Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Video at Last! The Form of the Divine Service

The video is finally done! Over a year in the making, we have at last completed our work of preparing our instructional film, The Form of the Divine Service: an instructional video for pastors and seminarians. This is footage of an actual Divine Service with voice-over of how-to commentary. This service shows a full contingent of Celebrant, Deacon, Sub-deacon, and servers, with an acknowledgment that services having less than this full contingent may easily abridge these instructions accordingly. Better to show too much than too little, we thought.

To view the video online, right now, click here! We hope to have DVDs of this available soon as well.

As the opening words accompanying the video declare,

"The editors of Gottesdienst are pleased to present this video recording of a Divine Service, together with rubrical instructions to assist men who are preparing for the ministry and pastors who might desire further assistance in these matters. In 2014, the editors were collectively musing on how we might better serve the churches and pastors who wanted to know in some greater detail how to conduct a reverent observance of the ceremonies of the Divine Service, and this project was begun. We thank the people at Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod Worship, at the Office of National Mission, who agreed that the project would prove a blessing to many pastors and seminarians. They have been generous and gracious in providing funding for this project. This is a video recording, with commentary, of a Divine Service held in May of 2016 at St. Paul’s in Hamel, Illinois, during a Gottesdienst conference."


  1. Thank you for this! Is the manuscript available?

  2. The manuscript may become available in the future. Please note that YouTube has a subtitles function in its settings.

  3. Some people were expressing anger that synod provided a grant for this video. But don't liturgical congregations also pay taxes to the synod? Are they to be excluded from having resources just like any other members of synod? There are certainly enough liturgical and traditional parishes that it is hardly outrageous for synod to encourage materials for their instruction.

  4. "I think some are getting too concerned about Medieval-era Roman Catholic rubrics calling, for example, for a pastor to hold his fingers in a certain position, in a certain way, 'just so' when performing the liturgy. It is this kind of hyper-ritualization of all things having to do with worship and liturgy that is about the best formula I can imagine for turning people away from the liturgy. The better way is to 'say the black, do the red' as contained in the hymnals and its companion volumes, not trying to 'one up' the church's accepted worship resources."

    Excerpted from Rev. Paul McCain's June 19, 2008, Cyberbrethren blog, "The Dangers of Hyper-Ritualizing Lutheran Worship Or: Why "Say the black, do the red" is the wisest course".

    1. I agree. People are too concerned about this.

    2. Dear Carl:

      As to your protestations regarding the carrying out of ritual "just so," I republished an essay here at GO:


      As far as the idea that we should be informal so as to appeal to higher numbers in our sanctuaries, I would offer a couple observations:

      When we are taught to set the table, the fork goes on the left, and the knife and spoon go on the right - knife first, blade in, and spoon to its right. Other than shielding the blade, there is really no practical reason for this arrangement. It is simply how it has been done, perhaps even in the medieval era, and how it remains being done.

      Obviously, in some cases, it is perfectly acceptable to use plastic cutlery or just put silverware in the middle of the table and let people take them. But in a more formal setting, the tradition prevails.

      If you were to take your wife out for a milestone anniversary, and the waiter placed the cutlery in a different configuration (it really doesn't matter, after all), or just put the silverware in the middle of the table and let you grab your own, you probably would not be impressed. It would indicate the steward's indifference or even lack of respect for you and for the restaurant. At best, he would look ignorant.

      In America, we have a tendency toward casualness. We are a democratic people, and rarely stand on formality. But there are exceptions: a military funeral, for instance. A fine meal or a banquet. Or the visitation of God in His flesh and blood to give us eternal life by virtue of His miraculous Word.

      Indeed, the church is not a democracy. It is a monarchy. We should conduct ourselves accordingly in the presence of our King. There are occasions and local options for less ceremony, but we democratic Americans, surrounded by neighbors who do not confess the Physical Presence of our Lord in the sacrament, I would say more deliberate attention to ritual is better than less.

      I would be shocked if a Marine Color Guard were to fold the flag at a funeral like a tee shirt, rather than hold their hands in a certain way and take their time to carry out the ceremony with precision - lest they be mocked for "hyper-ritualization" and accused of chasing people off.

      Indeed, say the black, do the red - and this video is an elaboration upon the red, because non-verbal communications can send a mixed message or even contradict the verbal message. The Marines understand this. And so do pastors who have asked for this very resource so as to better proclaim the Gospel in thought, word, and deed.

    3. Larry-
      just this morning our parish buried the last of our WWII veterans. He was the recipient of four (4) bronze stars and two purple hearts one as a result of wounds at Omaha Beach on D-Day. His medals were displayed at the funeral luncheon, it was amazing to see that Arrowhead device which showed he did indeed land on Omaha Beach on D-Day. When the color guard fired their volleys at our St. Paul Cemetery and the flag was presented to his widow no one though that the ritual was empty or meaningless. The man shed his blood for our country on more than one occasion.

