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.