Liturgical Improvements

I have been doing things pretty much the same since I arrived in Warsaw 4 1/2 yrs. ago, except to some extent I have toned down the ceremonial a little. The service is not less reverent I would say, just more close to what they were used to before I came. There are some areas of my liturgical practice, however, that for the longest time I have known needed improvement, but for one reason or another I just haven’t “gotten around” to changing them. That sounds horrible, but it is true that once you get comfortable with a certain practice, it is hard to develop it or change it.

One thing I am going to be changing is the practice of having lay assistants help distribute communion. This was something that was done before I arrived, but now I think it is time to make an adjustment. For as small a congregation as we are, this is simply not a necessity. Instead, what I am going to do is begin having the two young boys in our church serve as acolytes, wearing cassock and cotta (or surplice). For our purposes I only need one at a time. He can carry the processional crucifix, light and extinguish candles, and collect the “empties” during communion. Before, there would be two of my elders, one to distribute the individual cups, and one to collect the “empties.” If this is not an outright violation of AC XIV, it is still not a good practice in my opinion. Now I will be administering both the Chalice and the Individual Cups. Much better, methinks.

I also need to be more consistent with using acolytes. I used the young boys for a while, but got away from it for some reason. There is simply no reason those boys cannot be learning the ways of the chancel, when to kneel, genuflect, how to fold their hands, how to conduct themselves in the Church, particularly during the service, what the ceremonies mean, etc. There is no excuse on my part for not putting them to good use except maybe laziness. Okay, so there is no good excuse. They are in church every Sunday (thanks to their father) and they pretty much do whatever I tell them. This would enhance the service as well.

Another change concerns the use of the Propers. As much as I would love for the words of the Psalms to be on the lips of the people, they just do not feel comfortable with chanting them (musically speaking). They will still be in their ears if I chant them. This will eliminate the frustration of having to look at something other than the hymnal for parts of the service that are not in the hymnal.

These are just a few things that I am considering. I am open to suggestions from those who have made similar changes.


About Rev. Paul L. Beisel

Graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN in 2001 (M Div.) and 2004 (S.T.M.); LC-MS Pastor and Adjunct Instructor for John Wood Community College; Husband of Amy and father of Susan, Elizabeth, Martin, and Theodore.
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5 Responses to Liturgical Improvements

  1. Rev. Benjamin Mayes says:

    You could use the LSB tones with your people. Maybe those would be easier for them? Then about once a month or so, you and the more musically-gifted people in the congregation could sing the propers Gregorian style.

    I don’t think a half-page insert is too difficult to use. We add the Psalm tone to the bottom of the CPH one-year insert. But if you use the exact same tone for the Psalmody all the time (not a bad idea in your situation), you could use that “real estate” for the hymn numbers. On the Sundays where the schola (favorit choir) is going to sing Gregorian, don’t provide the people with the introit, but only the back side with the readings. Or at least print the propers in a different format, so that it’s clear just by looking at it that they’re not supposed to sing the Introit that Sunday.

  2. Dakota Ice says:

    When I was growing up using TLH my pastor spoke the introit.

    Maybe the pastor singing/saying the Introit is the best way to go.

    I don’t remember a psalm or gradual either.

    Sermons were a lot longer.


  3. Dakota Ice says:


    Just a bit off topic, but do you have the Service Builder? And if you do what do you think?

    I just got mine fired-up today. So all I can say is it looks like it will be handy. I hate learning new programs.


  4. Pastor Beisel says:

    Hey Pete. No, I don’t have that. I don’t think I will probably get it. I think it would be great if I was planning on printing the liturgy out or if I were in the habit of cutting and pasting different parts of the liturgy together. Perhaps that is one of its dangers–it really lets people take liberties with the structure of the service that shouldn’t be allowed.

  5. Pastor Scott Stiegemeyer says:

    The fact is that one what can be done in one congregation can not necessarily be done in another. For instance, responsively chanting the psalms. I don’t know your circumstances, but I can envision a congregation of under 50 people where no one can read music or carry a tune. Of course, one can invest the time (perhaps decades) in teaching musical skills. This is one area where our culture is failing us. People used to play musical instruments and sing in their homes for entertainment. Now most watch TV all the time.

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