In the Beginning . . .

A Litany of the Word

The following litany was created by Paul Detterman for the funeral of a friend. Paul says: “The service was for a 55-year-old-man who had just come to saving faith in the last few years and loved God’s Word almost as much as he loved Jesus. Because he loved the Word so much, I couldn’t just ‘pick a passage,’ so we read Romans 6 and then used this litany as a ‘Scripture tapestry.’ We did it with three readers (A-B-C) in a triangular position at front and sides of the nave. Words that deserve particular emphasis are in bold. At intervals we observed a brief pause—a mini Selah!”

Also consider using this litany for Easter, or for a baptism.

A In the beginning was the Word,
B and the Word was with God,
C and the Word was God.
A He was with God in the beginning.
B Through him all things were made;
C without him nothing was made that has been made. (John 1:1-3)
A In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
B Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep,
C and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. (Gen. 1:1-2)

A In the beginning was the Word . . .
B and in him was life: (John 1:4a)
A And God said, “Let there be light . . .”
B “Let there be light,”
C “Let there be light,”
A and there was light.
B God saw that the light was good.
C And he separated the light from the darkness. (Gen. 1:3-4)
B The light shines in the darkness
C and the darkness has not overcome it! (John 1:5)

A In the beginning was the Word . . .
B Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image . . .”
C “in our likeness!” (Gen. 1:26a)
A So God created human beings in his own image, male and female he created them. (Gen. 1:27)
B God saw all that he had made
C and it was very good.
A And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. (John 1:14a)
B Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.”
C “I am the light of the world.”
A “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
C Jesus said, “I have come so that you may have abundant life.” (John 10:10)
B The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.
A He was in the world
C and though the world was made through him
B the world did not recognize him. (John 1:9-10)
C He was in the world,
A He came to that which was his own
C but his own did not receive him. (John 1:11)
B People loved darkness instead of light . . .
A (Jesus said, “I am the light of the world . . .”)
B . . . because their deeds were evil. (John 3:19b)
C Yet to all who received him
B to those who believed in his name
C he gave power!
B he gave power!
A he gave power to become children of God. (John 1:12)
C Dear friends, we are children of God . . . (1 John 3:2)
A created in God’s image—male and female
B children born not of natural descent,
C nor of human decision
B or a husband’s will,
A but born of God.
B born of God!
C born of God! (John 1:13)
B And God saw all he made, and it was good
C and what we will become has not yet been made known.
B But we know that when Christ is made known
C we shall be like him,
B for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2)

A Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.” (John 8:12)
B Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.” (Matt. 5:14a)
A Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches.” (John 15:5a)
B Jesus said, “Let your light shine before others that they may see your good deeds and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16)
A Jesus said, “If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5b)
C We have seen his glory—the glory of the one and only Son of the Father. (John 1:14b)
B Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30)
A Jesus said, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.” (John 14:9)
C Full of grace and truth: (John 1:14c)
B Jesus said, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life . . .”
C “no one comes to the Father except by me.” (John 14:6)
A Jesus said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega . . .”
B “the Beginning and the End.” (Rev. 22:13)
C Jesus said, “I will not leave you orphaned—I will come to you that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:18)
A Jesus said, “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” (John 11:25)
B In him was life—and that life was the true light
C that came into the world
A to give light to everyone . . . (John 1:4-5)
B That was good.
A Jesus said, “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.” (John 10:11)
B We are his people
C and the sheep of his pasture. (Psalm 95:7)
ABehold, the Lamb of God.”
B “Behold, the Lamb of God.”
C “Behold, the Lamb of God!” (John 1:29b)
B Behold, the Good Shepherd . . .
A Behold, the Way, the Truth, the Life . . .
B Behold, the Light of the world . . .
C Behold, the Alpha and the Omega,
B the Beginning and the End.
A In him is life
B abundant life
C eternal life
B to all who believe and call on his name.

A Jesus said, “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not die but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17)

C O, that today . . .
B O, that today . . .
A O, that today you would hear his voice! (Psalm 95:7b)
C The Word . . .
B The Word . . .
A The Word of the Lord!
All: Thanks be to God!

Rev. Dr. Paul Detterman is an author, composer, and conference speaker who is pastor of First Presbyterian Church of River Forest, Illinois, and a blogger at He is a former associate for worship on the national staff of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Reformed Worship 88 © June 2008 Worship Ministries of the Christian Reformed Church. Used by permission.