Divine Service Setting Five a.k.a. Luther’s Deutsche Messe

For October and November, we will be using Divine Service Setting Five from Lutheran Service Book when we receive the Lord’s Supper. This setting is based on Luther’s German Mass (1526), which uses classic Lutheran hymns in place of the canticles. Luther composed or revised Latin hymns for each part of the Ordinary, the pillars of the Divine Service that we ordinarily use every week. These include hymns for the Kyrie Eleison, Gloria in Excelsis, Creed, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei.

Some of these hymns are not as well known to us as they might have been in generations past. To help us in becoming acquainted with this setting of the Liturgy and to learn it, the schoolchildren will be assisting us in singing the Ordinary at our Mission Festival on Sunday, October 13th. On November 3rd, we will celebrate All Saints’ Day with a festival adult choir. I encourage you to follow the links in each week’s “Prepare” email and website post to get the texts and tunes “in your head,” so to speak.

Luther warned against receiving either this order of Divine Service or his Formula Missae, the Latin Mass, by way of the law. He begins his preface to the Deutsche Messe, “I would kindly and for God’s sake request all those who see this order of service or desire to follow it: Do not make it a rigid law to bind or entangle anyone’s conscience, but use it in Christian liberty as long, when, where, and how you find it to be practical and useful.”

It is fitting to use this setting for the end of the church year as we celebrate the Reformation. Luther composed German hymns for the Ordinary so that all of his fellow Germans could learn and understand the Liturgy. Previously, only those few taught Latin could participate and understand the words of the Liturgy. Essential to Luther’s Reformation was and continues to be learning how we live out the faith, what we believe, and why we believe it. These hymns continue to assist us in singing the faith and enhancing our understanding of each part of the Liturgy.