For the past two months we’ve explored the ordinary texts of the divine service -- that is, the texts that are spoken or sung nearly every Sunday. The Kyrie eleison (Lord, have mercy) was the topic for April and the Gloria in excelsis (Glory to God in the Highest) for May. In June, we will celebrate the Feast of the Holy Trinity (June 16), making this a fitting time to explore the Nicene Creed, a text structured around the three persons of God.
The Nicene Creed is based on the Apostle’s Creed, an older statement of faith that first appeared in the baptismal rite of the early church. In 325, the Council of Nicaea met to address Arianism, a heresy that denied the divinity of Jesus. The Nicene Creed was part of the council’s response, and made clear that the Jesus and God the Father are “of one substance.” This concern is perhaps why the portion of the creed devoted to describing Jesus is twice as long as the confession to the Holy Spirit and four times as long than the initial section pertaining to God the Father.
The Nicene Creed was the last ordinary text to be added to Roman Mass (1014), is the longest, and the least likely to be set to music. At Emmanuel Lutheran, we typically speak these words as a congregation, though a musical rendition exists in the form of a paraphrase by Martin Luther, ELW 411 “We Believe in One True God.”
The Nicene Creed is just one of multiple instances the Trinity is mentioned during worship. The opening Invocation, the sung “Glory to God,” and hymns with concluding Trinitarian verses all reference the three persons of God. Can you find other references to the Holy Trinity -- spoken, sung, or represented in visual art, vestments, and jewelry -- in our worship spaces?
Choir Practice at 7:00 PM Wednesday nights in the Choir Room Lutheringer Practice 9:00 AM Sunday mornings in the Sanctuary No Choirs during the Summer