We must take note also of a most deplorable tendency of our times, namely, that of preferring the shallow modern ‘Gospel anthem’ to the classical hymns of our Church. The reference is both to the text and to the tunes in use in many churches. On all sides the criticism is heard that the old Lutheran hymns are “too heavy, too doctrinal, that our age does not understand them.” Strange that the Lutherans of four centuries and of countless languages could understand and appreciate them, even as late as a generation ago! Is the present generation less intelligent or merely more frivolous?
(From P. E . Kretzmann; Magazin fur evang.-luth. Homiletik und Pastoraltheologie; June 1929, pp 216-217.)
A very strong tendency toward sectarianism and even secularization is found in the increasing number of special days that are celebrated, at least with a special ‘program’ in the Sunday-school, if not with a similar perversion of the regular service in the church itself. We have with us to-day Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Children’s Day, Rally Day, Father-and-son Day, Decision Day, Washington’s Birthday, Lincoln’s Birthday, Roosevelt’s Birthday, Armistice Day, and a host of others, and apparently the end is not yet. “All these,” Rev. F. R. Webber says (Lutheran Church Art, November, 1928), “are anthropocentric. We have a church-year that is highly Christocentric. Any so-called Lutheran who sets aside the old church-year and out of desire to ape the sects indulges in the sloppy sentimentalism of the sectarian, Christless world-year is a traitor to the Word of God. What warrant have we to observe festivals, ferias, and fasts in honor of people?” The stricture, though severe, is well taken and well worthy of serious deliberation.
(From P. E Kretzmann, Magazin fur evang.-luth. Homiletik und Pastoraitheologie, June 1929, pp 218)
A very peculiar innovation showing the trend toward sectarianism in our circles is a strange liturgical act, the possibilities of which were evidently overlooked by the old Lutheran compilers of church orders and orders of service for Sundays and holidays. The reference is to the act which the children, in their usual frank, if not brutal, manner, with more truth than poetry, call ‘the blessing of the nickels’ or even ‘the blessing of the pennies’. It is a short prayer of thanksgiving spoken over the collection plates after the deacons or ushers have solemnly marched up the center aisle, with the baskets or plates carefully stacked on the left arm.
Charity fails to find an excuse condoning such an act in a Lutheran church. We have ever taught that good works and the merit of men should be kept out of sight as much as possible, particularly when we assemble in the house of God as poor sinners desiring the assurance of the forgiveness of our sins, without any merit or worthiness in ourselves. Formerly the collection was purposely taken (or ‘the offerings lifted’) as unobtrusively as possible, during the singing of the hymn following the sermon, not during a sentimental ‘offertory’ played with soft stops.
And now much ado is made, not exactly about nothing, but surely about the least of our gifts for the kingdom. That a special prayer of thanksgiving is offered, or even a special service of thanksgiving arranged, for an unusual gift of God’s mercy in overcoming our close-fistedness is entirely in order, but to include the Sunday collection in a regular order of worship, with a special liturgical act, is – simply not Lutheran.”
(P. E . Kretzmann, Magazin fur evang.-luth. Homiletik und Pastoraltheologie, June 1929, p 219.)