Resource, Song
PraiseCharts and the Christian Song Competition have whittled the field down to 25 songs and voting is open to the public.
January 26, 2015 1 0 comments
Blog
To me, God working for the good of his people, is not exactly the same as working for my good. Does the subjectivity of the word "good" cause you any doubt?
January 25, 2015 0 3 comments
Blog
If I had played the recording or had the praise team perform the song, the congregation would not have been a part of it. Without participating, they can not worship
January 7, 2015 0 2 comments
Blog
I was in China during the holiday season, and I saw a marquee that said in English, “Lucky Christmas!” How about us? Do we believe in the coming of Christ because of what God can do for us – bring joy, peace, happiness, love?
December 17, 2014 1 0 comments
Blog
The songs we sing at Advent and Christmas have some poignant, powerful truths to teach us.
December 11, 2014 0 1 comments
Blog
When congregations gather on holidays so many good things happen.
December 3, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog
When it comes to worship songs, there's an additional aspect that can make it tough to offer your creation for others to use. Can we offer our original songs and other worship creations, and still remain humble?
December 2, 2014 0 1 comments
Blog
TJ has cerebral palsy so being confined to his wheelchair limits his physical activities, but with his absolute fervor for life he is not limited in his possibilities to get involved and be connected.
December 1, 2014 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic
I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to promoting music that is written for the church body. Can anyone provide guidance on the balance between self-promotion and humility?
December 1, 2014 0 1 comments
Blog
When you think of some of your favorite hymns, do you ever wonder what draws you to those hymns in particular? Many of the tunes I love were written by Lowell Mason and William Bradbury.
November 26, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog
Kevin Twit wrote that the hymns our grandparents sang and loved, are now finding a place in the set list of today's worship leaders and in the hearts of younger Christians. Like anything that makes a comeback they are not reappearing in exactly the same form.
November 21, 2014 0 2 comments
Blog
Space may exhilarate and space may dishearten. How does your gathering space speak to those who enter into it?
November 18, 2014 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic
I’ve been thinking lately about what makes a hymn or worship song last. What makes it enduring and grab people’s hearts and minds over time and even generations?
November 14, 2014 0 2 comments
Resource, Website
Anima: The Forum for Worship and the Arts is a project concerned with including our youth and young adults in worship leadership. Training videos available on their website could be used as discussion fodder at worship committee meetings or planning groups.
October 20, 2014 0 1 comments
Blog
When you’re in church singing from the shiny new Lift Up Your Hearts (LUYH) hymnal you’re holding in your hands, it’s all good. All the copyrights and permissions you need are included. Singing from the screen? Maybe not so good.
October 15, 2014 1 1 comments
Discussion Topic
I raise this question because on the one hand I read in places like the Banner that this is true. But I also read in places like Calvin's Institute of Worship that convergence worship is worship of choice of young adults. How can both of these be true?
September 23, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Book or Booklet
The new CRC hymnal Lift Up Your Hearts is more than just a songbook. Did you know that, in addition to songs, the hymnal also includes readings, Scripture, and prayers?
September 18, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog
One thing I've been trying to do in our church is build some ritual into our music. During this process I've discovered something I really like: singing a short song to begin the congregational prayer.
September 10, 2014 1 3 comments
Blog
Can music become an idol?
August 27, 2014 1 1 comments
Discussion Topic

I think Lift Up Your Hearts is outstanding. It has become my primary hymnal, the first one I turn to for planning worship.

Understandably, there are several selections I love and that the church I serve loves from the grey Psalter Hymnal and Sing! A New Creation that did not make it into ...

August 25, 2014 1 4 comments
Blog
Students in your congregation may have recently returned to school or starting soon. Some will be anxious, some will be eager. All could use your support, encouragement and blessing.
August 25, 2014 1 5 comments
Discussion Topic
A church is looking for advice about purchasing Ipads for people with visual impairments that would mirror what is projected on the screen.
August 22, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Software or Application
This Access VBA software was written to create usher schedules for our church. It works on any computer that has Microsoft Access 2007 or later installed on it.
August 18, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog
Perhaps you have heard this all-too familiar mantra: Life is worship! I wonder, however, if we can hit the pause button to reflect on the premise that worship includes everything we do.
August 5, 2014 0 9 comments
Blog
Is your church still singing a doxology? Should you be?
July 23, 2014 0 8 comments

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I don't know about the song, but I agree with your reservations about the theology.  I wonder if Romans 8 should be read like this: 

Romans 8 is not primarily (and certainly not just) about your personal salvation, but about the way God plans to use those who are in Christ to bring hope and healing (salvation) to a broken world.  So the first part of the chapter talks about the wonderful, and necessary, changes that are needed in the believer (those who are called), and the assurance that God is doing that work in us ("he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you")  The creation waits in eager expectation for this to happen (i.e. "for the children of God to be revealed").  In equipping us for that work we are displaying "the firstfruits of the Spirit".  The Spirit helps us to carry out the work God intends, not the work we intend.  That's why it says "the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God [my italics].  Our wills are meant to conform to God's will. We are meant to conform to his Son. "the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God" [again, my italics].  Only in that context does it seem right to expect that God will work for our good. 

Perhaps even the Heidelberg Catechism misses some of that.

There is a similar dynamic, I think, in the asking in my name passages in John 14-16.

Thanks for your interest, Christy, in hymnology.  But don’t you think that you are making a stretch to come to your conclusion?  If God works out all things for the good of his kingdom (those who love him) then it is natural to conclude that they are also ultimately for my good, as a part of his kingdom.  If you want to go with some alternate manuscript, which is not likely the most authentic or if you want to interpret “good” in a way not intended by the Bible (or a particular Bible verse), then you are simply putting your own spin on the words of the song.  And then you might as well start scrutinizing a lot of songs and hymns we sing, even ones from the Psalter, because they likely don’t fit with your own personal theology either.  Who is going to be responsible, in the church, to scrutinize the words of our hymns to the level that you have examined this one phrase?  I might not agree with the theology of many of the hymns and songs we sing in church, but finding others to agree with me (or my theology) would be an impossible task.  I think you, are facing an impossible task, as well.

“To me, God working for the good of his people, is not exactly the same as working for my good.”

This is precisely why the Church’s expectations must be defined by God’s Word and Spirit, not by our human nature and culture.

Without explaining all the Greek on this, let’s go to context. In Rom. 8.18, Paul writes, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” If we tend to believe that personal suffering is the greatest evil (and much of our culture does), then we have a problem. Why? Because Paul has already admitted to believers “suffering” – and “suffering” in Rome for being a Christian included more than a raised eybrow or a lost job. Either the Bible is wrong or our understanding of “good” and “bad” is off-base.

How off-base are we? Again, let’s look at context, especially looking at Paul’s death. According to history, Paul was martyred by being crucified upside down. Was that “good” for him or “bad” for him? Was that “good” for the whole Body of Christ? While that is the question we wrestle with in our culture and our understanding of the word “good”, here’s a different question: What if the will of God being worked out in us – even in painful, self-denying ways – is “good” in and of itself AND for the whole Body?

Since Scripture interprets itself, I think we have to see our “good” in Christ’s words alongside and defining Paul’s:
Matthew 16.24: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
Luke 14.26: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.”

When the Word and Spirit define our own personal “good”, we will have a much different outlook than the rest of the world.

the Holy Spirit can and will use anything to minister to anyone when He wants, even secular songs... songs that are still in the making, songs that are just seconds old or centuries old...  is every song going to speak to everyone the same way, no, and even if we do get snobby about our music preference, He still can and does use it to melt our hearts...  I remember walking into an Avalon concert with a very bad attitude -I would have preferred not to be there, and He melted and convicted me in less than one minute after the first song started... i was weeping so hard, i could not stop the entire concert and for well over a year afterward anytime i heard on the radio the song that the Holy Spirit used to melt and convict me, i would immediately start crying again, it was that powerful and life changing... and part of the message God put on my heart at that concert was "don't limit what I can use to minister to you"... He can use anything to minister to anyone.  (and believe me, you can't work up any emotionalism in less than a minute of music, especially starting the bad attitude i walked in with)

Thanks Christy for your article on meaningful worship.  I have to agree, though, with Robin on his comments in regard to worship. I think you may have jumped the gun on writing your article before giving full thought to your comments.  Personally, I think worship is a very subjective matter, one that varies with individuals. What makes worship meaningful to one is not the same as for another.  That’s why there are worship wars in so many churches.  What meets the needs of an eighty year old is not likely the same for a twenty year old.  What moves the heart strings is different for all of us. We have to do better at accommodating each other in worship.  So good luck on finding the one authentic form of worship.  Nice try, Christy, but I’d say, you need to go back to the drawing board.

