Revelation and Response

Accordingly, the Church’s worship will be best conformed to its true nature when its pattern echoes the crystal logical pattern we have seen in Scripture.  In the first place, the Church must be attentive to the proclamation of the Word. . . . The second aspect of Christian worship is our joining in the latreia of Christ, offering through Him the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to the Father, in the power of the Holy Spirit. 

—William Nicholls, Jacob’s Ladder: The Meaning of Worship, 27-28

A Unique Song

The worship of the New Testament . . . is nothing else than song, praise, and thanksgiving.
This is a unique song. God does not care for our sacrifices and works.
He is satisfied with the sacrifice of praise.
I have no one to sing and chant about but Christ,
in whom alone I have everything.
Him alone I proclaim, in Him alone I glory,
for He has become my salvation, that is, my victory.

— martin Luther, Lectures on Isaiah

Beyond All Praising

O God beyond all praising,
We worship You today,
And sing the love amazing
That songs cannot repay;
For we can only wonder
At every gift you send,
At blessings without number
And mercies without end:
We lift our hearts before You
And wait upon Your word,
We honour and adore You,
Our great and mighty Lord.

Then hear, O gracious Saviour,
Accept the love we bring,
That we who know Your favour
May serve You as our King;
And whether our tomorrows
Be filled with good or ill,
We’ll triumph through our sorrows
And rise to bless You still:
To marvel at Your beauty
And glory in Your ways,
And make a joyful duty
Our sacrifice of praise!

—text by Michael Perry; sung to the tune of Thaxted (Gustav Holst) (in numerous hymnals)

Praise and Adoration

Praise is a river glowing on joyously in its own channel, banked up on either side that it may run towards its one object, but adoration is the same river overflowing all banks, flooding the soul and covering the entire nature with its great waters; and these not so much moving and stirring as standing still in profound repose, mirroring the glory which shines down upon it; like a summer’s sun upon a sea of glass; not seeking the divine presence, but conscious of it to an unutterable degree, and therefore full of awe and peace, like the sea of Galilee when its waves felt the touch of the sacred feet.   Adoration is the fulness, the height and depth, the length and breadth of praise.

—C. H. Spurgeon

Fitting and Right

It is fitting and right to hymn you, to bless you, to praise you, to give you thanks, to worship  you in all places of your dominion.  For you are God, ineffable, inconceivable, and your only begotten Son and your Holy Spirit. You brought us out of not-being to being; and when we had fallen, You raised us up again; and did not cease to do everything until You had brought us up to heaven, and granted us the kingdom that is come. For all these things, we give thanks to You and to Your only begotten Son and to Your Holy Spirit, for all that we know and do not know, Your seen and unseen benefits that have come upon us.  We give You thanks also for this ministry, vouchsafe to receive it from our hands, even though thousands of archangels and ten thousands of angels stand before You, cherubim and seraphim, with six wings and many eyes, flying on  high, singing the triumphal hymn proclaiming, crying and saying “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord of Sabaoth, heaven and earth are full of your glory.  Hosanna in the highest.  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.”

—John Chrysostom (4th century)

Tell of the Great Things He Has Done

Just as the Christian doctrine of God should be rooted in the divine economy, so too Christian worship should rehearse the divine economy. God’s actions in history are the basis for both the knowledge and worship of the triune God. Liturgy, like theology, must not “float off into abstractions” about God. In other words, Christian liturgy is fundamentally an act of anamnesis, an act of rehearsing God’s actions in history:  past and future, realized and promised. Christians identify the God they worship by naming God as the agent of particular actions in history. Worship proceeds better by rehearsing eventful narratives of divine action—viewed iconically as reliable windows into divine life—than by re-stating rational deductions or abstract ideas. 

–John D. Witvliet, “The Trinitarian DNA of Christian Worship: Perennial Themes in Recent Theological Literature,” Colloquium Journal (Yale Institute of Sacred Music), 7-8