Emily R. Brink

Emily R. Brink (embrink@calvin.edu) is Senior Research Fellow for the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship and former editor of Reformed Worship.


Articles by this author:

  • Chris Stoffel Overvoorde was named an editorial consultant for Reformed Worship in its very first issue (RW 1, Fall 1986). His assignment was to encourage Reformed Worship in the thoughtful and creative use of visual arts in worship, a role he faithfully fulfilled for almost thirty years. The Reformed tradition has always excelled in the words of worship; indeed, our heritage is very word heavy. But Overvoorde’s enthusiasm for the visual arts helped adults, like children, to open their eyes as well as their ears when they come to worship.

  • It’s been five hundred years since the Protestant Reformation, a good time to remember the new ways of singing the psalms in the sixteenth century that now, however, seem very old. But the psalms are so much older! The oldest psalm, Psalm 90, which we sing as “O God, Our Help in Ages Past,” was probably written by Moses.

  • Worship from the Heart to the Heavens” has been a frequent and fertile theme over the many years that I have planned and led worship services with a focus on congregational song, both in North America and beyond. This theme is a testimony that we’re never alone when we worship God. We always worship in community as part of the body of Christ, not only when we are in a congregation with others, but also by ourselves, in our “closets.” That is a comforting truth!

  • Punjabi Psalms

    In 2009, Emily Brink and Paul Neeley participated in two worship conferences in Pakistan co-sponsored by the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship (CICW) and the Tehillim School of Church Music and Worship (TSCM). Rev. Eric Sarwar, a pastor in the Presbyterian Church of Pakistan and founder of TSCM, arranged both conferences, one at the Presbyterian Seminary in Gujranwala, and the other hosted by Christ the King Roman Catholic Seminary in Karachi.

  • Punjabi Psalms

    In 2009, Emily Brink and Paul Neeley participated in two worship conferences in Pakistan co-sponsored by the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship (CICW) and the Tehillim School of Church Music and Worship (TSCM). Rev. Eric Sarwar, a pastor in the Presbyterian Church of Pakistan and founder of TSCM, arranged both conferences, one at the Presbyterian Seminary in Gujranwala, and the other hosted by Christ the King Roman Catholic Seminary in Karachi.

  • Why This Dark Conspiracy/Psalm 2

    Psalm 2 may be best known through that famous aria in Handel’s Messiah in which the bass thunders and the strings shudder: “Why do the nations so furiously rage together? And why do the peoples imagine a vain thing?”

  • Every year Christians celebrate the two great festivals of Christmas and Easter that give meaning to our lives: Christ’s coming to earth in human form and in humility, and Christ’s return to his Father in a glorified human body. This year, Advent begins on November 27 with the Scripture passages in the Revised Common Lectionary for Year B.

  • What worship issues or needs are of most concern in your church? This question was posed in a questionnaire sent to Reformed churches around the world (see list on website). A sample of what those churches said concerned them the most is found below:

    “Training of pastors in theology of worship, preaching/leading worship”

    “Inclusiveness of women, youth, and children”

    “Training of musicians in theology of worship and music skills”

  • On Ascension Day, the church celebrates Christ’s going up and returning to his Father in glory as a resurrected human being, the firstfruits of the new creation. Ten days later, we celebrate God coming down again, this time not in human form in a particular time and place—as we celebrate at Christmas—but now as Spirit, a gift to each believer in every time and place. The Christian church has also traditionally followed Pentecost Sunday with Trinity Sunday, our praise and adoration ascending to our triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

  • Imagine a piece of art that you would like to hang or install in your home. If it’s a painting, you’d want to frame it and then find the right spot in the right room for it, so that your viewing of the painting would be enriched by its placement. If it’s a sculpture, you’d want to find the spot that best honors the piece and allows you to enjoy it fully.

  • None of these songs can be called traditional hymns. Three of them are very short—just right for inviting churches (and schools!) to introduce them to children and for repeated use by the congregation during Lent or Eastertide. The other two songs are longer; they’re directly tied to Scripture passages scheduled for Year C in the Revised Common Lectionary that begins with Advent 2009.

  • This column is the oldest continuing column in Reformed Worship. From the first issue (RW 1, Advent 1986, then named “Hymn of the Month”), the column guidelines set a goal that “one (or more) should be a psalm or a setting of Scripture.” That guideline has been followed more or less over the years, but in this issue, we’re happy to offer all psalm-based songs as a way of celebrating the 500th anniversary of the birth of John Calvin (1509-1564).

  • I’ll never forget my visit to see the famous leaning tower in Pisa, Italy. I had not realized that the tower was a bell tower at the east end of the church in Pisa, a separate building with bells that would peal when someone died. I actually became more interested in the building at the other end of the church—the round baptistery, a separate building dating from the thirteenth century built just for baptisms, with fantastic acoustics.

  • The Revised Common Lectionary offers a three-year plan of Scripture readings (Years A, B, and C). The Lectionary does this so that once every three years, public worship services can include readings from every book of the Bible.

  • Taste and See

    Several articles in this theme issue explore the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper—or Holy Communion, or Eucharist—all names that offer different angles on the mystery of our union with Christ. We can discuss the sacrament and we can experience it, but we will never fully understand the mystery expressed in Jesus’ teaching in John 6: “I am the bread of life” (v. 35). The bewildered disciples respond, “This is a hard teaching” (v. 60). Indeed.

