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A Lutheran theology of praise.

Lutherans are perhaps known more for proclamation than for praise. The Reformation reexamined the medieval church practices, especially those which had hidden the good news of forgiveness by faith in Jesus Christ. Martin Luther and others created hymns that sang the gospel into people's hearts. Could praise, combined with proclamation in this Reformation way, serve the church even today?

Melanchthon's "sacrifice of thanks-giving" may best summarize this Reformation approach. In the 1530 Diet of Augsburg Lutheran princes and municipal governments had given their "confession of faith." In response to the papal representatives' critique (the Roman Confutation) Melanchthon published his Apology to the Augsburg Confession (1531) in order to defend the 1530 statements. In it he gave particular attention to the topics of original sin, the nature of works, the seven sacraments, the sacrifice of the Mass, and, above all, the article on justification. In Article XXIV, The Mass, Melanchthon discusses the "sacrifice of thanksgiving." He employs this concept to show that the Reformers did not abolish the Mass but kept it, using it better than their opponents. Melanchthon explained why they kept it:

Ceremonies should be observed both so that people may learn the Scriptures and so that, admonished by the Word, they might experience faith and fear and finally even pray. For these are the purposes of the ceremonies. We keep the Latin for the sake of those who learn and understand it. We also use German hymns in order that the [common] people might have something to learn, something that will arouse their faith and fear. This custom has always existed in the churches. For even if some have more frequently used German hymns and others more rarely, nevertheless almost everywhere the people sang something in their own language. No one has ever written or suggested that people benefit from the mere act of hearing lessons that they do not understand or that they benefit from ceremonies not because they teach or admonish but simply ex opere operato, that is, by the mere act of doing or observing. Away with such Pharisaical ideas! (Apology XXIV, 4-5) (1)

Melanchthon pointed out that especially on the Lord's Day the ancient church had a public or common Mass, not a private one. In their Confutation the opponents had piled up statements to show that the Mass was a sacrifice, pointing to references in Scripture and the Fathers even though the Augsburg Confession had purposely avoided the term "sacrifice" because of its ambiguity. Melanchthon reminded them that the Lord's Supper does not grant grace ex opere operato or merit forgiveness for others. Peace with God and reconciliation come through faith, not works (Rom 5:1). A crucial point was the distinction between sacrament and sacrifice.

It is the purpose of this article to explore Melanchthon's "sacrifice of thanksgiving" as a theology of praise. (2) Could it be a useful antidote to weak theologies of praise that too easily erode a focus on the gospel? I thus offer a biblical perspective of praise, identify competing theologies of praise, summarize Melanchthon's sacrifice of thanksgiving, discuss a few examples of Thankful Praise from Lutheran practice, and urge the legacy to continue.

Biblical perspective

An English definition of praise has two possibilities: (1) an expression of warm approval, admiration, or (2) extolling of a deity, ruler or hero. (3) Parallel expressions like"glorify" (to ascribe glory) and "magnify" (to make greater in importance) carry similar import.

The Old Testament's vocabulary for praise occurs primarily in the Psalms, Isaiah, and Jeremiah; there are words like tehillah (renown, praise, glory), halal (praise), yadah (praise, confess), zamar (give praise). Deuteronomy 10:21 shows a preoccupation with the object of praise, describing what God has done: "He is your praise; he is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things that your own eyes have seen." Isaiah 42:8 talks of God's jealous expectations: "I am the LORD, that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to idols." Isaiah 60:6, a prophecy involving the Gentiles, ties proclamation and praise together with deed: "A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the LORD." The psalms are songs that praise. Psalm 113, for example, calls for praise by servants of the Lord who will praise the name of the Lord forever because the Lord forever because the Lord is high above all nations, the Lord lifts up the poor and needy, the Lord gives the barren woman a home and makes her a mother. Often the actions of God are listed, as in Psalm 103: 1-5:
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is
 within me, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and do not forget
 all his benefits--
Who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good as long as you live
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

Old Testament praise typically focuses on what God has done. Extolling the attributes, promises, and actions of the Lord is the central act (4).

The New Testament treats the praise of God similarly. Luke 18:43 reports that the blind man near Jericho and all who witnessed his healing were focused on the actions of God: "Immediately he regained his sight and followed him [Jesus]; glorifying God; and all the people, when they saw it, praised God." Jesus himself, after healing the ten lepers, comments on the true thankfulness of the one who praises God and connects the praise with faith:

Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, "Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" Then he said to him, "Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well. (Luke 17:15-19)

Revelation 15:3-4 too has the heavenly creatures look to the deeds and attributes of God when singing about the Lamb of God:

And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb: "Great and amazing are your deeds, Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, King of the nations! Lord, who will not fear and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your judgments have been revealed."

