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Many Tongues

Worship for World Communion Sunday

A celebration of World Communion Sunday need not be odd or uncomfortable for people with a limited experience of languages and cultures other than their own (see p. 3). Any time we plan worship, we need to ask, What is the authentic “language” (ethos, perspective, culture) of the congregation? In what forms can the gospel be heard most clearly, and in what language(s) can the congregation glorify God most freely?

When a congregation’s “normal” pattern of worship is being enhanced or changed for a special emphasis like World Communion, it is important to design the changes in such a way that they heighten, not diminish, the clarity of the gospel message. One place to begin is by highlighting the traditional multiculturalism of worship that we usually overlook—an English hymn text set to an Italian tune, or a prayer from the Iona Community in Scotland, or a chorus from the Taizé Community in France. Those connections can be made verbally or in the bulletin.

This service is planned with a predominantly English-speaking congregation in mind. The average attendance in this hypothetical congregation is somewhere around sixty, including some members whose origins are in non-Western cultures. There is no choir, and more often than not, there is no pianist/organist available to assist in leading the music. Even so, all the music included in this liturgy may easily be learned and sung, unaccompanied, under the leadership of a song leader.

One joyful reality of the twenty-first century is that, in almost any gathering of believers, there will be people for whom English is a second language, or who have studied a language to some level of fluency. The language-specific suggestions included here are meant to offer guidance or examples only. When a congregation is radically multicultural, a multilingual order of service, done in parallel columns, often works best. In a predominantly English-speaking congregation, a simple indication of the language that is intended to be spoken at any given point in the liturgy is all that is necessary, with the full text of the service presented only in English.

Psalm passages are taken from the Liturgical Psalter, © 1994 by the International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. (Liturgical Training Publications).

Gathering Song: “Jesus Christ Is With Us” [Click to listen]
[This Congolese folk hymn was one of the theme songs at the 2006 Symposium on Worship at Calvin College in Grand Rapids. Ngala, Dutch, and English texts were used in those liturgies. The Korean and Taiwanese transliterations of the first stanza were subsequently created for use at Calvin Church, Louisville, Kentucky. After Symposium we also received a transliteration in Japanese. Transliteration (the transfer of another language into phonetic English), when it is carefully done, is a wonderful tool for enabling English-speaking people to enjoy the “sound” and “feel” of another language.]

Call to Worship (Adapted from Psalm 8)

Lord, our God, (repeated in Spanish, Korean, French, Chinese)
the whole world tells the greatness of your name.

Spanish:
Your glory reaches beyond the stars.
Even the babble of infants declares your strength,
your power to halt the enemy.
The whole world tells the greatness of your name.

Korean:
I see your handiwork in the heavens:
the moon and the stars you set in place.
The whole world tells the greatness of your name.

French:
What is humankind that you remember us,
the human race that you care for us?
The whole world tells the greatness of your name.

Chinese:
You treat humans like gods, dressing them in splendor,
giving them charge of the earth, laying everything at their feet.
The whole world tells the greatness of your name.
Lord, our God, (repeated in Spanish, Korean, French, Chinese)
the whole world tells the greatness of your name.

Hymn: “Oh, for a Thousand Tongues to Sing” (sung to McKee, 18th-century English text set to a 20th-century African-American tune) CH 21, PH 466, PsH 501, SFL 19, TH 164, WR 96

Confession (from the Iona Community in Scotland)
I confess to God Almighty,
before the whole company of heaven,
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have sinned by my own fault, in thought, word, and deed;
wherefore I pray God Almighty to have mercy on me,
forgive me all my sins, and bring me to everlasting life.
May Almighty God have mercy on you,

pardon and deliver you from all your sins

and give you time to amend your life.
Amen.
I confess to God Almighty,

before the whole company of heaven,

and to you, my brothers and sisters,

that I have sinned by my own fault, in thought, word, and deed;

wherefore I pray God Almighty to have mercy on me,

forgive me all my sins, and bring me to everlasting life.
May Almighty God have mercy on you,
pardon and deliver you from all your sins
and give you time to amend your life.
Amen.

Assurance
As far as east is from west, so God removes our sins. (Ps. 103:12)
In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven! Alleluia!