  • Who comes to mind when you think of prisoners and prisons? Perhaps violent criminals—murderers, rapists, child molesters—and you’re thankful they are locked up. On the other hand, you may think of prisoners, past and present, who have been unjustly imprisoned for their faith: heroes like Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Germany, Nelson Mandela in South Africa, or the apostle Paul in Rome.

  • The three songs presented here are taken from the soon-to-be-released collection Singing the New Testament—a wonderful new resource based on texts from Matthew to Revelation and jointly published by the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship and Faith Alive Christian Resources. In RW 85 we introduced three Advent and Christmas songs from this collection. Here are three more songs: two from the gospels and one from Romans 8.

  • Songs from the Gospels

    These three songs for Advent and Christmas are scheduled for inclusion in a forthcoming hymnal based directly on New Testament texts copublished by the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship and Faith Alive Christian Resources. The committee charged with selecting Scripture texts that are most likely to be connected to preaching texts for the collection has found it a very interesting exercise.

  • A Treasured Friend

    In April 2007, Robert E. Webber finished his eightmonthbattle with pancreatic cancer. There have beenand will be many tributes to him (see http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/aprilweb-only/118-12.0.html). Webber influenced countless worship leadersthrough his books and articles on worship renewal, histeaching in countless classes and seminars, and his expansiveand entrepreneurial vision in producing the amazingComplete Library of Christian Worship and in forming theRobert E.

  • The three songs chosen for this Lent/Easter issue are all directly taken from Scripture or based closely on it. One is very short; you might call it a refrain. One is in a traditional hymn structure with a refrain, and one follows a more contemporary structure, also with a refrain.

  • We are unable to provide midi files of these songs on RW’s website. However, they are available at www.gettymusic.com.

    When singing a hymn, it is often interesting to learn which came first, the text or the tune. And if written separately, who put them together? Those who write new songs for congregational worship fall into three main categories.

  • I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to serve as editor since RW began twenty years ago. This journal has shaped my identity as much as or more than my work editing three hymnals. I was hired by CRC Publications to prepare the 1987 Psalter Hymnal, a brand-new position I thought would last just a few years. Preparing the hymnal for the churches was one thing, but preparing the churches for the hymnal came with many other questions attached, questions being asked by newly formed worship committees.

  • In last year’s March issue (RW 75) we announced an international search for new song texts based on New Testament passages. The announcement also appeared on our website and in the newsletter of the Hymn Society of the United States and Canada. To our delight, ninety texts by forty-two writers came in from all over the English-speaking world, including England, Scotland, and New Zealand, as well as the United States and Canada.

  • When is the last time you said amen out loud at the end of a prayer that someone else led in worship? And what’s the difference whether you say it aloud, or let the person leading the prayer say it? What does it mean to say amen?

  • When the Israelites were still wandering in the wilderness, before they had land, let alone crops and harvests, God instructed them how and when to give thanks for the harvests that were to come:

    Three times in the year you shall hold a festival for me. You shall observe the festival of unleavened bread; . . . the festival of harvest, . . . the festival of ingathering . . . (Ex. 23:14-16).

  • It happened again this past Sunday. A great worship service, including baptism. Wonderful singing—of hymns. No psalms, not one. This is a church that stands in the Reformed tradition known for its singing of the psalms. Whenever I go to ecumenical conferences, I’m identified as one who comes from a psalm-singing heritage. I smile wanly, agreeing. But that heritage is too often missing on Sunday mornings.

  • This service was prepared for the 2004 Symposium on Worship and the Arts held at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan. James Abbington played each of the songs on the organ or the piano; those considering this service will want to find a person (or more than one person) who is gifted at playing both instruments for the traditional hymns and spirituals as well as for the contemporary Black gospel songs. Most, but not all songs are by African Americans; those that are not have become favorites of African-American Christians.

  • Permission to Pray

    When I first started editing the Psalter Hymnal in the early 1980s, the story then making the rounds was that permission for including the song “How Great Thou Art” in the 1978 Lutheran Book of Worship was finally granted with a handshake at a cost that would remain secret.

  • I was struck by a question asked by a California reader in the previous issue of Reformed Worship: “I’m too concerned for the details of the service to really enter into worship. Any advice?” (RW 71, p. 44). That’s one problem.

    A deeper problem arises when a worship leader is too burdened—for whatever reason—to be able to worship, and yet is called to lead others. That’s another kind of problem.

  • When hard times come, lines of familiar hymns often leap out at us, catch us unaware, and stick in our throats. At times we cannot sing, we cannot pray. It is then that we need the fellowship of believers more than ever. We need the comfort of knowing that others are singing and praying on our behalf, bringing before God the prayers and songs we cannot sing.

  • Kind and Merciful God

    Click to listen [ full version ]

    Too many churches today omit confession of sin from the worship service. This year, especially during Lent, if your congregation has gone “light” on this part of worship, consider ways to approach God with prayers for forgiveness so that you may celebrate the forgiving and atoning love of God.

  • For more than a century, people have gathered for worship each Sunday at Rose Valley, a small rural church set in the quiet beauty of the Kansas prairie. Rose Valley consists of a small white frame church built in 1901 and a parsonage that was added in 1917. Named for the wild roses that still grow in the area, the church began with settlers who were eager to teach their children the Christian faith. First came the Sunday school, then the church.

  • With this issue, Reformed Worship begins its seventeenth year. Not very old, as journals count years, but when we stopped to think about it, a surprise even for our staff. Many of you have been subscribers since the first issue; many others buy back issues when they begin subscribing. We have a remarkably loyal readership, and we’re grateful.

