The Lord's Prayer: Using hymns and the Heidelberg Catechism to reflect on the Lord's Prayer

Prelude: Variations on vater unser (Our Father)

Call to Worship: "Built on the Rock" [stanzas 1-2, choir, stanza 3, all]
(PsH 503, TH 351]

Greetings

OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN

Hymn: "Our Father, Clothed with Majesty," [stanza 1]
(PsH 562)

Why did Christ command us to call God "our Father"?

At the very beginning of our prayer
Christ wants to kindle in us
what is basic to our prayer—
the childlike awe and trust
that God through Christ has become
our Father.

Our fathers do not refuse us,
the things of this life;
God our Father will even less refuse to give us
what we ask in faith.

(Heidelberg Catechism Q & A 120)

Why the words "in heaven"?

These words teach us
not to think of God's heavenly majesty
as something earthly,
and to expect everything
for body and soul
from his almighty power.

(Heidelberg Catechism Q & A 121)

Hymn: "Children of the Heavenly Father"
(PsH440,RL585,TH131)

HALLOWED BE YOUR NAME

Choir: "Our Father, Clothed with Majesty," [stanza 2]
(PsH 562)

What does the first request mean?

Hallowed be your name means,

Help us to really know you,
to bless, worship, and praise you
for all your works
and for all that shines forth from them:
your almighty power, wisdom, kindness,
justice, mercy, and truth.

And it means,
Help us to direct all our living—
what we think, say, and do—
so that your name will never be blasphemed because of us
but always honored and praised.

(Heidelberg Catechism Q & A 122)

Hymn: "Holy God, We Praise Your Name [St. 1-2, choir; St. 3, choir; with all joining on the words, "And from morn to set of sun . . .."; St. 4, all]
(PH 460, PsH 504, RL 619, TH 103)

YOUR KINGDOM COME

Choir: "Our Father, Clothed with Majesty," [stanza 3]
[PsH 562]

What does the second request mean?

Your kingdom come means,

Rule us by your Word and Spirit in such a way
that more and more we submit to you.

Keep your church strong, and add to it.

Destroy the devil's work;
destroy every force which revolts against you
and every conspiracy against your Word.

Do this until your kingdom is so complete and perfect
that in it you are
all in all.

(Heidelberg Catechism, Q & A 123)

Hymn: "Lead On, O King Eternal"
(PH 447-448, PsH 555, RL 423, TH 580)

YOUR WILL BE DONE ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN

Choir: "Our Father, Clothed with Majesty," [stanza 4]
(PsH 562)

What does the third request mean?

Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven means,

Help us and all people
to reject our own wills
and to obey your will without any back talk.
Your will alone is good.

Help us one and all to carry out the work we are called to,
as willingly and faithfully as the angels in heaven.

(Heidelberg Catechism Q & A 124)

Hymn: "Breathe on Me, Breath of God"
(PH 316, PsH 420, TH 334)

Scripture

Sermon

GIVE US TODAY OUR DAILY BREAD

Hymn: "Our Father, Clothed with Majesty," [stanza 5]
(PsH 562)

What does the fourth request mean? Give us today our daily bread means, Do take care of all our physical needs
so that we come to know
that you are the only source of everything good,
and that neither our work and worry
nor your gifts
can do us any good without your blessing.

And so help us to give up our trust in creatures
and to put trust in you alone.

(Heidelberg Catechism Q & A 125)

Solo: "Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread"
(PsH 290)

Offering

Offertory: Variation on vater unser (Our Father)

FORGIVE US OUR DEBTS, AS WE ALSO HAVE FORGIVEN OUR DEBTORS

Choir: "Our Father, Clothed With Majesty," [stanza 6]
(PsH 562)

What does the fifth request mean?

Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors
means,

Because of Christ's blood,
do not hold against us, poor sinners that we are,
any of the sins we do
or the evil that constantly clings to us.
Forgive us just as we are fully determined,
as evidence of your grace in us,
to forgive our neighbors.

