In following the sequence of parts in the order of worship, their significance should be noted.
1. Versicles are short passages of Scripture intended to incite the worshipers to devotion and to suggest the central thought of the part following.
2. The Confession of Sins is properly made as a preparatory step, to obtain assurance of the forgiveness of God at the very beginning of worship. It has taken the place of the ancient Confiteor. In the Confiteor the priest knelt and made confession of his sins to Almighty God, to the blessed Virgin Mary, the blessed archangel Michael, the blessed John the Baptist, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, etc.. The meaning of this confession was that the priest, having doffed his usual clothing and having donned his priestly vestments, was worthy of offering the sacrifice for the living and the dead. In Luth. worship the Confession is made for the entire cong..
3. The Office of the Word begins with the Introit and extends up to, but does not include, the Preface. The Introit (entrance) is the opening of the Ps of the day, spoken or chanted after the preparation, to indicate the character of the day and the nature of the spiritual food offered to the cong. It is a remnant of the primitive psalmody, which was probably taken over into the early ch. from the services of the synagog. Originally the entire Ps was chanted or sung antiphonally bet. the officiating clergy and the choir at the great entrance of the officiating priest and his assistants. Luther favored the use of the entire introductory Ps, but the abbreviated form remained, chiefly on account of lack of time.
4. The Gloria Patri or Lesser Doxology to the Holy Trinity distinguishes the use of the Psalter in NT times from its use in the synagog worship.
5. The Kyrie is a plea for the removal of misery and suffering, a confession of the wretchedness to be borne as a consequence of sins now forgiven. It is addressed to the Lord of mercy, in whom we not only have forgiveness of sins but also help and assistance in every need.
6. The Gloria in excelsis or Greater Doxology fittingly follows as a hymn of adoration, celebrating God's glory as manifested in the merciful gift of His Son, who bore all our sins and infirmities.
7. The Collects are prayers in which the wants and perils, or the wishes and desires, of the people or the entire ch. are together presented to God.
8. The reading of the Epistle is followed by the Hallelujah on the part of the cong., which praises the Lord for the unspeakable gift of His Word. At this point may he sung the Gradual (sequence, prose, tract, trope), originally merely an extension of the last syllable of the Hallelujah, in order to permit the lector to proceed from the Epistle to the Gospel ambo, but later developed into a special hymn or a series of responses and versicles, from which the liturgical plays were developed. The announcement of the Gospel is hailed with the sentence Glory be to Thee, O Lord, and the Praise be to Thee, O Christ at the close signifies the grateful acceptance or the Word by the cong.. Then the Creed is said or chanted.
9. In the Offertory following the sermon the cong. confesses its grateful and humble acceptance of the Word which has just been proclaimed, all the faithful offering themselves, their substance, and the sacrifices of prayer, praise, and thanksgiving to the Lord.
10. The Salutation, with its Response, is sung at the opening of the Communion service to indicate the beginning of a new part of the service.
11. The Office of the Holy Communion begins with the Preface and extends to the end of the service. The Preface is preceded by the prefatory sentences (Sursum and Gratias) and is distinguished for impressiveness and beauty, setting forth the reason for the hymn of praise which follows the chanting of the Preface (whether common, for ordinary Sundays, or proper, for festival seasons). This hymn of praise is known as the Sanctus,* or Tersanctus* (also called Seraphic Hymn; cf. Is. 6:23), in which the combination of heaven's and earth's chorus results in an exalted strain of glorification and thanksgiving (to be distinguished from Trisagion*).
12. After the consecration of the elements (see Institution, Words of) there follows in many liturgies the Anamnesis.* In Luth. liturgies the consecration is commonly followed by the Pax (The peace of the Lord be with you alway! Amen), followed by the Agnus* Dei, during which the communicants begin to approach the altar.
13. The Nunc* dimittis opens the Postcommunion. The believer, having received the fulness of God's grace and mercy, feels that he may now depart in peace to his home.
14. In the Benedicamus the cong. is called upon to give all honor to God alone, in order to receive from Him the final blessing.
Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission
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