Tag: Lutheranism

The Veneration, or Not, of the Saints


The topic of veneration is a bit of a challenge for me, as the first association I have with the word is the veneration of saints. I’m Lutheran though, and Lutherans don’t venerate saints; we’re kinda famous for not doing so.  If you’ll indulge a flippant over-simplification, we don’t think God is an officious bureaucrat who requires all the relevant department heads to sign off on a request before fulfilling it or a lazy kid who won’t do his chores until his mom nags him.

That being said, we do still have a place for saints in our worship. They are for our education and edification, if not our veneration.  My Liber Hymnorum, a hymnal of Latin hymns used by the early Lutheran church, describes a year of saintly feasts, from St. Sebastian on January 20th to the Holy Innocents on December 28th, with stops for St. Gregory in March, St. Anne in July, and St. Michael and All Angels in September, as well as about a dozen others. The Brotherhood Prayer Book, a Lutheran breviary, lists dozens more notable church fathers and mothers whose feast day is a chance for honoring and remembering their extraordinary lives, including doctors of the church like John Chrysostom, Anselm of Canterbury, Bede the Venerable, and Augustine of Hippo.  (If you see a St. Martin Lutheran Church, it is recognizing Martin of Tours, not Mr. Luther.)

Making Beauty Accessible


Lutherans probably beat out even the Anglican communion when it comes to active liturgical worship. While it’s not exactly true that Lutherans are bred from childhood to sing in four-part harmony, the congregation in a Lutheran church is expected to do more than just hunker down in silence. No, silent hunkering is only for those periods of worship where silent hunkering is required – in which case Lutherans are really quite good at it. The rest of the time, though, Lutherans are expected to do stuff. Read together, sing together, pray together. To this day, my lapsed Lutheran family thinks there’s something “papist” about worship services where the congregation can get by without singing.

In a previous post, I described how, even when art strives to imitate nature, it produces something more than just nature, and I used this imitation of nature as an example:

Member Post


I first encountered Tenebrae at a Lutheran church, conducted, with German efficiency, all at once on Maundy Thursday night. Just as it grew dark, the congregation entered a sanctuary lit by two candelabra. As the story of the Last Supper and Passion was read, interspersed with gloriously dirge-like hymns, and maybe a motet by the […]

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