This is a very well-written blogpost.  Yet, I am struggling with the veracity of the "Without participating, they can not worship" and "...without singing the song, they can't worship" statements.  I think I can understand the motivations behind the "...parishioners are every bit as important as the leaders, if not more important.  So they need to participate" statement.  Still, worship comes from the heart and not necessarily, always and only, from our actions.  We can still worship, whether we are singing or whether we are in utter silence.  Just because someone is standing up and participating, does not mean that it is the only form of worship.  And, just because someone’s lips are moving does not mean that they are truly worshipping.  A person can still be disengaged, not paying attention, critiquing the worship team, talking to someone, etc. 

In both Isaiah 29:13 and Matthew 15:8 we read, “These people come near to Me with their mouth and honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me.  Their worship of Me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.”

There are times when we need to receive ministry.  I believe that is the part that feeds our souls and strengthens us for our Christian walk.  As we are all created for worship, it is equally important for us to also know when to receive someone serving us.  Just as Jesus demonstrated humility and servanthood to the disciples by washing their feet, Jesus also was able to receive someone anointing and washing His feet.  

So, I do not see it as a performance, I see it as ministry.  That worship leader and/or the musicians and singers on that recorded track are using their gifts to glorify God, to serve others, and to lead us in worship.  There is still an anointing on that gift and sometimes those songs need to ruminate on the hearts and minds of the people, so that they can carry it with them.  To imply that it is null/void and somehow less edifying to God unless we are all standing up, like cardboard cutouts, participating, is lost on me.

Admittedly, I come from a different denominational background, so maybe that is why I do not see worship as something that always needs to be participatory, but that sometimes we need to enter into His presence in stillness, while He speaks.  I am not saying either way is right or wrong, just that both ways, to me, are valid.

I just found a couple more I don't want to forget:
:: "O Jesus, We Adore You" PsH 472
:: "Christian, Do You Struggle" PsH 575

I love the text of a relatively new advent hymn in Lift Up Your Hearts - #64 - O Shepherd, Hear and Lead Your Flock. This is a beautiful pairing of the text of Psalm 80 to the familiar tune of O Little Town of Bethlehem. The imagery in the first verse of the Shepherd (God) and we as lambs makes this such a beautiful blend of text and tune. But then, a definite teaching moment occurs in verse two - the words, "Our selfish prayers deserve God's wrath, our pride, a sudden burst; we have but stones to serve as bread, and tears to quell our thirst. Restore, O God Almighty, the radiance of your face to lighten and reveal the gift of your redeeming grace."

I am one of four worship leaders in our church, and have tried a few of my songs when they seemed to be the best fit for a service. The challenge of pride is considerable, as well as the related one of false humility. The other worship leaders usually don't think of using my songs, even though they do affirm the value. I once heard Stuart Townend say (in a song-writing class) that there are three kinds of worship song: those written for a single occasion, those written for a single local church setting, and those written for the church community as a whole. We often don't know at the time of writing which is which. So to sing a song once may be just fine. To have it limited to our local setting is fine too.

For me, the key in planning worship is to ask firstly why I am including one of my own songs (and what others' perception will be, since that matters even if it isn't the final arbiter), and then to ask secondly why it is that this particular song is the best "fit" for the flow of worship, style and congregational participation. Although my songs may not be as "good" musically or poetically as many others out there, they were written in the specific context of our local church, and were written to address a hole in the currently available list of songs. For example, I was really struggling to find a song on confession and forgiveness that was in a style consistent with the flow of worship, so I wrote one. It fit, and it filled a need, and it was reasonably singable for the congregation. As a result, we've used it more.

I do appreciate the point about having a second person involved in the song-writing process. I've done it very little, but more because others are convinced they can't write. We who are worship leaders should encourage the writing of songs from our congregation, helping when needed (especially with arrangements), particularly when they arise out of our local church commuity's culture and experience.

