God in Three Persons: A service of hymns and readings for Trinity Sunday

The service, along with complete a complete script for the worship leaders and notes for their rehearsal, was submitted by Rachael Boles. She writes:

The Church of the Holy Trinity is a suburban Anglican parish with a worshiping community of just under a hundred people; the Guildwood Community Presbyterian Church across the road is similar in size. For many years we have worshiped together on a Sunday in June. By tradition, the minister from the other church preaches in the host church.

In 1995 it was our turn. This was the first time outside of the Christmas season that we planned and held a hymn festival. It was something I had long wanted to offer to the parish, and the ecumenical service seemed the perfect occasion, especially since it fell on Trinity Sunday, our feast of title. Three people helped plan the event: Ellen Anderson, Jim Boles, and Adrienne Perry. After they had come up with their first draft, Ellen and I read aloud and sang our way through the whole service and made a few changes. I added some bridging pieces and instructions for the congregation, and worked with the secretary on the layout for the service leaflet. Jim researched and wrote the end notes on the hymns and their tunes [Unfortunately, they are omitted here for reasons of space.] Ellen wrote the opening prayer and the prayer over the gifts.

Traditionally the Sunday after Pentecost is designated Trinity Sunday; in 1998 Trinity Sunday falls on June 9.


Processional Hymn: "All Creatures of Our God and King" PsH 431, PH 455, RL 4, TH 115, TWC 356

The Gathering of the Community

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.

And also with you.

Dear friends in Christ, we have come together on this Trinity Sunday to celebrate in word and song and to affirm our faith in God, the Three in One.

As we stand in God's presence, let us pray:

Almighty God, before you angels sang for joy when you created with your voice the heavens and the earth.

Hear our voice this day and accept our praise and thanksgiving for the gift of speech and song, which we on earth share with the heavenly host.

O Jesus Christ, you are the Word made flesh, the firstborn of many sisters and brothers in the family of God who have heard your music in their hearts.

Open the ears of our hearts this day, that all we say and all we sing may reveal you in us and us in you, whose body and voice we are in this world.

O Holy Spirit, with tongues of fire you have inspired the speech and song of evangelists, preachers, poets, and musicians.

Visit us this day to kindle anew the fire of love and the light of understanding, that your church may live in the counterpoint of community.

O Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer, you are three persons in one God living in harmony. As your church, our many voices, our many lives, become one chorus to praise your holy name.

Bless our coming together now so that we, in communion with your saints, may hear your voice and sing your words this day and always. Amen.

God the Creator (Father)

Let us confess our faith in God, the Father:

We believe in one God,

the Father almighty,

maker of heaven and earth,

and of all things visible and invisible.

Hymn: "Come, Thou Almighty King" PsH 246, PH 215, RL 618, TH 101, TWC 5

First Reading: God begins to create the universe

Genesis 1:1-5
This is the word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Hymn: "Creating God, Your Fingers Trace" KEDRON PsH 60S, PH 134

Second Reading: God affirms his creative power

Job 38:1-7, 16-18, 28-30, 36; 42:1
This is the word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Hymn: "Many and Great, O God, Are Your Works" PH 271, SFL 94

Responsive Reading: Psalm 103:1-6, 8-17

God the Redeemer (Son)

Confession of Faith

Let us confess our faith in God the Son using the words of the Nicene Creed:

We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
... whose kingdom shall have no end.

Hymn: "You Servants of God, Your Master Proclaim" PsH 477, PH 477, RL 598, TH 165, TWC 103

Third Reading: "Who do you say I am?"

Luke 9:18-26, 28-36

[dramatic reading involving five readers]

Narrator: A reading from the Gospel according to Luke.

Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them:

Jesus: Who do the crowds say I am?

Narrator: They replied,

Disciples: Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.

Narrator: Then Jesus asked the disciples:

Jesus: But what about you? Who do you say lam?

Narrator: Peter answered:

Peter: The Christ of God.

Narrator: Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. And he said,

Jesus: The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

Narrator: Then Jesus said to them all:

Jesus: If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

Narrator: About eight days after Jesus had said this, he took Peter, John, and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem.

Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw Jesus' glory and the two men standing with him.

As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him,

Peter: Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.

Narrator: Now Peter did not really know what he was saying. While he was still speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud, saying,

God's Voice: This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.

Narrator: When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves, and told no one at that time what they had seen.
This is the word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Hymn: "You, Lord, Are Both Lamb and Shepherd"


1 You, Lord, are both lamb and shepherd.
You, Lord, are both prince and slave.
You, peacemaker and swordbringer
of the way you took and gave.
You, the everlasting instant;
you, whom we both scorn and crave.

