Father Fenton was correct when he maintained that CTS (well, CS too) should have offered a mandatory class in rubrics. Fenton and a legion of others have also argued that only one 10-week class in “Lutheran Worship” was simply not enough of a mandated immersion in the richness, and riches, of historic Lutheran worship.
I am a ’95 grad from the “Fort” (that’s 1995 weisenheimers) and was blessed to have the much loved and revered Rev’d Dr. Daniel Reuning as my “worship” professor my first quarter. Because Dr. Reuning was then Dean of the Chapel, he will always be designated by me in my own memory and recollections as “Dean” Reuning. His class was marvelous. He even brought the Rev’d Charles Evanson in to our class for one session (back pre-Petersen/Redeemer).
And then, as we neared the end of the quarter, Dean Reuning told the class that we would all be video-recording an abbreviated page 15 Communion Service (or, maybe it was LW, the years have dimmed my synapses). This was prior to digital recording and would be done by a library worker using a camcorder with tripod and the old reliable VHS cassette tape. At the time, Kramer Chapel was undergoing some renovations, so daily chapel was being conducted in Sihler auditorium. So too would be our moot-mass.
Dean Reuning told us that everybody would be chanting the parts that should be chanted (God bless him) as the ubiquitous practice in the synod of “speak/chant” (where the people can chant but the pastor only is allowed to speak) was a tad sub-Lutheran!
All well and good, except I can’t chant. I can’t sing on tune, on key, on melody, or on the planet earth - - -
I went to the Dean and asked for a special dispensation or indulgence to “speak” all my “pastor-parts.” What amazed me was that I was not alone (here, I AM naming names…sorry guys). Accompanying me in my entreaties were Hank Drummond (later to be our 4th year class president and Deaf-interpreter extraordinaire) and Rob Wurst (simply one of the finest men I’ve ever known, and a redoubt of indomitable Lutheran confessionalism and orthodoxy…and also, the famed “Baron of Brains” J ). The Dean would simply have none of our waffling and weaseling and assured us that “...oh gentlemen....everybody can chant!”
He brought each of us up individually to his piano, and had us chant a few pieces, no doubt firmly convinced that he could coach us a little on matching tones, or I dunno, tuna-fishes…
After all three of us had spent about 5 to 7 minutes with him (probably less, he’s a Saint but not a martyr)… Dean Reuning looking grimmer then his usual effervescent personality was known for said: “well….you three may all speak your parts.” He came close I swear to issuing a Fez (c.f. “That 70’s Show”) style of farewell... “and I say to you—GOOD-DAY!” At least he was no Seinfeldian (not Schwenckfeldian) Vocal Nazi: “No class ‘pass’ for you!”
And from that moment on, Hank, Rob, and myself (already good friends and amigos) collectively referred to our branded trio as the “Flat-Boys” (and not Flatt as in Earl Scruggs and Lester).
My first call was to a twin-point parish that used only TLH. I did not chant. I do remember that my friend and neighbor to the north, the Rev’d Dr. Alan Ludwig used to say: “every pastor should chant…even if he can’t.” So when I was asked to serve a vacancy down the road (which I served for about 6 months) and discovered that they had LW…with the pastor’s parts clearly marked for chanting…I was off and running (running “off-key” of course). I thought I was doing okay until the evening that one of the lay leaders excitedly took me aside before service to show me a huge stack of TLH’s that the parish used to use, and recently re-discovered they still had. “Hey pastor, this is great…now you can use the same hymns, and EVERYTHING ELSE, that you use at your own two congregations!” Ahh, yes, I got the message.
I did not start to chant again with any regularity until years later. I am back to being an exclusive TLH user and I do chant every single part that has a congregational chant response. I also chant the collect, preface, proper preface, Pater Noster, and Verba. My parishioners are neither dumb (nor deaf) nor uninterested….they’re just very loving and tolerant.
But let me tell you…I am still King of the “Flat Boys”…I make Rob and Hank look like Luciano and Domingo swinging a sweet duet on a PBS fund raiser.
But, I am dang joyful as I make my noise!