Thus both testaments reveal a pattern of praise that lifts up the words and deeds of God in thankfulness and song. That song declares the holiness and goodness of the Lord by the mouth of those who trust God and want all to rely on the Lord.

Competing theologies of praise

There seem to be four primary types of praise: Creature Praise, Obedient Praise, Fervent Praise, and Thankful Praise.

Creature Praise. The first type takes its cue from a passage like Psalm 100:1, "Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth." It works from the command to praise. Everyone must praise God. It is commanded, and all who hear the psalm imperative must join in. Like members of an audience who are invited to applaud for an act, it says, "Just 'give it up' for God!" It is the thing to do if you hear the master of ceremonies call for your participation. There is not much one has to know or commit to; just join in. It is simply what is expected of an audience member. The talent and action are on the stage. Since all the earth is the Lord's, every creature should praise the Creator. This is very much a First Article response. It is Creature Praise.

Obedient Praise. The second type is like the first but calls also for obedience to the Lord's commandments. Psalm 112:1-2, for example, says, "Praise the LORD! Happy are those who fear the LORD, who greatly delight in his commandments. Their dscendants will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed." Both verbal acknowledgment of the greatness of God and right behavior are demanded. Words alone could be hollow, perhaps even hypocritical. Thus, in Isaiah 1:16-17 obedience is required: "Remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do good; rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow." The LORD wanted more than praise, festivals, offerings, and prayers. Without righteous obedience there is no real praising of God. In this theology praise and obedience to the law are combined. It is Obedient Praise.

Fervent Praise. A third type of praise theology calls for fresh, heartfelt exuberance. Psalm 149:1-3 is the model: "Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song, his prase in the assembly of the faithful. Let Israel be glad in its Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King. Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre." In some ways this is like the first type in that it rests on recognizing God as the Maker of All. Yet it is distinguished in this way: The one who praises is to be so touched by God that the act of praise will also encourage others to praise the Lord. It demands that the body move in energetic joy and that instruments too be employed to underline the fullness of the praising act. It is focused more on the feeling of closeness to God and on the exuberance of the praiser before God than on the deeds of the Mighty One. Such singing need not mention any particular promises, attributes, or deeds of God. This praise involves both a feeling of the nearness of God and an excited responding to God.

Because this type of praise is a some-what recent development, a description of how it might work is useful. Barry Liesch's The New Worship explains many features of this kind of praise. (5) For Liesch the Spirit of God must animate any form, if it is authentic worship. It is not the form that makes one spiritual; rather, as he puts it, "behavior and holy living reflect spirituality." (6) Essentially, the Spirit is in the praiser, and the praising behavior is testimony to the presence of the Spirit. The act of praising is a power for prompting others to praise. Liesch outlines the "Wimber Five-Phase Model," a kind of mini-service of fifteen to forty minutes that can generate and express this close-to-God experience. Liesch writes, Long, uninterrupted sections of worship [singing praise] allow people time to offer their whole selves (mind, will, and emotions) to the Lord without distraction. Accordingly, this Five-Phase model contains adoration and intimacy phases that allow us to linger in God's presence. (7)

It takes planning, insight, and skill to do sustained sections of public singing that move through the five phases, from (1) invitation to (2) engagement to (3) exaltation to (4) adoration to (5) intimacy with some closeout. As he describes it, the invitation phase "accepts people where they are and begins to draw them into worship." It can be celebratory, upbeat, and oriented toward praise. The engagement phase uses a text that is addressed to the Lord. In the exaltation phase people sing out to the Lord employing words like "great, majestic, worthy, reigns, Lord, mountains and so on." (8) High notes and a greater dynamic are needed to increase the intensity and to express a sense of God's greatness. During the adoration phase the dynamics are subdued and the pace slower, and melodic range is reduced. Key words are "you" and "Jesus." The intimacy phrase is the most personal and the quietest. One can address God as "Daddy" or "Abba." The personal pronouns "I" and "you" are key. Accompaniments are soft; percussion may be eliminated. The closeout song can be a big summarizing piece and speak of dedication or of exaltation.

Because this kind of praise is focused on the inner world of the singer, pointing to the saving deeds of God is not a key element. Nor are the promises of God a key ingredient. Not even trust (faith) in God seems important. Only reverence for and closeness to God (adoration and intimacy) seem essential to Fervent Praise.

