Festive Service for Ascension Day

Our Worship Begins(1)

Words of Welcome

*Processional: Psalm 24(2)

*Greetings:
Pastor: People of God, receive the greeting from our God, the King of glory: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, through the working of the Holy Spirit.
People: Amen!
The people greet each other.

*Hymn: Rejoice, the Lord Is King

We Hear the Word of the Lord

Prayer for Illumination

Scripture Reading: Acts 1:1—11

Word for the Children

*Hymn: Hail the Day That Sees Him Rise (3)

*Psalm 47 (4)

*Hymn: See, the Conqueror Mounts in Triumph

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 4:1-8 (5)

Sermon

We Respond to the Word of the Lord

*Hymn: Hail, Thou Once Despised Jesus

*Confession of Faith: Romans 8:28—39 (6)

*Hymn: Alleluia, Sing to Jesus

Prayers: adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication, ending with the Lord's Prayer in unison (7)

Offertory

Our Worship Concludes

*Doxology: Crown Him with Many Crowns

*Benediction (from Revelation 22:20-21):

Pastor: He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming soon."
People: Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!
Pastor: The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints.
People (sing): Threefold Amen

Notes on the Service

(1) Though intended for Ascension Day itself, this service could also be used on the Sunday before or after Ascension Day. I prepared the original version of this service for Fellowship Christian Reformed Church in Toronto (Rexdale), Canada.

(2) The worship leader(s) and/or the choir could enter the sanctuary during the singing of Psalm 24. Though various settings of Psalm 24 are available in hymnals, I recommend using the setting printed on this page—from A Psalm Sampler (see Reviews, pp. 45^46). Psalm 24 suggests antiphonal performance; you could alternate the various stanzas and/or the refrain between soloist/choir and the congregation.

(3) The tune LLANFAIR is usually sung to this text. Its alleluias also suggest antiphonal performance. Even young children can be encouraged to join in on these alleluias. After the first stanza you may also want to sing certain verses unaccompanied, with tbe organ (or trumpets!) supporting only the alleluias.

(4) I suggest the Genevan setting of Psalm 47: please see Valerie Stegink's composition, which is enclosed with this issue of Reformed Worship. I recommend this setting for use in a concertato involving children's choir, instruments, and congregation. Other psalms that could be used instead of Psalm 47 include Psalms 68, 72, 93, 110, and 113. Although a musical setting is preferred for such festive psalms, any one of them could also be read—expressively by one reader, antiphonally by a reader and the congregation, or dramatically by several voices.

(5) This Scripture reading forms the basis for the sermon that follows. Another suitable Scripture passage may be read at the discretion of the preacher.

(6) Romans 8:28-39 may be read responsively or antiphonally, but verses 38-39 should be read in unison. I would print this text in the liturgy, with the voice parts (leader, people, men, women, etc.) clearly marked. Another appropriate confession of faith is Question and Answer 49 from the Heidelberg Catechism.

(7) Several members of the congregation may share in these prayers by previous arrangement. You may also wish to include periods of silent meditation between these prayers or after the sermon.

Bert Polman (bdp5@calvin.edu) is a hymnologist who is a professor and chair of the music department at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan.