that there already is a complete audio recording of the BOC using the text upon which the Concordia Edition is based, it is available here:

    3. I'm all for charitable disagreement, I don't think Dave's post was very charitable and didn't, in my opinion, set the stage for cordial conversation. But I won't bother to further this line of commentary in your post.

      Answers to your questions follow:

      1) Could I read the text of the Small Catechism (or any other text from the Book of Concord) and put the words on YouTube at no cost?

      Yes, if you use a public domain text.

      As for a copyrighted edition, see previously stated copyright notice.

      2) Could someone compose music based on portions of the SC (as the Kantorei sang a version of the older translation of the Evening Prayer a decade ago) and publish and/or perform it?

      This has already been done by Phil Magness, see links in my previous comment. Internal use in a congregation? Yes. Outside use? No.

      3) Can I publish a work on one of the documents of the Book of Concord (in paper or ebook form) and freely use one of the copyrighted translations of the Book of Concord?

      The Concordia edition has provisions for quoting it, free of charge, in works up to and inclusive of 200 sentences.

      I do not know what other publisher's policies are, you would have to check with them.

      4) Can someone publish the entire Small Catechism on his blog at no cost to the reader?

      Yes, if he uses a public domain version.

      If he wishes to provide his blog readership with access to the copyrighted version that I think you are referring to. Again, you need to clarify, then a blog owner or manager, as many do, can easily link to the Small Catechism here and link to its individual parts. It is an attractive presentation that anyone can link to, in fact, we encourage it:

      5) Can someone make audio files of the documents of the CPH-copyrighted Book of Concord and distribute them free of charge?

      No, not without first seeking permission from CPH.

  8. Rev. McCain, I think Pastor Petersen's post has proven his point through your response that Pastor Bender pays a "modest fee" (whatever modest means in your context). Why a fee at all? What is so offensive about making the Catechism public domain, in order that congregations of the Church (to which the Catechism belongs in the first place), may get them for well as give them away. Saying CPH grants it, and then following it by saying for a "modest fee" contradicts the very idea of "granting it."

    The last time I checked, Lutheran Catechesis material is for congregational use in catechizing people in the faith.

    1. Mike, congregation of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, as I've previously indicated, are able to use the copyrighted texts of the Small Catechism within their own congregation, freely, and without charge. Please refer to this copyright notice printed here:

      From Luther’s Small Catechism © 1986 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved. Other than reproduction in whole or in part for noncommercial personal, congregational, or classroom use, no part of this material may be reproduced or stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission of Concordia Publishing House. Concordia invites you to place links to this site on your Web site and other social networks. To obtain permission for other uses, please contact Concordia Publishing House at 800-325-0191 or e-mail us at

      Pastor Bender's use of the Small Catechism is a commercial use of it and is used in materials he is publishing and selling for commercial benefit of his publishing program and congregation. There is certainly nothing wrong with that, but commercial use of the text requires permission from Concordia Publishing House.

      There is however NO restriction on your use of the Small Catechism version that is copyrighted by YOU within you parish for whatever use you feel is best. You may use the Small Catechism in your parish anyway you see fit.

      If you believe Pastor Bender should be giving away his confirmation materials and other related materials for free and not charging anyone for them, that is a concern you should pursue with Pastor Bender.

    2. The official 1986 translation of Luther's Small Catechism by the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod ought to be public domain for all of our congregations to use without royalty fees being paid to CPH. That is my opinion.

      One of Luther's major concerns was that we, as congregations and pastors, adopt one form of the Small Catechism and stick with it year in and year out for the sake of teaching the faith and building a common language. It is destructive to synodical harmony when each congregation has its own translation or each entity of the synod has its own translation because the royalty fees of CPH are punitive.

      The Concordia Catechetical Academy of Peace Lutheran Church (an official auxiliary of our congregation) was formed to promote Luther's Small Catechism and faithful Lutheran Catechesis to the Church at large. While one could argue that the CCA produces catechetical materials "commercially" our use of the Small Catechism is NOT for profit. CPH was instituted to be of support to the congregations and pastors of the synod in preaching the Gospel and teaching the faith, but as everyone at CPH knows, it does cost money to produce materials. The "modest fee" that we are charged for use of the Small Catechism is 10% of the retail cost of whatever volume the Small Catechism appears in. Our catechumen edition retails for $18, so our fee per volume to CPH is $1.80. Our Catechist Edition (which has exactly the same amount of copyrighted material in it as the catechumen edition) retails for $40 per volume, so our fee per volume is $4.00. Since the copyrighted material in both volumes is the same, this means that Concordia Publishing House is "profiting" off of what I have written in the Catechist edition to the tune of $2.10. I would prefer not to be lectured about our "commercial use" of the Catechism.

      We are a congregation of the Synod. We produce catechetical materials to help the church. We give away catechetical materials to foreign Lutheran Church bodies and missions. We are not in this to "make money" commercially. We have been told that charging for use of our translation of the catechism is just the way business is done in the publishing business, yet it is only Concordia Publishing House that treats us this way.
      We have made use of the New King James Version in all of our materials since 1997. Thomas Nelson Publishers charges us nothing for the use of their translation as long as we follow their copyright guidelines, which we are more than happy to do. Thomas Nelson Publishers recognizes that such generous copyright permissions ONLY ENHANCES THE PURCHASE OF NKJV Bibles and materials. The same would be true for CPH when it comes to the Small Catechism and the liturgy and prayers in LSB.

      We, the Concordia Catechetical Academy, encourages our clients to purchase such things as Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, The Treasury of Daily Prayer, and the "Blue hardcover Catechism" from CPH (which contains the synodical explanation to the Small Catechism), and many other fine resources that CPH produces.

