COVID-19 :: Worship
(23 November 2020)
Camp Luther ... Vespers Knoll cross
West Virginia - Western Maryland Synod
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Page Contents

Since important notices related to COVID-19 might be sent by Roadshow, you may want to sign up. More information about the Roadshow can be found at the Members Portal.


We also use Facebook to share information. If you have a Facebook account, you can check us out on the WV-WMD Synod Facebook page.

As the COVID-19 restrictions continue, it seems wise to gather synodical worship material in one place. You will find here, in relationship to COVID-19,

  • Synod produced worship videos,
  • Synod produced (and recommended) worship resources,
  • Guidance related to worship; and
  • Devotional resources.

If there is something you think should be addressed, contact Bp. Riegel (

For the Synod's main COVID-19 page, click here.

Worship Guidance

The Bishop has been fielding telephone calls and emails since the beginning of folks' contemplation of not holding regular services. Some of these have been asked so frequently that the Bishop has started writing on them (between phone calls and emails). Others, while not commonly asked, might be good to post about before they become common questions.

Ash Wednesday 2021

Guidance for Ash Wednesday has been posted. Click here for the webpage. On the webpage you will also find a link to a downloadable pdf edition.

Christmas Services

Download the synodical guidance on Christmas services during the pandemic for suggestions on
risk mitigation, managing attendance, holding multiple services, etc.. This was posted a few weeks ago, but it has since been revised and made easier to find (we hope).


Copyright violation is not only against the civil law, it is theft under the Seventh Commandment, and, even if it weren't, it would still be covered under the Fourth Commandment. During this time of sending worship and devotional resources by mail/email and recording and/or streaming worship, congregational leadership should remain scrupulous in observing copyright law. Be sure to secure the necessary permissions or licenses for the intended use of copyrighted material and follow the terms of the license/permission. Review these regularly to make sure that you are in compliance and note any reporting requirements or expiration dates.

N.B., Most licenses do not include streaming unless the congregation pays an extra fee to include online streaming in the scope of the license. Some publishing houses, however, have made special offers and modifications during the pandemic:

  • Important changes to Augsburg Fortress copyright permission: Augsburg Fortress announced on 23 July 2020 an extension of its previously issued copyright permission until 31 August 2020. Beginning 1 September 2020, congregations "will need to subscribe to an Augsburg Fortress Liturgy License (for the broadest coverage of Augsburg Fortress liturgy copyrights) or the Evangelical Lutheran Worship Liturgy License (for coverage of ELW resource family copyrights) in order to continue livestreaming/ podcasting this content in services that take place after that date." Furthermore, "to livestream/podcast copyrighted hymns as well as vocal/instrumental music (choral, vocal solo, organ, piano, hand bells, etc.), you will need to subscribe to one of the One License livestream/podcast options, which cover Augsburg Fortress hymn and vocal/instrumental music copyrights as well as those of many other publishers."  Details here:
    • Caveat: Not everything in the worship books produced by Augsburg Fortress is covered. Be certain to read the details of the agreement.
    • Also: LBW is still under copyright as is WOV and SBH. Just because it is older than ELW, doesn't mean you don't have to pay attention to copyright matters.
  • One License granted a temporary free extension for online streaming until April 15.  Information on the streaming license after April 15 is here:
  • Information (including pricing <$100/year for the vast majority of our congregations) on CCLI’s streaming license is here:

If you discover more recent information, please let us know.

Have you considered...

One answer to copyright confusion is to avoid it altogether and go for much older sources that are in the public domain. Some research is still necessary, but it is still an option.

Reopening for Worship

Over the past several months, we've produced a good amount of material related to in-person worship during the pandemic. You can access it on the COVID-19 Reopning page.

Requiem Thumb

Requiem Mass Template

To provide a worship resource for pastors and congregations desirous of a worship service in connection with the loss of life associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, Bishop Riegel has (re)assembled and annotated a requiem mass that can be used as a memorial service, especially when the funeral has already taken place. It may be used as

  • a memorial service for anyone whose funeral was during the time of quarantine, allowing those who could not be present at the funeral a time to come together for worship;
  • a memorial service for multiple people whose funerals were during the time of quarantine;
  • a memorial service specifically for those who died of COVID-19;
  • a memorial service for any disaster;
  • a memorial service for All Souls' Day (a.k.a., Commemoration of the Faithful Departed);
  • a memorial service for Memorial Day; or
  • a memorial service upon the anniversary of a death.

It is not intended as a replacement for a funeral mass as lined out in the Occasional Services or coordinate ELWresource. This may be particularly helpful in situations where many of the grieving community were not able to be present because of vulnerable-population self-isolation once fuller assemblies are prudent.

This liturgy was initially used as an on-campus memorial service for a student whose funeral was at great distance from WVU. It was later retooled for one of the anniversaries of 9/11, a memorial for Hurricane Katrina victims, and, again, for reclamation of the remains of a homeless fellow dear to the campus ministry. You will find it an attempt to work with the resources found in the LBW, but it can be adapted for ELW or any other resource. As it is keyed to a worship book, there is no need to print an entire service in a pew edition "worship booklet." At the same time, you will find an attempt to balance some Tridentine and Novus ordo elements with the LBW.

