Week 3—Liturgy: Introit through Creed
Join us for Adult Catechumenate classes following each Wednesday Divine Service. This is offered for those that would like a refresher course on their catechetical instruction and especially for those desiring to join us and confess the Lutheran faith.
In ancient times the entire congregation entered the church in a solemn procession, singing psalms and songs. So also we enter upon the main part of the Divine Service with the Introit, or entrance song. The Introit, which means, “he enters,” is made up of the Lord’s own words, most often drawn from the Psalms, which set the tone and give the theme for the various Sundays and festivals of the Church Year. Thus, having received the Lord’s cleansing forgiveness, we are glad to enter His courts with praise and thanksgiving. The Pastor, in walking to the altar at this point, reflects this entrance of us all.
Kyrie Eleison is a Greek phrase meaning “Lord, have mercy.” In the Kyrie we come before the King of Mercy with the prayer that was on the lips of Blind Bartemaeus, whom Jesus healed. We approach our Merciful Savior and King as citizens of heaven, seeking His mercy for our salvation, the peace of the whole world, the well-being of His Church, our Worship, and our everlasting defense.
Gloria in Excelsis
The Lord to whom we cry for mercy is the Savior who has come to us in the flesh. The Gloria in Excelsis (Glory to God in the Highest) echoes the hymn that the high angels of God sang to the shepherds at Bethlehem. In this hymn we acclaim and extol the Son of God who humbled Himself to be our Brother and now reigns over us as Savior from the right hand of His Father. In Divine Service I, an alternate to this hymn is “This is the Feast of Victory” taken from the Book of Revelation. This hymn proclaims the victory of the Lamb who was crucified for us. It is appropriately used at Easter and Ascension.
Salutation and Collect of the Day
The pastor stands in the congregation as Christ’s servant. The vestment he wears indicates that he is not speaking on his own, but as one sent and authorized to represent Christ Jesus. As the authorized representative of the Lord, he says “The Lord be with you.” The congregation responds “And with your Spirit” or “And also with you.” Pastor and the congregation are bound together in this salutation or greeting as the pastor prays the Collect of the Day on behalf of the gathered congregation. The Collect is a short sentence that “collects” in one short request all it is that we are asking God to do for us on the basis of the Word which we are about to hear, both read and preached.
OLD TESTAMENT, GRADUAL, EPISTLE, VERSE, HOLY GOSPEL
In Ephesians 4, the Apostle Paul tells us that the Ascended Christ gave gifts to His Church: Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, and Pastor-Teachers. These gifts are made manifest in the Divine Service as we hear God’s Word read and proclaimed. First, we hear from a Prophet in the words of the Old Testament Reading. After the Scripture is read, The Pastor proclaims “This is the Word of the Lord.” The Lord’s Word is embraced by the congregation’s response of thanksgiving: “Thanks be to God.” In this way, the church confesses Holy Scripture for what it is—the Word of God.
The Gradual, selected verses of Scripture, is sung by the choir or congregation. The Gradual is a “bridge of praise” that links the Old Testament with the New Testament. On many occasions an Anthem reflecting on the common theme of the readings is sung by the choir. This is offered so that those who hear might anticipate the Word of God that will follow.
Second, we hear from an Apostle in the words of a New Testament Epistle. From the Apostle we are given the truth that is found only in Jesus for faith and life. The “Alleluia Verse” is then chanted by the Choir or Pastor. This Verse is our anticipation of the Lord who comes to us in His words. These words are spirit and life.
Third, we hear from an Evangelist in the words of the Holy Gospel. In the words of the Evangelist we are given the Word of Life, Jesus Christ. The congregation acknowledges the Lord’s presence in His Gospel by standing and extolling His glory and praising Him.
Having heard the Word of God, we confess our faith in His Name. The Creed is our saying back to God what He has first said to us. We speak about God what He has revealed about Himself. In the Nicene Creed, we acclaim the truth of the Triune God and His work of salvation accomplished for us in His Incarnate Son, Jesus Christ. Since the Creed is a summary of the faith, in confessing it we are saying “Amen” to the main content of the entire Gospel.
It is appropriate and salutary to bow during the Creed when speaking of our Lord’s incarnation, in reverence to His great love for us when He “came down from heaven” and “was crucified for us.” Traditionally, the bowing ceases at this point so that the Christian is not bowing while speaking the name of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor!
Hymn of the Day
The praise continues in the Hymn of the Day. As the Word of God dwells in us it calls forth songs of faith and love. This hymn reflects the particular theme of the Scripture Readings which we have heard. Then, in continuity with the Prophets, Apostles, and Evangelists, our Pastor stands in our midst to deliver the Lord’s Law and Gospel in the sermon. He is God’s mouth for the congregation as through him the Good Shepherd’s voice sounds forth to call, gather, and enlighten His flock.