Adom, I started writing a comment, but it got so long I decided to create a new blog post on this topic. So for my thoughts on this issue, please see the post here.

I also love Tommy Walker's Generation Hymns album. Go to youtube and search for the videos - they're really good. I love seeing the generations together worshipping with the hymns.

posted in: Recycled Hymns

Thanks for all these resources, Joyce!  I will for sure look them up.  

We have done a guitar-driven, slightly altered rhythmic version of "How Great thou Art" for a number of years now, which our congregation has grown to love.  I would have to give credit to James Bloemendal (a professional musician with Ash & Bloom) who led some workshops with our worship team giving us some "band" expertise way back when we were just starting up a worship team.  I wrote a new tune for "Forgive our sins as we forgive" (text by Herklots) and added a chorus as well.  And I also wrote a new, simple little tune to the anonymous "Hear our prayer O Lord".   If you are interested in seeing those private message me!  I don't admit to being a composer really, but these just happened once while I was doodling at the piano.  

posted in: Recycled Hymns

One that speaks to me is "When peace like a river". So powerful when you know the story connected to it. Thank you for writing this piece.

I was at a funeral this past weekend where we sang "Nearer Still Nearer." I hadn't sung that hymn in a very long time, but found the words coming back to me and very meaningful.

We have for some years made a point of including children and teens in our worship teams, whether as instrumentalists or singers, or in technical roles (sound, projection, etc). For younger children (below teenage years) we have no requirement of musical ability or aptitude. Any children who want to participate can. This means that sometimes we turn their microphones off or way down - they are aware we do this, and it gives them freedom and safety to express themselves in worship without worrying about what they sound like. As they get a little older, we try to give a level of training (though I wish we were equipped to do more), and for those with emerging stronger voices, we may give some brief or longer solo opportunities - worship is not necessarily served by having the "best" voice.

I try as worship leader to talk about what we're singing. Sometimes the words may not make sense to a younger singer, and so we'll talk briefly about it to help them. At other times it is the younger singers who are rekindling the excitement of worship in older singers and instrumentalists by their dancing, or facial expressions (though they can look pretty glum at times too!). I also try to encourage the adults to learn from the kids in this physical expression.

For instrumentalists, we again don't set high standards, other than ensuring that some level of contribution can be made so that the participant can gain an understanding of worship while growing their technical skills - so they need to have reached an intermediate level of ability. We've had drummers (especially), guitarists, and other "solo" instruments (flute, violin, etc) although have found that the solo instruments are difficult unless we're able to write specific parts for them, which is quite time-consuming and not every leader has the musical ability to  do it.

Lastly, most of our readings, prayers, and other liturgical elements are led by Praise Team members, and so we have opportunities to engage kids of all ages in these. We'll offer coaching on reading, as well as help with understanding of what is being read.

In summary, our kids are active and very valuable members of our worship teams and we're tremendously blessed by them, and they also by their participation in worship. I'm convinced that this will bear fruit as they grow into adulthood.

This is really useful information, Gayla. I can't count the number of times that I have run into people who are not only oblivious to the copyright issues with regards to LUYH, but also with copyright information in general: praise team leaders who simply download chordsheets from random pages on the Internet without even considering whether their download is covered by CCLI, or any other licensing for that matter, for example.

Unfortunately, once you dive into the copyright question things get murky and difficult once you get even a little beyond what you've covered here:

  1. Costs jump pretty quickly. If you want to have SongSelect + CCLI, so you can make the most of your copyright coverage, and even if you're a small church, it can cost $300.00/year+. Add in to that OneLicense.net for another $100.00/year, and another $189.00/yr for LicenSing, and you're looking at almost $600.00/yr for a relatively small church--just to cover your bases, and you STILL need to be vigilant about copyright on your songs!
  2. CCLI, and the others you've listed also do not cover the showing of Videos! In the US, CCLI does have an additional Church Video Licensing option (CVLI), which can run another $220.00/yr. In Canada it's far more complicated, as you have to find the organizations that hold the licensing agreements for different films and the are four or five different major ones you have to search out, there's no annual fee, but a per-use fee, and it varies widely, and even then you aren't covered!
  3. Additional media like podcasts are covered separately, and may require an additional fee.
  4. Photos are not covered by this, and many, many, many churches don't even bother to look at copyright for them, but just swipe them from Google(TM) whenever they like!