      There was a time, when the CCA first started its work, that we were not altogether certain that CPH would be producing the kind of fine confessional materials we have seen over the last ten to fifteen years. I am very grateful for the work that CPH has done in recent times. But the CCA is no threat to CPH, in fact, what we do only serves to support the confessional materials they publish.

      The Small Catechism, Book of Concord, Liturgy and Prayers of the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod belong to all of us. These works are very different from original works by authors where copyright protection and royalties are appropriate. But when it comes to the Catechism, the Lutheran Confessions, and the Liturgy it is my prayer that we would stop charging each other royalties for their use. We would all benefit. But most of all, the capacity to preach and teach the Gospel would be enhanced.

  9. You know, that when we have a totally electronic service book/hymnal, we will no long be stuck in the limited little pool of paper and binding. Our electronic service materials will be just as controllable as the paper versions, perhaps even more. But, in the electronic version of the hymns, there is no limit, and the first electronic rule will be, all of Luther's hymns, all stanzas, and all tunes. The electronic hymnal will be a repository of all the Lutheran hymns and texts and tunes. The Service Builder will be the tool by which the pastor wanders into that repository, with much editorial assistance built into the software to ensure that the ordo is maintained, no matter how goofy the tunes may get.

    First of all, we all knew this posting was going to get a response from Rev. McCain (a clergy person in a high position at CPH). As I read it, it felt like Pastor McCain was looking over my shoulder, fussing and fuming, as we all know he would on issues that affect CPH. He feels every compromise and complaint about CPH in his bones. And, if you ask me, excusing the weaknesses that resulted from making compromises, he and the staff at CPH have shephered the synod back to a one source service book / hymnal, a miracle in itself.

    As you know, CPH cannot copyright something that is in the public domain, but what they have done is to copyright the commercial use of their well edited, English version of the Catechism. You can find, or post yourself, by scanning, Luther's original catechism printed at Wittenberg, and how useful would that be to the man-in-the-pew or on your website? Beyond it's historical beauty, not even modern German readers could get past the fraktur script and the Renaissance German (think of the English in Shakespeare). Concordia has taken an unusable silk stocking, and turned it into a Synodwide accessable and English language version of great usability.

    At my previous congregation, they used only sunday bulletins to print out the liturgy and the hymns for each Sunday Service. We sang a lot of pure Baptist bouncy hymns and the jolly folk loved 'em and belted them out, some from memory. Their hearts were in the right place, but their Sunday bulletins could contain any liturgical expression and any hymn.

    When I learned of the LSB Service Builder software and it's ability to focus and channel us back to the common ordo and to the Lutheran hymns, I researched it with a new pastor (waited for year, till the former pastor retired, since we all had and have great respect for him and kind regards, though he was very attracted to all things Baptist). The new pastor said he would find the Service Builder useful and would use it to create our sunday worship bulletins. So, I paid for the initial costs and the first month's fees, as a launching offering, and the congregation could afford the keep-on-keeping-on costs.

    Currently, LSB-SB software points to textbases, to hymnbases, and to tunebases that are already in the current LSB. There is, as is every American's birthright, a door to the outside for any electronic thingy to be sucked into the Builder and used for the Sunday service. Still this software is a tool that makes using LSB as your source, for the whole service, you build for every Sunday. You even pick whether you are using the 1 or 3 year lectionary, and builder is ready to put in all the texts for the appointed Sunday. It is very usable to simply follow the whole service, part by part, hymns included, in order from the bulletin.

    We are now attending a congregation that is much closer to where we live, we got old and achey and need to be very close to home when we go out. Death is stalking us like a hungry wolf these days very publicly and obviously.

    1. Joanne, we already do have a digital version of the hymnal: Lutheran Service Builder.

      We are working right now in a complete iPad version of Lutheran Service Book.

      There is, to my knowledge, no more restrictive copyrighted industry than the music industry and since much of Lutheran Service Book's contents consists of materials used by the permission of a multitude of copyright holders, there is little chance things are going to change by way of copyright restrictions and royalty requirements going forward into the foreseeable future.

      The Lutheran Service Builder software is a powerful tool and the unfortunate negativity displayed by Pastor Petersen towards it bespeaks a rather narrow view of its utility for even the most liturgical/traditional of congregations.

      We are working now on its next generation, which will be entirely web based allowing access to it by anyone in the parish via any Internet based device.

      One feature of Lutheran Service Builder that has been such a blessing to older folks is the ability to print out the entire text of the worship service and all hymns in GIANT sized print, which makes it so easy for older folks and those with visual problems to follow along and read the texts.

      Joanne, thanks for your comments about Lutheran Service Builder. More good things to come, to be sure.

      In fact, you can even purchase an entire professionally done organ recording of all the hymns and soon the entire liturgical portions and have it integrated into Lutheran Service Builder and generate a complete musical accompaniment. This has been a real blessing for those congregations that are unfortunately without the service of even a keyboardist, not to mention a competent organist.

      What I'm referring to is called: "The Concordia Organist" here is more information about it:

  10. Part 2.

    Our new church home has the LSB in the pews and the congregation can sing any version of the liturgy in LSB and the pastor uses all the versions. It is cumbersome to use a printed and bound book to jump all around in it to find hymns, psalms, and liturgy 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and beyond in versons of morning and evening liturgies. Sigh.

    We know only the Synodical Conference liturgy of the 1941 hymnal. We don't know the 1980s green book liturgy at all, so when they do that one, or any other non-1941 thing, we just sit there like logs. We couldn't even sing "A might fortress", also memorized, last Reformation day because the pastor picked an "alternate" version that this new congration sang out loudly with no problem.

    So we can't complain, and haven't even had the courage, as new members, to ask if the pastor can let us know the Sundays he will be using the 1941 liturgy, so that we could make an extra effort to be there for it. We really see no need to come on Sundays when it feels like we wandered into an ALC church by mistake.

