The Common Service, with roots in the Reformation, the Middle Ages, and the early church, became the standard English liturgy for the Lutheran Church in America in the late 19th century. The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod published it as its standard in The Lutheran Hymnal in 1941. With the publication of Lutheran Worship (1982), editors revised the Common Service, updating what they considered archaic language, but the basic structure remained the same. In the Lutheran Service Book (2006), editors have again included the Divine Service from The Lutheran Hymnal, which is the liturgy of the Common Service.
What is it about the beauty and reverence of this Divine Service that have caused Lutheran congregations to welcome it every Sunday morning for over a century? Many today enjoy it without being able to verbalize its deep theological beauty. Others may exclude it from congregational practice because they consider it outdated and invalid for the modern parishioner. In either case, the editors of An Explanation of the Common Service provide a basic yet important description of the theological and biblical meaning of this time-tested liturgy.
An Explanation of the Common Service explains the liturgy in such simple terms that it is perfect for teaching new members, catechumens, and youth. Yet its timeless truths are profound enough to instruct even long-time members and pastors. First printed a century ago, this Lutheran liturgical handbook uses questions and answers to explain the meaning of three services: the Communion service, Matins, and Vespers. (Liturgical texts are equivalent to those in The Lutheran Hymnal, 1941.) In addition, hymnody, liturgical theology, and history are addressed succinctly. The glossary of liturgical terms is helpful, extensive, and reliable.