If you, as a church, wanted to be really scrupulous about all of this (which we should, after all), you could either be stuck not using anything, for fear of breaking copyright, or spending more than $1000.00/yr for even a small church, not to mention all the work researching the whole thing--it's a real pain in the rear, and heartbreakingly complex most of the time!

 

Hi Paige,

Copyright and permissions with regard to worship are restrictive only when reproducing the material - either by photocopying, projecting, etc. The religious exemption for worship permits songs to be sung, played, or taught orally to a congregation without copyright infringement if there is no reproduction involved. In other words, if you want to sing a song (religious or secular) as part of a worship service, it can be sung without copyright infringement. You may play and improvise without worry if no copying or reproducing of the music is involved. If, however, you project the words (or music) while it is sung; or if you copy the music for your musicians, etc, you will need either permission or a copyright license to cover the reproducing  of the lyrics.

As to the issue of changing the lyrics when singing a copyrighted song during worship - I would just ask whether that seems honest and ethical. If the text is copyrighted, it is 'intellectual property' that is legally owned by someone.There seems to be a responsibility on the part of the performer to either honor the original text written by the author, or go to that author and ask permission to change it.

ASCAP is a performance license, and if Christian music is performed outside of a worship service - in a live concert or community gathering - the copyrighted material needs to be covered by ASCAP. But for music that is sung in a worship service, ASCAP (performance) licensing does not apply.

This is my understanding of this issue with regards to worship. You are more than welcome to do your own study and research. Thanks for asking the copyright question.

 

Hi Rebecca, I am new to this website and happened upon it by searching the topic of "Does it violate copyright when changing the lyrics of a song?".  

I read through the comments posted on this topic and most if not all pertained to hymnal or contemporary Christian music.

In my circumstance, one of our musicians would like to take a secular song and change words and phrases to make it appropriate for church. My thought , especially after reading this blog, is that it would be a violation without getting permission.  My musician emailed me the following:

 Take a look at this:  http://www.ascap.com/licensing/licensingfaq.aspx#general

Go to the 2nd question under the Frequently Asked Questions section.  (What is a public performance?)

I would think that we (a church) are OK as an exemption.  It doesn’t really get into anything about if the music is altered.  But technically we alter everything we do (we improvise a lot), so I wonder if we could be “written up” since we don’t play things exactly as written?  I would think we can play anything we want any way we want – as long as we are not selling it for profit.  (Now I would think if we recorded stuff we would need permission to sell it even if just raising money for a church.)

What is a public performance?

A public performance is one that occurs either in a public place or any place where people gather (other than a small circle of a family or its social acquaintances). A public performance is also one that is transmitted to the public; for example, radio or television broadcasts, music-on-hold, cable television, and by the internet. Generally, those who publicly perform music obtain permission from the owner of the music or his representative. However, there are a few limited exceptions, (called "exemptions") to this rule. Permission is not required for music played or sung as part of a worship service unless that service is transmitted beyond where it takes place (for example, a radio or television broadcast). Performances as part of face to face teaching activity at a non-profit educational institutions are also exempt. We recommend that you contact your local ASCAP representative who can discuss your needs and how ASCAP can help you.

 

Can you help me with this situation?

Thanks for the song ideas, Kevin.

I, too, am trying to sing each prayer song for a month so the congregation really learns it.
And, yes, it is always surprising how cyclical tastes are.

posted in: Prayer Songs

Hi Christy,  I grew up in my rural church singing that very song after a silent prayer time at the beginning of the service.  We have prayer requests in the evening and we have the tradition of singing a song either before or after or both.  We like to keep a song for a season (such as Advent or Lent) or about a month during the Ordinary times.  This way the congregation really gets to know the song.  Song additions to your list:  

  • O Lord, Hear My Prayer (SNC 203, LUYH 903)
  • The Lord Is My Light and My Salvation (LUYH 885, SNC 206)
  • Come Now, O Prince of Peace (LUYH 905, SNC 209)

It is amazing what is "old" is now "new" again.

posted in: Prayer Songs

I've just past this post on to our Worship Director. Twice a month we have a special time of Intercessory Prayer and I think this could be very powerful. Especially if done with only a piano or a couple of guitars. Thank you for the idea!

posted in: Prayer Songs

Thanks for sharing this idea, Drew. I love that you include both public and Christian students and that you also include teachers and administrators. It sounds like a very powerful intergenerational moment in the life of your congregation and I imagine that everyone---those who were prayed for and those who prayed for them---are blessed by the experience.

