Christ's Lutheran Church in 1917

Pastor E. F. Sherman, conducting services. On Sunday, February 17, services were cancelled because of too much snow.

[ English sign ] When the United States joined the Allies against Germany and the other Central Powers in the Great War (World War I), members of German-speaking Lutheran congregations--and German speakers in general in the United States--were subject to hate crimes by many patriotic and jingoistic Americans. English-speaking Lutherans did not want to be "stewed in the same kettle" as the German-speaking Lutherans; they wanted to make it known to the general population that they were not German but rather American, that they did not support the Kaiser and his policies. At the same time, many German-speaking Lutherans were making their own moves to dissociate themselves from the Fatherland; many went underground. An example of a German-speaking congregation was the Atonement Lutheran Church in Saugerties. The congregation of Christ's Lutheran Church in Woodstock had been English-speaking since its founding, and it might have been in this year that they began advertising that fact with a sign out in front: "English Lutheran Church."

Celebrating the quadricentennial of Luther's protest in Wittenberg, the United Lutheran Church in America (ULCA), our parent synod, published in Philadelphia a major revision of The Common Service of 1888 (in the 1899-revised-edition hymnals that our congregation had purchased in 1903), calling it The Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church, referred to often as the Common Service Book and Hymnal, providing at the beginning 194 hymns that followed the liturgical year or were specifically related to the sacraments. Following those hymns were nearly 400 more in the beloved Protestant tradition--hymns about the "fruit of the spirit," "the Christian life," "the seasons," "national occasions," and so forth, to enrich the ears and hearts of the members. As church historian Mark Anderson notes with some sarcasm, if these 400 or so hymns

did not sufficiently dilute and skew Lutheran theology, the library of "gospel hymns" used by the quartets and choirs would have been sufficient for the task. Despite this shortcoming, these are the rousing songs that many of our senior members remember quite fondly from their childhood.… Our choir continued to rely on such books as the Gospel Hymns of Ira Sankey and similar fare for anthem material.(1) Anderson, Mark J., For All the Saints: Christ's Lutheran Church, Woodstock, New York, 1806-2006 [Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2006], pp. 149-50. (Close)
But at least the 194 hymns at the beginning reminded Lutherans of their liturgical heritage.
The basic strength of the Common Service Book and Hymnal was to be found in the achievements of its liturgical formulations and in the fact that, for the first time, a significantly large group of American Lutherans was united about a common body of hymnody in their official book of worship. The weakness of the book was rooted in the attitude of its compilers toward the matter of translations and in the resulting failure to reclaim, to any significant degree, the historic, confessional hymnody of the 16th century Lutheran Reformation to which its liturgy paid homage. These factors… prevented [it]… from extending its excellence beyond that of its liturgical forms and into the content of its hymnody.(2) Quoted in ibid., p. 150, citing Schalk, Carl, God's Song in a New Land: Lutheran Hymnals in America [St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1995], p. 161. (Close)
It would be another two years before Christ's Lutheran Church in Woodstock would begin using The Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church.

The Woodstock Region in 1917

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The United States in 1917

[ Woodrow Wilson ]

Woodrow Wilson (Democrat) was President. The newly elected 65th Congress was in session. A dollar in that year would be worth $17.27 in 2006 for most consumable products.

The annual average number of lynchings of blacks during the six-year period 1914-1920 was 64.

Immigrants from the British Isles and western Europe (especially the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Germany)--the so-called "Old Immigrants," most of them boasting a comparatively high level of literacy and accustomed to some level of representative government, who were either Protestant (most of them) or Catholic, were arriving during this decade at an average annual rate of 54,000. The "New Immigrants," those from southern and eastern Europe (especially Italy, what had been the empire of Austria-Hungary, and Russia), largely illiterate and impoverished, who tended to be either Catholic, Orthodox, or Jewish and who had little experience with representative government, were arriving at an annual rate of 292,800--five and a half times as much as the Old Immigrants' rate, about the same proportion as a decade earlier and about half in raw numbers. (The significant overall decline during the decade was a result of World War I.) The New Immigrants huddled together in large cities, such as New York City and Chicago.

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The World at Large in 1917

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