Monday, November 12, 2007

Battle of the Bands

If you don't like the music at the informal/ contemporary/ ear-splitting gen-x led service, you're probably losing the battle, if history is any indicator and if you are Lutheran. An article in Church History (1936) comments
    "Because the Swedish church in America had failed to train an American ministry, and the men sent from Sweden were unable to preach in the language of the younger people, the Swedish churches on the Delaware became Episcopal churches. Thus was solved the language problem by the group which comprised the earliest Lutheran settlers in Pennsylvania.

    When Henry Melchior Muhlenberg came from Germany in 1742, he found the German Lutherans in Pennsylvania in complete confusion. . . he squarely faced the problem of language and influenced his sons and his colleagues to master the language of the country in order that the gospel might be preached to all, regardless of language or nationality. By 1754, when he was pastor at Trappe, he preached regularly in both English and German. . . in New York City, he preached in Dutch in the morning, in German in the afternoon and in English in the evening. It mattered little to him which language was used in a service of worship. The important thing was that it was the language of the people. "The Language Problem in the Lutheran Church in Pennsylvania 1742-1820" by Armin George Weng, Church History, Vol. 5, No. 4. (Dec., 1936), pp. 359-375.
As much as I don't like it, this awful music that changes my heart rate and hurts my ears, "preaches the gospel" for some in a language they understand. Although if it sounds like a non-denominational, all-purpose gathering in a movie theater, is it a Lutheran church and have you lost the battle of the bands whichever way you go?

After Muhlenberg died, many Lutherans went back to using German, according to this study. Squabbles about language continued in Pennsylvania. You find First English and Second English Lutheran Churches in some communities.

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