With the liturgy, “you never need words for joy”

Rev. Samuel Schuldheisz points us to the role of the liturgy–including the Psalms and the classic hymns of praise–in the life of J. R. R. Tolkien.  This is from a letter to his son, Christopher:

“If you don’t do so already, make a habit of the ‘praises’. I use them much (in Latin): the Gloria Patri, the Gloria in Excelsis, the Laudate Dominum; the Laudete Pueri Dominum (of which I am specially fond), one of the Sunday psalms; and the Magnificat; also the Litany of Loretto (with the prayer Sub tuum praesidium). If you have these by heart you never need words for joy.”

via E-nklings: Tolkien on the Liturgy.

HT:  Mary Moerbe

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Not bad for a Catholic :D

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Not bad for a Catholic :D

  • sandi

    I’m a native California gal, public school snail; who struggled through tortuous years of homeschool Latin with my four children. Dearest Dr. Vieth, what are you trying to say here? How many Christians could even begin to embrace this idea?

  • sandi

    I’m a native California gal, public school snail; who struggled through tortuous years of homeschool Latin with my four children. Dearest Dr. Vieth, what are you trying to say here? How many Christians could even begin to embrace this idea?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Sandi (@2), I don’t think Veith is promoting the idea of a liturgy in Latin, as that would miss the entire point for people like you or me who don’t speak Latin. Whether or not Tolkien was fluent in Latin, his point is that memorizing the words of the liturgy (in a language you understand) is to have access to time-tested forms to give expression to your faith — including in times of joy.

    As it happens, most of the parts of the liturgy are referred to by their Latin names — even when the liturgy is fully in English. Or at least this is the case in my Lutheran hymnal (Christian Worship).

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Sandi (@2), I don’t think Veith is promoting the idea of a liturgy in Latin, as that would miss the entire point for people like you or me who don’t speak Latin. Whether or not Tolkien was fluent in Latin, his point is that memorizing the words of the liturgy (in a language you understand) is to have access to time-tested forms to give expression to your faith — including in times of joy.

    As it happens, most of the parts of the liturgy are referred to by their Latin names — even when the liturgy is fully in English. Or at least this is the case in my Lutheran hymnal (Christian Worship).

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Right, tODD and Sandi. For example, you go out and it’s a beautiful day and things are going well for you and you feel a surge of happiness. It’s fitting to break out with “Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit!” (the words of the Gloria Patri). Or “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!” (the Doxology).

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Right, tODD and Sandi. For example, you go out and it’s a beautiful day and things are going well for you and you feel a surge of happiness. It’s fitting to break out with “Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit!” (the words of the Gloria Patri). Or “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!” (the Doxology).

  • helen

    The Lutheran Service Book (LCMS) has the Latin titles and also English equivalents in the orders of service.

  • helen

    The Lutheran Service Book (LCMS) has the Latin titles and also English equivalents in the orders of service.

  • Dan

    I like “Benedictus es, Domine,” “Cantemus Domino,” and “Magna et mirabilia.” However, I’ve only been able to memorize the “Doxology,” “Gloria in excelsis,” and the “Gloria Patri.”

  • Dan

    I like “Benedictus es, Domine,” “Cantemus Domino,” and “Magna et mirabilia.” However, I’ve only been able to memorize the “Doxology,” “Gloria in excelsis,” and the “Gloria Patri.”

  • http://concordiaandkoinonia.wordpress.com/ Rev. Mark Schroeder

    And The Lutheran Hymnal has the first words of each Psalm in Latin as a sort of a title for each. As a child I loved to read them and try to figure out the Latin. And also the use of the Latin as titles for the Psalms and the parts of the Liturgy gave a sense of the breadth in time of all the saints of His Church, we are part of something much bigger than just me: a kind of succession of apostolic doctrine in the Liturgy, in a world and a wordly church too easily lost in the contemporary alone.

  • http://concordiaandkoinonia.wordpress.com/ Rev. Mark Schroeder

    And The Lutheran Hymnal has the first words of each Psalm in Latin as a sort of a title for each. As a child I loved to read them and try to figure out the Latin. And also the use of the Latin as titles for the Psalms and the parts of the Liturgy gave a sense of the breadth in time of all the saints of His Church, we are part of something much bigger than just me: a kind of succession of apostolic doctrine in the Liturgy, in a world and a wordly church too easily lost in the contemporary alone.

  • http://concordiaandkoinonia.wordpress.com/ Rev. Mark Schroeder

    correction: “…and a worldly church”(!)

  • http://concordiaandkoinonia.wordpress.com/ Rev. Mark Schroeder

    correction: “…and a worldly church”(!)

  • CRB

    Speaking of praise in Latin, I just LOVE this from Henry V:

  • CRB

    Speaking of praise in Latin, I just LOVE this from Henry V:


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