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December 1999

The Sounds of Silence

Juan Ildefonso Rodriguez is a fine man—kind, soft-spoken, considerate—but more than a bit exotic at Windmark Community Church.

Four African-American Songs: Now Behold the Lamb; Give Me a Clean Heart; Through It All; I Want Jesus to Walk with Me

African-American religious music has a life that is unique to its culture. Spirituals and black gospel music embody the rhythmic elements of syncopation, improvisation, metric variety, fervor, and simplicity with lyrical melodic phrases. The four songs on these pages use all of these elements and more. These hymns, all of which will be included in the new supplement Sing! A New Creation, are excellent choices for the Lent and Easter season. They transcend race, culture, and musical tradition, and are enjoyed by those who sing them.

More with Less: Going light in Lent to emphasize Easter

In New York City I saw a Japanese garden made up of nothing but gravel and a solitary rock. The rock was placed off-center, the ground around it clean of everything, and the gravel raked painstakingly. That garden is a lesson in “less is more.”


2000 Renew Your Worship! Workshops
One-day workshops with Robert Webber on blending contemporary and traditional worship. Webber has devoted several years to covering most of North America with these one-day leadership training workshops. Contact the Institute for Worship Studies, Box 894, Wheaton, IL 60189; 630-510-8905; fax 630-510-0601; website:

"Were You There...": Themes and visuals for a Lenten series

In the past few years we have followed suggestions from Reformed Worship for our Lenten season. This past year, however, we felt inspired to do our own thing.

Picture Jesus: eight service plans for Lent and Easter, page 2 of 2

The Resurrection and Life

Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Text: John 11:25-26; 20:1-9

Sermon Notes
Easter is the best story in all of preaching, but the challenge to remain fresh becomes a bigger one each year.

Learning About the Seder Meal: A teaching service on the Jewish festival of Passover

Bulletin Note

The Passover Seder is a celebration observed in Jewish homes with relatives and friends. It is led by an elder member of the family, but all who attend are active participants. The celebration tells the story of Israel’s exodus from Egypt three hundred years ago. It includes special activities to hold the interest of children.

Paschal Sermon of St. John Chrysostom: A 4th-century sermon still preached every Easter in Orthodox churches

In the very early years of its history the Eastern Orthodox Church adopted the custom of using the Paschal sermon of St. John Chrysostom at the Paschal Vigil service held during the Saturday night before Easter morning. Chrysostom first proclaimed this sermon as instructions to catechumens, new Christian converts, who were baptized during that vigil service.

My First Missionary Trip: Reflections on worship in Columbia

Three years ago I was due for a sabbatical and was looking forward to learning about worship life in Reformed communities in other countries and cultures. But instead I stayed part-time in the office while also becoming interim director of music at my home congregation.

Called to Humility and Repentance: An Ash Wednesday service

The season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, March 8 in 2000. This service combines features from several services. Ronald Kok, evangelist of Living Hope Community Church, Randolph, Wisconsin, submitted plans from a community-wide service. Similar plans from Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan, were developed from a service by John D. Witvliet included in The Services of the Christian Year, Volume V of the Complete Library of Christian Worship, edited by Robert Webber (available from Hendrickson Publishing, 978-532-6546).

Picture Jesus: eight service plans for Lent and Easter, page 1 of 2

A copy of this article, complete with graphics, is also available as a 9pg/165k Adobe Acrobate file which can be viewed and printed using the free Acrobat reader.

Songs for a Lifelong Journey: Service plans for Lent based on the Psalms of Ascent

When I was young, growing up in western Michigan, our family made frequent trips to the area west of Chicago to visit grandparents and family. While in many ways the five-hour journey (before interstate highways) was long, the way was familiar to us. To ease the routine of monotonous travel, my sisters and I would sing. Sunday school songs, hymns, pop rock, and easy listening—accompanied by radio, cassette, or a cappella—were all part of our repertoire.

Come and See: A dramatic monologue of the woman at the well

“Come and See” has been presented at women’s groups, youth groups, and in worship services. It has always been well received.

The actor who plays the part should not underestimate the amount of preparation time needed to portray the character—it is an emotionally and physically draining role. The length of the monologue requires creative blocking, and lighting effects add to the presentation.

Songwriters Tell Their Stories: Kids in costume introduce a service of songs

Several well-known hymn writers “reappeared” recently for one hour in Bloomington, Minnesota. They were our guests at a hymn festival that was planned to build appreciation for the hymnody of the church among our children—and adults. The service was inspired by an article by Hal Hopson in The Chorister (Summer 1998), the journal of the Choristers Guild.

New Organ Music for Lent, Easter, and Ascension: An annotated list

The liturgical seasons of Lent and Easter call for divergent musical expressions from an organist. Fortunately, many composers have worked to create beautiful new works for organ for these seasons. I reviewed over fifty recently released works from major publishing houses. The following collections are those I found most rewarding for worship and inspiring for congregational singing. Each is marked E (Easy), M (Moderate) or D (Difficult).


How to... Lead Worship in a Rest Home

With the increase of seniors among us has come a growing demand for local pastors, lay leaders, and ministry groups to conduct worship services in senior citizens’ centers and rest homes. Leading the elderly in worship can be a most rewarding experience. But it also presents its own challenges. Here are some things to keep in mind when addressing the elderly.

Video: Ancient-Future Worship: A Model for the 21st Century

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;

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.

Colam 99: Dying with Christ, Rising with Christ

Last July more than three hundred people from four Canadian provinces and eighteen states gathered to worship and learn together at COLAM 99, a worship conference for the whole family. The biannual summer conference was cosponsored by Reformed Worship, the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, and the host institution, Dordt College, Sioux Center, Iowa.

On Worship Team Conflict and Congregational Worship Surveys

Q. We have conflict on our worship team that is very frustrating to our congregation. What have other churches done to work with this?

A. To my surprise, this is the most frequently asked question we receive here at the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Perhaps this is the inevitable result of having many more people involved in worship leadership than a generation ago. Three primary strategies appear to be the most common and helpful.