  • J. Frank Henderson, Stephen Larson, Kathleen Quinn. Worldwide Web Edition, 1999. www.compusmart.ab.ca/ fhenders/LJRG.pdf.

    This book was first published in 1989 by Paulist Press; when the book went out of print, the authors negotiated the rights to present it in its entirety (with a new preface) on the Web, so now it is accessible to everyone.

  • C. Michael Hawn. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003. 328 pp. $28.00. www.eerdmans.com.

    Michael Hawn has given a great gift to North American worship leaders and congregations by providing a firsthand introduction to the most significant international leaders in congregational song today. The conversation on p. 26 offers a glimpse into the relationship between worship and justice in places beyond North America. Hawn has devoted chapters to each of those people and to others:

  • Lukas Vischer, editor. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003. 432 pp. $40.00. www.eerdmans.com.

    In the September 2001 issue of Reformed Worship (RW 61, p. 2), I reported on a trip to Geneva to attend an International Consultation on Reformed Worship. More than thirty people from almost as many countries gathered for a week at the John Knox Center (associated with the World Alliance of Reformed Churches). This book is the result of that consultation.

  • Phyllis Vos Wezeman and Anna Liechty. Colorado Springs: Meriwether Publishing, Ltd., 2002. 800-937-5297. 28 pp. $2.50.

    A book of liturgical materials for twelve weeks. Each week introduces a different part of the worship service, from Call to Worship (illustration: a bell) to Benediction (an outstretched hand). Each week is scripted for an adult leader, four child readers, and a child to add the symbol for that week. The actual banner kit must be purchased separately.

  • Pamela T. Hardiman and Josephine Niemann. Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 2002. 888-933-1800. 196 pp. $20.00. ISBN 1-56854-368-9.

    After introductory information on the liturgical year and celebrating rites and sacraments (from a Roman Catholic perspective), the authors provide helpful chapters on the basics of design and hardware, techniques for quilted fabric panels, block designs, and working from free-form drawings. Appendices include several detailed patterns and colored photographs.

  • David Philippart, editor. Published bimonthly by Liturgy Training Publications. 16 pp. per issue. $20.00 for one year. 800-933-1800; www.ltp.org.

    Includes sixteen pages of full-color photos of beautiful worship spaces—interior and exterior, windows, liturgical furniture, and more (also includes ads). Roman Catholics take the relationship between worship and architecture very seriously, and each issue provides teaching to ponder as well as examples of beauty for visually starved Protestants to feast their eyes on.

  • If you were to read this issue cover to cover (which most of you probably seldom do!), you would find at least three sets of intersecting themes, along with our regular columns.

    Ascension and Pentecost

    This issue includes Ascension and Pentecost resources, but also some reflections on the implications of Pentecost for the mission of the church to the world. The first two articles (pp. 3 and 7) offer both perspective and resources on these two Christian festival days.

  • Every Sunday, and especially on the great festival days of the Christian year, preachers and worship planners search for ways to tell the old, old story in fresh new ways. On the other hand, many congregations cherish longstanding traditions such as a Christmas Eve candlelight service or an Easter sunrise service. Those services may include a few of the same elements year after year.

  • He Is Lord

    Click to listen  [ separate versions | versions combined ]

    One of the best-known and most versatile Easter choruses from the mid-seventies started out as a single anonymous stanza. Typical of many praise choruses, the very structure invited expansion, and the expanded version found here also came from an anonymous source.

  • Hughes Oliphant Old. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002. Revised and expanded edition. 195 pp. $19.95.

    Old published an earlier version of this very readable and practical book on Reformed theology of worship in the 1980s. If you missed it then, get it now.

  • Some of you may have noticed my new byline as “senior research fellow” for the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. With the completion of the new hymnal Sing! A New Creation, I had thought of kicking back a bit, but instead I accepted an invitation to join the growing staff of the Institute, which has had a close relationship with Reformed Worship throughout the Institute’s short five-year history. So now I serve in two arenas for the support, encouragement, and renewal of worship on the congregational level.

  • I-to Loh and Pablo Sosa are highly respected authorities on congregational song, I-to Loh on Asian hymnody, and Pablo Sosa on songs from Latin America. We’re thrilled that both are planning to come to the 2003 Calvin Symposium on Worship and the Arts, and they’re looking forward to seeing each other again—previously they’ve worked together in international ecumenical conferences, including the World Council of Churches. Here is a brief introduction to both.

    The Hymns of I-to Loh

  • Many churches held prayer services after the tragic events of September 11, 2001. A year later, or during Advent, or during the cold of winter, your congregation may wish once more to gather to pray for peace in our broken world. This service could be adapted in many ways. For example, a choir is optional and you may want to consider alternative hymns (if so you’ll need to adapt the commentary as well).

  • Once a year, each academic department at Westmont College is invited to host a chapel for the majors and minors in their department. Here in the art department, we’ve used this opportunity to present our “artistic testimonies,” to discuss what might constitute Christian art, and to use works of art from the past as foci for devotional exercises. This year, we’ve decided to ask students to read one of Jesus’ parables of the kingdom, the parable of the talents from Matthew 25.

  • When considering the visual arts theme of this issue, I contacted Carl Daw—hymn writer, executive director of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada, and a good friend—to seek recommendations for hymn texts that deal with the creative process. He responded with several helpful suggestions. Each of the four songs presented here is a fresh offering by living authors and composers. They bring both prayer and praise to God. The first two acknowledge God as the great Creator; the second two speak of the various artists in our midst.

