The “Longworth” Lutheran Rosary
While a seminarian at Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (now part of United Lutheran Seminary) in 2005, the Reverend John Longworth and his wife Sara modified the Lenten Lutheran Rosary that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America had developed in 2003 as part of a Christian Education class. Soon classmates were asking for pre-made rosaries and a booklet to help them pray this new rosary and to teach others how to pray it as well. Until 2009, the Longworths ran a website dedicated to selling and sharing their Lutheran Rosary, which I informally and unofficially call the “Longworth” Lutheran Rosary. Instead of being based on the season of Lent, as the 2003 ELCA rosary was, their rosary was based on Martin Luther’s Small Catechism.
Luther published his Small Catechism in 1529 as a tool for heads of households to teach the Christian faith to the rest of the household. Using the question, “What does this mean?”, Luther hoped to provide explanations simple enough for everyone to understand. For over five hundred years, Lutherans have continued to use the Small Catechism as a basic teaching tool for all ages.
If you do not own a Small Catechism, you can purchase copies from Augsburg Fortress or download the FREE Small Catechism Apps for iPhone or Android (it isn’t required to pray the Rosary, but it’s nice to have, and every Lutheran should anyway).
- Two sizes of beads are needed for this rosary.
- The rosary begins with a cross, then four small beads grouped together, followed by a large bead.
- After the juncture, the remaining six groups are organized into “weeks” of six small beads and one large bead.
- No colors are prescribed for the beads–colors in the diagram are for contrast only.
The Longworth Rosary is a series of prayers and meditations on the seven parts of Martin Luther’s Small Catechism: the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, Confession, the Sacrament of the Altar, and Daily Blessings. Scripture readings related to each part are prayed on the small beads, and texts drawn from the Catechism are recited or prayed on the large beads. It can be helpful to have the Small Catechism open in front of you, especially if you want to meditate on Luther’s explanations, though you do not need it.
☩ = cross
Y = juncture
● = small bead
◯ = large bead
Alternate choices are given in a gray box beside the primary choice.
1. Meditation on the Cross
☩ For God so loved the World that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. (John 3:16)
● Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. (Luke 23:42)
◯ Martin Luther’s Morning or Evening Prayer
I give thanks to you, heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ your dear Son, that you have protected me through the night from all harm and danger. I ask that you would also protect me today from sin and all evil, so that my life and actions may please you. Into your hands I commend myself: my body, my soul, and all that is mine. Let your holy angel be with me, so that the wicked foe may have no power over me. Amen.
I give thanks to you, heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ your dear Son, that you have graciously protected me today. I ask you to forgive me all my sins, where I have done wrong, and graciously to protect me tonight. Into your hands I commend myself: my body, my soul, and all that is mine. Let your holy angel be with me, so that the wicked foe may have no power over me. Amen.
Y Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen. (Gloria Patri)
2. Meditation on the Ten Commandments
● Teach me, and I will be silent; make me understand how I have gone wrong. (Job 6:24)
◯ The Ten Commandments
- You shall have no other gods.
- You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God.
- Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy.
- Honor your father and your mother.
- You shall not murder.
- You shall not commit adultery.
- You shall not steal.
- You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
- You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.
- You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
3. Meditation on the Creed
● Every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philipians 2:11)
● Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief! (Mark 9:24)
(This prayer may also be said following the recitation of the Creed)
◯ The Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
4. Meditation on the Lord’s Prayer
● Lord, teach us to pray. (Luke 11:1)
◯ The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever. Amen.
5. Meditation on Holy Baptism
● Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.
● Wash me through and through from my wickedness, and cleanse me from my sin.
◯ Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:4)
6. Meditation on Confession
● Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. (Jesus Prayer)
● For your name’s sake, O Lord, forgive my sin, for it is great. (Psalm 25:11)
◯ Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit. (Psalm 51:10-12)
◯ For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is your steadfast love for those who fear you. As far as the east is from the west, so far have you removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion for his children, so you have compassion on those who fear you, O Lord. (Psalm 103:11-13)
7. Meditation on the Sacrament of the Altar
● Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world; have mercy on us. (Agnus Dei)
◯ Words of Institution
In the night in which he was betrayed, our Lord Jesus took bread, and gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying: Take and eat; this is my body, given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me. Again, after supper, he took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it for all to drink, saying: This cup is the new covenant in my blood, shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness of sin. Do this for the remembrance of me.
8. Meditation on the Cross
◯ God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit watch over me. Amen.
● Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. (Luke 23:42)
☩ Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:17)
Comments? Suggestions? Corrections? Contact me.
The original schema © 2005 John and Sara Longworth. Some modifications courtesy of Shruti Kulkarni. John has graciously given permission for the reproduction of his material and for the modifications presented here.
Scripture readings from the New Revised Standard Version, © Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America, 1989. Used by permission. Liturgical and Catechism texts are as they are translated in Evangelical Lutheran Worship, © 2006 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, admin. Augsburg Fortress.
Original website (archived from original). Contains information, history, and original instruction booklet.