Keeping up With the Jones’


Contemporary worship didn’t come out of thin air.  I think it genesis can be laid at the door of Vatican II which started from the principle of what is relevant to men not what is worshipful to God.  Of course, people from less liturgical churches and ones that already worshipped from that premise took it much further.


One thing Vatican II did was change the centuries old response to the “The Lord be with you” from “And with thy spirit” to “And also with you.”  Lutheran Worship followed Vatican II and adapted that change.  Hymnal Supplement 98 repented and returned to the historic and pastorally significant “And with thy spirit.”  Lutheran Service Book repented of that repentance and kept the “back at you” nature of the new response in the services it took from Lutheran Worship.  While A Guide for Introducing Lutheran Service Book doesn’t say this, the pastor leading the workshop on the new hymnal did.  At the October 2006 conference I attended in Giddings, Texas the presenter said the Commission on Worship kept “And also with you” because it is so commonplace among the Catholics after all these years.


Defenders of this change have said that “And with thy spirit” is a Hebraism meaning “And also with you.”  This certainly wasn’t how the early church took the phrase or the later church for that matter.  Reed says in The Lutheran Liturgy that it has been called ‘the little ordination” (p. 278).  Going back to the early church Chrysostom said, “Again, in the most awful mysteries themselves, the priest prays for the people and the people also pray for the priest; for the words, ‘with thy spirit’ are nothing else than this” (Homily XVIII, NPNF, 366).  Again, “He [the pastor] does not touch that which lies on the altar before wishing you the grace of our Lord and before you have replied to him: ‘And with your spirit.”  By this cry you are reminded that He stands at the altar does nothing, and that the gifts that rest there are not the merits of a man, but that the grace of the Holy Spirit is present and, coming down on all, accomplish this great sacramental offering.  We indeed see a man.  But is God who acts through him.  Nothing human takes place at this holy altar” (First Homily for the Feast of Pentecost, in Bride of Christ, Vol. XXI, No. 1, p. 4).


Does it really matter if we keep a practice for the sake of solidarity with Rome?  I didn’t think so at the time though I did think it strange that a 40 year tradition (Rome adopted it in 1969, a great year for Rock music but a poor year for liturgy.)  should trump a 1,400 year plus tradition.  Then I read this in the July 2008 Concordia Theological Quarterly, “At the first meeting of the LCMS’s consultation on ‘The Scriptural Relationship of Man and Woman,’ the keynote speaker began by saying that the ordination of women could only come up for discussion when Rome and the Orthodox initiated the practice” (“David Scaer, “Flights from the Atonement,” 207).


Hopefully, neither of these communions will initiate the “practice” of Baal worship, child sacrifice, or open Communion.

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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One Response to Keeping up With the Jones’

  1. Scott says:

    While no one it seems would encourage our laity to use a bible which is only a paraphrasing of an authorized translation…..our Commision on Worship has and is doing this with our liturgy. The latin version of the response being ‘Et cum spiritu tuo’, one is prone to ask where in the heck did ‘also’ come into play and ‘where is the Spirit?’

    But it seems since our Commision on Worship didn’t perhaps we should be asking ourselves if this ‘illegal substitution’ is also forbidden in our Formula when it talks about rites like this as being not a rite of indifference but rather as a rite which we should treat as being one forbidden by God since it is after all ‘designed to give the impression that our religion does not differ greatly from that of the papists’ (Formula SD X Tappert 611).

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