Once upon a time in a land not so far away, a church named Rivervale met to conduct worship every Sunday in a very nice sanctuary. Always their service followed a pleasant style, tastefully created by a liturgically sensitive Committee on Music and Worship. Rivervale members were of one mind in claiming that at their church everything was done in the best possible order. When the event I am about to relate took place, both Rivervale pastors were absent.
Articles in this issue:
On Sunday, August 17, 1642, Dominie Johannes Megapolensis Jr. preached his first sermon to about one hundred people in a grain warehouse in Rensselaerwyck, a Dutch settlement across the Hudson River from the present site of Albany, New York. That historic worship service gave birth to the First Reformed Church in Albany, the second oldest congregation in the Reformed Church in America.
Songs of Thankfulness and Praise
Christopher Wordsworth, the author of this text, may not be as well known today as his famous uncle, William. But during his lifetime (1807-85) Christopher distinguished himself as a scholar, professor, pastor, and eventually a bishop in the church of England.
Bishop Wordsworth included this hymn in his Holy Year: or Hymns for Sundays, Holidays, and Other Occasions Throughout the Year, with the following heading:
If you're like most choir directors, you occasionally have problems filling your choir's repertoire for Easter. Perhaps you've noticed the sameness and even shallowness of some Easter hymns and anthems and have longed Jsii; for music similar to Christmas carols—music which is simple and appealing and which can readily involve large numbers of people.
Easter Sunrise services have been in vogue for many years, but an Easter Vigil is largely unknown among Reformed and Presbyterian churches. A "vigil" suggests waiting—an alert, expectant watching when one is normally asleep (Matt. 24:36-25:13). During a vigil one is full of anticipation and hope.
Grace Episcopal Church is very quiet when I enter at 9:20. In fact, even though the service is to start at 9:30, I am the only person in the sanctuary. A few minutes later several more people show, but it turns out the big service will be in the evening. (After the soup supper. Ah! even Episcopalians must be urged with food. But during Lent?)
When I discover that some Catholic or Lutheran friends are fasting during Lent, I feel a stab of guilt. My conscience nudges me with the insistent question, "Why don't I, a Reformed Christian, also fast?" Further thought doesn't make the question disappear; it persists. Why don't I, as an act of repentance or humility, deny myself some ordinary good in order to better remember my Lord's suffering and death? And why doesn't my church urge me to fast as a fitting way to prepare myself for the splendid Easter festival?
We are fond of quoting Psalm 150. All those instruments —trumpet, harp and lyre, flute and strings, even tambourine and cymbals—paint a sound-picture of orchestral dimensions in Old Testament worship.
In a time when Christians are looking for new ways of making worship more concrete and meaningful, much attention has been given to the customs of the past. One of the traditions some Christians have begun practicing is the Seder meal, an important ceremony in the Jewish Passover celebration. On these pages, Steve Schlissel, pastor of Messiah's Congregation (CRC) in Brooklyn, New York, gives his perspectives on Christians using the Seder meal. Rev. Schlissel is a Jewish Christian.
Edited by G. W. Davies. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1986, 544 pp. $29.95.
Because this dictionary of liturgy and worship is published by Westminster Press, one might expect it to have a Presbyterian orientation (which would hardly account for its 544 double-columned pages). However, for a more accurate perception of the tenor of the book, one would do better to associate Westminster with the abbey and the Anglican church, for it is out of that basic context that a large number of the articles are written.