  • Increasing numbers of churches are celebrating World Communion Sunday on the first Sunday of October. It’s a service I look forward to more each year, especially as I get to know brothers and sisters in Christ around the world. Early this year I met several in Geneva, Switzerland, when I had the privilege of attending an International Consultation on Reformed Worship.

  • Anyone who’s been reading Reformed Worship for the last three years could hardly miss the fact that a new contemporary hymnal is in the making. We solicited new worship songs in RW 48 (June 1998), and in every issue since, we’ve introduced new songs from the hymnal in the column “Songs for the Season.” Now Sing! A New Creation is almost ready, and we look forward to launching it at COLAM 2001, the worship conference to be held in Wheaton, Illinois, on July 7-10.

  • Choosing a balanced diet of songs for a collection of worship songs is an exercise that will change anyone! Take a seat around the table of our hymnal committee for a while, and get a taste of what it was like to choose the songs that worship planners may eventually use for their planning. Committee members will testify that they’ll never look at a hymnal the same way again. Making choices wasn’t always easy!

  • All the songs presented here will be included in the forthcoming hymnal Sing! A New Creation. A committee of ten from the Reformed Church in America and the Christian Reformed Church has selected about 270 songs for the hymnal. These were chosen from the best of contemporary hymn writers worldwide, including choruses from such diverse sources as Iona, Maranatha, Taizé, and Word. Spoken prayers, litanies, and responsorial psalms will also be included.

  • Our choir was invited to participate in the service so we came early to rehearse; their worship team was already practicing when we got there. The worship leader was surrounded by keyboard, guitars, drum set, and miked singers. It was a scene that wouldn’t have been out of place in Minneapolis or Memphis—but we were in Manila, in the Philippines.

    Union Churches for Expatriates

  • At the beginning of our fifteenth year of publishing Reformed Worship, we’re introducing a few changes. You may have already noticed some new design features; more significantly, we welcome Ron Rienstra as new associate editor. Ron is an ordained minister in the Reformed Church in America; he’ll be working with us while also continuing his association with Calvin College, where he directs student-planned and -led worship services every Sunday night during the school year.

  • It Came upon the Midnight Clear

    In the previous article, Ron Rienstra tells how this Christmas carol was “retooled” for an Advent service led by students. Since the more familiar form of this song is available in many hymnals, we are providing the arrangements for piano (below) and guitar (p. 29), which may be played together, as prepared for that student service.

  • Our first wedding theme issue, ten years ago (RW 16; June 1990), has remained one of our most popular, even though we ran out of back issues long ago. We still get requests to reprint it from pastors who continue to use their worn copy for wedding planning sessions with couples. And we’ve also heard many requests to do a new wedding theme issue. So we decided to do . . . both! (See p. 47 for information on getting RW 16 on the Web.)

  • led and narrated by Robert Webber with a live congregation. Wheaton, Ill.: Institute for Worship Studies, 1999. Available from IWS, (630) 510-8905; fax: (630) 510-0601; worshipweb@aol.com.

    Robert Webber, who has been offering numerous one-day workshops around the country (see current list below), has pulled together many of his ideas in a six-session video course. The videos include segments of actual worship services that model what he teaches.

  • All but one of the songs in this issue were included as part of service plans outlined in this issue of Reformed Worship. “My Soul in Stillness Waits” was sung as the opening hymn of every service during the Advent series from Hope Christian Reformed Church, Thunder Bay, Ontario (see p. 3). “O Gladsome Light” was recommended for the New Year’s Eve service plans (see p. 34). “Miren qué bueno¡” was sung at the joint English/Spanish service at West End Presbyterian Church in New York City (see p. 24).

  • Maybe you’ve picked up this issue of Reformed Worship right away, and you’re ready to start planning for Advent and Christmas. Yet many of you are still busy planning the more “Ordinary” services in the months leading up to Advent. Planning ahead often takes a back seat to planning for next Sunday.

  • I recently heard a story about a woman in a shopping mall who accidentally dropped a large bag of items that scattered all over a busy aisle where lots of people were coming and going. As she quickly knelt down, trying to pick up everything, another woman also bent down and helped until every item was retrieved. The first woman, searching for a word of gratitude, blurted out, “The Lord be with you.” Instantly the other woman responded, “And also with you.” They laughed with joy and embraced.

  • I can still se them walking across the Calvin College campus during COLAM '95-Mark Filbert and his entire children's choir. Like a Pied Piper, he led the children to mealsm recreation, bells, and all the other activities of the first COLAM that included children. Mark, music director of a Lutheran church in Chicago, wanted his children to catch a vision larger than they experienced at home, a vision that would stay with them and help to shape their growth in their own congregation. They had a great time.

  • Every June issue of Reformed Worship is a theme issue, and every year the Reformed Worship staff and editorial council weigh various themes. Some of our theme issues have dealt with "hot button" topics of our time. Last year, when the RW editorial council discussed what the next theme issue should be, the Lord's Supper was clearly at the top of the list.

  • During the past generation, a wealth of new worship songs have been written. Many were inspired by the reforms of Vatican II during the 1960s, when the Roman Catholic Church translated their liturgy into the vernacular and began to encourage congregational singing. It should come as no surprise, then, that many of those new songs assume both Word and Table every Sunday. Also, since most Protestant churches celebrate the Lord's Supper more frequently than they did a generation ago, most hymnal sections on the Lord's Supper have steadily increased in size.

