For All the Saints: A service using sixteenth-century reformation practices

This order of service was prepared for Reformation Sunday 2003 at First Presbyterian Church, Royal Oak, Michigan. It includes several liturgical elements from the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century, including contributions from Luther in Germany, Bucer in Strassbourg, Calvin in Geneva, Zwingli in Zurich, Knox in Scotland, and from the English Reformation. The songs include a psalm, canticle, and hymns from these traditions; they can be found in the Presbyterian Hymnal as well as in many other hymnals.

Call to Worship

Let us worship God. Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made the heavens and the earth.

Hymn: “I Greet Thee, Who My Sure Redeemer Art” PsH 248, PH 457

[This hymn was published in the 1545 Strasbourg edition of Clement Marot’s Psalms and was later reprinted in an 1868 edition of Calvin’s Opera (vol. 6); it has been attributed to Calvin as well, though there is no evidence for that.]

Call to Confession

[The Prayer of Confession and the Absolution are from 1539; they were used by both John Calvin at Geneva and John Knox in Scotland.]

Come now and let us make confession to God the Lord together; let everyone, with me, acknowledge our sin and shortcomings:

Almighty God, eternal Father, we acknowledge and confess to you that we were born in unrighteousness. Our life is full of sin and transgression; we have not gladly believed your Word nor followed your holy commandments. For your goodness’ sake and for your name’s sake, be gracious unto us, we pray, and forgive us all our sin, which is very great. Amen.

Let each of us come before the face of the Lord, confessing our own faults.

Silent Prayer of Confession

“Kyrie Eleison” PH 572

[From the English Reformation, John Merbecke, 1550.]

Assurance and Absolution

This saying is true and we should believe it: that Christ Jesus came into the world to rescue sinners. He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, that we might be dead to sin and alive to all that is good. To all those who repent, therefore, I proclaim to you the forgiveness of all your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.


“Gloria Patri” PH 575

[An old Scottish chant.]

Prayer of the Day

[Adapted from the Reformed liturgy of Strasbourg by Martin Bucer (about 1540).]

Almighty and ever gracious God, since all our salvation depends upon your holy Word: therefore grant that our hearts may be set free from worldly things, so that we may with all diligence and faith hear your Word, rightly understand your gracious will, and in all sincerity live according to the same, to your praise and glory; through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

First Lesson


[Depending on the Scripture lessons, you may wish to choose a setting from the Genevan Psalter or Scottish Psalter.]

Gospel Lesson


Affirmation of Faith

[The antiphonal form of the Apostles’ Creed is from the liturgy of Ulrich Zwingli at Zurich, Easter Sunday 1525.]

All: I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth,
Women: and in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord,
Men: who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
Women: born of the virgin Mary,
Men: suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried.
Women: He descended into hell.
Men: The third day he rose again from the dead.
Women: He ascended into heaven
Men: and sitteth on the right hand of God, the Father Almighty.
Women: From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
Men: I believe in the Holy Ghost,
Women: the holy catholic church, the communion of saints,
Men: the forgiveness of sins,
Women: the resurrection of the body,
Men: and the life everlasting.
All: Amen.


Call for the Offering

Presentation of Tithes and Offerings

Offertory Anthem


[The familiar “Doxology” is a tune written by Louis Bourgeois for John Calvin’s congregation in Geneva (Genevan Psalter, 1551.)]

Prayer of Dedication

Invitation to the Lord’s Table

[The communion liturgy and conclusion of the service are adapted from John Calvin, Strasbourg, 1545.]

Having made our confession of faith to testify that we are children of God, and hoping therefore that God our faithful Father will be gracious to us, let us hear how Jesus Christ instituted his holy supper for us, as St. Paul relates it in 1 Corinthians 11:

“I have received from the Lord,” he says, “that which I have delivered to you, how the Lord Jesus, on the night when he was betrayed, took bread; and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying ‘Take, eat; this is my body which is broken for you; do this remembering me.’ And after the supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, remembering me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”

We have heard how our Lord observed his supper with his disciples. Therefore, let each of us examine our conscience to see whether we truly repent of our sins, desire henceforth to live a live consistent with God’s will, and above all to trust in God’s mercy—seeking salvation wholly in Jesus Christ and, renouncing all hatred and dissention, determine to live in peace and love with our neighbors and to discern the unity of Christ’s body which is the church.

If we have this witness in our hearts before God, never doubt that he claims us as his children, and that the Lord Jesus addresses his Word to us, inviting us to his Table and giving us this holy sacrament offered to all his disciples. Above all, believe the promises of his unfailing truth, that Christ is truly willing to make us partakers of his body and blood, in order that we may possess him wholly and so that he may live in us as we in him. Though we see only bread and wine, we affirm that he fulfills in us everything he shows us in these visible things: that he is the true bread of heaven and food for eternal life. In giving himself to us, he claims us as his own.

Therefore, come and let us receive this sacrament as a pledge of the goodness which his life and death has gained for us. May we never pull ourselves away from the one who invites us by his Word, but present ourselves to him with believing hearts, that he may give himself to us.

Come, then, and receive what Christ offers.

The Great Thanksgiving

The Lord be with you.

And also with you.

Heavenly Father, full of all goodness and mercy, as our Lord Jesus Christ has not only offered his body and blood once on the cross for the remission of our sins, but also desires to impart them to us as our nourishment unto everlasting life, grant us we pray this grace: that we may receive at his hands such a great gift and benefit with true sincerity of heart and with ardent zeal. In steadfast faith may we receive his body and blood, yes Christ himself entire, who, being true God and true man, is truly the holy bread of heaven which gives us life.

Therefore we join our voices with all the faithful of every time and place who forever sing to the glory of your name:

“Sanctus” PH 580

[The Sanctus (“Holy, Holy, Holy”) sung during the Communion prayer is from the English Reformation, John Merbecke, 1550.]

So may we live no longer to ourselves, after our nature which is wholly corrupt, but may he live in us and lead us to the life that is holy, blessed and everlasting: so that we may truly be the new and eternal covenant of grace, assured that it is your good pleasure to be our gracious Father forever, never counting our faults against us, and to provide for us and all your children all the needs both of soul and body. Then may we give you endless praise and thanksgiving, and magnify your name in word and deed. For great is the mystery of faith:

Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again!

Grant us, therefore, O heavenly Father, so to celebrate this day the blessed memorial and remembrance of your dear Son, to exercise ourselves in the same, and to proclaim the benefit of his death, that, receiving new growth and strength in faith and in all good things, we may with ever greater confidence proclaim you our Father, and glory in you through the same Jesus Christ your Son, our Lord, in whose name we pray to you as he taught us:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

Presentation of the Bread and Wine

Take, eat, the body of Christ which has been delivered unto death for you. This is the cup of the new covenant in the blood of Christ, which has been poured out for you.


Blessing (from Psalm 103)
Bless the Lord, O my soul.
And all that is within me, bless God’s holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul.
And forget not all God’s benefits.


Eternal God, we give you eternal praise and thanks that you have drawn us into the communion of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, the true bread of heaven and drink for eternal life. Grant us now this further benefit: that we may never forget these things, but hold them always in our hearts, so that we may grow in grace, increase in faith, and serve you in all we do. So may we live to the praise of your glory, and serve others even as in Christ you have served us; through Jesus Christ your Son, who in the unity of the Holy Spirit lives and reigns with you, O God, forever and ever. Amen.

Choral Response: “Nunc Dimittis” PsH 216, PH 605

[Louis Bourgeois, 1551]

Hymn: “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” PsH 469, PH 260, RL 179, TH 92, TWC 43

[Both the tune and the text (based on Psalm 46) for “A Mighty Fortress” were written by Martin Luther in 1529.]




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John C. Bush is interim pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Birmingham, Alabama.


Reformed Worship 73 © September 2004 Worship Ministries of the Christian Reformed Church. Used by permission.