Thankful Praise. The fourth kind of praise theology can be seen in Psalm 136:3-4: "O give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever; who alone does great wonders, for his steadfast love endures forever." Here praise is an act of thanksgiving that is linked to the goodness and mercy of God. This mercy is more a promise made than something one can lay claim to, for it overcomes the unfaithfulness of the worshiper with the gift of pardon and peace. After the fall humans are incapable of complete trust in God and unselfish love for others. The attitude and behavior that God seeks can come only through God's transformation of the worshiper's heart. Indeed, a person who knows God's mercy and relies on it will give thanks for it. Praise will grow from thanksgiving for God's merciful attitude, promises, and actions, especially as they are shown in Christ. This kind of praise is obviously focused on the Lord's doings, not on anything the worshiper may offer. It can be compared to a thank-you card that cheerfully identifies the gift that prompted the expression of thanks.

The sacrifice of thanksgiving

In today's exchange of songs among theological traditions it is all too easy to encounter an orienting theology that has no focus on the gospel and Christ's saving activity. Recall, that, after the Augsburg Confession had been presented before the Holy Roman Emperor, Melanchthon accepted the task of responding to Roman Catholic arguments that held that sacraments confer grace ex opere operato (by the act itself, apart from faith) on those who put no obstacle in the way. His opponents also maintained that the Mass was a sacrifice for sins of the living and the dead by which sin was taken away and God was reconciled.

In the Apology, then, Melanchthon wished to show how the Lutheran position was both what Scripture said and what the ancient church had taught. First, he established that the Lord' s Supper does not grant grace ex opere operato. Romans 5:1 is clear: Grace is received by faith. "Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." His second task was to show that the Mass is not a propitiatory sacrifice. A sacrament is "a ceremony or work in which God presents to us what the promise joined to the ceremony offers." A sacrifice, however, is "a ceremony or work that we render to God in order to give him honor." (9)

There are two kinds of sacrifice, and they should not be confused. The first kind is atoning sacrifice, "a work of satisfaction for guilt and punishment that reconciles God, conciliates the wrath of God, or merits the forgiveness of sins for others."[sup.10] Melanchthon explained that all of the Levitical sacrifices (sin or burnt offerings) foreshadowed the one atoning sacrifice accomplished by the death of Christ (Heb 10:4, 10). They were symbols of a future offering and had lost their purpose after the death and resurrection of Christ. The second kind of sacrifice is eucharistic sacrifice. A sacrifice of thanksgiving, he said, "does not merit the forgiveness of sins or reconciliation but is rendered by those who have already been reconciled as a way for us to give thanks or express gratitude for having received forgiveness of sins and other benefits."11 Eucharistic sacrifices area continuous activity, for they are spiritual sacrifices through the work of the Holy Spirit in those who believe in Christ. The church12 is a holy priesthood, which offers spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:5). Romans 12:1 calls for Christians "by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship." "Spiritual worship" fears and trusts God. (13) Faith is the key. A sacrifice of praise is offered to God by lips that acknowledge God's promises and deeds (Heb 13:15). Such eucharistic sacrifices are prayer, thanksgiving, confession, and the like. (14) None of these can be done apart from faith and the thankfulness of one who trusts the promises of God.


Obviously, these are not mere outward acts. Melanchthon provides a definition of true worship (John 4:23-24) when he writes, "In summary, the worship of the New Testament is spiritual, that is, it is the righteousness of faith in the heart and the fruits of faith." (15) With various passages he shows that this is the teaching of Scripture. (16) The new and pure sacrifice, then, is "faith, prayer, thanksgiving, confession, the preaching of the gospel, suffering on account of the gospel, and similar things. (17)

How do these make the name of the Lord great? Melanchthon writes:

The proclamation of the gospel produces faith in those who receive the gospel. They call upon God, they give thanks to God, they bear afflictions for their confession, they do good works on account of the glory of Christ. In this way the name of the Lord becomes great among the nations. Therefore "incense" and "a pure offering" do not refer to a ceremony ex opere operato but to all those sacrifices through which the name of the Lord is made great, namely, faith, prayer, the preaching of the gospel, confession, etc. (Apology XXIV, 33)

If faith receives the benefits of Christ's saving death and resurrection, the fruits of faith flow from a thankful heart for what God has done. The outward acts of worship will not reconcile; righteousness comes through faith. Thankfulness does not save but is rather a "fruit" of faith. Hearing the gospel makes a believer want to receive the remission of sins and the gift of righteousness through Christ and to produce spiritual things, namely, good works--all to the glory of Christ. Faith and the fruits of faith honor and glorify God, for they are the spiritual worship that God seeks.

Praise that focuses on an outward saying of thankful words, then, does not truly honor God. If an act of praise is treated as an act of reconciliation, it dishonors the death and resurrection of Christ. Or if it is said and done without faith, it is an empty, hypocritical act before God. Although such things appear to honor God, the Lord rejects them because they lack faith. (18)

Because Creature Praise seeks to express primarily a creature-Creator relationship, Obedient Praise views praise as a demonstration of correct behavior, and Fervent Praise seeks to affect inner dimensions of the one who praises, is it not Thankful Praise that most clearly honors the saving work of Christ? Melanchthon's biblical concept of eucharistic sacrifice rightly keeps one from imagining that God wants an outward act of praise or an act of praise that seeks to make peace with God.

Examples of thankful praise

Thankful Praise can be found in the practice of the Reformation period and its tradition of worship. A few examples follow, including a hymn referenced in the Book of Concord, a hymn by Paul Gerhardt, a post-communion prayer from Luther, and the text of a Bach cantata.

In the celebration of the Mass among Lutherans hymns were included. Luther also instructed Christians to end their morning devotions with -a hymn. (19) The Formula of Concord quotes from the hymn "Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt" when discussing original sin in order to show how such teachings were incorporated in its songs:

...we believe, teach, and confess that original sin is not a slight corruption of human nature, but rather a corruption so deep that there is nothing sound or uncorrupted left in the human body or soul, in its internal or external powers. Instead, as the church sings, "Through Adam's fall human nature and our essence are completely corrupted." (20)

The hymn was published already in 1524 and widely used as a didactic hymn. (21) Significant here is how is how Lazarus Spengler's (1479-1534) seven-stanza text continues, saying how this sinful corruption from birth makes everyone prone to evil but that Christ, the second Adam, came to take our place and offer the gift of grace to all who believe. Everyone, therefore, can have hope because of God's gracious gift. (22) The application of law that opens the hymn is turned into an occasion for gospel proclamation. Those who have hope in Christ then have cause for thanksgiving to God. The gospel telling is the grounds for faith and for giving honor to the Lord. It is not merely doctrine, it is Thankful Praise for God's promises and actions.

A century after the Reformation one finds Thankful Praise in the hymns of Paul Gerhardt (1606-1676). There are ten in the Lutheran Book of Worship. It is obvious that Thankful Praise drives his hymns for Christmas (LBW #23, #46), (23) Lent (#105,#116, #117) and Easter (#129). In thesetexts the key is not so much praise of God as it is trust in God. Trust brings gladness because joy is anchored in Christ's salvation, as stanza 1 of "Awake, My Heart, with Gladness" demonstrates:
Awake, my heart, with gladness,
See what today is done;
Now after gloom and sadness,
Comes forth the glorious sun.
My Savior there was laid
Where our bed must be made
When to the realms of light
Our spirit wings its flight. (24)

Can this type of praise be found even in a hymn that deals with the created world? Gerhardt's "Evening and Morning" (LBW #465), a poetic discussion of living under the steadfast love of God, gives ample evidence. His original had twelve stanzas; LBW reduced it to four. Its abbreviated version says that God is to be praised for evening, morning, sunset, dawning, wealth, peace, gladness, preservation from danger--all out of God's mercy. Gerhardt adds: Give me pardon, Lord, and guide my doings so they please you. Stanza 4 then praises God for such gifts:
To God in heaven All praise be given!
Come, let us offer And gladly proffer
To the creator the gifts he doth prize.
He well receiveth A heart that believeth;
Hymns that adore him Are precious before him
And to his throne like sweet incense arise. (25)

The twelve stanzas of the German original show how Gerhardt's poetry worked the topic. The opening stanza anchors it all in God's light, which gives life. (26) Already in early Christian hymnody light and sun are names for Christ (Matt 5:14, John 1:5, John 8:12) and could easily be taken that way here. Knowing God's love in Christ, then, the Christian looks to God's merciful care in each day and situation. Gerhardt applies this to head, body members, eyes, and every life situation. The focus is on trust in God and what God does in a disciple's life. Though the name of Jesus is never directly stated in Gerhardt's highly crafted poetry, his stanza 9 clearly speaks of God's forgiving mercy, putting all sins out of sight. (27) Everything is dependent on trust in God's redemption and God's care. Stanza 12 can then proclaim that it leads one to calm and joy-filled thoughts in every life situation. (28) Through Christ, life with God is one of continuous Thankful Praise.