    Yes, the ALC liturgy and the LCMS liturgies got interwoven during the 1980s (green book) when our synod spent 40 years wandering in the desert of Sinai unevenly yoked with misbelievers. That's also when we lost our single source service book because there were many who resisted the green hymnal. All water under the bridge, except the much reduced green hymnal liturgy of LCMS-ALC years, is still one of the choices in the new Maroon hymnal. Sigh.

    And I think the idea was that a congregation would pick a set of liturgies and use them, not that a congregation would use all the liturgies presented in the Maroon LSB choosing a different one on any given Sunday. But, our new congregation can sing, equally well with belt-out timbre and alacrity all the liturgies. Who could complain about that? It's an embarrassment of riches. These people amaze me.

    You give this congregation "O Lord from heaven look down" and they'll have it roaring out within a month. Just as they would any sectarian hymn. Joanne's motto, first Lutheran hymns, and then if you have a pressing need and plenty of time, some sectarian hymns in the LSB version.

    Well, I've almost lost my point, and I do have one. Using big, thick, cumbersome and compromised hymnbooks printed out on paper and sold to us from the synod printing house at pricey prices, is fading away. They are not even necessary now and using them is an art form in itself in finding and saving place setters, i.e. little ribbons, slips of paper from the bulletin, etc.

    But, I want you to imagine a much less limited LSB-Hymnal linked to huge text-hymn-tune databases for creation of the service of your dreams. Organist walks through plate-glass door on her way to Sunday service, drop back and use tunes playable from the service builder software. I have a chewable distaste for canned music used in the church, as I do for any fake or false things (electric candles are the work of the devil). But, in an emergency, I can eat poorly prepared food.

    I just want you to see the headlight of the electronic LSB-SB train coming at us. Pastor McCain is in medias res on the tidal wave of change that is coming and has come to most of the publishing world already. And, he and others have kept CPH au courant with the electronic world and lots of you pastors out there are gobbling up each electronic usage like hungry wolves (this is when it's good to have hungry wolves after you).

  11. My closing plea.

    Imagine what you want in the perfect LSB-SB software and the databases it can draw from. The get behind CPH and blow into her already well set sails. Pastor McCain, when will LSB-SB be able to give us "O Lord look down from heaven above" as a choice for Sunday morning hymns. He might just tell us that electronically, it's already in the CPH hymnbase. Go for it!

    P.S. I'm damp proud that CPH is a money-maker and not a money-loser for our synod. Who would want CPH to fail economically? It is the very good management of CPS that has given us this blessing.

    Joanne, recently retired Technical Services librarian.

    P.S.S. Imagine that the hymnal you are holding in your hands is an iPod like device that was in the pew. You open it just like a book and you see the service of the day. The service scrolls by in your iPad hymnal in tandem with the real service that your pastor and you are chanting along to. As you look at your iPad hymnal, you see only the part of the service that is happin' now. Oh look, there's the psalm we are doing, and I didn't even have to go looking for it. Imagine there's a heavenly hymnal, you can do it if you try, oh oh, I'm a dreamer, but I not the only one.

    1. Joanne, in light of the technology advances in publishing I've witnessed just in the past ten years, when I read things such as you have just written, the word "impossible" is simply no longer in my vocabulary.

      Or, put another way, "It is impossible for me to say "Impossible""

      Time will tell.

  12. Response to Dave's opening post [salvo?!}:

    Dave, if I had only this post to read I would come away assuming you are a miserable, unhappy, bitter and envious man. I trust this is not the case! I pray God's peace for you.

    Now as for the Small Catechism, you must not realize that in fact every congregation in the Synod has free use of the text of the Small Catechism for its *internal purposes.*

    What is prohibited is the use of the SC for commercial purposes. The people I hear whining the most about the fact that CPH has exclusive rights to the catechism for extra-congregational publishing purposes are those pastors and entities that wish to profit from the Small Catechism. In fact, CPH clearly provides the texts, for legitimate congregational use, on its web site:

    This is the copyright notice that comes along with it:
    Copyright notice:

    From Luther’s Small Catechism © 1986 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved. Other than reproduction in whole or in part for noncommercial personal, congregational, or classroom use, no part of this material may be reproduced or stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission of Concordia Publishing House. Concordia invites you to place links to this site on your Web site and other social networks. To obtain permission for other uses, please contact Concordia Publishing House at 800-325-0191 or e-mail us at

    The Synod has assigned management of its copyrighted intellectual property to its publishing house, Concordia Publishing House. I think that remains a good thing for the integrity of these intellectual properties.

    Now, as for your other angry/nasty remarks, I'll just pray for you and forgive you, Dave.

  13. Just saying:

    Have your read that in Leipzig at Bach's time, the Sunday services were sent out to printers and printed specially for each service. This included the texts of Bach's contatas so the congregation could read the sung words and understand the message with eyes and ears. If you're like me, the words sung by the choir are often missed if not already known, or printed out for my eyes to align with understanding.

    Very doable with electronic capabilities even for congrations that don't have a Kantor on staff and even if your average Sunday morning service isn't 4 hours long.

  14. You mean we have to blame Bach for not just using the hymnal?

    1. The printing of each service, handed out at the service, was the policy of the local superintendant, which at Leipzig was almost always the head of the Theology Faculty at Leipzig University. That made Leipzig a tightly organzied and easily controlled church unit. Bach could just walk a few blocks and talk to his Superintendant about issues.

      I believe the Super had the services and the staff for them and the building for them planned out for years in advance. Bach could base his cantata on the daily reading and even the hymns because the Leipzig Supers ran such a tight ship. It's also why we have such good data (statistics) for Bach's time in Leipzig.

