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Lutheran Book of Worship


Lutheran Book of Worship

The Lutheran Book of Worship (LBW) is a worship book and hymnal used by several Lutheran denominations in North America. In the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the LBW is sometimes called the "green book", as opposed to With One Voice, a blue-covered supplement; or the previous Service Book and Hymnal, bound in red; or The Lutheran Hymnal, bound in blue.


Supplement to the 1978 Version: With One Voice

When Lutheran churches were first established in North America, the immigrants from Germany, Sweden, Norway, Finland and other non-English-speaking countries retained services in their native languages. However, as the children and grandchildren of these immigrants began speaking English in their everyday lives and the various Lutheran denominations began uniting, many felt that the North American Lutheran churches needed a common English-language liturgy and hymns. Although the eighteenth-century missionary Henry Melchior Muhlenberg had hoped for the day when Lutherans would be "one church [with] one book", it was not until the 1888 "Common Service" that a majority of English-speaking Lutherans in North America began to use the same texts for worship, albeit with minor adaptations. (Senn, 584-591.) The "Common Liturgy" included in the 1958 Service Book and Hymnal was a major revision of the "Common Service", and introduced a Eucharistic Prayer into American Lutheran usage. It was not officially adopted by the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, though some congregations use it. Culto Cristiano, a 1964 service book, attempted to offer a unified liturgy for Spanish-speaking Lutherans.

The process leading to the publication of the LBW was started in 1965 when the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS) invited other North American Lutheran denominations to join it to work on a common service book. Together with the LCMS, the Lutheran Church in America, the American Lutheran Church, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada formed the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship to undertake this project. The commission conducted its work through four sub-committees: Liturgical Text Committee, Liturgical Music Committee, Hymn Text Committee, Hymn Music Committee. The work of the committees was validated via provisional liturgical and hymn materials, questionnaires, conferences, and dialogs. The Rev. Dr. Eugene Brand was named project director for the development work and The Rev. Leonard Flachman was named publishers' representative and managing editor. The LBW was published in 1978. The LCMS pulled out of the ILCW just prior to the publication of the LBW, but having been a participant in the development of the materials its name appears on the title page. The LCMS published their own hymnal, Lutheran Worship, in 1982. Although the LW liturgies are very similar to those in the LBW, there are differences which reflect differing theologies, for example LW lacks the option for a Eucharistic Prayer.

The Lutheran Book of Worship has remained in use for thirty years. There are a couple reasons for that longevity. The first is the careful, forward-looking, inclusive work of the ILCW and the four subcommittees. The second is the careful work done by the staff of Augsburg Publishing House in selecting and testing the materials with which the book was manufactured. The books did not wear out.

The first printing of the LBW was one million copies and required 19 semi-trailers to carry the book from the printer to 14 distribution points around the United States.

While it is in its twenty-seventh printing and widely used by the ELCA and the ELCIC, the LBW was replaced in October 2006 as the primary worship resource in the two denominations by Evangelical Lutheran Worship. The new book is intended to reflect the changing demographic of the church bodies and the subsequent changes in language and ritual practice.

See also


  • Lutheran Book of Worship published by Augsburg Publishing House and the LCA Board of Publication, 1978. ISBN 0-8006-3330-X
  • With One Voice published by Augsburg Fortress ISBN 0-8066-0051-9
  • Senn, Frank C. Christian Liturgy: Catholic and Evangelical published by Augsburg Fortress, 1997. ISBN 0-8006-2726-1
  • Ralph R. Van Loon, editor. "Encountering God: The Legacy of Lutheran Book of Worship" published by Kirk House Publishers, 1998. 1-886513-15-5
  • Ralph W. Quere. "In the Context of Unity: A History of the Development of Lutheran Book of Worship" published by Lutheran University Press, 2003. 1-932688-00-5
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