Here’s what happened in today’s worship service. We’re part of a network of worship leaders sharing our worship experiences each Sunday through Fred McKinnon’s blog carnival.
I loved worship today! It was full of meaningful symbols, great songs, and a Christ-centered atmosphere. Today, regrettably, some of our slides for congregational singing were severely off. This is so disappointing, because I know that the enemy uses it to rob God of the glory He deserves. Nonetheless, it was good to be in the house of the Lord with His people.
We opened up our worship with the lighting of the fourth Advent candle, and then we went straight into a series of advent songs:
1. Angels from the Realms of Glory – Words: James Montgomery, 1816/1825; Music: Zac Hicks, 2009
This is one of those great old hymns to new music that we hope to put on our 2011 album. It’s a Hillsong-esque fast pop-punk arrangement that brings out the excitement and anticipation engendered by the hymn text.
2. Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus – Words: Charles Wesley, 1745; Music: Rowland H. Pritchard, 1830
Our band played a kind of folk arrangement of the original melody and harmony. What I love about this hymn is that it’s easy to sing. My favorite line is:
From our fears and sins release us;
Let us find our rest in Thee.
3. Of the Father’s Love Begotten – Words: Marcus Aurelius Prudentius, 4th c.; Music: Plainsong, 13th c.
This is probably one of the oldest hymns that you could find in any Christian hymnal. It is a truly ancient hymn. We sing it in a free-form chant-style, with our band playing in an ethereal, extemporaneous manner. For some reason, our congregation really connects with this song. They’re always singing this at the top of their lungs.
After this point, we read the lectionary readings for this Sunday in Advent. We’re trying to combat what is becoming a lost art in evangelical churches—namely, the public reading of Scripture.
4. O Come, All Ye Faithful – Words: attr. John F. Wade; Music: Cantus Diversi, 1751
We sang this great traditional hymn, again, with another folk arrangement. It was used as our offertory (typically, we’ll sing a congregational song rather than have special music in the offertory).
Pastor Marty Martin preached a powerful sermon on understanding God’s love for the poor and how the poor play a strategic role in the formation of the community of God. Ultimately, it was a call to humility, and submitting ourselves to one another in Christ. It was a gutsy topic to preach on a Sunday when a lot of guests are present, “checking out” the church or fulfilling their Christmas/Easter “obligation.” A powerful message!
5. Joy to the World! – Words: Isaac Watts; Music: Georg Federic Handel
A great Advent hymn. Many don’t pick up on the hymn’s eschatological overtones, truncating it to a hymn MERELY about Jesus’ first coming. My colleague, Dr. Douglas Macomber, led us on our sweet pipe organ.