2 Clothed in light upon the mountain,
stripped of might upon the cross,
shining in eternal glory,
beggared by a soldier's toss.
You, the everlasting instant;
you who are both gift and cost.

3 You, who walk each day beside us,
sit in power at God's side.
You, who preach a way that's narrow,
have a love that reaches wide.
You, the everlasting instant;
you, who are our pilgrim guide.

4 Worthy is our earthly Jesus!
Worthy is our cosmic Christ!
Worthy your defeat and victory. Worthy still your peace and strife.
You, the everlasting instant;
you who are our death and life.

—Sylvia Dunstan, ©I 991, from In Search of Hope and Grace, 40 Hymns and Gospel Songs, C.I.A. Publications, Chicago, IL 60638, 1-708-496-3800. Used by permission. For permission (o copy this hymn text, contact C.I.A.

Fourth Reading: Christ, the firstborn of the family of God

Romans 8:28-35, 37-39
This is the word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Hymn: "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" PsH 579, PH 408, RL 507, TH 629, TWC 622


My Christ! My shield, my encircler,
Each day, each night, each light, each dark.
My Christ! My shield, my encircler,
Each day, each night, each light, each dark.

Be near me, uphold me, my treasure, my triumph,
Jesus, song of Mary! My helper, my encircler,
Jesus, Son of David! My strength everlasting. Amen.

God the Sustainer (Holy Spirit)

Let us confess our faith in God the Holy Spirit:
We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord and Giver of life;
who proceeds from the Father and the Son;
who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified;
who spoke by the prophets.

Hymn: "Like the Murmer of the Dove's Song" BRIDEGROOM PH 314, SFL 191, TWC 286

Fifth Reading: Wisdom's part in Creation

Proverbs 8:12-14, 22-25, 30-31
This is the word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Hymn: "For Your Gift of God the Spirit" PsH 416, RL 382 TH 339, TWC 285

Sixth Reading: Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit, our Helper

John 15:26-27; 16:4b-7, 12-15
This is the word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Hymn: "Spirit of the Living God" PsH 424,PH 322, SFL 184, TH 72, TWC 297


Father, you have filled your people with the Spirit who rested on your Son and united us in your church; open channels for your Spirit that we may freely work together and your kingdom and your rule increase.

Our God in Three Persons

Anthem: "Holy, Holy, Holy" Tchaikovsky

Prayer: "What Shall I Say to You, My God?"

—A prayer by the theologian Karl Rahner (1904-84)

What can I say to you, my God? Shall I collect together all the words that praise your holy Name?

Shall I give you all the names of this world—you, the Unnameable? Shall I call you "God of my life,
meaning of my existence, hallowing of my acts,
my journey's end, bitterness of my bitter hours,
home of my loneliness, you my most treasured happiness"?
Shall I say: Creator, Sustainer, Pardoner,
Near One, Distant One, Incomprehensible One,
God both of flowers and stars,
God of the gentle wind and of terrible battles,
Wisdom, Power, Loyalty, and Truthfulness,
Eternity and Infinity, you the All-merciful,
you are the Just One, you Love itself?

Hymn: "Holy God, We Praise Your Name" PsH 504, PH 460, RL 619, TH 103, TWC 3


Offertory Hymn: "I Bind Unto Myself Today" Irish Airs

Prayer Over the Gifts
We thank you, O God,
for the gifts of time, talent, and treasure
which come from you alone:
for the time of those who have planned
and those who have practiced,
for this, our time of worship together;
for the talents of readers, musicians, and authors of hymns;
for the talents of preacher, presiders, and writers of prayers;
for this treasure of money earned by your gift of our labor,
so that we might offer it in love to you
for the work of your kingdom. Amen.

Closing Prayers

O God of many names, lover of all peoples; we pray for peace in our hearts and homes, in our nations and our world; the peace of your will, the peace of our need.

Dear Christ, our friend and our guide, pioneer through the shadow of death, passing through darkness to light, be our companion that we may fear no evil, and bring us to life and to glory.

As our Savior taught us, let us pray,
Our Father...

/ The Blessing

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Recessional Hymn: "Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God

Almighty" PsH 249, PH 138, RL 621, TH 100, TWC 2

Let us go in peace in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

This service took place in June 1995 at the (Anglican) Church of the Holy Trinity, Guildwood, Scarborough, Ontario, together with the Guildwood Community Presbyterian Church, Scarborough, Ontario. Rachael Boles is area manager of worship at Holy Trinity.

Reformed Worship 47 © March 1998, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.