Holy Thursday or Maundy Thursday?

As the Senior Editor working with church resources at Concordia Publishing House, I have decisions to make about what appears in those resources. I am used to explaining the reasons for those decision. Sometimes I’m asked to explain things that appear in CPH products but are actually determined by our use of the Church Year, or the lectionary, or the liturgy. Since I love digging into and understanding more about the Church Year, the lectionary, and the liturgy, and write often here about them, I thought I would share this afternoon’s endeavor with those of you who still might look in on this poor oft-neglected blog.

Each year we purchase CPH’s downloadable Church calendar resource (i.e. 2010-2011 Church Year Calendar-Series A”). Our altar guild uses this for the colors of the altar paraments. Holy Thursday is listed for the color White. The CPH book “Lutheran Worship History And Practice” lists scarlet or purple. I know that LSB also has white as an option but shouldn’t the color default to purple on the calendar?

The Last Supper

When we set the calendars in our various resources I was in contact with the Commission on Worship of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and worked closely with them. As that commission no longer exists. I can certainly tell you why we have made the choices we have at CPH, but as for the intricacies of rationale behind what appears in the Church Year calendar of Lutheran Service Book, I could only suggest that you may want to make contact with the former members of the Lectionary Committee, Lutheran Service Book Project. They are: James Brauer, Arthur Just (chairman), Daniel Reuning, D. Richard Stuckwisch, and Gregory Wismar.

When working with the Church Year and the LSB lectionary there are often options offered. When bringing these options into CPH products, it often means that I, as the editor, have choices to make. After some trial and error, and extended discussions with Commission directors and members, it has been agreed that when an option is presented, CPH will consistently offer the first option. The Commission’s point of view was that the first option offered was the majority or preferred text or practice. So for Holy Week, starting with the LSB calendar in 2006, the options are S/V, scarlet/violet. Scarlet being stated first shows the Commission’s decision that it is the preferred color for observations during that week, with violet the alternate option. It should be noted that in LSB for the first time I am aware of, the Thursday in Holy Week is differentiated between Holy Thursday and  Maundy Thursday in an LCMS calendar. During the day of Thursday in Holy Week the preferred color is scarlet. All prayer offices and worship services held during the day would be observed using scarlet paraments.

Now, Pastor, some of what follows is from my own understanding and study, so should not be totally attributed to the Commission; where I err or am unclear, the fault is mine. There has been, since at least the ’90s, a increased interest in, and practice of, the ancient Triduum among Missouri Synod Lutherans. The three services of the Triduum—Divine Service on Holy Thursday, the chief service on Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil—comprise a single unit. The Thursday in Holy Week becomes a day of transition, with the Triduum observed, there is a ‘break’ that happens at sunset between Lent preparation and commemorating Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf. Sunset (the traditional—liturgical—beginning of the new day) on Holy Thursday, is the vigil for Good Friday and begins the Triduum (cf. the General Notes on page 506 of the LSB Altar Book).

When the Divine Service is celebrated on the Thursday in Holy Week (technically, when it is celebrated in the evening as the vigil of Good Friday), it is observed as a feast of Christ. I suspect this came about when the ILCW introduced the three-year lectionary and the traditional John 13 Gospel (TLH and the common lectionary) was replaced by the institution narratives in the respective A, B, and C Gospels. As a feast of Christ , it is consistent to use white paraments. With the LW calendar, white was the optional color to violet. Because the Triduum has been raised as the preferred practice in LSB lectionary and resources, our CPH resources designate white as the color for the day because for most congregations, the Divine Service of the Thursday in Holy Week is the chief service of the day.

Incidentally, you may have also picked up in this response why the lectionary committee  moved from designating the Thursday in Holy Week as Maundy Thursday to Holy Thursday; for with the shift from John 13 to the institutional narratives as the appointed Gospel, the mandatum of Maundy Thursday is without context.

Well, as you rush off to celebrate your Holy (Maundy) Thursday, what are your thoughts and insights? Maybe there is a Commission member or former director lurking about that can authenticate or correct what I have offered. I’m all ears. Like you, I love this stuff.

A Prayer for Wednesday of Holy Week 2011

Suffering Christ

Lord Jesus, gracious Savior, I come to You in this sacred week to ponder upon Your great and wondrous love; love that led You to the Cross that my sin might be blotted out and that I might be reconciled to my heavenly Father. O Christ, give me strength and grace to crucify my sinful desires and dedicate myself anew to You, who has loved me with an everlasting love and brought to me eternal salvation. I confess to You my sins. They are many, and You know them all. For each and every one of them You suffered the agony of the Cross and shed Your precious blood that I may be cleansed and made acceptable in Your sight. Let me not go through this day unmindful of Your great love. Let none of the sins of yesterday cling to me. Humbly I come, seeking Your mercy. Daily let me fulfill the tasks and duties to which You have called me with joy, confessing You as my Lord and Savior, and being of service to my neighbor

Grant that Your suffering and death, proclaimed for the salvation of mankind, may by the power of the Holy Spirit awaken in many a deeper love to You. O Lord, have mercy upon me and all sinful mankind, and create in me and all that seek You a clean heart, holy desires, and an undying love. Hear my prayer, gracious Redeemer. Amen.

O love, how deep, how broad, how high,
it fills the heart with ecstasy,
that God, the Son of God, should take
our mortal form for mortals’ sake!

For us baptized, for us he bore
his holy fast and hungered sore,
for us temptation sharp he knew;
for us the tempter overthrew.

