During January 2004, worship at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan, focused on the message of Isaiah 60 (see also p. 22), in light of provocative discussion of this text in Richard Mouw’s When the Kings Come Marching In: Isaiah and the New Jerusalem, (rev. ed. Eerdmans, 2002). The following service was prepared by a Symposium planning team for morning worship in the Calvin College Chapel during the Calvin Symposium on Worship and the Arts.
Articles in this issue:
Q Our congregation has almost no musical talent, and so we had to hire a music director from beyond our fellowship. The challenge is that both this director and the congregation are frustrated with things they see as both problematic and fixable, but have no good forum for dealing with them in ways that won’t cause all kinds of hurt. Do you have any advice for us?
This order of service was prepared for Reformation Sunday 2003 at First Presbyterian Church, Royal Oak, Michigan. It includes several liturgical elements from the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century, including contributions from Luther in Germany, Bucer in Strassbourg, Calvin in Geneva, Zwingli in Zurich, Knox in Scotland, and from the English Reformation. The songs include a psalm, canticle, and hymns from these traditions; they can be found in the Presbyterian Hymnal as well as in many other hymnals.
Call to Worship
This service was prepared for World Communion Sunday, the first Sunday in October, at Blythefield Christian Reformed Church. The service included songs from around the world sung by the congregation and/or choir, with several instrumentalists, and also a procession of flags of countries from around the world.
The three songs chosen for this column all come from England and are found in a new hymnal, Sing Glory, produced by Jubilate Hymns, Ltd., the publishing arm of a group of about sixty British clergy, authors, and musicians that have been active in preparing new songs for the church since the 1960s (see box on p. 31 and a review of Sing Glory on p. 47). The first song predates the formation of the Jubilate Group; the other two are by active members of the group.
It’s 102 degrees Fahrenheit outside and you’re feeling every degree. Another car alarm goes off across the narrow, pothole-ridden street; you pay no mind and neither does the police unit that’s just rolled by. The inhabitants of row houses lined block after block spill out onto their front porch stoops because it’s hotter inside than out. A mother, too young to vote, cradles her infant as she watches her nieces and nephews joyously splash in the opened fire hydrant offering cool relief.
We can never find enough musicians for our worship band or enough leaders for our worship committee.”
“Our church is dying. Once the kids turn sixteen or seventeen they leave the church and never come back.”
Comments like these represent two major crises in churches across the country, in both urban and suburban contexts:
Some models of campus ministry center around student worship. Many do not. Regardless, articulating a Reformed identity does give rise to some thoughts about what characterizes distinctively Reformed worship. Here are a few thoughts on Reformed worship from the “back door” of campus ministry.
Iappreciate a good gadget. Many times a day, I reach into my pocket for my personal digital assistant (PDA) in order to look up a phone number, schedule an appointment, or update my to do list. When I do, no one around me looks twice. However, if I pull out my Palm Pilot (one brand of PDA) to do a pastor-specific task—look up a Bible verse, write out the melody to a new song I’ve just heard, review my prayer list, or brush up on my Greek at the bus stop—peers and passersby rubberneck without shame.
When I first started editing the Psalter Hymnal in the early 1980s, the story then making the rounds was that permission for including the song “How Great Thou Art” in the 1978 Lutheran Book of Worship was finally granted with a handshake at a cost that would remain secret.