Friday, 5 February 2010

New French Lutheran Hymnal

Something of a publishing milestone has gone relatively unnoticed in the Anglophone world to date, namely the production of a new French Lutheran hymnal, Liturgies et cantiques lutheriens , published by the Lutheran Church-Canada, a sister church of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and a church with whom the Lutheran Church of Australia has close, fraternal relations.

As one descended from Huguenot ancestors (French Protestants persecuted by Louis XIV in the late 1600s and later exiled to Holland, England, North America, South Africa and elsewhere), I take a particular interest in this event. The hymnal is apparently the largest French hymnal ever produced, either by Protestants or Roman Catholics, and promises to be of great service not only to French Canadian Lutherans but also in other Francophone Lutheran settings, for example in Africa, not to mention France itself.

Now, one must ask, if a relatively small church like the LCC - which is roughly the same size as the Lutheran Church of Australia - can successfully engage in such a venture in order to srve only a portion of its membership, why cannot the LCA take heart from their success and resolve to produce a new English-language hymnal for Australian Lutherans which will preserve the best of our hymnody from the past while introducing Australian Lutherans to some of the excellent modern Lutheran hymnody? Such a hymnal is sorely overdue in our church (our last LCA hymnal was published c. 1971 and s supplement to it in c.1986).

Here is an illustration of the new hymnal, which also contains approved liturgies, and a report made available by the Lutheran Church-Canada:
The French-language hymnal Liturgies et cantiques luthériens went to press the week of last year’s Reformation Day. This Lutheran Church-Canada project has spread excitement around the French-speaking Lutheran churches worldwide. The most recent hymnal was printed in 1975 and is no longer available and any existing copies are well-worn.
No other French-language hymnal has been so comprehensive and reflective of Lutheran practice and doctrine. Liturgies et cantiques luthériens has 864 pages and includes 434 hymns, three settings of the Divine Service, Matins, Vespers, and Compline, Holy Baptism, Marriage, and Funeral services among many other liturgical resources.

“In real and important ways this volume restores and edifies and strengthens and establishes evangelical Lutheran practice and teaching in francophone churches as never
before,” says Rev. David Somers, who along with Rev. David Saar have created this new resource. “Never before has such a complete service book and hymnal been available in French for members of any church body, Protestant or Roman Catholic'".


Dan @ Necessary Roughness said...

Can you comment on the liturgies? Are they translations of the ones in LSB, or something else?

Anonymous said...

Just an FYI-The production costs of the hymnal were subsidized by a charitable foundation in the US, and the project was undertaken after the anglophone side of the LCC adopted a new LCMS hymnal (Canadian bilingual laws must have applied here). Here is link from a 2007 article from the LCC descibing the development of the hymnal:

Acroamaticus said...

Thanks for that further information, 'Anonymous'.

Don't be afraid to sign your name or use a nom de plume if you wish - we're pretty friendly here at the 'old manse'.

Acroamaticus said...

Hi Dan,

yes, I believe one communion liturgy is a translation of service # 4 from LSB. As to the origins of the other liturgies I will have to do further research. There may be a particular French tradition here, which has survived outside of the English-language 'Common Service' tradition of the 20th century. I'm going to order a copy of the hymnal, so eventually I'll be able to post something further on this, but it may take a little while.

Thanks for dropping by the 'old manse'!

Rahn Hasbargen from Minnesota said...

I apologise for not identifying myself earlier-The methods offered to leave a name did not work technically with the PC I was using at the time.

If you want to order a copy of the hymnal, Concordia Publishing Hoouse in St. Louis, Missouri is the sole contracted distributor, and it is avaialble at the following link: hymnal

However, the Lutheran Church Canada has the following web page available in French to support the hymnal, including downloads and an opportunity to order a "organist accompanying edition" for the liturgy:

In case my computer still won't allow me to leave a name, I am "Rahn from Minnesota"

Acroamaticus said...

Thanks for the link, Rahn. I'll follow it up with interest.

No need for an apology, as I don't have a rule on anonymous posting of comments. I just want to assure people this is a friendly place.

Minnesota is a place I've always wanted to visit, so its great to have someone from there reading the blog.

Rev. David Saar said...

Hello from Canada!

Thanks for the plug for our French hymnal. I think you're the first person to blog about it and we appreciate your comments.

To answer Dan's questions about liturgies, yes, as you've noted, Divine Service setting 4 from Lutheran Service Book is the only translated liturgy. "Suite liturgique A" is uniquely French, and 20th century. "Suite liturgique B is mostly classical Lutheran music from the 16th century, and familiar to users of the Common Service.

About half the hymns have a corresponding equivalent in Lutheran Service Book. The link that Rahn from Minnesota gave to our synod's web site has a PDF you can download that shows the correspondence between the French hymnal and LSB.

The hymnal is available from CPH for $20US.

If you or anyone you know has any questions, please email me at:

Thanks again for bringing our French hymnal to the attention of the blogosphere.

Rev. David SAAR
Lutheran Church-Canada
Église lutherienne du Canada