Old-Time Service

Old-Time Service

For the Old-Time Service, a historical look at a service from the congregation’s past, a period sermon was not done. Instead, we held a discussion about the styles of the era (about 1830) compared to modern services.


On the older calendar, this Sunday falls within the countdown to Lent and is marked as Septuagesima Sunday. The service is aimed for around 1830, about the time Evangelical started to move from German to English. The service is of the English tradition except for the Creed, which is in verse form. It is from the German Colonial Liturgy where the Creed, as set by Luther (ELW #411), was sung from memory.


Only formal and dignified language was regarded as appropriate in the presence of God. Even now, worship language is more formal than conversational, but the difference is not as marked as it was 200 years ago. The language of the Bible set the tone. Even inĀ its writing in 1611, the King James Version used language that was already a bit dated. The language of our old-time service is not the everyday speech of two centuries ago, but it was what was expected for a worship service.


Printing was not easy and was expensive. Bulletins were not used, but the service did not vary from week to week. Hymns could be called out or posted on the hymn board.


The congregational expenses were met outside the service by receiving a “subscription” raised from members by the council, sometimes paid once a year. Some money could also be raised through annual pew rentals. Offering on Sunday was not an essential part of the service; the money received was often given for benevolent purposes.

Service Participation

The congregation would stand and sit for service parts, mostly unchanged from older to modern services, but other participation was limited. Interestingly, the Lutheran 1748 service relied on worshipping from memory (including the hymns) but had more responses from the congregation 75 years later. Congregational responses were gradually restored with the 1888 Common Service making the biggest jump.


The lessons were read from a yearly lectionary. Only an Epistle and a Gospel were read. the Old Testament and Psalm were not a part of the readings. If a passage from the Old Testament was a part of the sermon, it would have been read at that time. The lessons for today’s service were read from Evangelical’s 1832 English pulpit Bible.