Pastor Christopher Esget, Immanuel Lutheran, Alexandria, Va., discusses Chanting in Worship with Pastor Todd Wilken (mp3, 29:22, 11.9 MB, 2014-Jul-31)


[Esget:] Chanting is a form of reading [on a tone or pitch], a form of carrying the text [of Scripture], so that it can be declaimed to the people. Chanting of the Words of Institution [of the Lord's Supper] is distinctly Lutheran, and it's not Roman Catholic. It was done for the purpose of people being able to hear the Words of Institution in a way that they couldn't before that. (3:11 - 3:30)

[Esget:] The thing about chanting is that it forces you to stay within a certain set of parameters and it forces you to slow down. And I'm sure that you've been in places where the pastor gets to the Words of Institution and either because he's not thinking about it or he's worried about when people are getting out of church on time and he starts in [quickly]: "Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night when He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to the disciples and said ..." and this becomes almost like an auctioneer was there. And it is as though we have to check this box and get it out of the way. This kind of practice actually says, "You know, those Words really are not all that important." And the chanting of them says, "These Words are profoundly important and everybody needs to hear them, and we need to sit down or kneel, stop and think about what our Lord Jesus is giving to us here, and that's what chanting does for us. (9:08 - 9:55)

[Esget:] We understand that we need to do this [chanting/liturgy/worship] with something like a wedding: we'll gather everybody, and here's where you're going to stand, and here's how the processional's going to go. Well, that's the same thing with all these aspects of worship, the chanting and everything else that we're going to do. When a pastor hasn't prepared, when he's rushing in there at the last minute, when his pages aren't marked, when he doesn't know what's going to happen, what that's really communicating to the people is: This isn't all that important. What's important is the other stuff that I do, my personality, what I'm going to add to it. But, this stuff [chanting/liturgy/worship], I'm not going to take all that seriously. (20:10 - 20:40)