Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday by the Rivers of Babylon

...well, only one of them actually: the Tigris.

The chaplaincy on post determined that they "did not see much interest out there for a liturgical protestant Ash Wednesday service." We scrambled and put a service together anyway. Since I was the one making the arrangments, it was Lutheran through and through. We had public Confession and Absolution and the Service of the Word based on Divine Service, Setting 1 from my copy of the LSB. In place of the Service of the Sacrament, we wrote up a form for the Imposition of Ashes based on the litany and some the collects for humility and repentance.

As kantor, I chanted the opening versicles (Open Thou My Lips, Make Haste, and Gloria Patri) and three of today's hymns. I used one of my favorite Gregorian tones for all three to link them together as continuity milestones through the service. The songs were two Lenten hymns from St Gregory the Great: Audi Benigne Conditor and Clarum Decus Jejunii; and a 12th Century Hymn called Ecce Tempus Idoneum. I struggled with the organ so that the congregation could sing Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed for the hymn of the day.

I found a former Lutheran pastor turned Army officer who agreed to officate, preach, and impose ashes. Hearing Lutheran liturgy again warmed my soul and I had forgotten how powerful the readings for Ash Wednesday are!

Everyone loved the service. In spite of only having 48 hours notice and very limited publicity, over 30 people showed up for our humble effort. Praise the Lord!

...I should note that 30+ is a larger attendence than most of the Sunday chapel services here. So much for not seeing "much interest" for Lent from Protestants! :P