Cantors’ Blessing

Vide, ut quod ore cantas, corde credas, et quod corde credis, operibus comprobes.
(“See that what thou singest with thy lips thou dost believe in thine heart, and that what thou believest in thine heart thou dost show forth in thy works.”)

—Fourth Council of Carthage (c. 398 AD)

Love with Feet

Evangelicals often sing contemporary songs and choruses that celebrate the love of God but without reference to how God has shown this love in time and space. Subjective sentimental lyrics that reflect a generic affection toward a loving divine being are inappropriate for Christian worship. Hymns and songs that are purely subjective reflections of an undefined, disembodied divine affection unattached from the historical reality of the faith should be eliminated or at least minimized and given context in some way. 

—Robbie F. Castleman, Story Shaped Worship: Following Patterns from the Bible and History, 198.

New Life

In Christ the new life has already begun. . . . He is Life Eternal, the Fulfillment, the Resurrection and the Joy of the world. The Church is the entrance into the risen life of Christ; it is communion in life eternal, “joy and peace in the Holy Spirit.” And it is the expectation of the “day without evening” of the Kingdom; not of any “other world,” but of the fulfillment of all things and all life in Christ. In Him, death itself has become an act of life, for He has filled it with Himself. . . . And if I make this new life mine. . . then my very death will be act of communion with Life.

—Alexander Schmemann, For the Life of the World: Sacraments and Orthodoxy, 106

Duty and Delight

Isaac Watts:

Praise ye the Lord! ‘Tis good to raise
Your hearts and voices in His praise:
His nature and His works invite
To make this duty our delight.

Duty and delight combine in this anticipatory attainment of “man’s chief end,” “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever,” and it is God’s being, character, and acts—“His nature and His works”—which evoke our praise.

—Geoffrey Wainwright, Worship with One Accord: Where Liturgy and Ecumenism Embrace, 22

Final Worship

The worship of God is the most eschatological activity of the church, since it will endure into the final kingdom and indeed become so all-pervasive that there will be no need for a temple in the city of God, for “its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb,” and “the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb” (Revelation 21:22-23).

—Geoffrey Wainwright, Worship with One Accord: Where Liturgy and Ecumenism Embrace, 31

The Primacy of the Word in Worship

God’s Word to us matters more than our words to God. (Is. 66:2; Ps. 19:7-11)

  • Music ministry is Word ministry.
  • Don’t underestimate the value of proclaiming Word passionately.
  • Seek to know your Bible better than your instrument.
  • Lead people to sing the Word, hear the Word, see the Word, and pray the Word.

—Bob Kauflin, 9/28/15

Priority Number One

If your heart is not amazed by the grace of God,
and your mind is not gripped by the truth of God,
and your sense of right and wrong is not permeated by the justice of God,
and your faith is not resting in the power of God,
and your imagination is not guided by the beauty of God,
and your life is not steadied by the sovereignty of God,
and your hope is not filled with the glory of God,

then the service of God will be what Paul calls works of the law, and not the fruit of the Spirit. Work for God that is not sustained by wonder at God is a weariness of the flesh. Priority Number One is the cultivation of hearts that stand in awe of God.

—John Piper, “The Sacrifice of Praise (Hebrews 13:8-16” (sermon)

Heroes of the Faith

The church has survived throughout the ages not just—or even primarily—because of the high-profile fireworks displays of the great and the good, but because of the day-to-day faithfulness of the mundane, anonymous, nondescript people who constitute most of the church, and who do the grunt work and the tedious jobs that need to be done.

—Carl Trueman

Practicing Theology

Corporate worship, as social practice, is integrally tied to theology. The question is not whether we will practice a theology on Sunday morning. The question is what theology we will practice. As a result, we must give careful attention to the faithfulness of our “performance.” This necessitates deep reflection on the biblical theology of worship and a deep analysis of the meaning of our worship practices.

—H. Wayne Johnson, “Practicing Theology on a Sunday Morning: Corporate Worship as Spiritual Formation” Trinity Journal 31NS (2010):31

Be Present Now

Lord Jesus Christ, be present now;
Our hearts in true devotion bow.
Your Spirit send with light divine,
And let your truth within us shine.

Unseal our lips to sing your praise
In endless hymns through all our days;
Increase our faith and light our minds;
And set us free from doubt that blinds.

Then shall we join the hosts that cry,
“O holy, holy Lord Most High!”
And in the light of that blest place
We then shall see you face to face.

All glory to the Father, Son,
And Holy Spirit, Three in One!
To you, O blessed Trinity,
Be praise throughout eternity!

—”Herr Jesu Christ, Dich Zu Uns Wend” (1648), Hymn # 201 in Lutheran Worship
(may be sung to the tune of “Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness,” “Jesus Shall Reign,” or Tallis’ Canon)

Worship and the World

Turning to God in adoration does not entail turning away from the world; it entails perceiving God in relation to the world and the world in relation to God.

—Miroslav Volf, “Worship as Adoration and Action: Reflections on a Christian Way of Being-in-the World,” in D.A. Carson (ed.), Worship: Adoration and Action, World Evangelical Fellowship, 209

Forgetting the Corporate in Worship

Free-church Protestants have made worship almost entirely a place of devotional prayer.  In other words, we come to worship expecting a subjective, emotional, and individual experience of God’s presence.  We are looking for intimacy with God, and meanwhile the other people nearby—well, they’re doing the same thing for themselves.  We wind up having personal devotions together in the same room.

—Debra and Ron Rienstra, Worship Words: Discipling Language for Faithful Ministry, 51

Worship and Feelings

Rabbi Abraham Herschel was once confronted with a complaint from his congregation. Some of the members of the synagogue told him that the liturgy did not express what they felt. Would he please change it? Herschel wisely told them that it was not for the liturgy to express what they felt, it was for them to learn to feel what the liturgy expressed.

—Ben Patterson, Serving God: The Grand Essentials of Work and Worship, 117 (citing Richard John Neuhaus, Freedom for Ministry)