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.
Articles in this issue:
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“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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.