Advanced Liturgy*

I want to talk about “liturgy.” The more old-fashioned among us will remember that we used to talk about “Order of Worship” or even the “Service of the Word.” It seems to me that the adherents of modern liturgism have several not-to-he·despised things in their favor.

For once one has mastered the Romanizing tenets of Protestant liturgiSts -which embrace the symbolism of the ancient oriental cults and the laws of theatrical production—liturgical worship service (be it Catholic, Episcopalian or Calvinistico-liturgic) remains beyond the reach of understanding and appreciation. Give me any desired worship program, and I will mold it into a liturgical pattern that will appeal to the eye, the ear, and the inner drives of the human being.

Tomorrow will be Sunday: the day of worship with pomp and spleodor ad gloriam Patris, Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Only conservative scoffers will sneeringly remark, “High mass will be celebrated in First Protestant tomorrow.”

Tomorrow will be Sunday; that means that the choir and choirmaster, soloist and organist will be feeding their ulcers with the gall of hypertension, while I, the pastor loci, will be able to enjoy the quiet ease of being minister and pastor of a liturgically-minded flock. This is Saturday, “the day before the day” for preachers, but I’m completely relaxed because the choirmaster reminded me early in the week that there wasn’t room for a sermon of more than ten minutes in the liturgy for Sunday morning.


Not that I don’t work! It takes me a couple of hours to outline a service of worship in my enlightened church. How glad I am for the ready source of liturgical aphorisms in that new monthly, The Liturgist’s Guide.

On my way to the golf links I saw my good friend and colleague: Dominie Edwin Van Foursquare. Ed is pastor of that backward church whose young people come to my evening service to gain inspiration—and I’m glad because some of my own congregation seem to think that the evening service isn’t very necessary. His church insists on the old way, and that means that Ed has to preach those dry and long and serious sermons which only the unenlightened enjoy.

He thinks that the Church today is beginning to resemble an opera house more than anything else. And, mind you, he even suggests that ministers like myself are depriving the Church of its savor and its Savior by minimizing the place and the effectiveness of the preaching of the Word. Repress the Word, he says, and the Church must decline.

Poor Eddy—twenty years behind the times!

Poor Eddy—who takes himself so seriously as to think that he is Cod’s prophet! How he has to brood and ponder as he struggles to master the meaning of God’s infallible Word, when he could leave nearly everything to the choirmaster and the choir, the soloist and the organist!

If you received the impression that I fear lest too great an emphasis on liturgical form will diminish the emphasis on the preaching of the Word, you are right!

If you drew any other conclusions, I refuse to be responsible. After all, I’ve got to get along with the organist in my own church, too!

*The students of rhetoric will doubtless recognize these lines as an attempt at irony (“a sort of humor, ridicule, or light sarcasm, the intended implication of which is the opposite of the literal sense of the words” – Webster).