What We Do When We Do Church – Introit / Psalmody

Psalm 119:11

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Part 1 – Hymnody

Part 2 – Invocation

Part 3 – Baptism

Part 4 – Confession of Sins

Part 5 – Absolution

 

In The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, we have had four “official” hymnals that we have used in the last 100 years.

The current hymnal – Lutheran Service Book – makes it very clear where both our liturgies and our hymns come from or are based on.

God’s Holy Word.

There are five main liturgies with several other “offices” that can be used for worship and in each of them you can see what part of God’s Holy Word is used as either the text of the different parts of the liturgy or as the basis for the different parts of the liturgy and hymns.

The introit is one of those parts of the liturgy that is taken directly from God’s Holy Word.

It is based on a Psalm and is either spoken or sung by both the one leading worship and the people gathered for worship.

A few years ago I was in a conversation with someone who made a comment along the lines of “the liturgy does nothing for me.” This person was making his case for contemporary worship as a replacement for liturgical worship.

While I feel that these are not mutually exclusive – liturgical worship can be contemporary at the same time – I think it also indicates a misunderstanding of what the worship actually is.

I don’t remember the seminary teacher’s name that taught me this, but he said that worship is “speaking (or singing) back to God what He has first spoken to us.”

God’s Holy Word is powerful – after all, God “spoke” and the universe came into existence. Jesus spoke and calmed storms, healed the sick, and raised the dead.

When we speak God’s Word we are speaking powerful words that can change our lives and our world.

The introit – a word that means “entrance” and “to go in” – is a Psalm that is spoken or sung while the worship leader (officiant) moves from the front of the chancel (in the church I serve that’s where the baptismal fount is) to the altar in the center-back of the chancel.

One seminary professor jokingly called the introit the travel music for the officiant. He didn’t mean any disrespect, but it is more than just travel music.

All worshipers – in response to receiving absolution (proclaimed from the front of the chancel) speak or sing God’s Holy Word in the introit.

The introit is usually a psalm that is chosen as part of the overall theme of that particular worship service. For those who use a particular series of readings (there are both 1-year series and 3-year series – called lectionaries) the introit will reflect the theme of the other Scripture readings (which we’ll explore in a future devotion).

The introit – as well as the entire liturgy – is also the opportunity of unity for the worshiper. We are joining Christians – both Old and New Testament – in worship using very much the same words and songs. The language and melodies may change, but the Word of God never does!

The introit could be considered the oldest part of our worship in that it uses texts that are about three thousand years old. That means people of God have been using these same words for three millennia – how awesome is that!

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