In his German Mass Luther provided a post-communion collect, which appears in LBW's liturgy for Holy Communion. (29) It gives thanks for "the healing power of this gift," namely, the benefits of salvation in Christ received by faith in the eating and drinking of his body and blood. It asks God to use the sacramental eating and drinking to make faith in God and love of one another stronger. It is objective, not looking at subjective inner desires or emotions but only to what is spiritual worship, namely, faith that receives the gift and the fruits of faith that flow from it "for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord."

A cantata by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), "Die Himmel erzahlen die Ehre Gottes" (The Heavens Declare the Glory of God, BWV 76), chosen somewhat at random for its opening line, provides a sample of Thankful Praise by choral and instrumental forces. During his first year (1723) as Kantor in Leipzig Bach presented this grand, two-section cantata on the Second Sunday after Trinity. The thought flow of the fourteen movements, primarily a sequence of recitative (setting up of a situation) and aria (song about a sentiment), can be summarized as follows:

Part One

(1.) Chorus--The heavens declare the glory of God (Psalm 19:1).

(2.) Recitative--God's grace and mercy proclaim him everywhere; his heralds call us to join the feast.

(3.) Aria--Seek God's grace, for through Christ all have salvation.

(4.) Recitative--Many turn to other gods but a Christian clings to Christ.

(5.) Aria--I continue to worship Christ.

(6.) Recitative--Lord, you called us out of darkness and your Spirit makes us alive and continues to nourish us.

(7.) Chorale--God's grace blesses us with eternal life through Christ. (30)

Part Two

(8.) Sinfonia by orchestra--adagio, vivace.

(9.) Recitative--God, bless your people so that they may honor, believe, love, worship and magnify you.

(10.) Aria--Enemies may hate me, yet I joyfully cling to Jesus.

(11.) Recitative--Christ's love lives in me and strengthens my love for others.

(12.) Aria--Show your love by what you do, for Christ died for all.

(13.) Recitative--All Christians must honor and praise God's love.

(14.) Chorale--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, let your people and all the world magnify and thank you. (31)

The cantata leaves no doubt for what God is praised, namely, that God's mercy through Christ is what calls us to God and makes us people who are filled with love. God's love is in us even when the world rejects us. God helps us show that love in all that we do. All Christians will praise God for this love and will magnify the name of the Trinity. The text balances faith and obedience (fruits of faith) while keeping central what God does, that is, loves us and fills us with godly love. It is both personal and doctrinal, anchored in a trust of God that truly honors the holy name. Aspects of Creature Praise, Obedient Praise, and Fervent Praise are incorporated into the Thankful Praise. It admirably illustrates a Lutheran theology of praise.

A legacy

These few examples show that a central core of Lutheran creativity, especially for song and prayer, employed the kind of Thankful Praise that Melanchthon's theology of the "sacrifice of thanks giving" had identified and extolled in Article XXIV of the Apology of the Augsburg Confession. Whether consciously derived from this article or not, the concept of Thankful Praise is clearly driving these texts. Even today this legacy can be the "yeast" that expands the limited dimensions of Creature Praise to encompass the Lamb's glorious redemption, that overcomes the entrapments of law-oriented Obedient Praise, and that links an inward Fervent Praise to faith in God's rescuing actions in Christ.

In the 1970s when Lutherans desired a Hymn of Praise with a resurrection accent, they did what the ancient church had done in creating the Gloria in excelsis. They found a scriptural basis (sola scriptura), assembled the text "This Is the Feast," and centered the praise on the Lamb of God whose blood sets us free (sola gratia). It sings of thanks giving for the one great "propitiatory" sacrifice. In the midst of a service that delivers the Word of God and administers the Lord's Supper it reminds everyone that the awe-some deeds of God are the reason to trust the Lord (sola fide). Like the hymns of the Reformation and of Paul Gerhardt, like the prayer of Luther, and like the cantatas of Bach, this song recalls the story of God's rescue of sinners through Jesus' suffering, death, and resurrection. It is driven by a theology of praise that is both global and personal, expresses both awe and joy, acknowledges God as both the object of faith and the source of the fruits of faith, and gives expression to the whole Christian Church's and each believer's "Alleluia" (Praise the Lord).

Let Lutherans then not focus on outward acts of praise, or confuse atoning sacrifice with the sacrifice of thanksgiving, but rightly combine praise with proclamation of salvation in Christ. They will then employ their legacy, one that draws Creature Praise, Obedient Praise, and Fervent Praise into Thankful Praise.