      Bach was the Director of Music for all the churches in Leipsiz under the purview of the Leipzig Super. Although he wrote and sometimes performed music for the University chapel of St. Paul, the chapel really made very little use of music, until the Sunday service began to be used regularly and in significant numbers by the growing suburban (outside the walls) population just beyond the gate adjacent to the University chapelle, so music services were increaced at the Pauli Church. Considering that most of Bach's instumentalists and adult male voices came from the University, Bach was always being invited in and invited out as the case maybe with music services at the chapel.

      St. Peter's didn't even have an organ, so Bach only sent his worst of 4 choirs there, or just lead singers. As with all the churches in Leipzig, the organs were NOT used to accompany hymn singing, the choirs and lead singers were used to lead the a capella singing of the hymns, even right after the organist would have performed an excellent hymn prelude written by Bacy.

      And, Bach did not play the organs in Leipzig as each organ had it's own organist, a much lower office than Bach's. When I learned this, it boggled my mind to think of Bach just sitting up there listening to someone else play his organ music and then leading the hymn singing with the choirs. He had 4 choirs that he could support from the Thomanerschule: 1 excellent that always preformed at St. Nicholas (the primary church and the primary parish of the city. 2nd choir was pretty good and would fall mostly to the Thomas church, the 2nd parish of the city whose service started 1 hour later than the service at St. Nicholas.

      I could go on, but these people were in desperate need of organization software as it seems that apart from the organists, who do seem to have been called to a particular organ, everyone else was movable, service to service, and there were several services a day at the big churches, and at least one a day at the smaller churches.

      I really enjoyed reading about the complexity that the Super and his Director of Music organized for years in advance. I think it is the Gunther Hiller book that goes into minute detail. Fascinating. I believe this book said that Leipzig had been printing service bulletins since the time of the Reformation.

      I enjoy looking at the demands of former times. It takes some of the sting out of the demands of our times. When we read of the odd arrangement in St. Louis wherein Walter could be the pastor at several churches all considered to be one congregation/parish, it sounds very like what was done in Leipzig with which Walther would have been intimately familiar, the U. of Leipzig being his alma mater.

  15. Perhaps the proceeds for the catechism should go to Catholic Charities, after all, they provide more social support for Lutheran people in need than the LCMS does.

    1. I'm sure they do, since there are more Papists than Missourians. But that remark is, well, uncharitable.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. I see so many of Paul's comments "removed by the author" that I've begun to think that his wife is looking over his shoulder saying, "good, good, oh that one is a tad snarky, are you sure you want to say it that way. I'll bet she is.

  16. Rev. McCain, you misunderstood my post. I was not speaking about the parts and/or translations that you said are public (multiple times in fact). Nor was I claiming that Pastor Bender should be giving the Lutheran Catechesis material away for free. I was speaking about him being charged for the Catechism (whatever modest fee means), when the Catechism within that material is used to teach the faith. What I am specifically speaking of is the Catechism itself, which at present, is what, $14. By the way, what about the countless number of people who neither have a computer and/or access to the internet (and there are plenty of them out there). What exactly are they supposed to do?

    Also, what evidence do you have that pastors want to get the Catechism free, and then turn around and make a profit on it themselves, as you claim they do? The Catechism is used to teach the faith, not to turn a profit. Perhaps you have lost sight of this reality.

  17. Mike, Pastor Bender is producing a series of materials and selling them. He has a nice business going, accepting credit card payments, advertising and promoting his materials. There is nothing wrong with that, of course. This is a commercial venture. He likes to produce an inexpensive version of the Small Catechism of his own, designed to compliment his materials. He charges his customers $1.50 for this "Learn by Heart" edition, and from that $1.50 he pays a modest royalty to the copyright holder for the right to make commercial use of the Catechism.

    I don't understand your question about "the countless people who do not have a computer or internet connection."

    What "evidence" do I have of commercial interest in the use of the Small Catechism? Plenty, in fact.

    Yes, the Small Catechism is used to teach the faith. You and any other pastor in The LCMS are entirely free to use the SC text, for free, to do precisely that within your congregation, to fulfill the ministry in that place to which you are called. How is that preventing you from teaching the faith, Mike?

    If you, or Pastor Petersen, could convince The LCMS or some kind grant making institution to give us money to give away our materials for free, nothing would make me happier.

  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

  19. Back to Pastor Petersen's post.

    I would respectfully ask that Pastor Petersen explain, in as much detail as possible, what, precisely, he means, with as many examples as he can provide, when he describes Lutheran Service Book in the following comments:

    "the hymnal is chock full of weaknesses"

    "like an annoying pop song, it is catchy at first"

    "Much was sacrificed to make room for the weakest things"

    "immediately usable to our weakest congregations"

    "full of weaknesses"

    there are things in that are not "good and usable"

    "ear worms and they are also, by design, meant to feel modern"

    "the compromises LSB made."

    Let's have all the details for all of us to evaluate. Perhaps the Concordia Theological Quarterly would publish Pr. Petersen's explanation so we as a Synod could study his analysis and perhaps repent of what strikes me as a most grave error, if Pr. Petersen is correct.

    1. Dear Paul:

      Aren't people entitled to their opinions? What one person might consider a weakness, another might consider a strength. Every statement you have cited is a subjective one.

      But at the end of your post, you suggest that "if Pr. Petersen is correct" that the Synod ought to "repent." First of all, we repent of that which is objective. Sin is not "weakness" but rather "idolatry" or "stealing" or "bearing false witness." How do we repent of "weakness"? Secondly, can synod "repent"? That seems to be the wrong word. Individuals sin and need to repent. Synods don't collectively sin or repent.

      The implication here is that Dave is somehow sinning or is in error by stating his opinion on the matter. Now, I am the first to blame Dave for everything that goes wrong in my life (this is an inside joke, y'all, put the pitchforks down...), but I think we have an unhealthy pressure of conformity in the LCMS. What Dave is guilty of is not fawning over An Official Synodical Resource (commandment 11 in the next CPH-copyrighted Small catechism?).

