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June 2001

Sing a New Song

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.

Splendor in the Grass: A sermon on Psalm 103: 15-17

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We Are What We Sing: Searching for a balanced diet

“We are what we eat.” Anyone who’s suffering the cumulative effect of too many ice cream sundaes knows that’s true. But when it comes to matters of spirituality and faith, I’d like to suggest, we are what we sing.

Music has the uncanny ability to burrow its way into our spiritual bones. Even when we are tired or depressed, old songs well up from within us and dance on our plaintive whistling lips. When we are old and can remember little else, we are still likely to recall the songs we learned in our childhood.

All Nature Sings

You’ve done it, I know you have. At some point or another in your banner-making career, you’ve been asked to make a banner design to represent music. What’s the first thing that popped into your head and onto your fabric? A HUGE treble clef surrounded by dancing quarter- and half-notes. You shouldn’t feel bad about this, of course. Clichés are born out of good ideas. They become clichés when everyone acts on the same good idea.

Introducing "Sing! A New Creation": A behind-the-scenes look at shaping a new songbook

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!

Consider the Birds of the Air: Four service plans featuring God's aviary

The Bible is a materful book inspired by God. Themes, colorful characters, subplots, foreshadowings, prophecy, fulfillment, and literary balance shape this living book, an endless treasure. The Bible holds these components together through story, symbol, and metaphor. Some symbols are used only once: a burning bush, a withered fig tree. Other symbols span the Bible: trees, angels, mountains, rivers, rainbows…and birds.

In Christ There Is No East or West: Ideas for embracing diversity in worship

North American communities are dotted with evidence that we are no longer primarily a biracial culture. People from other nations can be found in apartment buildings, schools, grocery stores, malls, and recreational venues. But too few of them are entering their local churches. Because culture is a strong component of any group’s sense of cohesiveness and community, most churches are primarily monocultural.

The book of Acts, however, demonstrates that multicultural fellowship is both possible and  rewarding!

Splendor in the Grass: A service based on Psalm 103

This service was planned for a joint service of several congregations in Denver, Colorado; it was patterned after an earlier service held at the Calvin Symposium of Worship and the Arts in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The title comes from the sermon preached at both services by Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., president-elect of Calvin Theological Seminary, who was also part of the planning team along with John D. Witvliet and Emily R. Brink.

Five Songs, Five Styles

Psalm 8
O Lord, Our Lord
Shout to the Lord

That Your Name May Be Glorified: A commissioning service for music leaders

The following commissioning service is intended for those who lead music in worship, including choir directors and members, song leaders, and instrumentalists. Consider adapting it as a service of installation for someone in a staff leadership position, such as minister of music. Use the service following the proclamation of the Word, at the time of the offering, or in association with a particular music ministry in the service.


On Song Diets and Sixty-Minute Services

Q. Why is the musical repertoire in our church so limited? We sing only about fifty of the top choruses and hymns. I tire of singing the same songs all the time.
—British Columbia

Singing, Saying, Preaching, Praying: Using the Psalms in contemporary worship

When I began working at the LOFT, the worship staff at the college agreed on a worthy goal: to embrace with both arms, and to lift up with both hands, the practice of singing the Psalms—a challenging task in a very contemporary setting. These are notes from a number of different Sundays recording the variety of ways we have tried to use the prayer book of God’s people in our worship.

10/14 Post Rehearsal

World Wide Word: Bible study tools on the internet

I remember being envious once, in pre-Web days, of a pastor friend who was showing me the Bible software he had just purchased. He could look up any passage in an instant, search for multiple uses of a particular word, even pull up two different Bible translations side by side on his computer. The tables were turned recently when I told him of two popular websites that offered all those Bible study tools and more—for free.

How to Become a Better Keyboard Improviser

Here are fourteen principles for becoming a better keyboard improviser in a worship setting. For more complete musical instruction with notated musical examples illustrating the points, visit

Book: Celebrate God's Presence: A Book of Services for The United Church of Canada.

Toronto: United Church Publishing House, 2000. The United Church of Canada, 3250 Bloor Street West, Suite 300, Etobicoke, ON M8X 2Y4. 1-877-252-2552. Three-ring binder, 766 pp. $49.95 US. CD-ROM has downloadable text as well as biblical and topical indexes (i.e. no search capacity).


Gives Reformed Worship to Seminary Students

Thank for sending copies of Reformed Worship to give to my seminary students in “Dynamics of Christian Worship,” a course I teach at Bethel Seminary of the East. I wanted to supply the students with some practical resources as well as a solid biblical and theological foundation. I have enjoyed Reformed Worship for several years. Thank you for your fine publication and your commitment to ministry.


Authentic Worship in a Changing World

A one-day leadership training seminar led by Robert Webber. Contact the Institute for Worship Studies, Box 894, Wheaton, IL 60189; 630-510-8905;
fax 630-510-0601; website:

Introducing "Sing! A New Creation": Web features

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