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Hymnal becomes Canadian snowball

September 15, 2010 One Comment

One year after its release in October, 2009, Liturgies et cantiques luthériens (LCL) is in its second printing and enjoys widespread use among francophone Lutheran churches around the world. 

Upon publication, congregations in Quebec and Haiti used the hymnal. Soon after, at a Lutheran church leadership training workshop in Togo, representatives from seven African countries were introduced to the book. From that introduction in West Africa the demand has recently expanded to include Central Africa, specifically Cameroon and Congo. 

Inquiries come for unexpected places: one Madagascar churchman requested a copy as a model reference for a new Malagasy hymnal. The most recent order involved the confessional Lutheran church in Finland which has donated funds for numerous copies for francophone Lutherans in Africa. In Quebec, an evangelical Protestant bookstore that has placed multiple orders for the hymnal throughout the past year for its non-Lutheran customers.

Although a few editions of French-language Lutheran hymnals have been available in the past century—even more in the nineteenth century—none ever met with the same vigorous widespread reception as Liturgies et cantiques luthériens. One contributing factor in the spread of LCL’s popularity is an increased use of French as the worship language in the bourgeoning Lutheran missions of francophone countries. As the missions develop beyond the originally evangelized language group, French increasingly becomes the common worship language of congregations comprising members from diverse language groups. This is especially true as the churches expand from single-language rural areas into urban centres. In Haiti, for example, people in urban areas are more likely to use French instead of Creole.

A natural accompaniment to the growth of French Lutheran missions was the need for materials in French. Contacting a Lutheran church body in bilingual Canada was logical for Lutherans in the US. Accordingly, inquiries about resources came from The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Church of the Lutheran Confession (CLC).

Since those requests were processed in Montreal, where Lutheran Church–Canada coordinated the French hymnal project, those church bodies received an invitation to an introductory hymnal workshop in April. 2009. As result, the most recent inquiry came from the ELCA’s Florida-Bahamas Synod which was instrumental in forming a church body in Haiti, L’Église luthérienne d’Haïti, in January 2009. The request for materials came as the hymnal project was just underway so the timing of church’s development corresponded to that of the hymnal. That parallel process led to the nascent church becoming the first French-speaking Lutheran body to use the hymnal from the time of its formation.

The snowball effect is in motion. As the service book and hymnal is used more widely, more people become aware of it and contribute to yet another new chapter of the LCL story, often online. The most recent blog example is a video from ‘‘Father Hollywood”  between 6:44-8:26. Others include Captain Thin and beyond.

Liturgies et cantiques luthériens is a project of Lutheran Church–Canada, created by Rev. Dr. David Somers and Rev. Dr. David Saar with production and distribution assistance from Concordia Publishing House and funding support from the Schwan Foundation and an anonymous donor.

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