The Song Goes On: A service of praise for an instrument of praise

Last year we celebrated the 21st anniversary of the dedication of the pipe organ in our church. Maybe that's a peculiar anniversary to celebrate, but there were reasons for our choice. I was still grieving over the loss of both my parents the previous year, and our congregation was adjusting to the departure of our long-time pastor. We needed something special to celebrate, and since reaching the age of twenty-one is often a milestone in our culture, we decided to celebrate the twenty-first anniversary of our church organ.

We called our celebration the "Coming of Age of the Organ." After all, a good pipe organ is just coming into its own after that many years. Besides, I've been concerned about lagging appreciation for the pipe organ in our church. The Praise & Worship style favors the piano, and I've heard rave reviews about the new electronic organ at Michigan State University. What most people don't realize is that fifty years from now, when that electronic organ has come and gone, our organ will still be in fine shape.

I decided it was time the members of our congregation learn what an absolute jewel our Schantz organ is. So I took about fifteen minutes of our celebration service to explain how the organ works, using variations on "Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven" to demonstrate the principals, flutes, and so on. At the end of the service, the organ chamber doors were opened (our organ is completely enclosed), so that the people could look in while I played the postlude.

The response to our celebration was overwhelming. At the end of the medley, the congregation applauded—unusual for them. And after the final hymn, they applauded and even cheered. I was dumbfounded. The choir sang "O Prosper Thou Our Handiwork" and the Lord certainly did!

ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION SERVICE

Prelude: Toccata and Fanfare on "Praise to the Lord the Almighty"
[Kerr]

Hymn: "Holy God, We Praise Your Name"

st. 1-2 choir
st. 3 all join at "and from morn to set of sun"
st. 4 all
[PsH 504, PH 460 RL 619, TH103; hymn concertato arr. John Ferguson (G.I.A. #G3167)]

Invocation

Hymn: "Oh, for a Thousand Tongues to Sing"

st. 1-2 all
st. 3 women
st. 4 men
st. 5 all
[PsH 501, PH 466, RL 362-63, TH 164]

Greetings

Introduction of Organ Committee

Hymn: "When in Our Music God Is Glorified"

st. 1-2 choir
st. 3-5 all
[PsH 512, RL 508]

Introduction of the Organ

Hymn: "Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven"
[PsH 475, PH 478, RL 144, TH 76-77]

Evening Prayer

Choir: "Let Us with a Gladsome Mind"
[Ridout]

Childrens Prayer
[Children ages 3—kindergarten come forward]

Offertory: "Flute Solo"
[Arne]

Hymn Medley: "Come, Christians, Join to Sing" (st. 1)
[PH150,RL357,TH302]

"I Will Sing of the Mercies of the Lord"
[PsH 169]

"Blessed Assurance"
[PsH 490, PH 341, RL 453 TH 693]

"Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing"
[PsH 486, PH 356, RL 449, TH 457]

"Amazing Grace"

st. 1 women
st. 2 men
st. 3 all
[PsH 462, PH 280, RL 456, TH 460]

"What Wondrous Love"
[PsH379,PH85,TH261]

"I Will Sing of My Redeemer"
[PsH 479, TH 650]

"Christ Is Alive! Let Christians Sing"
[PsH 413, PH 108]

"Give Me Oil in My Lamp"

"O Come, All Ye Faithful"
[PsH 340, PH 41-42, RL 195, TH 208]

Scripture: Psalm 84:1-4

Message: Singing Songs of Home

Choir: "O How Amiable"
[Vaughn Williams]

Prayer

Hymn: "The Day You Gave Us, Lord, Is Ended"

st. 1-3 choir
st. 4 all
[PsH 318, PH 546, RL 516, TH 407]

Benediction

Choral Response

Postlude: Sinfonia from "We Thank You, God"
[Bach]

The hymns in this service were written out in the bulletin by permission, with their CCLI License. Only one or two stanzas were selected from many of the hymns included in the medley. • The hymns in Ms service were selected from the following hymnals: The Psalter Hymnal (PsH) The Presbyterian Hymnal (PH), Rejoice in the Lord (RL), and the Trinity Hymnal (TH).

Kathy Prince is director of music at River Terrace Christian Reformed Church in Lansing, Michigan.