From the Pastor’s Pen: The Retro-service


Retro: term used to describe aspects of modern culture which are consciously    derivative or imitative of those trends, modes, fashions, or attitudes of the recent             past which have or had come to be seen as unfashionable.”


As someone on the edges of Gen-X and the Millennial Generation, I assumed everyone knew what Retro meant. Then I started talking to people about doing a “Retro-service” and they looked at me like I had 5 eyes.

So, a Retro-service is a Worship service in which an old service which has fallen out of fashion, in our case the 1958 Service Book and Hymnal, will be brought back. So, on October 20th and 27th, as well as November 3rd we will be “going retro,” worshipping as Lutherans did from 1958-1978.


So, in preparation for the Retro-service I found myself cutting and pasting the music, and transcribing the words, from Setting One of Service Book and Hymnal into a bulletin format. At one point the Sanctus was on the cutting room floor.

I marveled at how only 55 years ago the hymnal was filled with Thee’s and Thou’s and how it sometimes used “Holy Ghost” and other times “Holy Spirit.” At one point I had to go to Wikipedia to make sure an Introit is what I thought it was. Then I had to go to an old version of the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer to find examples of one.

Yet, I also marveled at how, despite the great change in language, the service itself hugs very close to our current order of service. How, for all the talk about liturgical reform, and radical changes, and how things were so different in the good old days, this artifact would suggest we’re still worshipping in the manner of the earliest Christians. Justin Martyr’s famous description, in around the year 150, of Christian worship as focused on baptism, scripture, communion, prayer, and sending, was true in 1955 and still is in 2013.


The Service Book and Hymnal is both unfamiliar and recognizable.

And that’s the appeal of Retro things I think. They’re both familiar and strange, which makes us concentrate on the thing itself and see what’s essential to it. So, this experiment in worship, this Retro-service, should help us to see the center of worship more fully. It should help us to experience God’s forgiveness, hear God’s message for us, confess our faith, receive Christ’s body, and sing of his glory.