      Personally, I like LSB, and I congratulate the COW for making it happen under difficult circumstances. But I do find some elements of it to be weak. I don't see why Dave is virtually being accused of hate speech for speaking his mind. I think we need a whole lot more of that in the LCMS, and a lot less of our own version of political-correctness in which people are afraid to say what they really think about things for fear of bureaucratic reprisal.

      Just my opinion. I'm still entitled to it. And I'm still allowed to Blame Dave(tm).

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Clean up on aisle three....typo patrol worked this over.

      Of course people are entitled to their opinions, Larry. I would like to see more than sound bites though on such a serious matter.

      I hope Dave details precisely what he means and with as much specificity as possible.

      I'm simply asking Dave to do more than toss off negative quips about the hymnal.

      How was it possible for a hymnal "chock full of errors" and "full of weakness" even make it past the vigilant care and attention of the people who worked on it for so long and with such care and attention? I can't recall, was Dave invited to work on the project?

      Perhaps he could sit down with his neighbor there in Fort Wayne, Paul Grime, and go over these things.

      We'd love to sell a new edition of the hymnal!!

    4. I am sure that you aren't meaning to misquote Pastor Petersen, but I can't find "chock full of errors" in his post. And it is rather unsporting to make snarky posts, throwing around accusations and then delete them after people reply.
      The weaknesses in LSB are so evident that an email list of Lutheran moms spent several days not long ago picking the pages that they wished they could rip out of LSB, trying not to lose something good on the other side. :) There are lists all over the place of what should have been included--the Luther and Gerhardt hymns that are missing, especially--and what we would have been better off without. (Of course most of these lists are now several years old.) There have been blog posts and discussions various places about the sausage-making process that the creation of the LSB seems to have been. You can't seriously be trying to pretend that there aren't weaknesses and that there weren't compromises made. I don't know for certain if any of these are among the weaknesses Pastor Petersen was talking about, but here, just off the top of my head, are probably the top "hymn" weaknesses that I've heard mentioned:
      --Twila Paris anything
      --Eagles Wings
      --Earth and All Stars (one of the most parodied hymns, ever)
      --The Lamb
      --How Great Thou Art
      --Give Thanks With a Grateful Heart
      --An overabundance from one particular contemporary Lutheran hymn writer
      If I felt like going through the hymnal, I could certainly find more.
      And of course, these are all just my opinion. (Well, mine and a lot of other Lutherans'. . . )

    5. While you have every right to like or dislike what you will, I am not sure that dislike is the same as weakness, at least not in every case.

      The bigger issue here has to do with a hymnal which will sell and be used by the congregations. LSB has a great track record here and has repaired the great division between TLH (which was stung by the same complaints of weakness when it was produced) and LW (or to a lesser extent LBW). We could have had the perfect hymnal if they would have put me in charge (snark on) but only I would have purchased it. Same with Pr Petersen and most of the folks commenting here.

      I do not think most folks here have a clue what kind of major work it is to compile, produce, publish, and sell a hymnal. The millions of man hours has produced a good and sturdy hymnal that EVERYONE can use easily (even skirting around their dislikes or judgments of weakness). Most of Synod is using that book. That in and of itself is a credit to its worthiness. You do not need my approval to make it a success. The numbers speak for themselves.

      Compared to what the ELCA produced and the stain of blood that some painted on LW, we have a very fine hymnal usable by all congregations.

    6. I like many aspects of LSB too. I use it in my congregation. Can't say I'm a huge fan of Setting IV (reminds me of an imitation version of a Divine Service). I think it is sad that there are only two Ordination/Installation hymns, but scads of Mission and Witness hymns (contrast that to TLH, which has about 14 Ministry hymns). I also think it is unfortunate that some of the good, sturdy Reformation hymns from TLH were left out (like Hymn 260 mentioned in the post). Many of Stephen Starke's hymns have good texts, but so many are set to new melodies that we really don't sing them much. I refer to TLH a lot. There are so many more hymn choices for certain times of the Church Year. I reprint hymns from TLH every so often when I can't find what I'm looking for in LSB. I can sing the praises of LSB like any other guy, but I don't really understand the desire to say nothing critical of it.

    7. I did not say one could not be critical. I have my own ideas of what should have been kept or left out or new stuff that should have been included. I am reacting to the idea way the discussion is framed. The idea that " the pastor has to really work and sometimes he has to suffer the decisions that the hymnal committee has made. It is part of the sad state of our synod and the tyranny we simply suffer..." implies that an orthodox use of LSB is possible with great effort, discernment, and an informed and orthodox congregation. I disagree. An orthodox use of LSB is not possible -- it is the norm. It is the opposite that one has to work at -- sifting through to find the "weak" stuff is harder work that using the solid and Lutheran liturgical and hymn resources of LSB. It is "possible" to use the ELCAs ELW by an orthodox congregation -- hard work, yes, but possible. LSB is an entirely different resource. It is made for LCMS doctrine and practice. Of course you can dislike some choices and regret some of the decisions made but the point I am trying to make is that it is an easy resource to use and to use well by any LCMS congregation. It does not require a huge effort or might theological discernment or expertise to use its strengths. I have my own list of "wishes" for an LCMS hymnal but I can work with LSB EASILY within a congregation with a fully Eucharistic piety, comfortable with fuller Lutheran ceremonial, and careful about confessional practice. Pr Petersen and everyone on this board should be able to make the same statement.

    8. Pr. Peters writes: "I can work with LSB EASILY within a congregation with a fully Eucharistic piety, comfortable with fuller Lutheran ceremonial, and careful about confessional practice. Pr Petersen and everyone on this board should be able to make the same statement."