  • Soon after the Psalter Hymnal was released in 1988, people started calling, wondering when the Psalter Hymnal Handbook would be ready. I got calls and letters, even from different countries. After all, this would be a first for the Reformed tradition: there was no English-language companion volume that dealt with both psalms and hymns from the perspective of the Reformed heritage of congregational song.

  • Paul Westermeyer. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1997. 159 pp. Revised edition. Reviewed by Emily R. Brink, editor of Reformed Worship.

  • The three songs in this issue are all taken from the Psalter Hymnal (1987) and are accompanied by commentary from the new Psalter Hymnal Handbook (1998). We're celebrating the completion of that huge project in this issue (see also the editorial on p. 2, the interview with primary author Bert Polman on p. 7, and order information on the inside back cover). We're also heaving huge sighs of relief after ten years of research!

  • Have-you ever tried to picture what the great wedding banquet of the Lamb will be like? Those three images—of wedding, banquet, and Lamb—are poetic metaphors of what lies "beyond the Jordan," to use another metaphor. Every time we meet for worship, we anticipate another time when we will begin a worship service that will be so perfectly planned and carried out that we won't want it to end. And it won't. Scripture is full of poetic language that gives us hints and glimpses of what eternal life is all about.

  • Brink and Polman are coeditors of the forthcoming Psalter Hymnal Handbook.

    Again in this issue of Reformed Worship, we offer a preview of the forthcoming Psalter Hymnal Handbook, a collection of essays on the history of music in the church as well as entries on every song and author and composer in the 1987 Psalter Hymnal. This ten-year-long project is now in production and is scheduled for release in Spring 1998.

  • This past year was one of the most invigorating enjoyable, and exhausting years I have spent for a long time. In the March 1997 issue (RW 43:2) T wrote that I was on a partial study leave to deal with a number of questions:

  • with Sue Mitchell-Wallace. Kingston, NY: Selah Publishing Company, 1995, in cooperation with The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada. Two videos with accompanying 44-page workbook. $80.00.

    I've had the privilege of singing in a congregation with Sue Mitchell-Wallace at the organ. In these helpful videos, she offers a resource that will provide any organist—or pastor or congregational member—a stimulating and challenging view of the high calling of leading God's people in congregational song at the organ.

  • Introducing HomeLink

    One of my strongest memories, of growing up is the tradition we and many others used to share of coffee time after church on Sunday morning. Mom would always bake a cake on Saturday, and Dad would often invite visitors at church to come over for coffee, perhaps to stay for dinner. As a matter of course, one of the topics of conversation was the sermon we had just heard. I cut my theological teeth on those conversations, while listening to the adults wonder about this point or that emphasis or that interpretation.



    Again in this issue at Reformed Worship, we offer a glimpse at the forthcoming Psalter Hymnal Handbook, a large project that is nearing completion at long last. You will be hearing much more about it in the next issues of RW!

  • In every issue for the past eleven years, Reformed Worship has included a set of "Songs for the Season," formerly called "Hymn of the Month." The criteria for selecting those songs include choosing something accessible to children, something old and something new, something based on a psalm, and something fitting for the particular season of the Christian year.

  • As a teenager, Barry Liesch was fascinated by jazz, learned to improvise at the piano by imitating others, started transcribing music from recordings, and became a skilled piano accompanist, even going on tent crusades in his native British Columbia. His church gave him a music scholarship to a Bible college, something family circumstances would not have permitted. He continued his studies, earning a doctorate in music theory, and for the past twenty years has taught at Biola University in Loma Linda, California.

  • Have you ever filled put one, of those product cards in a card pack or magazine? I ordered a catalog from "Banner Media Services," hoping to get some new banner ideas for use in worship. But the word banner was used in quite a different way than I expected; the company was marketing audiovisual equipment. More catalogs followed from different companies that mysteriously got my address; they offered a dizzying array of sound boards, microphones, video systems, "cassette ministry" systems, and more.

  • The Sunday after Pentecost is often called Trinity Sunday in recognition that all three persons of the Trinity have now been remembered and celebrated in the great festivals of the Christian year. From now until Advent, we enter the long "Ordinary Time" or "Trinity Season" as some churches call it.

  • Last summer Pastor Anduwatju was in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the site of the 1996 meeting of the Reformed Ecumenical Council a group that includes thirty denominations in twenty-one countries. During a break in the meetings, I had the opportunity to meet him and learn something about worship in his Indonesian setting.

    —Emily R. Brink

    RW: Please describe your church in Indonesia.

  • This past June, my home congregation learned that we would be losing one of our two pastors, the adult choir director, and the organist. They all left for good and different reasons. But the joy of Pentecost Sunday was muted when I heard that day that all three would be leaving.

  • A few weeks ago, Bruce Klanderman, organist at the Rochester (N.Y.) Christian Reformed Church, sent me a chart of the number of Psalter Hymnal songs that have moved in his congregation from "red" to "green."

    Now for the translation: Two other organists in western Michigan prepared a color-coded chart of the entire 1987 Psalter Hymnal when it first came out.

    They marked every song either

  • Organ Arrangements and Congregational Acts of Worship for the Church Year Based on African American Spirituals. By William Farley Smith. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1996. Spiral, 112 pp. $17.95

  • An Introduction to the Liturgical Year. Text by Inos Biffi, Illustrations by Franco Vignazia. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995. 98 pp. $ 17.00
    In God's House, compiled and with an introduction by Robert Coles. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996. 30 pp. $15.00

    Here are two small books that will delight children as well as adults. In both, the full-colorillustrations are not incidental but at least equal to the written text in concept as well as space.

