From Pastor Nelson:
This is the fourth in a series of articles based on why our worship in the Lutheran tradition is the way it is. Much of the information comes from Dennis R. Fakes’ book, Exploring the Lutheran Liturgy.
Following the Kyrie we move into the Hymn of Praise, which is from the Christmas story. It is the song of the angels when Jesus was born recorded in Luke 2:14. “Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth,” they sang. And we sing this hymn of praise to God as well. Like the Kyrie, the Hymn of Praise can be omitted- especially during penitential seasons of the church year like Advent and Lent. Also, like the Kyrie, the Hymn of Praise is ancient- first mentioned in the fourth century, but assumed to have been in place much earlier than that.
Martin Luther said this Hymn of Praise “did not grow, nor was it made on earth, but it came down from heaven.” Again, as the Kyrie, Apostolic Greeting and the Invocation that comes before it, the Hymn of Praise is addressed to the Trinity. Originally this was a hymn to God the Creator; God the highest.
Whereas the “Glory to God” emphasizes the Christmas theme, our hymnal also has “This is The Feast” which centers on Easter. This feast is the gathering of the family of God and is the Easter celebration because “the lamb who was slain” is worthy of receiving our praise. It is a “feast” even though it is simple bread and wine. This feast we celebrate long-distance because it is a celebration with all the saints who have ever lived. It is a mystical communion withal those loved ones who have passed onto glory. It is a feast with the great saints of the church.
It is a celebration in which the host is none other than Jesus Christ himself who promised to be present wherever only two or three are gathered in his name. The rite of passage we celebrate is the passage from death to life. The Lamb of God has begun his reign. It is a new age in which death no longer has the final word.
And so we conclude with “Alleluia,” a word that is found in many psalms. It comes from “Hallelujah” which means “and God be praised!”