As mentioned, this is a template. Someone could use it as is, but local adaptation is expected. Download here.


The question has been asked about whether a baptism could be done by Zoom (or any other digital means). Here's the Bishop's response.

Devotional Resources

Pandemic Hope: A Family Devotional for Life during COVID-19 was prepared by a team that included some pastors of our synod (who did not name themselves in the publication). It is a fairly large file (7.2 MB), and may take a while to download.

Synod Worship Videos

Synod-wide worship videos were uploaded in the early days of the pandemic lock-down. They were not intended to be used to what our pastors and lay leaders are doing in the field, but to supplement. This project did not use live stream or simulcast. Instead, we mounted on YouTube, a platform that should be familiar to many. Some other cites across the nation have found difficulties with live stream because of a sudden increase of web traffic overwhelming bandwidth. Given the limited bandwidth in much of our territory, a pre-recorded worship event that can be buffered and watched at greater convenience to the viewer seems appropriate. Our thanks to the singers and tech folks who make this possible.

The worship vids are here presented in reverse chronological order.

Bishop Riegel's Easter Greeting

Recording begun pre-dawn on Easter morning, editing and uploading meant publication wasn't until the day had begun. Sorry, the hope was to have this up before the sun was. This features the Victimae paschali laudes, the traditional sequence (a piece of music sung before the reading of the Gospel) for Easter day. Click here for the video.

Χριστός ἀνέστη! Ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη!
Christus resurrexit! Vere resurrexit!
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

Tre Ore

Tre ore, a devotional for Good Friday, traditionally running from noon until 3:00 PM, a span of three hours, hence the name, "Tre ore." The service focuses upon The Seven Last Words of Christ, the Words, with the Words being spaced out over the three hour time span. After each Word, a homily on that Word is delivered. It is not uncommon to have a hymn associated to each Word, Jesus in Thy Dying Woes, the hymn used here, being the prime example.

The Tre ore is here presented as a set of seven videos, one for each Word. Each video includes a Scriptural passage associated with the respective Word, a homily by Bp. Riegel, and then the three verses of the hymn, Jesus in Thy Dying Woes, associated with that Word. Since this is a set of videos, that have been arranged in a YouTube playlist (click here). Special thanks to Julia Levelle who played piano and cantored.


The most viewed of all the worship vids was Tenebrae, a Holy Week offering designed for contemplation of the Passion of Christ through psalms, canticles, and readings. Tenebrae has its origins in the monastic prayer services that would take place from the wee hours of the morning until early dawn. Over time, these early morning prayer services migrated in some monastic and cathedral houses to the evening before. As Protestants sough to enrich their Holy Week observances, they borrowed the peculiar Tenebrae practice of extinguishing the candles as the service progressed but jettisoned the recitation of the numerous appointed psalms, canticles, and readings, favoring the use of the Seven Last Words coupled with hymnody. The Tenebrae posted was based upon the much older form. The Tenebrae vid has been removed in fulfillment of the copyright permission granted by the publishing house. If your congregation, cluster, or conference would like to hold a Tenebrae in 2021, let the Bishop know.

Terce for Sunday in Lent

Terce is the mid-morning prayer office of the church, the name, "terce," coming from the Latin for "third," as in "third hour of the day." This simple (and short) service centers on Psalm 119. Each day of the week, three of the "letters" of the psalm are recited, except for Sunday when the first four "letters" are recited. There are moments of silence for contemplation and prayer. If you would like to follow along, you may download the liturgy here. If you fold it in half, it will tuck nicely inside an LBW or ELW. The music and text (except for Psalm) are in public domain. The psalm text is used by permission of Augsburg-Fortress. The office hymn is John Mason Neale's translation of the Ambrosian hymn employed for terce. To enjoy terce for a Sunday in Lent, click here.

To accompany Terce

Bishop Riegel wrote a reflection inspired by praying terce while attending the LWF Wittenberg Seminar in March 2015. This was originally published as a facebook note, but it is now available on the Synod's website for open access. Click here for a reflection on the place of silence, psalms, and familiar liturgy in our lives.

Lenten Compline

Compline has sometimes been called the bedtime prayer of the church. It gets its name from ad completorium, or "to the completion [of the day]." The entire service presented here is found in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1977). Liturgical texts and music are used by permission of Augsburg Fortress. This service blurs the line between night-dawn and death-resurrection. This recording employs Psalm 91 for reasons that will seem obvious once you hear it. It also employs a favorite hymn of many, Abide with Me. If you have an LBW, you may follow along, beginning on page 154. To enjoy compline in Lent, click here.

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West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod, ℅ St. Paul Lutheran Church, 309 Baldwin Street, Morgantown, WV 26505
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