For us he prayed; for us he taught;
for us his daily works he wrought;
by words and signs and actions thus
still seeking not himself, but us.

For us to evil power betrayed,
scourged, mocked, in purple robe arrayed,
he bore the shameful cross and death,
for us gave up his dying breath.

For us he rose from death again;
for us he went on high to reign;
for us he sent his Spirit here,
to guide, to strengthen, and to cheer.
–O Love, How Deep, 15th cent. Latin hymn

A Prayer for Tuesday of Holy Week 2011

Denial of St. Peter, Gerrit van Honthorst

Lord Jesus, compassionate Savior, plead for me in the hour of trial. You know my weaknesses and shortcomings; I cannot hide my sins from You. Pray for me, gracious Redeemer, lest I deny You. O Lord, You know that I have promised to be faithful to You, and nevertheless I have again and again sinned and offended You with my many transgressions and broken pledges. I am ashamed of myself. Yet I come to You for there is no other Savior from sin. I have denied You, if not by word, then by my actions and conduct. O Lord, look upon me in mercy, and forgive me all my sins. I have not always confessed You to the world nor spoken of the hope within me. Gracious Savior, in Your great love forgive me. Do not let me go on in my sin. Look into my heart, and make me ashamed of myself and truly penitent.

O Lord, You know that I love You. I am yours. Help me to be more faithful, more devout, and more zealous. In this Holy Week lead me to a deeper appreciation of the great sacrifice that was necessary for my redemption. And, Lord, in Your mercy look upon all Your erring, sinning, straying children and bring them back and restore them to grace. Draw us all to You with Your constraining love, and keep us steadfast, unfaltering, and true. Hear my petitions and prayers. Amen.

The church from you, our Savior,
received the gift divine,
and still that light is lifted
o’er all the earth to shine.
It is the sacred vessel
where gems of truth are stored;
it is the heaven-drawn picture
of Christ, the living Word.
–O Word of God Incarnate, William W. How (1823-1897)

A Prayer for Monday of Holy Week 2011

Arrest in the Garden

Precious Savior, Lamb of God for sinners slain, graciously forgive me all my sins, and embrace me with Your tender love. I have failed to fear, love and trust in You above all things. This I confess, O Lord, the allurements of the present world, the glamour of success, the favor of friends, has enticed me away from You. These things would take possession of my heart. O Lord, let me not sell my soul for the passing treasures of this present world. If I have kissed You with the kiss of betrayal, kiss me, Lord, with the kiss of forgiveness, and embrace me again as Your own. Have mercy upon me!

Protect me from the cunning of Satan, the allurements of the world, and the wickedness of my own heart. You are my surest Friend; hold me that I do not stumble and fall. Guard my heart that the love of gold, the smiles of popularity, the eagerness to succeed, may not rob me of my salvation, which You so dearly bought with Your own blood. Above all, gracious Savior, let me not despair of Your mercy, but believe at all times that Your love is as boundless as the heavens and deeper than the sea. O Friend of sinners let me not fall away from You. Keep me standing in Your grace until I shall stand in Your presence forevermore, to love You with a perfect love throughout all eternity. Amen.

Hail to the Lord’s Anointed,
great David’s greater Son!
Hail in the time appointed,
his reign on earth begun!
He comes to break oppression,
to set the captive free;
to take away transgression,
and rule in equity
–Hail to the Lord’s Anointed, James Montgomery, (1771-1854)

Prayer for Palm Sunday 2011

Entry into Jerusalem, 12th century mosaic

Lord Jesus, King of kings, today again I praise You with my hosannas and welcome You as the King of my heart. Enter in and take full possession of me, body heart, mind and soul. As thousands and ten thousands today vow faithfulness to You until death, acknowledging that they have no other Savior, grant that I, too, join this great host of faithful people to realize both the enormity and bitterness of my sin as well as the course of plenteous redemption to which You committed Yourself.

I confess, gracious Savior that I have not been as true to You as You have been to me. Other interests have placed themselves above You in my thoughts. Have mercy upon me and forgive me my transgressions. Sprinkle me with Your blood and wash me clean from the stain of my sin. Strengthen my heart with the assurance of my adoption and transform me according to Your image by the daily renewing of my baptism. Preserve me in the faith until the end of days that I may behold You in glory forevermore. Hear my cry, King of my heart and Savior of my soul. Amen.

Hosanna, loud hosanna,
the little children sang,
through pillared court and temple
the lovely anthem rang.
To Jesus, who had blessed them
close folded to his breast,
the children sang their praises,
the simplest and the best.
–Hosanna, Loud Hosanna, Jeanette Threlfall (1821-1880).

Winter/St. Lucy Ember Days Soon Upon Us

Sant Crux, Lucia, Cineres, Charismata Dia
Ut sit in angaria quarta sequens feria.

Which for those of us who don’t think in Latin:

Holy Cross, Lucy, Ash Wednesday, Pentecost,
are when the quarter holidays follow.

The handy shortcut for remembering the holidays that herald the Ember Days is “Lucy, Ashes, Dove, and Cross.”

St. Lucy

December 13, the commemoration of St. Lucy, is the herald for the winter quatember, the Ember Days of winter. This year the Days fall on December 15, 17, and 18.  The Ember Days give us opportunity to focus on repentance. Some  observe the days with fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. Some congregations will offer individual confession and absolution on one or more of the days.

To find out more about the Sicilian saint Lucy, you can go here, or here.

To find out more about Ember Days, and their observance in a Lutheran context, you can check out the post What are Ember Days?