Share |

Content about Hymn festivals

May 31, 2008

In her book Stilling the Storm (2006, The Alban Institute. Available at, Kathleen Smith sings the praises of the “intentional interim pastor.” This person can greatly assist a church that is transitioning from a long pastorate that has ended well, recovering from a ministry that has ended poorly, or regrouping after the senior pastor of a multi-staff church leaves.

September 4, 2005

The last Sunday of the Christian year (this year very early, on November 20) offers a wonderful opportunity to introduce the new year that will begin on the first Sunday of Advent. This past year we decided to celebrate it in a special way with scriptural readings from nine major events in the life of Jesus. While we used about a dozen different readers, as few as four or as many as twenty-plus could effectively be used. (For all the Scripture readings, arranged for various readers, see below.)

December 4, 2004

This service was prepared for the 2004 Symposium on Worship and the Arts held at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan. James Abbington played each of the songs on the organ or the piano; those considering this service will want to find a person (or more than one person) who is gifted at playing both instruments for the traditional hymns and spirituals as well as for the contemporary Black gospel songs. Most, but not all songs are by African Americans; those that are not have become favorites of African-American Christians.

September 1, 2002

I have often been struck by how different psalms fit different parts of the entire church year. For this Advent service I related specific psalms to the season of Advent in the traditional lessons and carols format. The anthems we used reflected themes in those psalms. Because the budget for our small choir allowed for only one new anthem, I chose several older anthems—some now out of print—from their library. You may want to choose different anthems, depending on your resources. Many of the psalms came from Sing!

September 1, 2002

Many churches held prayer services after the tragic events of September 11, 2001. A year later, or during Advent, or during the cold of winter, your congregation may wish once more to gather to pray for peace in our broken world. This service could be adapted in many ways. For example, a choir is optional and you may want to consider alternative hymns (if so you’ll need to adapt the commentary as well).

August 31, 2001

Many churches observe the Feast of Christ of King on the last Sunday of the Christian year, which falls on the third or fourth Sunday of November and celebrates Jesus’ conquering of sin and victory over death, his eternal reign, and our identity as a royal priesthood that shares in his reign. This festival was established in 1925 by the Roman Catholic Church as a proclamation to combat the secularization of society and to call on everyone, including governments, to submit to Christ.

December 1, 2000

Of all the blessed and powerful images in the Bible, the image of the lamb, the Paschal Lamb of God, touches me most deeply. None speaks more profoundly of our redemption from the slavery of sin. None inspires more confidence in God’s ultimate righteous rule on this planet. None concludes with greater certainty that the Lamb of God is also the Lion of Judah who will restore all that was lost and ruined in the fall.

August 31, 2000

Each year near the end of October the congregation at LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church gathers for an evening hymn festival. Last year the festival was called “Songs of the Covenant,” a service focusing on various biblical characters with whom God kept covenant. While the hymns and anthems were central to the festival, the pastor’s brief meditation entitled “Why Are They Singing?” set the tone and explained the theme for the entire service.

August 31, 2000

The following short meditation by Stan Mast is a bonus resource promised in RW57. The full service appears in the magazine.

You Are Our God
Click to listen  [ descant | melody | both ]

Text: Psalm 137

August 31, 2000

This service of lessons and carols is rooted in the story of God’s eternal Word made flesh and living among the people. The readings, prayers, carols, and other folk music were chosen to embody this theme.

December 1, 1999

Several well-known hymn writers “reappeared” recently for one hour in Bloomington, Minnesota. They were our guests at a hymn festival that was planned to build appreciation for the hymnody of the church among our children—and adults. The service was inspired by an article by Hal Hopson in The Chorister (Summer 1998), the journal of the Choristers Guild.

March 1, 1997

The idea for our hymn festival came from a concern that all too many men did not have the time to commit to a weekly choir rehearsal and demanding Sunday morning singing schedule. So in 1994 we offered a hymn festival for men! We held one rehearsal from 3:00-5:30 on the afternoon of the hymn festival; had dinner from 5:30-6:30; and the festival took place at 7:00. Over one hundred men signed up. So the next year we offered "Singing Men of Byrn Mawr II," and again over one hundred men participated.