  • An Advent Sourcebook, edited by Thomas J. O. O'Gorman, with art by Tom Goddard. Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 1988.170 pp.
    A Christmas Sourcebook, edited by Mary Ann Simcoe. Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 1984. 157 pp.
    To Crown the Year: Decorating the Church Year Through the Seasons, by Peter Mazar, withart by Evelyn Grala. Chicago: Liturgy Training Publicaions, 1995.297 pp. $19.00.

  • I still clearly remember the day the idea for Reformed Worship was born—Friday, May 10, 1985, somewhere on the New York Thruway. Harvey Smit, Dave Vanderwel, and I were traveling from Toronto to Midland Park, New Jersey, during a fifteen-stop tour across North America to introduce a draft of the forthcoming Psalter Hymnal, Toronto had been our tenth of fifteen "Psalter Hymnal Study Conferences."

  • Editor Emily Brink met with Robert Webber one afternoon last fall on the campus of Wheaton College in Illinois, where he has taught in the theology department for the past twenty-eight years. We spoke together in his office in the Billy Graham Center, an impressive museum and office complex.

  • The book of Isaiah is filled with poetry that has been set to music, more so than any other book of the Bible except for the Psalms. The gospel is clearly set forth in this Old Testament prophecy, which also includes visions remarkably similar to those of John in the book of Revelation. Last year was an "Isaiah year" for the Calvin Seminary Choir. The following service was part of the choir tour program. In addition to directing the choir, the choir director directed the congregation's entrances and gave cues for standing and sitting.

  • We used to hear about "music wars" in the church. But have you noticed the shift? Today we hear more about "worship wars" and "culture wars." As distasteful as the war imagery is, I take some comfort (as a musician) in finally seeing the discussions about music placed in the larger worship and cultural arenas—even though musical issues are still very close to the front lines.


    "Resurrection RCA doesn't have a lot of baggage in the way of traditional expectations for worship services," admits Pastor Paul "Bud" Pratt. "So we have been free to develop our ministry based on the needs we see. And our ministry to the family has been very intentional."

  • Have you noticed the new "kid on the block," or, more accurately, the new hymnal reference in all the service resources in this issue of RW? Those of you who check out the fine print for the sources of songs used in the various services and drama, will notice a new set of letters. SFL stands for Songs for LiFE, a new children's hymnal just published by CRC Publications. A leader's edition is scheduled for release this summer.

  • Text by Sandra Soderlund, drawings by Catherine Fischer. New York: American Guild of Organists, 1994. 24 pp., $12.00. Available from AGO Headquarters, 475 Riverside Drive, Suite 1260, New York, NY 10115; (212) 870-2310; fax (212) 870-2163.

  • Phyllis Vos Wezeman and Anna L. Liechty. Grand Rapids: Kregel Resources, 1994. 72 pp., $7.99.

    The authors have taken a very simple approach to teaching children the backgrounds to thirty hymns. The hymns themselves are not included; rather, two pages are devoted to each hymn story, including a craft idea to prepare ahead or to involve children in a class or home activity.

  • Carolyn C. Brown. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1993. $19.95. Based on the Revised Common Lectionary. Three volumes, for Years A, B, and C.

    Whether or not your congregation follows the lec-tionary, your worship planning team—and congregation—will benefit greatly from these excellent ideas for involving children in congregational worship. Each Sunday of the Christian Year is given three pages of creative and helpful suggestions.

  • There is no "Hymn of the Month" in this issue. Instead, we present the results of the first hymn competition held by Reformed Worship. In RW 29 (September, 1993) we announced that a number of churches in Edmonton, Alberta, had collected funds to underwrite a competition. Joachim Segger, director of music at West End Christian Reformed Church, wrote:

  • I don't know who first "discovered" Kierkegaard's contribution to the nature of worship, but a lot of people have been referring to it. Here's how it goes: Imagine a worship service as a drama. Who is the audience? Who are the actors? At first glance, most would say that the congregation is the audience, and the minister is the actor. But no—Kierkegaard supposedly claims that God is the audience, the worshipers are the actors, and the minister is the prompter.

  • The three songs in this issue are all built on short repetitive refrains. None are in the typical hymn structure; two are simply refrains, and one is intended for leader and congregation.

    One of the appeals of short refrains and choruses is that they are easily committed to memory. All three songs are short enough so that most worshipers will find themselves singing them during the week, long before the month is over. All three will also be included in Songs for LiFE, the new children's hymnal to be published this fall by CRC Publications.

  • David L. Bone and Mary J. Scifres. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1994. 140 pages. $14.95.

    If you are looking for help in planning and organizing your worship services for the next year, this handy lectionary-based calendar may help you a great deal. Two pages are devoted to each Sunday from September 1994 through August 1995. For each Sunday the resource includes:

  • What is a ritual? What is the place of ritual in Reformed worship? How can we be sure that the rituals we use in our worship are living rituals?

    Those were a Jew of the questions we challenged Reformed Worship council members to wrestle with last fall during a round-table discussion on the needpr living rituals in worship. The pages that follow contain an edited version of their thoughts and reflections on the subject of ritual.

  • This ninety-minute service was prepared for a 1993 Reformation Hymn Festival at Third Christian Reformed Church Kalamazoo, Michigan The service was designed by Emily R, Brink, editor of Reformed Worship, who read the commentary. The men who did the readings each wore black robes and hats, similar to the ones shown here.

