Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Classical Education, Classical . . . Liturgy?

My family has been part of the classical education restoration since 1995. In terms of the contemporary movement, that's a long time. Man of the House teaches Latin, Greek, and ancient literature. We have both taught at a classical Christian school. We've attended ACCS conferences. We have read most of the "right" books, and we even agree with some of them. ;-) We attempted/are attempting to educate our own children in the classical tradition. (I use the verb "attempt" because I know we have not really captured classical education in all its fullness. Having so far to come in our own education leaves us starting out behind, but I believe by God's grace our children are better off than we were. Our hope is that they will contine recovering what has been lost with their own children.) We've been around the modern classical movement for awhile.

When it comes to being Lutherans, we are newbies. It's only been two and a half years since we made the move officially, but we have a good five years of prior study, prayer, and discussion to our credit. During those two and half years we have come to greatly appreciate the historic liturgy. Even Girl of the House prefers it. Lying just under the surface of my active thoughts during the divine service is an awareness of the connection the liturgy has to the church of the past and the saints who have gone before us. The richness and timelessness of worshiping the Lord using the very forms and words that the early Christians used is unequalled by any other mode of organizing a church service that I have ever participated in . . . and I've seen quite a few. After these few short years, I cannot imagine going back. I would miss the liturgy too much, and I'm thankful for faithful Lutheran pastors who still use it.

Now, what have these two paragraphs to do with each other? They raise a question in my mind: Why don't those who espouse classical education also espouse classical worship more often? We classical educators, whether in schools or at home, spend a lot of time looking to the past when it comes to history, literature, educational methods, etc. We rightly extol the timeless classics of past centuries, but we participate in worship that employs modes and methods that are anything but timeless. Contemporary worship services and praise songs pass their freshness dates within a few months. The historic liturgy has been around for at least a millenium and a half. It is an inconsistency I didn't see myself until my family moved to a liturgical tradition. So what I'm offering here is food for thought. If we go to so much effort to bring classical education to our children, should we not also give them classical worship?


  1. No doubt the choices are limited where you are. And there are other things to consider, as you say. It's not easy to leave one church for another. I can understand that a particular family might choose a church that uses contemporary worship, but I am puzzled why we don't see more classically educating families at large in the liturgical tradition. I know there are some, but I wonder why there aren't more considering our appreciation of classical everything else. :-)

    Woman of the House (I haven't been able lately to indicate my identity with Google, so I "signed" this.)

  2. Quotidian Life said,

    Good question, Martha, and I've been thinking about it just a little since I read it this morning. My initial answer is practical, as I think about my family's experience. While we were able to individually shift our educational choices for our children in the direction of neo-classical, making a corporate worship shift would not be so easy for us. Not that we have seriously considered it, however I think one of the reasons we may not have considered it that it would be so hard to leave our community--there is an English and Arab evangelical church in Jordan but no vital liturgical option. Fwiw I spent one summer in a Lutheran church in South Lake Tahoe when I was on a CCC Summer Project there. I looked forward to the liturgy each week and found it very beautiful. I am enjoying learning a bit more about Lutheranism from you posts.

    QL, I published your comment, responded to it, and then accidentally deleted it! So sorry! Fortunately I still had the email notification, so I copy and pasted your comment here. Many apologies!

  3. I've never looked at it this way but I do agree. We went from a contemporary worship style to Lutheran and now I'm Eastern Orthodox. From my Orthodox homeschooler forums, I can say that there are a lot of Classicial homeschoolers who are embracing the ancient worship form.

    p.s. I think some of your comments aren't actually coming through.

  4. 'The richness and timelessness of worshiping the Lord using the very forms and words that the early Christians used is unequalled by any other mode of organizing a church service that I have ever participated in . . . and I've seen quite a few. '

    Have you seen a Latin Mass? It came before Martin Luther ;) In fact it was what he celebrated as a Catholic priest.

    Loved reading your bookshelf post! You are a woman after my own heart :)
    God bless!

  5. I have seen/heard parts of the Latin Mass but not the whole thing. I teach music history and we spend quite a bit of time on the Mass and listening to music written for it. It's not the same thing, I realize. Luther retained the Latin Mass for several years after the Diet of Worms, though changing a few things to accord with his theology and having the prayers and Scripture readings said in German. He did eventually translate the entire Mass into German. I myself wouldn't mind using Latin as long as I knew what was being said, but I don't think you'd get many Lutherans to agree to that. German, maybe. Latin, no. lol

    Thanks for visiting! :)

  6. My pleasure! I have enjoyed reading your blog :)

    You teach music history. That must be very interesting! We are learning Gregorian chant at the moment (my children and I). There is so much more to it than I ever would have thought. Are there any music history books you would recommend?

  7. I haven't found anything really satisfactory for children, but I stopped looking several years ago. I've been writing my own curriculum for my classes because I hadn't found anything I really liked. There may be something now, but I'm sticking with my tried and true. :) For elementary age children, you could try the "Getting to Know the World's Great Composers" series, but it won't give you a complete picture. It is a fun and friendly introduction, though. For high school students and older, The Gift of Music by Jane Stuart Smith and Betty Carlson is the best thing I've seen. (But like I've said, it's been years since I looked.) You could use a music history book to educate yourself and then pass on to your children what you want them to know. Books by Donald Jay Grout and Stanley Sadie are standards. They are my go-to references. Hope this helps!

  8. It can be hard to find just one book can't it. You always seem to need a bunch of them to cover something properly. Thanks so much for your suggestions! I shall enjoy having a look to see what I can add to my bookshelves ;)


Around My House

ing~ Listening~ How Christianity Changed the World by Alvin J. Schmidt    A good counterargument for the "religion ruins everything&...

Popular Posts