      I can't make that statement, but I think Pr. Peters makes many good points. Even if we had a magical, perfect hymnal, it would be hard work to maintain orthodoxy in our culture - as it has always been. "Easily" and "hard" are relative terms, in any case. I am thankful for much that is in LSB. I prefer, to be sure, to both LW and TLH. My main discomfort is the hymns. People are very good at finding the hymns in the hymnal that they heard, and loved, at the Baptist funeral. Again, I restate that I do not think LSB is guilty of containing heretical material and I believe there is room in a healthy diet for a little chocolate pudding now and then. Still, the inclusion of so many hymns and the exclusion of so many essential hymns, such as the Luther hymn above, is a sad reality.

  20. Rev. McCain et alia. I keep seeing questions about the copyright of the LCMS Small Catechism, but I think we've possibly missed the key question (perhaps it's been alluded to). That question is this: Why was the SC copyrighted by CPH?

  21. Brian, that is a good question. The LCMS entrusts the copyright of its intellectual property to its publishing house. We have a rights and permissions unit and internal legal counsel which manages all these kinds of things on behalf of The LCMS.

  22. So basically because CPH wasn't told by Synod not to copyright the Small Catechism, it was felt that it was only normal and natural to do so, perhaps even required, because that's what you'd do with anything else that came down the pike.

  23. Double negatives alert!!

    : )

    Let me try to answer it this way. The Synod's publishing company publishes the Synod's official translation of the Small Catechism. The copyright of that translation, published and distributed and managed by CPH, is held by the Synod's official publishing house.

  24. I understand if the CPH needs to maintain a copyright on licensed material. That makes sense.

    But, I'm sorry, it is unconscionable not to allow the Catechism and any Liturgical material authored or held copyrighted by CPH, to be freely and liberally used. I find it shameful that CPH has lawyers that lock up the essential worship material off the Church. Just shameful.

    The worst part is, that CPH does this, seemingly, to make a profit. If CPH allowed free use of these materials, would they cease to be able to make enough money to produce them? I suspect this is what they would argue.

    Sorry, but that's just not true. People want books. They are not going to put iPads in the backs of the pews. Home users are not going to use iPads around the dinner table, on the Piano, or in the family living room during devotion. They are not going to photocopy-and-staple a bunch of loose pages and hand them out as hymnals and catechisms. And for those who might, in fact do this, the number who don't will more than keep CPH solvent and capable of producing worship resources.

  25. Fr. Beane,
    You mention the 1943 version of Luther's Small Catechism. LUTHER'S Small Catechism 1943 (That is, Luther's text exclusive of the "Explanation" in the back) is in the public domain, being identical to the earlier English version of the so-called Schwann catechism. The questions and answers in the back (assuming they have been changed from the Schwann version) are of course copyrighted by CPH. I suppose one could go through and compare each question to see which were written/revised for 1943, and which, if any, were copied verbatim from Schwann.

  26. When I was writing my novels, knowing CPH's attention to "intellectual property" and copyright, I went back and used public domain versions of the Catechism and the liturgies of the Church. Yes, I did write the novels with the knowledge that I might just make a little money, but the primary purpose of my novels was to teach: to give an apology for the Lutheran faith, to give a glimpse into the parsonage, to give a picture of the life of a congregation from the pastor's perspective.

    I've literally given away more copies of my books than I've sold. I don't have a publishing house to market my work to a large audience. I don't begrudge the authors who do. I know that there's a small market for my particular story, and CPH doesn't publish fiction (although some of their catalog comes close!). That being said, it would have been nice to have been able to use the same translation of the Catechism that is prevalent in the LCMS, if for no other reason than that it gives continuity to the catechesis. And this is important because, although the congregation is the primary place where catechesis takes place, it's not the only place where catechesis takes place.

  27. Paul,

    Larry's question from comment 5ish was never answered.

    "Finally, what would happen to a person who did put up a YouTube or blog and offer these texts free of charge? Would CPH initiate a lawsuit? Or would they push for criminal proceedings?"


    1. Pastor Wolfmueller, why would you or any LCMS pastor do this without permission in the first place?

  28. FWIW, Concordia Publishing House does not make money for itself -- it has no investors and is wholly owned by the LCMS so the money comes back to us.

    The money made compensates for loss leaders (mostly academic books we all love but which do not make any money in themselves).

    The copyright is owned by the LCMS and administered by CPH. Take your issue to convention and if you can get the votes they will direct CPH to make certain copyrighted material easily accessible. However, the down side is that CPH may have to cut back on professional resources (which do not return on investment) for the sake of doing away with copyright income.

    Finally, LSB is cheap. It is a cheap and economical investment. If they last 10 years, it cost us a miserable $2+ per year to have it in the pew. We spend more money than that per member on toilet tissue in many of our congregations. The initial cost is but one gauge of its cost -- figure it out over the life of the book and it is the cheapest investment in worship any congregation will make.

    BTW I am not a spokesman for CPH or LSB but know some folks there and believe we have a pretty darn good publishing house and a very fine hymnal... don't think so, shop around for price and quality and breadth of material...

  29. I thought Dave had a great article. He should be entitled to his own opinion. I did laugh out loud, however, when I read Paul's comment (and I went to school with him in Ann Arbor) regarding LSB getting through theological review, more or less. There have been countless times, and I will not list them here, that Portals of Prayer devotions have been doctrinally unsound. When I read those unsound devotions, I ask myself how that statement made it through doctrinal review. Sad to say, most of those devotions, in which these errors are made, are not written by members of the clergy. Enough said.

  30. Michelle, not sure which "Paul" you are referring to, but I did not attend Ann Arbor and I do not know you.

  31. Paul,

    I claimed that CPH is driven by its need to make a profit. I don't think that is evil or satanic. I understand the need to keep CPH afloat, to pay livable salaries and benefits, etc.

    Do you have some existential crisis that is causing you to post such things? Because Lutherans have never had a problem with profit. Why would you think that is an accusation of satanic motivation? Do you secretly feel some guilt over CPH profits?

