September 1988

RW 9
Advent/Christmas
Reformed Worship issue cover

Articles in this issue:

  • A Timeless Liturgy

    Reflections on the Millennium of the Russian Orthodox Church

    This year marks the one-thousand-year anniversary of the Russian Orthodox Church, the largest church in the USSR. Around the world Russian Orthodox Christians will gather to celebrate the birth of their church and to rejoice in their history and heritage.

  • Letters

    Happy and Thankful

    In RW 4, we included the Japanese hymn "Here, O Lord, Your Servants Gather" as one of the Hymns of the Month. Although the copyright holder granted us permission to use the hymn, we recently also received a letter from the author himself. We thought RW readers would enjoy a glimpse of the delightful side of the copyright negotiations we encountered when corresponding for permissions for the Psalter Hymnal.

  • If John Calvin were a member of your worship committee, what comments might he have about the shape and content of the liturgy your congregation follows on Sunday morning! Would he be impressed with your creative litanies, warmed by your pastor's folksy opening remarks! Or would he be critical of some of your more innovative practices, appalled that you celebrate the Lord's Supper only four times a year?

  • I preached through Micah last year. Using the lectio continua method, I organized a series of sermons that spanned the Sundays from Thanksgiving to New Year's and focused on the messianic hope of this ancient Hebrew prophet. A summary of that series appears on these pages.

  • If your holiday liturgy is a string of special numbers and exciting extras, your congregation may be missing the true communion of Christmas.

    My first congregation was a small and struggling Reformed Church in a sagging, central-Jersey factory town. Our average attendance was no more than fifty, and we didn't have a choir because we couldn't afford a choir director. But in spite of our humble circumstances, the five Christmases I worshiped there were the best Christmases of my life.

  • Hymn of the Month

    October
    I Am the Lord Your God

    The story of a hymn usually begins with a text, but this one starts with a tune. A little over 150 years ago, Nicholas I, Czar of Russia, ordered Alexis Lvov to compose a national hymn tune. For years Russians had been singing a Russian text to the English melody for "God Save Our Gracious King." Nicholas thought it was time his people had their own hymn. Lvov responded by composing the melody we now know as RUSSIA, or RUSSIAN HYMN.

  • Advent Litanies

    Based on the psalms the Common Lectionary recommends this year for the four Sundays in Advent

  • The following music is appropriate for use in the worship service during the Advent, Christmas, or Epiphany season. The list includes music used with the children in our church school music program over the past several years. Those titles with a star (*) were used in the 1987 candlelight service. All music is sung in unison with piano accompaniment. Optional two parts, descants, or instruments are indicated below.

  • All carols unannounced

    *Congregation standing

    Prelude:

    "O Little Town of Bethlehem" Manz
    "Sinfonia" (Christmas Oratorio) J. S. Bach
    "In Dulci Jubilo" Dupre

    Choral Invitation and Processional:

    "O Come, Little Children" Schultz
    "Once in Royal David's City"
    (The congregation shall rise and join on stanzas 5 and 6.)

  • Children of the Lord

    Include the Whole Family of God in Your Christmas Celebrations

    The leaves were just beginning to change color a few years ago when I noticed the first displays of Christmas decorations in a local department store. It shouldn't have come as any surprise. In our highly commercialized society, shopping malls are known distorters of time and season: bathing suits and shorts appear in January, heavy winter coats in the midst of a major July heat wave.