  • All of the songs in this issue of Reformed Worship—the three "Hymn of the Month" selections as well as the song on page 41—will be included in a new chUdrens hymnal scheduled for release by CRC Publications later this year. The new hymnal, Songs for LiFE, is designed for use with children in preschool through grade 6. It will be an excellent resource for church school, children's choirs, or Christian day schools. Some churches may even want to consider using it as a supplementary pew hymnal.

  • Just what is Reformed worship, anyway?

    It is possible today to go to a church in the Reformed tradition and find worship influences from all sorts of directions— low and high church, charismatic and evangelical, liturgical and . . . well, of course, Reformed. Such variety raises the question in many minds of whether there is anything distinctive about Reformed worship.


    Our guide for worship is Paul's letter to the Colossians. This epistle celebrates the lordship of Jesus Christ, reminds us of our "Freedom to Serve," and calls us to live in the fullness of our union with Christ. The order of worship mirrors the outline of this epistle, with hymns and prayers that serve to help us live into the truth of Paul's message.

  • JUNE

    Go Now in Peace

    June is often a month of partings. Children finish another school year, families leave on vacations, and many young couples get married, leaving their parents' homes to begin new homes. This little parting song of blessing would be appropriate in a number of these settings.

  • In every March issue, Reformed Worship offers resources and reflections to celebrate the ascension of Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. Those festival days are worth celebrating by offering joyful worship to the Lord. We also reflect on the implications of those feast days for doing the work of the Lord, to exercise the power given us by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

    Connections Between Worship and Evangelism

  • How many extra services does your church plan during Holy Week? Traditionally, most Presbyterian and Reformed congregations have held a service on Good Friday. Some have also gathered for a sunrise service on Easter morning. But few have considered anything further.

    In recent years, that pattern has begun to change. Worship planners have enthusiastically discovered the riches of a liturgical heritage that goes beyond traditional Holy Week offerings, and have added new services to their Holy Week schedules.

  • The Native American Hymnal and Worship Resource Committee. Nashville: Discipleship Resources, 1992.94pp. Available for $9.95 from Discipleship Resources, PO Box 189, Nashville, TN 37202; (615) 340-7284.

    Two publications dealing with Native American worship resources were published this year. The first, entitled Voices, is a product of the United Methodist Church, a leader among denominations in providing resources from many different traditions. Marilyn M. Hofstra, of Choctow and Chickasaw heritage, directed the project.

  • Leader: When the evangelist Luke recorded the outpouring of God's Spirit on the early Christian church, he was led by that same Spirit to incorporate the Old Testament prophecies that Peter included in that first Pentecost sermon. We will now listen to that story and sing together those Old Testament prophecies.(2) Hear now the Word of the Lord.

  • How many members of your congregation are taking organ lessons? How many have pianos in their homes? Probably far fewer than a generation ago. Some congregations are getting desperate to find competent organists.

    If the trend continues, we could consider going back to unaccompanied singing, typical of the early days of the Protestant Reformation. It's likely, though, that few congregations would have much success with acapel-la singing. Our culture is simply not a singing culture.

  • Cathedral Films, $49.50; rental 20.00 (1-800-251-4091).

    Six ten-minute segments introduce the origins, themes, and personal significance of the Christian Year. These segments (Overview, Advent, Christmas/Epiphany, Lent and Holy Week, Easter, Ordinary Time) could be viewed together, but probably would be more effective one at a time. While the format is simpleóessentially a film-strip on video—each segment portrays much liturgical art and symbolism. The approach is interdenominational.

  • Recently we asked several of our Reformed Worship readers about their understanding of the Praise and . Worship style and its effect on congregational worship. We wanted to know what questions and concerns they had about the movement. Then we turned to Henry Wildeboer, a pastor involved with this style of worship. We invited him to answer these questions from his experiences in churches in Calgary and Oshawa.

  • It happened in a Christian Reformed Church one Sunday night during the intermission of a Calvin Seminary Choir program. As director of the choir, I had asked two of the seminarians to say a few words about their background and plans for ministry. First came Bruce Gritter—a young Canadian student, full of enthusiam. Then Gabriella Farkas spoke.

  • © Consider the following scenario: Your worship planning team is planning a service. Everything goes smoothly until it comes to selecting the hymns. Your pew hymnal just doesn't have a song that will go along with the service's theme. Finally someone in your group picks up another hymnal and comes across just the right hymn. Everyone agrees. "Let's print it in the bulletin," one member of your group suggests. "How about using an overhead?" another says. "Do we have to get permission?" wonders still another.

  • David P. Schaap and John Worst, editors. New Brunswick: Selah Publishing Company, 1989. $8.75 soft cover; $12.00 hard cover. Available from Selah Publishing Co. P.O. Box 103, Accord, NY 12404; 1-800-852-6172

  • The worship life of the church traditionally begins with Advent, the season in which we anticipate and then celebrate the birth of our Lord, the long-awaited Messiah. This year Advent begins on December 2, and this issue is filled with ideas and resources that will help you plan your worship services for this significant time in the church year.

    Again, we are indebted to people who send us their bulletins, their ideas, and sometimes entire articles.

  • I'm at the age now where I'm getting invitations to weddings of the next generation: nieces, nephews, and children of friends. Weddings haven't changed that much from a generation ago. For that matter, weddings have stayed remarkably unchanged for centuries. They, along with funerals, are just about the only ceremonies left in our culture that are broadly celebrated in similar ways.