    Can we get a report of CPH's finances? I'd really like to know how the sale of Catechisms at $14 a piece is necessary to support the work of CPH? I wonder how long CPH could last on its $30 million dollar nest egg if $14 catechisms were reduces to $7. I wonder what it would take to instill some austerity measures for the sake of dropping hymnals to $20. I wonder if we could let our partner churches use some of the copyrighted material that is owned by CPH for free. How quickly would those things eat through $30 million?

    What if one exec's salary was lowered to match the Missouri district guidelines? Just pay him what a really well compensated pastor makes, or even better that the highest paid pastor in Missouri. Pay him a full $90,000 a year plus benefits for his work. Then take the $100,000 year savings and sell Catechisms with Explanation at $4/ piece! After CPH sells 10,000 Catechisms it could raise the price back to $14 until the next January. That would be no loss. It shouldn't hurt CPH operations a bit. And the exec wouldn't have to pay taxes on that extra $100,000. So it would be kept out of the governments pockets. Does CPH sell 10,000 catechisms a year? Certainly, $90,000 a year, is a solid wage in St. Louis and 10,000 Catechisms is a lot of catechisms. Think how much your friend in St. Louis could do!

    But maybe I am misreading something. Is profit not the cause of CPH's prices? Is the sale of Catechisms underwriting the whole mission of CPH? Please, fill us in. Because it seems to me that there is no real risk and releasing the 1986 translation in the public domain. Telling us that we can use non-CPH material, is not an answer.


    1. The part of this discussion I have refrained from entering has to do with CPH finances and salaries. As far as I know, since CPH is wholly owned by the LCMS, the LCMS (read that BoD, CPH elected Board, or Convention) can act here. If transparency is the issue, I agree with transparency in finances. I have never heard the $30 M figure and realize that effective managerial leadership may mean salaries a couple of times the average parish Pastor. If accounting for the costs and prices is the issue, should not this be directed to the Board of CPH?

    2. Or $14.00 for a paperback (pocket) Concordia? That price should be cut in half.

  32. Rev. McCain, with all due respect, you still have not answered the "why" question. What you have done in response to Pastor Westgate's question is tell us "what" it is, but still not why? You also have not answered my question. What you have done is successfully regurgitated CPH's copyright policies. I am well aware of CPH's copyright policies, thank you.

    However, your defensiveness in refusing to answer questions is a put off. Good day, and blessings in Christ this Lenten season.

  33. In this place: Http:// it is argued that the two options are CPH with a guarded Small Catechism, or a free Smalll Catechism and no CPH. Here is the apocalyptic assertion:

    So, if folks want CPH to release the text of the most current translation of the SC into the public domain they can expect: prices on all our resources to go up, and for us to shut down publishing the very books and resources they say they love. It’s just that simple folks. You can’t have it both ways.

    I’m not sure this is defensible; I know it hasn’t been defended, only asserted, and asserted in such a way that we are all expected to believe it and act according to it. In other words, the cry for the freedom of the catechism is to be stopped by an appeal to our sympathies for the tenuous financial situation of CPH.

    This, then, is the strongest argument against having the catechism in the public domain: the weakness of CPH’s finances. And I am inclined to be sympathetic. But then, about an inch away, we read these words:

    I do not say this as a boast or brag, but simply as a statement of fact. There is no other publishing company in the world today, that has our internal capacity, size and resources, able to publish confessionally Lutheran materials on the scale and to the extent that Concordia Publishing House does.

    I will admit confusion, but I don’t think this belongs to me.

    We are presented with the dual assertion that, on the one hand, CPH (and all the people there) are doing a bang up job, that they are worth the money, that this is the greatest (strongest and best looking) publishing house in “the world today,” but that, on the other, all that strength is so tenuous that a free catechism would undo it. And this is simply asserted, not defended!

    The instinctive desire of every Lutheran to have the Small Catechism free is NOT an attack on CPH. In fact, this desire is taught to us by the catechism itself. (See Luther’s Introduction to the Large Catechism, 12-14, McCain’s BOC site: It is possible to want the Small Catechism free and to want CPH to do well, and make lots of money. That is what I want. But if profits growing from the protections around the common translation of the Small Catechism are the thing keeping CPH standing, then CPH has bigger problems, and needs more help than us keeping our mouths shut.

    So, an appeal to CPH: defend the assertion. Show us, with numbers, with facts, what damage the release of the common Catechism into the public domain would have. Give us a glimpse at the copyright-protected strand by which you hang.

    Apart from being convinced of this, I don’t think there will be any stopping of the cry to free the catechism.

  34. This comment has been removed by the author.

  35. This comment has been removed by the author.

  36. Sorry for all the "deletes" ... I felt it better to provide an unabridged version of the blog post that Bryan Wolfmueller [selectively] quotes from over at my blog site, rather than try to reprint it here.

  37. I could be wrong, but I think the point of this whole discussion seems to be this: how can any company, CPH or otherwise, copyright something that was not written for them, that belongs in fact to all of Christendom? That is my question. How can CPH claim rights on Luther's "intellectual property"? What if I translated the Catechism and came up with the exact same translation as the 1986 translation of the Catechism?

    This seems to be the point of inquiry here.

  38. From Cyberbrethren "in fact, we routinely publish at a “loss” resources like: ... all the digital resources you are enjoying."

    That is confusing. CPH needs $500 for an update of Shepherd staff we bought 4 years ago for $1300? Needs $1000+ for 3 years of LSB Builder; $400+ for 3 years for a very weak Confirmation Builder, and if you stop paying, you lose your entire investment and must spend $hundred more annually to keep it working. And $700 for 31 cds of recorded LBS hymns?

