My rich heritage

I am ever thankful for my rich heritage as a Lutheran. In my country parish as I was growing up, I worshipped in a modern gothic church, with a bell in the steeple, stained glass windows, candles, crucifix, pipe organ, anglican chant psalms, and hymns galore. It wasn’t “high church” – it was just good Lutheranism.

In 1972, the Lutheran Church in Australia published the “Lutheran Hymnal” – affectionately known as “the Black Book”. The Service with Holy Communion had a fully sung accompaniment. It is a setting that would not be out of place with the new translation of the Roman Missal, as there isn’t much difference in the translation of the texts.

Unfortunately, as far a I know, no one ever wrote a commentary on the new hymnal. I know that many of the old hymn and chorale tunes were worked over to restore them to their original form. So, for instance, where the Catholic Worship Book has J.S. Bach’s version of Philipp Nicolai’s “Wake, Awake!”, the Lutheran Hymnal has the much more rhythmically interesting original version of the tune by Nicolai himself, dating approximately one hundred and twenty years earlier. Unfortunately, as far as I know, a commentary on the Australian Lutheran Hymnal of 1972 was never written, and I don’t think there is anyone alive today who was on the editorial board, so the story of the sourcing of the music may be forever lost (Nb. there may still be papers in the Archives in North Adelaide from the committee – this could be a good job for a budding Lutheran musician seeking a PhD).

Where is all this heading, I hear you ask. Well, last Sunday, as I mentioned in the previous post, we were merrily belting out the gregorian Sanctus from Mass XVII, and suddenly I had a deja vu moment – it was all eerily familiar. Surely I’d sung this before? (Click on the pictures for a clearer view)

Mass XVII - Sanctus 2

When I returned home, I confirmed my suspicions. I pulled out my old copy of the Lutheran Hymnal and turned to the Sanctus in the Service with Communion.

Lutheran Sanctus

You can be fairly certain that this came from a German source, so the music would have been altered to fit the English. What that German source was, I don’t know, but note the date at the top: Neuenrade, 1524.

Now compare it to the Sanctus of Mass XVII. It might be easier if you have it in modern notation.

Mass XVII - Sanctus - modern notation 2

The similarity is too close to be a coincidence. Wherever or whoever or whatever Neuenrade was in 1524, they were using the Sanctus of Mass XVII as the basis of their tune. Or perhaps, the Lutheran Sanctus preserves an older version of the Sanctus of Mass XVII? If the original can be found, it would through some very interesting light on the history of this setting.

In any case, finding a relic of Lutheranism’s Catholic past in the Lutheran Hymnal of 1972 just goes to show how rich my heritage in Lutheranism was.

About Schütz

I am Catholic, married to Cathy, father of Maddy & Mia. Since 2002, I have been the Executive Officer of the Ecumenical & Interfaith Commission of the Archdiocese of Melbourne. I was once a Lutheran pastor, but a "year of grace" and soul-searching led me into the Catholic Church. It was a bumpy ride, but with the support of my (still Lutheran) wife, I was finally confirmed on June 16, 2003.
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2 Responses to My rich heritage

  1. matthias says:

    And of course this Sanctus is in the Anglican An Australian Prayer Book .
    Second order

    • Schütz says:

      Um. Not sure what you mean, Matthias. Neither AAPB nor its successor “A Prayer Book for Australia” have any music in them at all. And the text of their Sanctus is the old ICEL text.

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