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Lutheran Book of Worship: 1978 Version

Lutheran Book of Worship is a hymnal and prayer book used by several Lutheran denominations in North America. It is often referred to by its initials as the LBW, and in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America the LBW is sometimes called the "green book" as opposed to With One Voice, a blue-covered supplement, or previous versions of the Lutheran Hymnal, bound in red and blue.


Supplement to the 1978 Version: With One Voice

When Lutheran churches were first established in North America, the immigrants from Germany, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and other non-English speaking countries retained services in their native languages. However, as the children and grandchildren of these immigrants began speaking English in their everyday lives and the various Lutheran denominations began uniting, many felt that the North American Lutheran churches needed a common English-language liturgy and hymns. Although the eighteenth-century missionary Henry Melchior Muhlenberg had hoped for the day when Lutherans would be "one church [with] one book," it was not until the 1888 "Common Service" that a majority of English-speaking Lutherans in North America began to use the same texts for worship, albeit with minor adaptations. (Senn, 584-591). The "Common Liturgy" included in the 1958 Service Book and Hymnal was a major revision of the "Common Service," and introduced a Eucharistic Prayer into American Lutheran usage. It was not officially adopted by the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, though some congregations use it. Culto Cristiano, a 1964 service book, attempted to offer a unified liturgy for Spanish-speaking Lutherans.

The project that began the process leading to the publication of the LBW started in 1965 when the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LCMS) invited other North American Lutheran denominations to join it in work to a common service book. In addition to the LCMS, the Lutheran Church in America, the American Lutheran Church, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada formed the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship to undertake this project. The commission conducted its work through four sub-committees: Liturgical Text Committee, Liturgical Music Committee, Hymn Text Committee, Hymn Music Committee. The work of the committees was validated via questionnaires, test programs, conferences, and dialogs. The LBW was finally published in 1978. The LCMS pulled out of the ILCW just prior to the publication of the LBW, but its name still appears on the title page. The LCMS published their own hymnal, Lutheran Worship, in 1982. Although the LW liturgies are very similar to those in the LBW, they lack the option for a Eucharistic Prayer.

While it is in its twenty-seventh printing and used by the ELCA and the ELCIC, the book was replaced in October 2006 as the primary worship resource in the two denominations by Evangelical Lutheran Worship.

There are a couple of reason why "Lutheran Book of Worship" has remained in use for thirty years. The first is the careful, forward looking, inclusive work of the ILCW and the four subcommittees. The second is the careful work done by the staff of Augsburg Publishing House in selecting and testing the materials from which the book was manufactured. The books did not wear out.

The first printing of LBW was one million copies and required 19 semi-trailers to carry the book to 14 distribution points around the United States.


  • Lutheran Book of Worship published by Augsburg Fortress ISBN 0-8006-3330-X
  • With One Voice published by Augsburg Fortress ISBN 0-8066-0051-9
  • Senn, Frank C. Christian Liturgy: Catholic and Evangelical published by Augsburg-Fortress, 1997. ISBN 0-8006-2726-1
  • Ralph R. Van Loon, editor. "Encountering God: The Legacy of Lutheran Book of Worship" published by Kirk House Publishers, 1998. 1-886513-15-5
  • Ralph W. Quere. "In the Context of Unity: A History of the Development of Lutheran Book of Worship" published by Lutheran University Press, 2003. 1-932688-00-5


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