      More importantly, Clarence was baptized and received the Sacred Body and Blood of Jesus Christ faithfully. Jesus Christ shed His blood for Him, and so in Church we are in the presence of our King who has died that we might be children of His Father though faith alone. I do not think that Clarence considered the things taking place every Lord's day at his St. Paul were mere empty ritual either, but even more than the honor given by the color guard, the rituals at his parish extol and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

    4. There is Lutheran liturgical room between Rev. McCain's description of the "hyper-ritualization of all things having to do with worship and liturgy" and Rev. Beane's reference to "the idea that we should be informal so as to appeal to higher numbers in our sanctuaries."

    5. Is it "hyper-ritualization" in Marine Corps ritual to make sure that the flag is tucked just right, the salute is rendered at the proper angle, and that the color guard moves in precise tandem? In the Civil Air Patrol, we are instructed - per Air Force rubrics - that when we are standing at ease, our right thumb is crossed over our left. Is that somehow offensive? Should we scoff and accuse our officers of some kind of nefarious offense? In Germany, my coffee was always served in a cup with a saucer, spoon, and biscuit - which I found delightfully civilized. Maybe I should have issued a protest with the consulate...

      Is such ceremonial attention only for 'important things' like military ritual, and table service, but not for things apparently less important, like the liturgy?

      Carl, when you and I officiate, we do not do every ritual in exactly the same way as is done in the video. I don't use a lavabo, or have a subdeacon, for example. But it's better to include those elements in an instructional video for those who do, and those of us who don't can simply ignore those parts and modify it to our use. Measure twice, cut once, as it were. It's easier to modify down rather than up.

      Finally, if you want to demonstrate a liturgical celebration to your own liking, you can make your own video and put it out there for consideration.

      I get that this isn't your preference. That's fine. it's also not your congregation. St. Paul's (Hamel), Redeemer (Fort Wayne), and St. Paul's (Kewanee) - whose pastors are leading the service in the video - are used to more ritual than perhaps your congregation. This video would be warmly received by my congregation and they would not share in your criticisms.

      Your unhappiness is duly noted, and there is not much I can do to eleviate your discomfort other than recommend Blue Bell pralines and cream ice cream (if it is available in your locale) - it will lift your spirits and put your mind at ease. It's all good. Jesus has it under control.

    6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    7. I think that in order to assert the encroachment of Calvinist doctrine and practice in the LCMS one would have to have a lack of familiarity with John Calvin, his doctrine and his practice.

  5. Dear Editors of Gottesdienst,

    As a Lutheran layman (Lutheran Church-Canada), and former Baptist, who has a deep appreciation for and interest in the ceremonial of the Catholic West, I find this video easy to follow and very helpful.

    Thank you for this great resource!

  6. Carl; thank you for your comments. I got a c in worship at ft wayne because Im hyper Left handed,I tried doing the cross right handed never stuck. Love to do it at circuit meetings, just to tease alittle, thanks again.

  7. Don't lift the nose hyper-high, and perturbly sniff at the fingertips and their liturgical activities. Even our very fingertips were once knitted into existence by God, Who Himself was not ashamed to take on such, and our flesh more generally, for endless ages to come.

    We so easily profess to the Creator (and ourselves) that, sure, we'd gladly like to have a thousand tongues with which to sing the Redeemer's praises; but then we willingly deny the lowly fingertips their way of glorifying and testifying to His Presence. Attitudinally, there is an unsettling hint from Lutheran hearts here that, given a choice, we'd much prefer to worship as disembodied wraiths, thank you, than bend the knee at a coming of Christ to the Lutheran altar,as duly promised.

    I'm no prophet. Yet one necessarily expects the orderly proceedings of the Parousia, with its attendant hyper-acknowledgement of certain Kingly realities (through means of a specific bodily movement), to provoke a robust debate somewhere within the practically impatient Lutheran contingent: "Let's forego the medieval ritual and get on with the casting of bodies into the lake of fire, shall we? And make mine decaff, with Danish."

    Our blessedly meticulous Lord, Who Scripture reveals pays enormous attention to sparrows and flowers and children and embryos and the very hairs atop the head, and Who measured all three-dimensions of the Ark to the nearest cubit ... surely He does not cavalierly dismiss our fingertips, or the manner in which they and other parts of non-Gnostic man revere His Son. For that matter, the hyper-ornamentation of an alabaster box and its costly chrism, were not ridiculed by the incarnate Son as being something just a bit too much, when it came to the respectful and loving honor of His Person and Death.


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