Cowboy Service and The Lutheran Service Book

Isn’t this a hoot?  Holy Ghost Lutheran Church, Fredericksburg, Texas (ELCA) had their annual Cowboy Service on July 6, 2008.  It begins with the leader saying, “The Lord be with y’all,” and the congregation responding, “And also with y’all.”

Think this is funny?  A liturgical abomination?  In truth, it’s nothing but a cowboy slant to the LSB via Lutheran Worship “The Lord be with you.”  “And also with you.”  The LSB editors kept this 20th century anomaly because of its “long” use among us and because of its familiarity to post-Vatican II (1960s) children of Rome.  They couldn’t see their way to having the same largess to us TLH users who have been saying our “thee’s and thou’s since the early 1940s.  Although they promised they would publish page 15 just as it was, these experts in liturgy couldn’t resist removing a thee here and a thou there.

Realizing that this fits under the category, “Of ships already sailed,” I still think it fitting to review what we are seeing slip over the horizon.  Interestingly enough, Rome has recently admitted that there is no way to make Et cum spiritu tuo into “And also with you.”

“And also with you” says nothing but “And also with y’all” in a less folksy way. Contrast this with St. Chrysostom, “Again in the most awful mysteries themselves, the priest prays for the people and the people also pray for the priest; for the word “with thy spirit” are nothing else than this” (Homilies on II Corinthians, 366) and somewhere else he says this, “By this cry you are reminded that he who stands at the altar does nothing – the grace of the Holy Spirit is present and coming down on all.”  This little exchange has also been described as a “mini-ordination.”

But “And with thy spirit” seemed so outmoded to the young Turks of Vatican II and the young Germans of the commission that brought us Lutheran Worship.  However, as Chesterton observed, “There is not really any courage at all in attacking hoary or antiquated things, anymore than in offering to fight one’s grandmother.  The really courageous man is he who defies tyrannies young as the morning and superstitions fresh as the first flowers” (What’s Wrong with the World, 33).  But how droll “to be told that we must pursue the same old formal mode of doing things, amidst all these changes.”  You know who said that?  Charles Finney in the 1830s (in The Democratization of American Christianity, 197).  Plato, of all people and maybe then again not surprisingly said, “Any musical innovation is full of danger to the whole State, and ought to be prohibited….When modes of music change, the fundamental laws of the State always change with them” (The Republic, 203.)

Let’s get back to something Lutheran.  Werner Elert said in Eucharist Fellowship in the First Four Centuries, “Only that is dogma in the early church which is worthy of the liturgy” (p. 111).  “Also with y’all” is barely worthy of English let alone liturgy or dogma.  “Also with you” may be worthy English but certainly not of the other two.

About Paul Harris

Pastor Harris retired from congregational ministry after 40 years in office on 31 December 2023. He is now devoting himself to being a husband, father, and grandfather. He still thinks cenobitic monasticism is overrated and cave dwelling under.
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2 Responses to Cowboy Service and The Lutheran Service Book

  1. Weslie Oodm says:

    Yes, this is one of the problems with the LSB. Even with Setting Three (which seems to be “page 15”) it is, I like to say, confused. Why would they keep the “Thees and Thous” in the Gloria, Salutation, Offertory Preface, Sanctus, Lord’s Prayer, Angus Dei, and the Nunc Dimittis, but (for no reason?) change the verbiage in the CONFESSION and the CREEDS? Crazy. And unnecessary.

  2. Bart Goddard says:

    In response to Wes: The twisted part of the reasoning behind
    changing to “you’s” in the confession and creeds is that
    they decided that it would be best if we all said the same
    thing. So the creed reads the same in all five(!) liturgies
    now. That’s right: the people who insisted on changing
    everything are now insisting that we should all be the same.
    The same people who cobble together a different “liturgy”
    every Sunday, are now trying to screw up our liturgy
    in the name of “keeping everything the same.”
    Why do these folk never realize just how useful oars can be
    until after they’re out in the middle of the lake?

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