Both testaments reveal a pattern of praise that lifts up the words and deeds of God in thankfulness and song.

Let Lutherans rightly combine praise with proclamation of salvation in Christ. They will then employ their legacy....

(1.) The Book of Concord: The Confesions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, ed. Robert Kolb, Timothy J. Wengert, and Charles P. Arand (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2000). All quotations are from this translation.

(2.) For a more on praise see James L. Brauer, Worship, Gottesdienst, Cultus Dei: What the Lutheran Confessions Say About Worship (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2005), Chapter 7.

(3.) S.v. "Praise" in The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1973).

(4.) Note that Luther's Large Catechism (III, 48), in discussing the hallowing of God's name, makes a similar point: "For there is nothing that [God] would rather hear than to have his glory and praise exalted above everything else and his Word taught in its purity, cherished and treasured."

(5.) Barry Liesch, The New Worship: Straight Talk on Music and the Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1996).

(6.) Liesch, The New Worship, 20.

(7.) Liesch, The New Worship, 47.

(8.) Liesch, The New Worship, 50.

(9.) Apology XXIV, 18.

(10.) Apology XXIV, 19.

(11.) Apology XXIV, 19.

(12.) The church is those who believe; see Large Catechism II, 34-59.

(13.) Apology XXIV, 26.

(14.) Apology XXIV, 26. In another place Melanchthon identifies these sacrifices as "the preaching of the gospel, faith prayer, thanksgiving, confession, the afflictions of the saints, and indeed, all the good works of the saints" (Apology XXIV, 25).

(15.)Apology XXIV. 27.

(16.) Jer 7:22, 23: Ps 50:13, 15; Ps 116:17.

(17.) Apology XXIV, 30.

(18.) Cf. Isaiah 1:10-20, Amos 5:21-24, and Rom 14:23.

(19.) Small Catechism, VII, 3.

(20.) Formula of Concord, Epitome I,8; Solid Declaration I, 23.

(21.) Lutheran Worship (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1982) #363 gives this translation, with a shortened meter: "All mankind fell in Adam's fall, One common sin infects us all; From sire to son the bane descends, And over all the curse impends."

(22.) EKG #243, stanza 6 reads: "Mein' Fussen ist dein heilge Wort / ein Leuchte nah und ferne, / ein Licht, das mir den Weg weist fort; / so dieser Morgensterne / in uns aufgeht, / so hold versteht / der Mensch die hohen Gaben, / die Gottes Geist / denen verheisst, / die Hoffnung daraufhaben."

(23.) Note, for example, LBW #23, stanza 4: "Your thirst for my salvation / Procured my liberty. /Oh, love beyond all telling,/ That led you to embrace / In love, all love excelling, / Our lost and fallen race,"

(24.) LBW #129, st. 1. In German EKG #86, st. 1 reads: "Auf, auf, mein Herz, mit Freuden / nimm wahr was heut geschicht;/ wie kommt nach grossem Leiden / nun ein so grosses Llcht! / Mein Heiland war gelegt / da, wo man uns hintragt, / wenn von uns unser Geist / gen Himmel ist gereist."

(25.) LBW #465, st. 4.

(26.) EKG #346, st. 1, begins: "Die guldne Sonne / voll Freud und wonne / bringt unsern Grenzen / mit ihrem Glanzen / ein herz-erquikkendes, / liebliches Licht."

(27.) Its concluding lines say, "God, my crown, forgive and spare [me]; let my faults be removed from your sight through [your] grace and favor."

(28.) EKG #346. Stanza 12 already looks forward with joy to heaven: "Have joyous plenty and blessed calm to abide in the heavenly garden; that's where my thoughts are focused."

(29.) "We give you thanks, almighty God, that you have refreshed us through the healing power of this gift of life; and we pray that in your mercy you would strengthen us, through this gift, in faith toward you and in fervent love toward one another; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord." LBW, p. 74.

(30.) The chorale is stanza 1 of Luther's "Es wolle Gott uns gnadig sein." See LBW #335.

(31.) Stanza 3 of Luther's "Es wolle Gott." See LBW #335.

James L. Brauer

Professor of Practical Theology and Dean of the Chapel Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri
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Author:Brauer, James L.
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Article Type:Essay
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2008
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Contextualization for ministry and the Lutheran Heritage.
The Gift of Grace: The Future of Lutheran Theology.
Mark P. Bangert: Professor of Worship and Church Music.

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