  39. FWIW I too am overwhelmed by the price of the technology resources of CPH -- both initial cost and the cost of support and licensing to keep using it. I have been told that this is due to the small market for such Lutheran specific resources, or even LCMS specific resources. I do not know enough to judge whether this justifies the cost. Most baffling is when we no longer used a piece of CPH technology and gave it to a small mission and when they went to set it up, they were told by CPH that they had to pay for it. In the end I intervened and something was worked out but really... we had paid over $1000 for it initially and then no longer used it and gave it to a small mission and they had to pay the same upfront cost? I do not believe that the technology end and the rest of CPH should be equated since they are different but it is a conundrum.

    As for the above comment on Luther's intellectual property, it must be remembered that the cost of Luther's works includes the cost of translation as well as publishing. This is not a small matter. In fact, the Small Catechism may be a small part of this but Luther's works are a deep mine of investment that may not be recouped by CPH for a long time -- if ever! Something to think about.

    As I have said before, however, CPH acts at the discretion of the Synod. Don't like their policies, address their BoD or the Convention of Synod. If enough agree, the policies will be changed. Period.

  40. With fear and trepidation, I will tread into this, late and with a light tread.

    Not being from or in the LCMS—I was brought up in the Ev.Luth.Church of Finland, and I serve a congregation in the Ev.Luth. Church of England, I come from a slightly different angle, I hope.

    First, a clarification. Copyright and charging are two different things. Protecting one's work with a copyright notice is a useful and necessary thing. It prevents others from profiting unfairly from your work by passing it off as theirs. It also protects your reputation by preventing others from mangling your work in your name. Whether one wishes to charge others for the use of materials whose copyright you hold is an entirely separate matter, guided by an entirely separate set of questions and principles. In the discussion above, this point seems to have got lost more than once.

    Whether CPH ought to be holding the copyright to the synodical translation is not all that controversial. There's no greed involved, but it does help to protect the synod from theft of effort and from defamation. Whether it should charge for the use of the text is another matter. A friend in the ELCE, a lawyer who specialises in these matters, suggested a couple of years ago that Creative Commons Licencing would be a far better way forward, not least because it's a far more nuanced system of rights protection than a blanket copyright. Unfortunately, the discussion very quickly got very unpleasant, a bit like some of the commenting above, and that was the end of that discussion. You can read it all here.

  41. (continued)

    The thing is that, when it comes to the property of the Holy Catholic Church, the distinction between what is mine and what is everyone's is always and necessarily blurred. John Mason Neale never protected any of his translations of ancient hymns, because he was convinced that they weren't his to own but the church's property. I have contributed to a hymnal myself, and for the reasons laid out above I claim copyright to my work; but I have not charged royalties or restricted its use, for reasons I learned from Neale. Where others draw the line is for them to decide. Where I would always draw the line, and would insist on others doing the same, is the Liturgy. How anyone can claim to 'own' the Liturgy, or in good conscience restrict its use, is utterly beyond my comprehension. I'm not alone: the Lutheran Church in Australia, not awash with billions, has shown us what to do with the Liturgy.

    The translation of the Catechism is a slightly different kettle of fish. As it happens, the ELCE has benefited from just the kind of thing that Pr. Petersen mentions in a recent comment: we persuaded CPH to allow us to print an Anglicised version of the Enchiridion, without a charge. The Lutheran Heritage Foundation paid for the printing, and we give it away free. I'm sure CPH would have been unwilling if we had sold the Catechism for profit. Thanks to LHF, the Small Catechism with Explanation exists in several African languages, and around ¼ million copies of the Swahili version alone have been given away free in Eastern Africa over the past decade. It's been a tremendous mission tool within and beyond the Lutheran churches there. If the LCMS is serious about Lutheran missions at home, the least it could do is to give away the Enchiridion to anyone who asks, with a spare copy for company!

    As for the LSB, I agree with Pr. Peters that it is as good a book as one can expect in these dark days. It frustrates me to pieces all over the place, but the competition is a lot worse. My congregation are slowly learning that complaining about hymns doesn't work, and that learning a new hymn—even a German dirge—isn't beyond the realms of possibility, or even a bad thing. Again, in a small church body like the ELCE, it's not that hard for us to fix things and get those fixes implemented across all the congregations. It's harder for those of you living in the Babel that is the LCMS.

    However, it does distress me—no less—to see how quickly these discussions turn ugly amongst people who ought to be brothers. Firing from the hip, a shortage of 8th-commandment graciousness, table-thumping and verbal eye-rolling seem to come out amongst us Lutherans quicker than you can say Gemütlichkeit. It ought not to be so. Manners maketh man, especially a Christian man.

    My tuppenny's worth.

    In Christian love,
    Rev. Tapani Simojoki
    Fareham, United Kingdom

  42. Oh, and one more thing: if I had to pay double for Gerhard so that lots of people got free Catechisms, I wouldn't hesitate. And would gladly apply the Law to anyone who would.

  43. I think it would be magnanimous of CPH to release it's grip on the SC and in celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, give it over to the people. I'm sure Luther would have no qualms with the same, and with copyright law being non-existant back then, he probably never made a penny on it himself.

  44. Last time I checked, people who worked for you did what they were told. If not, they were fired.

    Rev. McCain--indeed everyone at CPH--works for Synod, which are the congregations and church workers of the LCMS.

    The Synod needs to fortify its testicular fortitude and demand that CPH release the text of the Small Catechism.

    If CPH refuses to do this, then then Synod needs to direct CPH's Board of Directors to start chopping off heads.

    Why let Synodical members be belittled by someone who works for them? That happens nowhere except in the LCMS.

  45. Having read most (not all) of this thread, my initial response is one of despair and sadness. So much misunderstanding, so much talking past and around others, so much over-reacting, so much complaining about things which you had no part in whatsoever. I could go on, but why. Perhaps there is a Bible verse I could refer too. I think I will ask a Baptist friend about that.


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