December 1, 1996

This service was prepared by Kenneth D. Powell and David Tiedman, pastor and music director respectively of Pilgrim Church (United Church of Christ), Sherborn, Massachusetts. Powell composed the prayers and Tiedman the musical arrangements, some of which are included here. Since the songs come from different sources, the printed program for the service includes photocopies of all hymns, text, and music.

August 31, 1996

In the past, all our Christmas banners and decorations just disappeared after Christmas. But this year we extended the season by planning a joint Epiphany hymn festival with the Ann Arbor Campus Chapel. It was a first for us but one I'm sure will become a tradition since it provided such an appropriate closure to the Christmas cycle.

March 1, 1996

The book of Isaiah is filled with poetry that has been set to music, more so than any other book of the Bible except for the Psalms. The gospel is clearly set forth in this Old Testament prophecy, which also includes visions remarkably similar to those of John in the book of Revelation. Last year was an "Isaiah year" for the Calvin Seminary Choir. The following service was part of the choir tour program. In addition to directing the choir, the choir director directed the congregation's entrances and gave cues for standing and sitting.

December 1, 1995

We were buried with Christ through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

—Romans 6:4

August 31, 1995

The gospel according to Matthew starts out with an unusual genealogy. Matthew takes pains to point out that Jesus' human family tree included not only Jews, but Gentiles, and not only upright heroes of the faith, but also those whose stories reveal some of the shameful and sordid part of the history of God's people.

This service of Lessons and Carols reviews that genealogy through the stories of the women of Scripture, including the five women specifically mentioned in Matthew 1.

May 31, 1994

This ninety-minute service was prepared for a 1993 Reformation Hymn Festival at Third Christian Reformed Church Kalamazoo, Michigan The service was designed by Emily R, Brink, editor of Reformed Worship, who read the commentary. The men who did the readings each wore black robes and hats, similar to the ones shown here.

March 1, 1994


Our guide for worship is Paul's letter to the Colossians. This epistle celebrates the lordship of Jesus Christ, reminds us of our "Freedom to Serve," and calls us to live in the fullness of our union with Christ. The order of worship mirrors the outline of this epistle, with hymns and prayers that serve to help us live into the truth of Paul's message.

May 31, 1993

Worldwide Communion Sunday (or 'All Nations Heritage Sunday/' as it is often called in the Christian Reformed Church) is held each year on the first Sunday of October. The day presents a wonderful opportunity to broaden the perspective of the local church and experience and celebrate "the Communion of the Saints," as is professed in the Apostles' Creed.

May 31, 1993


"Great Is Thy Faithfulness" (piano)<
"My Jesus, I Love Thee" (organ)


Psalter Reading: Psalm 111, read in unison

Hymn: "New Songs of Celebration Render" (Psalm 98)
[Tune: RENDEZ A DIEU; PH 28, RL W, TH14; concertato by Dale Grotenhuis available from CRC Publications (1-800-333-8300)]

We Celebrate Who God Is...

Reading on God's Word

John Calvin (1509-1564)

May 31, 1992
We Enter into God's Presence with Praise

Prelude (The prelude will be organ music and congregational singing. The songs will be sung without announcement. Congregation is to join in as they enter.)

"God of All Ages"
[PH 262, PsH 599, RL 494, TH 710]

"We Plow the Fields and Scatter"
[PH 560, PsH 456, RL 17, TH 714]

"Now Thank We All Our God"
[PH 555, PsH 454, RL 61, TH 98]

May 31, 1991

Prelude: Variations on vater unser (Our Father)

Call to Worship: "Built on the Rock" [stanzas 1-2, choir, stanza 3, all]
(PsH 503, TH 351]



Hymn: "Our Father, Clothed with Majesty," [stanza 1]
(PsH 562)

Why did Christ command us to call God "our Father"?

March 1, 1991

Prelude and Processional: "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty," arr. M. Shaw, H. Hopson [PsH 253]

[The congregation is asked to join the choir in singing in unison stanzas 1,2, and 4 at the conclusion of the processional]

Reading: Psalm 95:1-2

Psalm 98: "Sing, Sing a New Song," arr. D. Grotenhuis [PsH 98]

Stanza 1—All
Stanza 2—Choir
Stanza 3—All