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September 1987

Books: Our Heritage of Hymns & Exploring the Hymnal

Our Heritage of Hymns

(leader's guide with resources). Mary Nelson Keithahn, with contributions from Richard F. Coil-man, C. Michael Hawn, Mary Louise Van Dyke, Ronald A. Nelson, Dolores Hruby, and Judy Koch. Foreword by Austin C. Lovelace. Choristers Guild, 1986, 88 pp. $14.95.

Exploring the Hymnal.

Mary Nelson Keithahn and Mary Louise Van Dyke. Choristers Guild, 1986, 32 pp. $9.95.

Chrismons -- a Meaningful Celebration

In 1957 the Ascension Lutheran Church of Danville, Virginia, added something new to their celebration of Advent. They brought a Christmas tree into their sanctuary and covered it with special three-dimensional symbols and monograms. Mrs. F. Spencer, the creator of these ornaments, called them Chrismons, a word she coined by combining two other words: Christ and monogram.

Book: Epiphany

(Proclamation 3. Aids for Interpreting the Lessons of the Church Year, Series A). Marianne H. Micks. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1986,64 pp. $3.75.

A Room for Prayer

In several ways, both during and after services, worshipers in Christ Community Church of Nanaimo, British Columbia, are encouraged to pray. Before we are led in prayer by the minister, individuals bring prayer requests, and we pray about them together. But because many individual needs are private and not suitable for sharing in public worship, Christ Community Church has opened a prayer room. In fact, the prayer room has become such a vital part of our ministry that we think of it as our "engine room."

An Epiphany Liturgy

Below we have printed the outline of an Epiphany service including the prayers, songs, and litanies that were repeated in the bulletin each week during the Epiphany season. The liturgy, prepared by Leonard Vander Zee, pastor of Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has been used by that congregation for the past two years. The song was composed by a member of the Church of the Servant (CRC), Grand Rapids, Michigan, for use in their Epiphany liturgy.

Hymn of the Month

Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us

Although it was written for Dorothy Thrupp's 1836 collection Hymns for the Young and is included in the children's section of many hymnals, "Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us" appeals to believers of all ages.

Enriching Our Waiting; Eschatological Preaching in Advent

I was startled. The preacher announced that for the first three Sundays of Advent he would preach on the second coming. I felt a rustling of discomfort around me. Don't we have enough to think about in Advent without worrying about the second coming?

After all, Advent is the time to soberly and joyfully prepare once again to receive God's gift of Christmas. Advent is the time to remember the ancient promises to Abraham, David, and the prophets. Advent is the time to ready our hearts to celebrate once again the joy of God's incarnation.


RPCNA Psalm Singing

"Fifteen Psalms a year for ten years"—that's the mandate the 1986 Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (RPCNA) handed to its newly appointed Psalm Translation Committee. The synod also appointed a committee to produce a new supplement to the denomination's latest Psalter (The Book of Psalms for Singing), published in 1973. Both decisions reflect the RPCNA's continued support of their tradition of exclusive psalm singing in public worship (See RW 3, p. 32).

Service Planning: the Season of Epiphany

Epiphany season begins twelve days after Christmas, on January 6, and continues until the Sunday before Ash Wednesday. In 1988 the season covers six Sundays.The Sunday lessons during this season center upon events and readings from the ministry of Jesus, all of them concentrating on the seasonal theme: God, in Jesus Christ, personally appeared (Greek: epiphaneia) on earth, revealing himself to us directly rather than through any chosen messenger.


Convert to Cover

I have just received RW 4. I read it from cover to cover and must congratulate you on an excellent issue.

Thank you also for your article on new hymns and hymnals. I am afraid that the solution to better hymn singing is so obvious that we will continue to search for more complex solutions—at least that is the way the city is run here in Chicago.

We have a new hymnal committee, all of whom would benefit from reading this issue.

A Dragon Intrusion

The sermon about the dragon seemed an intrusion into our Advent and Christmas spirit.

When entering church I was stili thinking about the VCR we had bought after long deliberation. And our children were coming home for Christmas; it had been six months since we had seen them last.

The sanctaury, with its poin-settias and Advent wreath, looked beautiful and peaceful. And the choir anthem was marvelous. The spirit was one of peace, festivity, and joy.

Paying Attention to the Poor

Last winter a news anchorwoman from one of the large television stations in the New York area traded in her expensive business suit for a bundle of rags. Convinced that in order to really understand the plight of the homeless you have to become one of them, she spent a week as a bag lady on the streets of New York City.

Choral Music for Advent -- Epiphany

The choral music listed on these pages (all hymn anthems) is appropriate for use in worship during Advent, Christmas, or Epiphany. All the tunes appear in one or more of the three new Reformed hymnals: Rejoice in the Lord, Psalter Hymnal, and The Trinity Hymnal. All entries are SATB a cappella unless indicated otherwise.

Our choir has discovered that the hymn-anthem is an effective way of introducing new songs to the congregation. We follow a process similar to the following:

Epiphany: What Do We Celebrate?

As someone who grew up in a "so-called nonliturgical church, I was confused by my first encounter with the church calendar. I was accustomed to celebrating Easter and Christmas. But Advent, Epiphany, Lent, Septuagesima, and Whitsunday all sounded foreign to me-a proliferation of festivals that could only serve, I thought, to distract believers from the essence of the faith. However, as I became familiar with the church year, I discovered that my initial reaction was wrong.

The Burning of the Christmas Trees

On a bitterly cold January 6, families from Christ Memorial Reformed Church of Holland, Michigan, expectantly gathered in a circle around a small bonfire in the church parking lot. Children jockeyed for position, eager to have an unimpeded view of the huge pile of dead and discarded Christmas trees.

Keeping Christmas -- All Twelve Days

On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me a partridge in a pear tree…

As we gather around our Christmas trees to celebrate Christmas, few of us think of Christmas Day as a beginning. For most families Christmas is the culmination, the climax, of weeks of planning, shopping, and anticipation. Not many are even aware that Christmas is but the first day of the twelve-day season referred to in the familiar song.

Choice Christmas Musicals

It's time again to start planning music for the Christmas season and devising ways to involve children in our Christmas worship. Year after year we search for new ways to tell the old story. What many weary children's choir directors and harried church school coordinators aren't aware of is that good complete programs are readily available.

Hessel Park CRC at Worship

Thirty-five years ago a small congregation, soon to be known as Hessel Park Christian Reformed Church, was organized in Champaign, Illinois. Located next to its twin city, Urbana (well-known in evangelical circles for the large Inter Varsity-sponsored missionary conferences), Champaign is a relatively small midwestern town, dominated by the University of Illinois campus.

A $150 Organ Library

Last year RW provided lists of organ music based on hymn tunes. The compositions listed were found in all sorts of publications. No organist could possibly get his or her hands on all those publications without spending a fortune—not to mention putting in a lifetime of practice to prepare the pieces.

Praising God with a Synthesizer

I saw a cartoon the other day that most church musicians would find amusing. It was a two-paneled drawing depicting the gateways into the afterlife. In the first, an angel greeted the new arrivals with "Welcome to heaven. Here's your harp." In the second, a devil carried out similar duties by saying, "Welcome to hell. Here's your accordian." That cartoon reflects what most musicians know—that opinions on what constitutes appropriate music and appropriate instrumentation for church music are highly charged.

First Covenant Bombed: Ex-Elder Held for Arraignment Today

Fratting, IL (AP) Officials of Fratting's First Covenant Church are assessing the damage today after a midnight bombing ravaged the massive fellowship hall of Covenant's five-year-old church building. Left undamaged by the powerful blast were the sanctuary itself, located directly west of the fellowship hall, and the education wing, located in the basement.