Wow, Kory. I have never heard of Kindergarteners being acknowledged and blessed before school begins. Providing those little ones with such a tangible expression of the love surrounding them from their Covenant family is beautiful. Draping those those quilts over the baptismal font is such powerful reminder of how we are called to live out those baptismal promises. Thanks for sharing!

On the Sunday evening before Labor Day weekend, we hold a special worship service that's focused on praying for students, teachers/staff, and parents as they prepare for "Back to School."  We've done this for the past several years.  The congregation is given a list of all the students as well as teachers who are members of our congregation.  They are also given the names of the administrators of the local schools (Christian and public).  Last year we had a small enough group where the group that was being prayed for sat in an inner circle and the rest of us sat in an outer circle and offered prayers for each group.  Before the prayer time, each group was given an opportunity to share specific prayer requests.  Our group was a little bigger this year so we had the group that was being prayed for sit in chairs up front and share prayer requests.  I led the prayer and then allowed time for others to offer prayers.  Since it was an evening worship, the number of parents and younger students was quite low and the overall attendance was about 1/4 of the congregation.  I'd love to do a similar format where more of the congregation could be present.  It's a powerful time and each year, students, parents and teachers as well as congregation members comment on how much of a blessing the evening was for them.

Long time ago Someone wrote that a congregation should be measured by the songs they sing, not the statement of faith. If that is true then most congregations are vacation bible school mentality at best.

Also, "Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me" (BPsH #388) is in neither the GPsH nor LUYH.

I grew up singing the Doxology at the end of worship, and it still feels right there, although today I think I would move it around in the service (beginning, middle, and end) to keep it fresh and to keep it from seeming routine. My favorite memories of singing Praise God from whom all blessings flow.... are at the end of meals at extended family gatherings. The acapella, traditional 4 part harmony combined with these words of praise to the triune God seemed to lift us a little closer to heaven. The doxology is wonderful with full-blown instruments. But if you're in a setting where a good share of the people know it, I'd encourage singing with the just instruments God has placed within us - our voices!

Thanks! I already had a couple of those on my radar, but not "Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross." Haven't sung that in ages... I'll see if I can fix that... ~Stanley

I attended a meeting recently and we closed with the doxology, Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow. I have attended several meetings (including classes) where we've done the same.  It's difficult for me to even express the powerful presence of God at that moment!  I love the thought of opening and ending a worship service/meeting with praise. I've participated in services where it is offered in the beginning, middle and ending.  It puts the focus on God and not so much on us and what we will do. Of course, a combination of doxology and sending forth closings might be the best option.

 

Great discussion!

I, too, have found LUYH to be a really good hymnal.  There are a few choices (in song selection and lyrics) that I don't totally understand, but overall it's very good.  I agree, those Twila Paris songs are great.

Some of my favorites from the old hymnals that didn't make the cut:

"Faith of Our Fathers" - BPsH #443 (please, don't let's start a debate on gender issues; I just like the song, that's all)

"Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross" - BPsH #354

"Change My Heart, Oh God" - SNC #56

"Living For Jesus" - Inspiring Hymns #354 (yes, it's in the GPsH, but I can't abide the word changes)

"Jesus, with Thy Church Abide" - BPsH #426 (see comment above)

"Oh God, Be Merciful to Me" - BPsH #105 (the tune is "Sweet Hour of Prayer")

"Out of My Bondage, Sorrow, and Night" - BPsH #428

"Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken" - BPsH #456

Okay, I'll stop.  I realize you were asking for songs from the GPsH and Sing!  But these songs are ones I sang a lot growing up, and I still like singing them.

