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December 2005

All I Ever Really Needed to Know About Worship I Learned from <em>Reformed Worship</em>

After many years at Redeemer University College in Ancaster, Ontario, Bert Polman (bdp5@ recently joined the staff at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan, as chair of the music department and professor of music. He is also a senior research fellow at the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. He is currently writing two books, one on contemporary Praise and Worship songs, the other on musical settings of the Magnificat.

On Lord's Supper Preaching, Sitting at Tables for the Lord's Supper, and Trinitarian Prayer Endings

Q. My pastor is reluctant to celebrate the Lord’s Supper more frequently because he doesn’t want to preach more sermons about the Lord’s Supper. Is this practice necessary?

A. The impulse to preach on the Lord’s Supper comes from the Reformation concern that people participate in the Lord’s Supper with understanding.

Practicing Easter: Good Habits to Keep All Year Round

Many people are used to the idea of Lenten practices—giving up coffee or chocolate, perhaps, or doing some kind of regular spiritual discipline during the weeks before Easter. The worship planners at All Nations Church took that concept and applied it to Easter. What would Easter practices look like? Why do we do what we do every Sunday? Why do we go through the same motions? These practices are for Easter, but since every Sunday is a little Easter, they are encouragement for all Christians, in every season.

Called to Rest, to Feast, to Follow: A Service on Discerning God's Will

This service is adapted from the forthcoming Volume 2 of Ten Service Plans for Contemporary Worship (2006, Faith Alive Christian Resources). The original Ten Service Plans (2002) is also published by Faith Alive. Available at


The Way of the Cross: A Service for Good Friday

Last year for Good Friday, we planned a service that followed a modified “stations [or way] of the cross.” Each station was framed by the traditional ancient text Adoramus te.

Liturgical Floral Arranging: Examples from a Dutch Church

Toon Overvoorde has created many floral designs to fit the liturgical seasons, especially for Holy Week. We’re grateful to his brother Chris Stoffel Overvoorde for translating this article; Chris ( is also an artist and has been an RW consultant since we began 20 years ago.


Listening at the Foot of the Cross

A Service on the Seven Last Words of Christ

All four gospels tell us that Jesus quoted from the Old Testament. No Old Testament book is quoted more frequently by Jesus than the Psalms. When we pray the psalms, we are praying the prayers of God’s people throughout the centuries. But, more importantly, we are praying the prayers that Jesus himself prayed.

Get Organized: Tools and Templates for Planning Worship

Worship planning in the old days was easy, or so we’ve been led to believe. The pastor picked a Scripture text on Tuesday. The organist selected a few hymns the next day, and the church secretary typed it all up on Friday. No muss, no fuss.

Perhaps those halcyon days seem so unbelievable because worship planning today is a very complex affair. It involves layers and layers of decision-making (themes, Scriptures, prayers, drama, art, and musical options) and schedule coordinating.

Come to the Water: A Lenten and Easter Series with a Focus on Baptism

New Life Christian Reformed Church is a relatively new church located in Grand Junction, Colorado, just twenty-five miles from the Utah border. What began in 1997 with a Bible study of fifteen people gathered in the home of our pastor has grown into a congregation of approximately two hundred.

Book: Christ, Baptism and the Lord's Supper, Recovering the Sacraments for Evangelical Worship

Leonard J. Vander Zee. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2004. 249 pp. $18.00.

This is an important book for Christians to read and ponder. Here’s why:

Classic and New Hymns for Lent and Easter

Martin Luther’s Reformation took wings when he realized the importance of hymns that would preach Lutheran doctrine to the people in their language. His hymns swept Northern Europe—and the countries that would become Lutheran: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Slovakia, Sweden—almost as fast as they could be translated into the vernacular language by the respective reformers of each country, many of whom were students of Luther in Wittenberg.

Book: Preacher, Can You Hear Us Listening?

Roger Van Harn. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2005. 159 pages. $15.00

A Rhythm as Old as the World: A Time to Be Silent, a Time to Speak

In the beginning God speaks six times on six days, and then stops. God rests. But each of these days also has a night. And God rests then too! God doesn’t talk all the time. In fact, Genesis doesn’t even start with a word. Genesis starts with the formlessness of the earth and with the Spirit of God brooding over the face of the deep. Then God speaks. You might almost say that at last God speaks. “Let there be light,” says God. According to Genesis, God breaks the cosmic silence with a creative word.

Book: With One Voice: Discovering Christ's Song in Our Worship

Reggie M. Kidd. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 2005. 224 pp. $14.99. ISBN 0-8010-6591-7.

Easter Vigil

Resurrecting a Service from the Early Church

Book: Selling Worship: How What We Sing Has Changed the Church

Pete Ward. Paternoster Press, 2005. 235 pages. $15.00.

Celebrating Easter Down Under: A Perspective from New Zealand

Northern hemisphere visitors to New Zealand at Christmas and Easter frequently comment on how topsy-turvy it all feels down here. We sing, in the words of Shirley Murray, one of this country’s best known hymn writers, of an “upside-down Christmas” in which the traditional white Christmas of northern climes gives way to long summer days at the beach. And at Easter, the fresh scents and colors of the northern hemisphere spring give way to the muted colors and cooler temperatures of a southern hemisphere autumn.


Seminars Sponsored by Calvin Institute of Christian Worship

Doors Reopened at Delaware and Sixteenth: Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Indianapolis, Indiana

What would President Benjamin Harrison have thought of an accordion and a mandolin playing during worship in his church? The former U.S. president probably wasn’t expecting that when he helped plan a new building for First Presbyterian Church in his hometown of Indianapolis, down the street from the house where he used to give campaign speeches on his front porch.

Flower People and Banner People Unite!

Like me, you’re probably sick of hearing about mergers and acquisitions. Every day, it seems, I have to learn a new name for my phone company or bank or Internet provider. Sometimes these unions are made in heaven, other times . . . let’s just say things were better as they were.

Nonethless, here’s my suggestion for a merger. A merger that needs to happen: getting the “flower people” and the “banner people” together.

New Organ Music for Lent and Easter: A Resource List

The organist seeking fresh ideas appropriate to Lent, Holy Week, and Easter worship has a wealth of recent compositions from which to choose.

Meals, Nourishment, Reconciliation, and Celebration: A Service of Scripture and Song

The meal that we know as the Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist is derived from a rich background of meals—meals and meal customs recorded in Scripture. Traces of these meals can be found in the sacrament.

Equipping Worship Leaders: How Are We Doing?

Church-goers these days have rising expectations for the quality of worship. We want worship to be an authentic encounter with the living God, a quality gathering for the Christian community, and an effective means of reaching those exploring Christian faith. In fact, we have gradually placed more weight on the role of worship in accomplishing the church’s mission.

Thou Shalt Not Steal: A Primer for Music Copyright

If your congregation always sings from a hymnal or other songbook, you won’t need this information. On the other hand, if your congregation sometimes uses projected songs or prints them in the bulletin, this article is for you. These FAQs will cover everything you’ve ever wanted to know (and maybe more) about copyright issues pertaining to music. Read it! You’ll be glad you did. And you’ll sleep well knowing your congregation is complying with copyright laws!

Q. Is every song protected by copyright?

Students Celebrate Holy Week: Resources from Two High School Chapels

This past year Unity Christian High School in Grandville, Michigan about.htm#mission), planned two chapel services during Holy Week. The first chapel was a time of reflection on Luke 22-23. The Good Friday chapel included a moving juxtaposition of a Christmas carol with the reading of the Passion narrative (see box).

All God's People: Indonesia

Click to listen to “Come, Praise God! Sing Hallelujah!”
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