Tuesday, December 22, 2009
MONTREAL – French-speaking Lutherans around the world are singing previously unavailable francophone hymns this Christmas thanks to a new publication.
In November, Lutheran Church–Canada published Liturgies et cantiques luthériens (LCL) – a hymnal that brings Francophone Christmas hymns, like Il est né, le divin Enfant, into common usage.
“Just as the English-speaking world would never think of Christmas without Silent Night, francophones feel the same way about Il est né, le divin Enfant,” said Rev. David Somers, an LCC pastor in Montreal who headed the hymnal project. “The previous hymnal, published some 35 years ago didn’t include it.”
In addition to Christmas hymns, LCL contains several never-before-published material from Lutheran sources in the Alsace-Lorraine region of France.
More than 2,500 copies of the hymnal are now in circulation and are used in Africa, Europe and Haiti.
Somers and Dr. David Saar spent three years on the LCL project, basing the hymnal on the 2006 Lutheran Service Book (LSB). The LCL, however, is not a direct translation of the LSB.
The Lutheran church is seeing dramatic growth in French-speaking Africa especially in Madagascar. Many members of Somers’ Montreal congregation are Malagasy and have established roots in Quebec.
Lutheranism is not new to the province. For his doctoral thesis, Somers researched the denomination and discovered many early immigrants from France were Lutheran, escaping the War of Religions that pitted Protestants against Roman Catholics.
Eventually, the Roman church in New France, now Quebec, made it difficult for Protestants to own land or earn a living, so the number of Lutherans and Protestants declined.
“Lutheran worship forms (liturgy) are based on those of the Catholic Church,” said Somers. “The new hymnal reflects that tradition so it has a familiarity with those who come from a Catholic tradition.”
The hymnal is available from Concordia Publishing House (canada.cph.org).