Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Christian Art: In the Place and in the Form of Lutheran Worship by P.E. Kretzmann

Published in 1921 by CPH, Christian Art by P.E. Kretzmann can be read for free online and can be downloaded here. Kretzmann, most famous for his Popular Commentary of the Bible, was also a keen observer of the liturgical trends of his day and took a special interest in the proper form and place of art (music, architecture, visual, etc.) and beauty in Christian worship throughout his life. He wrote numerous articles in Concordia Theological Monthly and several books and tracts on liturgical matters.

Two of which are available to be read online:
- A Short Introduction to Church Architecture and Ecclesiastical Art: Especially from the Standpoint of the Lutheran Church
- The Liturgical Element in the Earliest Forms of the Medieval Drama (With Special Reference to the English and German Plays)

Christian Art is really two books in one volume. The first book is entitled "A Handbook of Church Architecture and Ecclesiastical Art," covering first its history, and secondly its execution in a Lutheran church building. The second book is entitled "A Handbook of Liturgy, Hymnology, and Heortology," which goes through the history of the liturgy, a section on hymnology, a section on heortology, and closes with "The Liturgical Content of the Lutheran Services." Please see the table of contents online for more detail.

I have always been impressed with P.E. Kretzmann and his work, especially his ability to cover vast amounts of terrain succinctly yet comprehensively. I have not read this volume cover to cover yet, but I am sure he succeeds yet again in this volume. The artwork and pictures are worth a perusal alone. The book is a helpful guide to the whole subject and history of beauty and art in the church...and by a Lutheran!

Kretzmann himself writes of the book in the preface:
The double volume which is herewith offered to the Lutheran liturgiologists and liturgists of America makes no claim of being an exhaustive presentation. It is merely, as the subtitle states, a hand-book for the student, for the busy pastor, and for all those interested in Christian art from the Lutheran standpoint and in the liturgical heritage of the Reformation. The references and  foot-notes, however, may prove of value to such as wish to make a more detailed study of any section.
Need to Get Level: 6/10

It is excellent, it is awesome, but it will run you 25-50 bucks at the places I have seen. But with that will regret not getting it. So if you are a pastor or layman that deeply cares for beauty in Christian worship, wishes to learn more, and want a helpful handbook--get it!


  1. I have an original copy that I received from a retiring pastor. If an elderly pastor in your circuit is looking to downsize, keep your eyes pealed for one of these! It's excellent!

  2. That is good advice, I have been blessed with many old treasures from retired pastors.

    For "Christian Art" I got my copy on Amazon for a good price. I really do think it is useful to have this actually on your shelf.

  3. THere's also electronic copies.

  4. Reading through this now... Interesting that he insists on a "free altar" as opposed to an East wall altar or some other.