(Heidelberg Catechism Q & A 126)

Hymn: "Forgive Our Sins, As We Forgive"
(PH 347, PsH 266, TH 494)

AND LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION, BUT DELIVER US FROM THE EVIL ONE

Choir: "Our Father, Clothed with Majesty," [stanza 7]

What does the sixth request mean?

And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one
means,
By ourselves we are too weak
to hold our own even for a moment.

And our sworn enemies—
the devil, the world, and our own flesh—
never stop attacking us.

And so, Lord,
uphold us and make us strong
with the strength of your Holy Spirit,
so that we may not go down to defeat
in this spiritual struggle,
but may firmly resist our enemies
until we finally win the complete victory.

(Heidelberg Catechism Q & A 127)

Hymn: "Lead Me, Guide Me"
(PsH 544)

FOR YOURS IS THE KINGDOM, AND THE POWER, AND THE GLORY FOREVER

Hymn: "Our Father, Clothed with Majesty," [stanza 8]

What does your conclusion to this prayer mean?

For yours is the kingdom and the power
and the glory forever
means,

We have made all these requests of you
because, as our all-powerful king,
you not only want to,
but are able to give us all that is good;
and because your holy name,
and not we ourselves,
should receive all the praise, forever.

(Heidelberg Catechism Q & A 128)

Doxology: "To God Be the Glory"
(PsH 632)

Benediction

Postlude: Variation on vater unser (Our Father).

Excerpt

Notes on the Service

■ The idea for this service came from a Lutheran hymn festival in Charleston, South Carolina, during the Hymn Society Conference of 1990. In that service, elements from Luther's catechism were used. This service, which uses the Heidelberg Catechism, was prepared by Emily R. Brink, editor of Reformed Worship and adjunct professor of church music and worship at Calvin Seminary.

This service was conducted at four Christian Reformed churches in the fall of 1990: with the Calvin Seminary Choir at Central Avenue (Holland, Michigan) and Shawnee Park (Grand Rapids, Michigan), and with the church choirs oflmmanuel (Ripon, California) and Walnut Creek (California).

■ To introduce each section of the service, the worship leader announced, "Together we pray ..." and the congregation said in unison the next phrase of the prayer.

■ The chorale melody for the Lord's Prayer was published in one of the earliest Reformation hymnals (1539) to a setting of the Lord's Prayer by Martin Luther. The tune, appropriately named vater unser, has been associated with the Lord's Prayer ever since. The text by Marie Post (Psalter Hymnal 562) is based on the exposition of the Lord's Prayer in the Heidelberg Catechism (Q& A 120-129). For variety, the congregation sang a few stanzas and the choir the rest; the choir sang some stanzas in unison and others using the Bach harmonization. The text of each stanza was printed in the bulletin so the congregation did not have to look up the number each time.

■ Other choral music in the service included the following:
"Built on the Rock," two-part setting by Alfred Fedak (CRC Publications 2415-0300; see also RW 16, p. 36.) We used bells in only one of the four services; with or without bells it is a fine piece.

"Holy God, We Praise Your Name," sate setting by John Ferguson (G.I.A. G-3167). The Te Deum text is set partly to an ancient chant of the church, partly to the familiar melody, to remind the worshipers of the holy catholic church which has for so many centuries prayed this confession. Luther considered the Te Deum the most important confessional statement of the church next to the Apostles' Creed.

■ The organist played several of the many compositions based on vater unser. Also, the organist provided alternative accompaniments on several hymn stanzas. Sometimes, we sang unaccompanied for one or more stanzas ("Children of the Heavenly Father," "Breathe on Me, Breath of God"). We used piano for "Lead Me, Guide Me" and "To God Be the Glory."

The hymns in this service were selected from the following hymnals: The Presbyterian Hymnal (PH), Psalter Hymnal (PsH), Rejoice in the Lord (RL), and Trinity Hymnal (TH).