A Thousand Tongues to Sing
When Contemporary Songs for Worship came out (Faith Alive, 2008), our choir accompanist led a group of church members through an impromptu reading session following Sunday morning worship. When Global Songs for Worship was published (Faith Alive, 2010), we thought about doing a similar session, but for one reason or another, it didn’t happen. Since our choir had already used some of the songs in the new book, we tried to come up with a good way to introduce a selection of them to the entire congregation. The result was an entire service dedicated to singing as many of the new songs as we could. Our goal was to make the service a true worship experience rather than simply “sight-singing” some new songs.
We started by listening to the CD that accompanies the book and selecting the twelve songs that would comprise the service. Then we thought about how best to lead the congregation in singing. We decided to use our church’s praise group as well as the chamber choir from the local Christian high school. Since this was not intended to be a performance, the basic format was to have the leaders sing through one verse and then have the congregation join on the rest of the verses. The praise group led the songs best suited to their style, with the chamber choir leading the others. We led the opening song, “Oh, for a Thousand Tongues to Sing,” with organ. We grouped the songs according to theme and separated each section of the service with appropriate readings from the book of Philippians and the Belgic Confession, as well as prayers from the Worship Sourcebook.
To share our enthusiasm for new music, we sent out invitations to many other area churches and advertised the service in the local newspaper. The attendance was more than gratifying, the singing was exceptional. Since that service we have incorporated several of the global songs into our regular worship services.
Editor’s Note: In order to help readers get a greater sense of the entire service, we have left many of the rubrics in even though we are not able to include the music referred to.
Songs from the Global Church
Prelude: Variations on “Oh, for a Thousand Tongues” (arr. Robert Hobby)
The five variations are based on the five stanzas of the opening hymn. Note how each variation uniquely expresses the words of this beloved hymn.
Call to Worship
I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice, saying,
“Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Rev. 7:9, 10)
Today our voices join this ongoing heavenly hymn of praise. In Jesus’ name, let us worship God.
Opening Hymn: “Oh, for a Thousand Tongues to Sing” CH 371, PH 466, PsH 501, SFL 19, SWM 42, TH 164
To those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 1:2, 3)
Song of Response: “Clap Your Hands” PsH 166, SFL 179, SNC 156, SWM 2
Scripture Reading: Philippians 2:1-7
Song with Dance: “In the Heavens Shone a Star” (see RW 101; a fuller arrangement of this song is available for a purchased download at FaithAliveResources.org (simply type the song title into the search box). For a video of a portion of the sacred dance, see RW 101.
Scripture Reading: Philippians 2:8
Song: “Holy Gift of Love” GSW 22
Scripture Reading: Philippians 2:9-11
Song: “Christ Has Arisen, Alleluia” GSW 30
Song: “Jesus Is Lord” GSW 33 (also see RW 94)
Profession of Our Faith: Belgic Confession, Article 27
We believe and confess one single catholic or universal church—a holy congregation and gathering of true Christian believers, awaiting their entire salvation in Jesus Christ, being washed by his blood, and sanctified and sealed by the Holy Spirit. This church has existed from the beginning of the world and will last until the end, as appears from the fact that Christ is eternal King who cannot be without subjects.
Song: “Here on Jesus Christ I Will Stand” GSW 34
(also see RW 88)
Profession of Our Faith: Belgic Confession, Article 27
And this holy church is preserved by God against the rage of the whole world, even though for a time it may appear very small to human eyes—as though it were snuffed out. . . . And so this holy church is not confined, bound, or limited to a certain place or certain people. But it is spread and dispersed throughout the entire world, though still joined and united in heart and will, in one and the same Spirit, by the power of faith.
Song of Response: “All Along” GSW 21
Prayers of God’s People
Almighty God, with one accord we give you thanks for all the blessings of your grace; but most of all we thank you for the unspeakable gift of your Son, Jesus Christ. We bless you for the gift of the Holy Spirit, for the gospel of reconciliation, for the church universal, for the ministry and the sacraments of the church, and for the blessed hope of everlasting life. Enable us in our service to Christ and all your children. And lift our hearts, that in all troubles and sorrows of this life we may persevere in the living hope of the coming of our Savior in glory.
Song: “For the Troubles” GSW 43
Answer us, O God, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who taught us to pray:
Song: “Abana in Heaven” GSW 44
Song: “Lift Me, Jesus” GSW 42
Scripture Reading: from 1 Corinthians 11
The apostle Paul, in writing to the church at Corinth, instructed them, as well as us today, to remember Jesus’ death and resurrection with these words:
“The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
Song: “We Are Coming, Lord, to the Table” GSW 49
Loving and faithful God, we bless you for calling us to be a holy people, living for you in service to each other for the sake of your world. We pray that our congregation will experience a rich and free sharing of the gifts you have generously given us.
Knowing that we are called to be saints, we humbly ask that you will work powerfully through us to accomplish your purposes in the world. . . . We long for your Spirit’s power to make us more Christlike in our thoughts, words, and deeds. . . . We pray in the name of Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (TWS T.4.4.2 p. 757)
Closing Song: “Praise, I Will Praise You, Lord” GSW 11
Sung Benediction: “May the Love of the Lord” GSW 56
(see also p. 24)
Postlude: “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” CH 210, PH 482, PsH 253, SFL 27, SWM 45, TH 53, WR 71