LSB under the magnifying glass

I have recently completed my own study of the LSB. I realize I may be a bit behind the rest of the Lutheran blogsphere in doing this, but I’d rather do my own research than simply take from the opinions of others.

First, two somewhat light-hearted observations:

1. Hymn 666 is appropriately “O little flock, fear not the foe.” I imagine this was intentional, and it was a good move.
2. “On eagles’ wings”: people either love it or hate it, but ironically, it’s hymn 727. I’m guessing that was done with a wink and a smile by the good folks on the Commission on Worship.

Second, welcome additions and innovations:

1. While some have lamented the inclusion of five settings of the Divine Service, I appreciate the variety that these present. When used in an appropriate rotation (perhaps not changing every Sunday, but monthly, or perhaps reserving an order for special Sundays, or something along this order) they could be used to highlight different parts of the liturgy (“Today our gloria in excelsis is set to a different tune with a slightly different wording. I invite you to consider these words particularly…”).

2. The continuous page numbering is a definite plus. No more “page 15” and “hymn 15.” Simply go to 372 and we’re all there.

3. The Creeds and the Lord’s Prayer are printed inside the back cover: easy access.

4. Prayers for worship are printed inside the front cover.

5. The wedding and funeral services are in the pew edition. Whether these will help to mitigate some of the “I want clowns at my funeral” or “Can we write our own vows?” issues remains to be seen, but putting these in the hands of the people may prove to be educational and edifying.

6. The order of individual confession and absolution seems a bit less intimidating to the first-time penitent. To me it seems a bit more straightforward than the order in LW.

7. We have faced our fear of archaic (not obsolete) language. Thee’s, thy’s, and thou’s have surfaced once again, so that my faith may look up to Thee, not trustingly. DS3 (TLH 5/15) retains them in the sung parts while updating the spoken parts (and in the Magnificat in Evening Prayer, “He has helped His servant Israel in remembrance of His mercy,” rather than “He hath holpen…” in TLH Vespers.).

Third, some disappointments. These are fewer than my positive observations, but they remain significant.

1. The pew edition does not contain the propers for the day. The lectionary references are printed as a list. The introits, graduals, verses, and collects can be tremendously devotional, but these have been omitted.

2. The Psalter omits some of the Psalms. I struggle to see the wisdom in that.

3. The lectionary still has seen fit to splice and dice some pericopal readings, omitting some two- and three-verse sections within larger readings.

4. On a personal note, the second tune to “Jesus Christ, our blessed Savior” didn’t make the cut (the tune for the even-numbered verses, LW 237). This text is one of the best in the hymnal, and that tune is marvelous.

5. Some of the hymn/song selection has me confused. I’ve made a comparative study (yes, I’m a hymnal nerd) of the hymns/songs in TLH, LW, HS98, and LSB to trace the history of hymnal inclusion. Fifteen hymns that were cut from TLH to LW reappear in LSB, two of them via HS98. These I find to be welcome inclusions. Yet, there are some which have no place in a Lutheran hymnal which have appeared uninterrupted since the 1912 Evangelical Lutheran Hymn-Book (yes, the hymnal nerd has a copy). And there are some fantastic hymns that have been omitted. Absent from LSB is “I trust, O Christ, in you alone” (TLH 319/LW 357), an absolutely beautiful hymn. Yet “I’m but a stranger here” is retained (ELH 563/TLH 660/LW 515/LSB 748). For my issues with this hymn, see below.

On the whole I’m happy with the hymnal, even as I would have made different choices regarding the hymnody. Time will tell whether it enjoys universal acceptance and use within our fractured Synod (“Holy oxymorons, Batman!”). Lord, have mercy.


11 Responses to LSB under the magnifying glass

  1. Anonymous says:

    Although not a Lutheran anymore,
    I was considering buying the LSB because I hoped it would be a conservative updating of TLH. Your review makes me hesitate. One of my favorite parts of TLH,the Common Service Book, and SBH is the inclusion of the Propers. If they are not included in LSB, the book loses its value as a resource for private worship and devotion.
    It’s a shame!

  2. OSC says:

    Let me again say, I am overall rather positive about it. But, as you say, without the propers its value for personal devotion, is diminished. Given the Commission on Worship’s encouragement for people to buy personal copies for just that reason, one must question their omission. Again, though, I think the improvements tend to outweigh the drawbacks in this edition, and I would encourage you to pick up a copy for yourself.

    But my curiosity has been aroused. Where did you go upon leaving the Lutheran Church?

  3. Ryan Markel says:

    Just a word to mention that it was physically impossible to place the propers in the Pew Edition.

    They cover 450 pages in the Altar Book.

    The Altar Book is approximately two-and-a-quarter inches thick.

    There are plenty of personal prayer and devotional resources included in the book itself, but upon the revisions to the propers, it became clear that they would not fit in the pew book.

  4. OSC says:

    Indeed. I get that. I wonder if CPH might consider publishing a pew or devotional edition of the propers as well?

  5. Anonymous says:

    I would love to know if you have a list handy of TLH hymns not in LSB. If so please email them to me at It would be immensely helpful in a presentation I make Sunday.

  6. Christopher Neuendorf says:

    As for the reason for the propers taking up so much space… The Lectionary Committee actually sat down and composed new collects to go with each of the readings for each of the series in the three-year lectionary. They also prescribed individual introits and graduals. In LW each day of the church year had the same set of propers whatever the readings, so the propers often failed to correspond to the readings. With the LSB we have a propers set that will ALWAYS reflect the readings for the day. They’ve gotten more complaints on the failure to include the propers in the pew/personal edition than on anything else, but there was really nothing to be done given the sheer number of introits, collects, and graduals. It is certainly to be hoped that they’ll come out with an affordable (and portable!) companion edition that will have the complete propers.

    As for the missing psalms, it was an early resolution of the Lectionary Committee that they would include all 150, but they ended up simply not having enough room. As it is, they have more psalms than TLH or LW (I don’t know about ELH).

  7. Anonymous says:

    Concerning the propers, it is one of the effects of the 3-year series. TLH only had to worry about the historical lectionary, but this is now seen as a remnant of the Jurassic period for most people. I can tell you that this is the last hymnal cph publishes, simply because the cost of such a project will be unbearable in the future; it would have to include 12 Divine Service settings, 3 options for each of the daily offices, plus a bunch of new cool orders. That alone would take over 300 pages. Then there would be 200 new hymnals of dubious quality, but written by composeres who could use the copyrights revenue, and also a dozen or two hymns that have no place in a Lutheran hymnal, except that the charismatic, the stray Baptist and the pietist would not live without. That, of course, could be accomodated by chopping off some other 50 traditional, time-tested hymns, especially those that everyone stopped singing since LSB altered the tunes because the worship committee didn’t like what people in the pews were singing for 65 years.
    I think LSB is a good hymnal, but I regret having prepared the ground for it for two years and see that sticking to TLH might have been wiser.

  8. Adam says:

    FWIW, ELH includes 40 of the Psalms (that’s counting the 5 included sections of 119 as one “Psalm”).

    Has anyone out there compiled a list (in Word, Excel, etc.) of the LSB hymns? I’m looking to add to my cross-reference list that already includes TLH/LW/CW/ELH/LHy. Please email


  9. Philip Hoppe says:

    I do have a list of TLH hymns not in LSB and vice versa. if you need it, email me at

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