Response: “Alleluia” SNC 149

The Peace
Prayer for Illumination: “Lord, We Hear Your Word with Gladness” (st. 1-2) SNC 89 (20th-century Canadian text set to a 19th-century American tune)

Scripture Reading: Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12

Sermon

Prayer of Commitment: “Lord, We Hear Your Word with Gladness” (st. 3)

Prayers of the Church
[Prayer is one of the most potent liturgical opportunities for various forms of language and expression. We do not always need to understand (or agree with) the prayers offered by our brothers and sisters in the congregation. God hears, understands, and will answer according to his purpose. If there are people who are fluent in a language other than English, they can be invited to pray in that language. When multiple languages are going to be heard, extemporaneous prayer, offered as the Holy Spirit leads, is frequently more comfortable than a “litany” format where the congregation is expected to respond to each petition.]

Offering Hymn: “In the Lord I’ll Be Ever Thankful” SNC 220, WR 448 (text and music from the Taizé community, 20th-century France)

Great Thanksgiving: “Holy Is the Lord” CH 75, WR 151 (traditional liturgical text set to a 19th-century German tune)

The Distribution: “Let Us Talents and Tongues Employ” SNC 258 (20th-century American text set to a Jamaican folk tune)

Reading from Psalm 103 (The Message)
O my soul, bless God.
From head to toe, I’ll bless his holy name!
O my soul, bless God.
don’t forget a single blessing!
He forgives your sins—
every one!
He heals your diseases—
every one!
He redeems you from hell—
saves my life!
He crowns you with love and mercy—
a paradise crown!
He wraps you in goodness—
beauty eternal!
He renews your youth—
We’ll always be young in his presence!
God has set his throne in heaven;
he rules over us all. He’s the King!
So bless God, you angels, ready and able to fly at his bidding,
quick to hear and do what he says.
Bless God, all you armies of angels,
alert to respond to whatever he wills.
Bless God, all creatures, wherever you are—
everything and everyone made by God.
And you, O my soul, bless God!

Hymns
“Go into All the World” SNC 278 (text from Matthew’s gospel set to a late 20th-century American tune)

“Thuma Mina/Send Me, Lord” SNC 280 (text and music from South Africa; sung first in Zulu, then English)

[By raising “Thuma Mina” a full step from its printed pitch (F to G), these two sending songs may be joined very effectively. While the congregation is holding the final chord of “Go into All the World,” the lead singer simply begins the “call” of “Thuma Mina” with the text “Send me, Lord.” Transliterated Zulu is very easy for even the most limited English-speaking congregations to enjoy.]

Blessing and Dismissal
We have declared your name to our brothers and sisters in the assembly,
We will now sing your praise in your world.
The peace and love of Jesus Christ be with us all (repeated in Spanish, Korean, French, Chinese)

Amen! Alleluia!  

 
Excerpt

Jesus Christ Is with Us
Jesus Christ is with us, Jesus Christ is with us,
Jesus Christ is with us, he is here!
Jesus Christ is with us, Jesus Christ is with us,
Jesus Christ is with us, he is here!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah—he is here!

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah—he is here!

—translation by Emily Brink

Korean
Yesu oo ree wah hahm keah, Yesu oo ree wah hahm keah,
Yesu oo ree wah hahm keah, yogi yeah!
Yesu oo ree wah hahm keah, Yesu oo ree wah hahm keah,
Yesu oo ree wah hahm keah, yogi yeah!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah—yogi yeah!

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah—yogi yeah!

—translation by Moongil Cho

Taiwanese
Jaso Quito kah lahn dee day, Jaso Quito kah lahn dee day,
Jaso Quito kah lahn dee day, ee dee chay!
Jaso Quito kah lahn dee day, Jaso Quito kah lahn dee day,
Jaso Quito kah lahn dee day, ee dee chay!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah—ee dee chay!

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah—ee dee chay!
—translation by Winston Wenn

Japanese
Ima tomoni orareru SHU IESU sama, kokorokara sanbi shiyo!
Ima tomoni orareru SHU IESU sama, kokorokara sanbi shiyo!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah—SHU IESU!

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah—SHU IESU!
—translation by Lawrence Spalink
© 2006 Faith Alive Christian Resources