Hymn Festival Service: for Reformation and Thanksgiving

During the fall season many North American Christians attend two celebrations. One is a commemoration of the past—of the sixteenth-century Reformation of the Christian church. The other is a national celebration of thanksgiving—a day of praising God for the ways 1 which he has blessed us in the past and the present.

Usually, these two events are celebrated a few weeks apart from one another. But this service, used on November 23, 1986, by the Trinity CRC in Artesia, California, is an attempt to tie the two together. While we offer thanks for God's care of his world, we also praise him for the special ways in which he cares for his church.

Some of the hymns used in this service grow directly out of the Reformation; others are more specifically expressions of thanksgiving. All will appear in the new edition of the Psalter Hymnal (PH); some are also a part of Rejoice in the Lord (RIL) and are scheduled for publication in the new Trinity Hymnal (TH).

Opening Service

Prelude: "I Greet Thee Who My Sure Redeemer Art".............Van Eck

*Hymn: "I Greet My Sure Redeemer and My King". . . PH, RIL 366, TH 135)

*Leader: Congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the source of your help?

*People: Our help is in the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

*Leader: "Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."

*People: Amen.

Service of Praise for Reformation Treasure(1)

By Grace Alone—"Sola Gratia"

Reading: Ephesians 2: 8—10
Psalm 145: "I Will Exalt My God My King" (choir, v. 1; congregation vv. 2—3)
...............................PH,TH 2 (different tune and text)(2)

By Scripture Alone—"Sola Scriptura"

Reading: 2 Timothy 3:16-17
"Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word".............PH, RIL 615, TH 91

By Faith Alone—"Sola Fidei"

Reading: Romans 1: 16—17
*Hymn: "How Firm a Foundation"..................PH, RIL 172, TH 80

Service of the Word(3)

Reading: Colossians 3:15-17

Sermon: The Reformed Worshiper (4)

Responsive Psalm Reading: Psalm 145

Leader: I will exalt you, my God and King; I will praise your name forever and ever. Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever.

People: Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts. They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works. They will tell of the power of your awesome works, and I will proclaim your great deeds. They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.

Choir men: The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.

Choir women: All you have made will praise you, O Lord; your saints will extol you. They will tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, so that all people may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.

Choir: Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations.

Leader: The Lord is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made. The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

People: The Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made.

Choir: The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.

People: He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.

Choir: The Lord watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.

All: My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord. Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever.

Service of Thanksgiving

Meditation: "Giving Thanks to God"

For the Church of All Ages

Reading: 1 Peter 2:4-10
*Hymn: "Built on the Rock"........................................PH

For Missionary Fruit

Reading: Habakkuk 2: 14
Hymn: "God Is Working His Purposes Out".................PH, RIL 425

For Daily Bread and Strength

Reading: Psalm 104: 18-23, 27-30
Hymn: "We Plow the Fields, and Scatter"..............PH, RIL 17, TH 614

Service of Dedication

Meditation: "Singing in Your Hearts" A Litany of Thanksgiving(5)

Leader: Let us give thanks to the Lord, our rock, our fortress, and our deliverer. Let us remember his mercy, for he is gracious and compassionate.

People: We thank you for calling us to faith in Christ, for putting your Spirit within us, for giving us the mind of Christ, for gathering us into your church.

Leader: We thank you, Lord, for extending your grace to us, for calling us to a life of gratitude, for calling us to service in your kingdom.

All: Thanks be to God!

Leader: Let us give thanks to the Lord, for he satisfies the thirsty, he fills the hungry with good things, and he heals the afflicted. Let us celebrate his abundant goodness.

People: We thank you, gracious Father, that you provide for all our needs, for the food on our tables, for the clothing on your bodies, for the beds we sleep in, and for the dwellings that shelter us.

Leader: We praise you for all your gifts that go beyond our basic needs, for the things that make our work easier, for the conveniences of modern life, for the beauty and pleasure that you bring into our lives.

All: Thanks be to God! Amen.

*Hymn: "Let AH Things Now Living" {Congregation and Choir)....PH


Offertory: "Let All Things Now Living"...............................Cherwien

*Doxology: "Unto Him That Loved Us" (choir)............................PH


*Moment of Meditation

Postlude: "Built on a Rock the Church Doth Stand"................Peeters

*People standing

Notes on the Service

(1)This part of the service focused on three Latin mottos that came out of the Reformation. Sola gratia captures the concept so clearly understood by Luther—that we are saved "by grace alone." The message of grace is ours through the preaching of the word: "Scripture alone" is our final authority (sola Scriptura). Though believers thankfully serve God, their works do not save them, for Christ is ours "by faith alone" (sola fidei). The readings and hymns in this service of praise stress these three Reformation concepts.

(2)The choir introduced songs that were not familiar to the congregation.

(3)The Service of the Word united the two themes of Reformation and Thanksgiving by relating Thanksgiving to the blessing received through and in the church, recognizing that daily bread and strength are needed if the church is to fulfill its calling.

(4)Although this section is labled "sermon," the sermon was actually spread throughout the service (note the two meditations later in the service). Churches may decide to eliminate the sermon for this service and replace it with three meditations, focusing on the text of Colossians 3:15-17 (a. Letting the Word Dwell in You Richly, b. Giving Thanks to God, c. Singing in Your Hearts). The overall theme of the service would still be "The Reformed Worshiper."

(5)The litany was taken from RW 1, p. 19.

Reformed Worship 4 © June 1987, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.