Amen, Karen! And a big WOW! on those quilts, Kory! However we do it, I agree that this is a good opportunity to pray together for our kids (big and small) and our educators. The editors for Lift Up Your Hearts also thought of marking this moment in worship, and included #274 - a song that says "In all our learning, give us grace to bow ourselves before your face..." (verse 2), along with a spoken prayer for teachers and learners. I also love the simple chorus-like feel of #129 - a song that young and old could sing together with simple percussion, repeating the phrase "We will follow, we will follow Jesus....through the valleys...to the mountains...in the city...in our classroom...in our calling.

Our church has a beautiful tradition of giving all students beginning their Kindergarten year a quilt handmade by some of the ladies in the church. Their name is sewed at the top, the congregation signs a panel on the back. At the beginning of the service the Sunday before school begins (this past Sunday) the quilts are draped over the baptismal font. As each child comes forward, I wrap the quilt around their shoulders, remind them of the promises made at their baptism and encourage them to think of their Covenant family giving them a hug every time they wrap themselves in the quilt. This year was my first time being a part of this and it was truly a wonderful moment.

I like your last question. I wonder if the story I cite of Mary and Martha suggests a difference between service and worship with both understood as sacred.   

With regard to distinguishing religion from worship.... maybe that's where the confusion is.  So let me try to answer my own question (I'm not sure about the pay-grade...)  All of life is religious, because it reflects your faith values.   All of life reflects who your God really is, and how important you think your God is.  Or whether you are trying to serve more than one god.  The atheist or christian who serves himself, the fan who adores his hockey team, the father who serves his work:  how have these things been placed in life relative to God who puts his claim on us.  If you worship God daily, that becomes part of your religion.  If you worship God only on Easter sunday, that is a reflection of your religion.  The way you do your work, and the type of work you do, reflects your relationship to God, and in that sense is part of your religion.  If you say that God has no place in your bedroom, or your office, or your tractor-trailer unit, then that is part of your religion, even if it is not worship.  And perhaps serving God, and worshipping God are not necessarily the same thing?

Good to "hear" from you, Joyce.  You caught me. I prefer a narrow definition of worship. The primary reason is that I have not find adequate answers to the questions stated in my blog. As a result, I am not sure that scripture supports the more commonplace and broad view of worship. 

Your questions regarding lament and confession lead us down a different road.  Suffice to say at this time, I think it may be advantageous to take a broad view of the Sunday service or liturgy by suggesting that it includes more than worship. Perhaps it is helpful to affirm that the Sunday service includes many types of prayers, including, but not limited to praise, lament, confession.  As you will readily discern, such an approach was normative in our circles before the 1970s. I wonder if it may be helpful to revisit it?

So - a narrow view of worship and a broad view of the Sunday service!  Thanks for helping me clarify that! 

Peace!!!

John,  your suppositions seem right on to me.  As for your last two questions - the answers to those are above my pay grade! :)

Sam, you never cease to be provocative in all the right ways. If we take your definition of worship as "worship as declaring the glory and majesty and greatness of our God" then I imagine it is possible to be in a worship service and not be worshiping because you are going over in your head the plans you have for Sunday dinner even as your voice sings "How great is our God".  It may also be possible to "declare the glory and majesty and greatness of our God" in our work whenever we see God's activity and acknowledge it.  I think that's helpful.  But then I wonder...is lament not worship then? confession? or are those expressions of our relationship with God but not worship per se? Is this a matter of how narrow or expansive our definition of worship is? 

wor·ship
[ wúrship ]

1. treat somebody or something as deity: to treat somebody or something as divine and show respect by engaging in acts of prayer and devotion
2. take part in religious service: to take part in a religious service
3. love somebody deeply: to love, admire, or respect somebody or something greatly and perhaps excessively or unquestioningly

It would seem that you could take part in a worship service without actually worshipping God (due to inattention, lack of devotion, lack of faith, etc.).    Or you could you could worship God while driving your car, cutting your grass or washing your dishes.

Some people call the team that leads the singing in church the worship team.  So they consider only active adoration to be worship, I suppose.  Even listening to sermons might not be worship if it is done only to learn or to evaluate...  rather than to honor God. 

What is the difference between worship and religion?   All of life is religious? 

 

yes, thank you!

