VARIATIONS ON THE UNITY CANDLE
The unity candle is a familiar sight at weddings. In the center of an arrangement is a candle that is not lit, flanked by two that are. At the appropriate time in the ceremony, the bride and groom move to this arrangement, pick up the two lit candles, together light the center candle, and then extinguish their candles. Sometimes the action is accompanied by music, sometimes by words from the minister, who says something along these lines:
Joy. If the circumstances are right—if everything, or at least almost everything, is going our way— then we can feel joy. That's what most people in our culture believe. But since we live in a world that is full of difficult and puzzling circumstances and events, most of us seldom experience that kind of joy.
There was, finally, the business of the Calvary Church sign. Pastor Jack had placed the item at the end of the consistory agenda, not only because it wasn't top priority, but also because replacing the sign would prompt a ton of jokes, all of them aimed at him.
Soon after the Psalter Hymnal was released in 1988, people started calling, wondering when the Psalter Hymnal Handbook would be ready. I got calls and letters, even from different countries. After all, this would be a first for the Reformed tradition: there was no English-language companion volume that dealt with both psalms and hymns from the perspective of the Reformed heritage of congregational song.
Q. The Presbyterian Hymns, Psalms & Spiritual Songs contains "My Country Tis of Thee" and other patriotic songs, but the Christian Reformed Psalter Hymnal does not. Is that failure caused by the fact that the Christian Reformed Church was at one time a Dutch immigrant church?
Volume 1. Instructional video with Paul Baloche, 1995. Available from Praise Stock Footage, P.O. Box 5331, Woodbridge VA 22194-5331; 703-590-0214; fax 703-670-6871. 90 minutes. $39.95 (U.S.) plus $4.00 shipping.
Each week I have twenty minutes to sing with the children in church school before they go to their classes. This year's theme was the Apostles' Creed. I divided the creed into nine "articles" and chose songs relating to each of them. The "articles" were taught at appropriate times during the Christian year. At the end of the year, they were incorporated into the following program, which was part of a worship service.
Cathy Townley and Mike Graham. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1995. $59.95.
The task of launching a contemporary worship service for a church can be a daunting challenge in and of itself. The greater challenge, however, lies in transforming the worship culture of a church without dividing the congregation into contemporary and traditionalist factions.
We have begun annual ecumenical Ascension Day services in the city of Georgetown, Ontario. So often Ascension Day is either ignored or moved to the following Sunday because it is so difficult to get people to come out for a midweek service. We have found that making it into an ecumenical service has revitalized our Ascension Day service. The Roman Catholics were amazed by the singing. The Christian Reformed people were impressed by the Roman Catholic choir and church building! All together approximately 325 attended.
Paul Westermeyer. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1997. 159 pp. Revised edition. Reviewed by Emily R. Brink, editor of Reformed Worship.
A reading of Acts 2:1-6 and John 3:16 in a variety of languages
The following reading for Pentecost is a very simple way to present the international celebration implicit in the day. It requires the use of several candles to be placed on a display table. Two readers present the first six verses from Acts 2, lighting a candle at the place where the text mentions the tongues of fire. Then, at the cue of Acts 2:6, various languages are used to present the essence of the gospel as described in John 3:16.
LIKES REFORMED WORSHIP WEBSITE
Congratulations on getting the Reformed Worship website [http://www.reformedworship.org] up and running. It looks good. Thanks again for a high quality publication, one of the best of its kind 1 have found. Keep up the good work.
J. R. "Tip" Tipton
APPRECIATED SERIES ON LAMENT
The service, along with complete a complete script for the worship leaders and notes for their rehearsal, was submitted by Rachael Boles. She writes:
The Church of the Holy Trinity is a suburban Anglican parish with a worshiping community of just under a hundred people; the Guildwood Community Presbyterian Church across the road is similar in size. For many years we have worshiped together on a Sunday in June. By tradition, the minister from the other church preaches in the host church.
DON'T STOP KISSING YOUR SPOUSE! OR ATTENDING WORSHIP.
My wife, Kathy, has shaped her professional career as a family and life educator, and she returned from a weekend conference some years ago with the report of a study that I found fascinating. The study focused on the habits of married couples and attempted to analyze what made a difference in their intimacy.
What was it like to worship in Philippi? How did those early Christians respond when they first heard Paul's letter? Those were the questions we asked as we planned this unusual service.
PRACTICING IN PUBLIC
Prelude (trumpet with band)
"Great Is Thy Faithfulness," arr. David T. Clydesdale, solo arr. Fletch Wiley; Almighty God—12 Great Songs for Solo Instrument (Word Music; orchestration available).
Welcome, Announcements, and Prayer
Call to Worship
At a recent Hymn Society conference, I attended a workshop led by Mimi Farra on leading congregational singing with the guitar. The room was so crowded I sat on the floor right next to the piano, which was played by Mimi's sister, Kathleen Thomerson (who wrote "I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light," RW 45:34). Mimi and Kathleen don't live in the same area, so it was a treat for them to be able to play together, and it was obvious they knew how to pick up cues from each other as well.
After ten years of research and writing, the Psalter Hymnal Handbook is finally available. Though many people contributed to this large volume (900+pages!), Bert Polman did by far the lion's share of the research and writing. Professor of music at Redeemer College in Ancaster, Ontario, Polman worked on the handbook every summer and countless evenings and weekends for the past ten years. Here Bert provides some basic information about handbooks and about the new Psalter Hymnal Handbook.
RW: Just what is a hymnal handbook?
The three songs in this issue are all taken from the Psalter Hymnal (1987) and are accompanied by commentary from the new Psalter Hymnal Handbook (1998). We're celebrating the completion of that huge project in this issue (see also the editorial on p. 2, the interview with primary author Bert Polman on p. 7, and order information on the inside back cover). We're also heaving huge sighs of relief after ten years of research!
By some accounts, the worship situation in churches today has reached an all-time low— "the worst of times." Others disagree. They think that the church has broken out of encrusted habits and is yielding to the working of the Spirit. We are finally worshiping "as God wants us to"—"the best of times."
Who's right? Although there's no easy answer to that question, dipping into a few recent articles and books and mixing in a bit of commentary and history may help us evaluate our liturgical situation.
Have-you ever tried to picture what the great wedding banquet of the Lamb will be like? Those three images—of wedding, banquet, and Lamb—are poetic metaphors of what lies "beyond the Jordan," to use another metaphor. Every time we meet for worship, we anticipate another time when we will begin a worship service that will be so perfectly planned and carried out that we won't want it to end. And it won't. Scripture is full of poetic language that gives us hints and glimpses of what eternal life is all about.