  • The other day I had parking-lot security duty during our worship service. The person who shared that duty with me used the opportunity to express his frustration about organists who play different arrangements of the hymns on different stanzas. He likes to sing bass and is irritated when organists take off on strange harmonies and lose him. "Why do they do it?" he asked.

  • Joy to the World

    The night we all went caroling.

    It's the second Sunday of Advent. Just before the morning benediction the pastor reminds us to dress warmly for the evening service, which is going to be held mostly outside. Outside it is 27 degrees Farenheit and snowing. But from experience we know that we will have a bigger crowd than usual this Sunday evening.

  • Hymn suggestions involving children

    The "Hymn of the Month" for Reformed Worship 11 included selections for April, May, and June; with this issue we begin with September, skipping July and August. We are adjusting our schedule to give worship leaders more lead time for planning and to bring hymns of the month in line seasonally with other resources in this and future issues.

  • Fair Play

    Models for Paying Church Musicians

    We knew we were on to a subject of intense interest when we conducted a survey on payment of church musicians. So we weren't surprised when the responses poured in after we printed the results of that survey in RW 9. Many respondents offered helpful perspectives and suggestions, some of which appeared in RW 10 (also see p. 46).

  • Every Sunday about three hundred Christians gather to worship at Christ Church (PCA) in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Many of them grew up in other Protestant and evangelical traditions. They bring these backgrounds and ex periences with them, enabling the congregation to draw from the breadth and depth of the Christian tradition as they worship.

    Worship is at the heart of Christ Church. The congregation was founded on and centered around the concept of worship and takes seriously its goal to involve all members in contributing to Sunday services.

  • Hymn of the Month

    I Am the Lord Your God

    The story of a hymn usually begins with a text, but this one starts with a tune. A little over 150 years ago, Nicholas I, Czar of Russia, ordered Alexis Lvov to compose a national hymn tune. For years Russians had been singing a Russian text to the English melody for "God Save Our Gracious King." Nicholas thought it was time his people had their own hymn. Lvov responded by composing the melody we now know as RUSSIA, or RUSSIAN HYMN.

  • The first time I walked into a church and found two French Provincial pink and blue stuffed chairs near the pulpit, I thought they had been brought in for a drama of some sort. I was participating in a worship conference and had arrived early to check out the piano, organ, and sound system. I assumed someone would remove the chairs after the drama section of the program.

  • July
    Psalm 34: Lord, I Bring My Songs to You

    Psalm 34 is one of those psalms that the Bible explains in a fascinating heading: "When he [David] pretended to be insane before Abimelech, who drove him away, and he left." The psalm, constructed as an acrostic in Hebrew, is a prayer of thanksgiving for deliverance, followed by an invitation to others to join in the praise (st. 1-2). From praise, the psalm moves to instruction in godly living (st. 3—6).

  • Austin C. Lovelace. Chicago: G.I.A. Publications, Inc., 1987,120 pages, $9.00.

    This little book does exactly what its title says: it offers background material on hymns in short paragraphs that can be used in church bulletins or educational materials; anyone who purchases the book may use this information without permission or charge. The stated purpose of this resource is to help worshipers to sing not only with the Spirit but also with understanding, as Paul exhorts us to do (I Cor. 14:15).

  • A $150 Organ Library

    Last year RW provided lists of organ music based on hymn tunes. The compositions listed were found in all sorts of publications. No organist could possibly get his or her hands on all those publications without spending a fortune—not to mention putting in a lifetime of practice to prepare the pieces.

  • For years missianaries from North America exported Western hymns. New Christians learned songs that were often foreign to their cultures. Usually these non- Western Christians adapted the hymns~moving pitches, changing rhythms and tempo, and wing instruments very different from the organ to accompany their singing.

  • With this fourth issue of RW we complete our first year of publication and introduce our first theme issue: Introducing New Hymns and Hymnals. Because hymns express emotions as well as faith, few things in the church are more challenging than introducing a new hymnal or new hymns. Such introductions call for sensitive planning and the cooperative efforts of all the church's leaders.

  • Notes


    If you have never attended a conference on church music and liturgy before, you may not pay much attention to the list of conferences that Reformed Worship provides below. That's if you haven't been.

  • Singing Psalms of Joy and Praise.

    Fred R. Anderson. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1986, 77 pp. $5.95.

    A Psalm Sampler.

    Prepared by the Office of Worship for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1986,44 pp. $4.95.

    These two paperbacks join the growing number of publications from the many different traditions that are once again discovering the riches of singing the psalms. Neither one is a complete psalter, but each builds on and expands the long Reformed tradition of psalm singing.

  • For centuries congregations who stood in the Reformed/Presbyterian tradition had no choirs. Because Calvinists took the priesthood of all believers seriously, they jealously guarded congregational involvement in worship: the people were to speak (sing) for themselves. That meant no choirs, no anthems, no cantatas—-just the strong, vibrant sound of congregational singing in response to the spoken Word.

  • Every year more North American congregations are discovering the beauty of a traditional English service called, very simply, "Nine Lessons and Carols." The structure of the service is as simple as the title: nine passages of Scripture are followed by nine carols. But the content of those readings and the traditional way of conducting the service have become very meaningful to many congregations.

  • Hymn of the Month

    The Hymn of the Month features old as well as new hymns for worship. Some hymns are presented simply, others in festive arrangements for choirs, congregations, and instruments.

    If a hymn is new to your congregation, you may want to sing it once every Sunday during the month so that the people become familiar with it. On the other hand, hymns that are already familiar to the congregation may be sung only once during the month or saved for another occasion.

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