Surely.  Thanks for the opportunity clarify.  If all of life is worship, then everything we do is worship.  Hence, worship becomes indistinguishable from every other action; worship gets lost in our actions.  It is no longer an identifiable action. Does that help?    

Could you expand a bit on point #6? Are you saying that life is ubiquitous and meaningless? I don't remember learning that in my catechism classes ;-)

We sometimes sing a doxology at the end of the service but not very often. I really miss closing the service with praise to God. Last week we sang "The New Doxology" which is based on the traditional one "Praise God from whom all Blessings Flow," What a way to end the service. Yes, I wish we sang a doxology every week or at least more often.

As the prayer ministry leader, I lead our Prayer Services and we always end with the Doxology. After brining our praise and petitions to God, it is only fitting that we praise the One who hears and answers us.

What I like about "Praise God from Whom all blessings flow" and other such simple, one stanza, often trinitarian doxologies is that they seem to be a fitting response - both to a just pronounced blessing on the people (benediction) and to the whole of the worship we just participated in.  Our services generally end, after the sermon, with a song of response (maybe some words of sending or response), God's blessing/benediction, and a doxology.  Sometimes churches want to put a "marching orders" song as the very last song, telling God and each other what we will do.  I prefer God's blessing and our praise (doxology) as an ending to help us remember it's all in God's hands, ultimately.  Song of response after the sermon is a great place for us to declare our commitments, to sing our "marching orders," and so forth.  Of course, with so many different doxologies to choose from, we don't have to be limited to "Praise God from whom all blessings flow."

Great ideas, Christy!  When I was young, our family used to sing songs from the hymn book for a half hour or so after the supper meal on Sunday night.  Everyone got to pick one or two favorites, and we started to learn harmony in acapella.  Now with our own family we usually follow the practice of singing a couple songs or more after every supper meal, some acapella, and some with piano accompaniment.  Guests get to pick a favorite and they usually enjoy it as well.  We do this after reading a piece of scripture.  The songs include hymns, praise songs, spirituals, or whatever we like that honors God.  

When I was working as a youth director at Hope Reformed Church (RCA) in Clifton, NJ we always sang the doxology after the offering as the plates were brought forward after the money was collected. I always thought it was a nice reminder that it was God from whom all blessings flow--including financial blessings. It's been 7 years since I've attended there, but last I knew the doxology still held that place in the worship service. 

Some churches start each service with the doxology.  and why not?  Give God the praise at the beginning and at the end, and in between!  Let the angels rejoice with the one sinner who repents!  Let Jesus smile on his holy children!  Let the words of our mouth praise his Name!

That's true, Chad; doxology doesn't have to be a concluding song.  But for the purposes of this post, I was using that way to discuss the tradition of ending with the same hymn/song every week.  That tradition used to be ubiquitous in Protestant churches, but I think it's not as prevalent anymore.

For whatever reason - perhaps because of its most common placement in the service - I operated under the misconception that "doxology" meant "the last song in the service." As a child, I remember singing the doxologies mentioned in this post, always at the end of the service, too.

Truth is, "doxology" means "song of praise" and can be used at any point in the service. It is often Trinitarian in form and the last stanza of many hymns are doxologies (Come Thou Almighty King, Holy God We Praise Your Name, and Now Thank We All Our God are a few of my favorite examples of this). We have regularly concluded our offering - which took place in the middle of the service - with a doxology, and varied which doxology was sung depending on the Sunday within the Church Year. 

Our church is accustomed to singing something after the benediction (if not just before as well), so it bodes well for us to use a doxology at the end of the service. If the hymn before the benediction includes a final doxological (if that's even a word) stanza, we'll sing the 2 or 3 opening stanzas prior to the benediction and the doxological stanza following. Then we'd "go in peace to love and serve the Lord." 

In any case, I wouldn't include a doxology (or THE doxology) just to do it. It must be placed with purpose and intentionality - which is another reason why I like it as a conclusion to the offering.

Diane, that sounds awesome. I think we might have a copy of that book somewhere at church; I'll have to take a look at it.

Thanks for the post - I like the last two and am encouraged by it to go to those first - prayer, and delegating. Both represent a healthy ministry response, knowing our need for the Lord and our need for others. In addition, delegating is a great way to empower others and multiply ministry.

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