Last Sunday I lead worship at Church of the Cross, Boston. The worship leader and his family have moved away from Boston for dissertation work, and some leadership gaps have appeared – I am happy to help out!
The fun part for me is CotC uses liturgical worship for their corporate services. What does that mean? I’m glad you asked.
CotC worships through the Anglican tradition: a highly liturgical form rooted in Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer from 1549. The prayers, readings, acclamations, responses, and other worship acts trace their roots to the early church and were adapted into english and assembled by Cranmer in 1549. The service itself is structured around “Word and Table”, meaning the first half of the worship service focuses on preparing for and receiving the word, ending in the sermon. The second half focuses on preparing for and receiving the body and blood in the Eucharist.
Since I was leading, I got to select the music as it fit with the readings and the sermon theme for the week: “Rejoicing in Suffering.” Yikes. A few songs came to mind immediately, and others fit in with the flow of the liturgy. As the previous director, Matt Sigler, advised:
“My basic advice for song selection is to serve the Ordo [order of worship] while “connecting the dots” of the history of God’s salvation in Christ”
Yes. This. Notice the advice is not: “start with upbeat songs to get the people going, then lead them to contemplation using slow songs, then send them out with upbeat songs again…”
Here’s what I came up with, along with a few annotations to explain.
Order for Worship – July 28
OPENING ACCLAMATION/COLLECT for PURITY
The service begins with the greeting of the early church:
Leader: Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
People: And blessed be his kingdom, now and for ever. Amen.
This knocks me off my feet every Sunday. Since we say it every week, it is planted deep in my heart, and assures me that God is in control, and that the Gospel is something much bigger than my tiny circumstances.
OPENING HYMN -1 Come, Christians, Join to Sing–
This is a great opening hymn to gather the people around God’s actions, not ours. We sing the words:
Let all, with heart and voice,
Before His throne rejoice;
Praise is His gracious choice.
SUMMARY of the LAW/CONFESSION/ABSOLUTION/PSALM 124: –Gloria–
Right here in the beginning of the service we have a weekly reminder of the law that was set before us, that we continually fall short of. This leads to a time of silent confession, then corporate confession through the words of the Book of Common Prayer, then Absolution (fancy word for complete forgiveness), and the corporate reading of a Psalm (followed by the Gloria Patri). The confession might look familiar:
Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against thee
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone…
The Gloria Patri kicks into a 2-3 song praise set.
-2 All Creatures of our God and King –
– 3 By Thy Mercy –
COLLECT of the DAY/
A collect (pronounced cah-lekt) is a short, direct prayer that “collects” the congregation, gathering them together under one united prayer. Good collects are really tricky to write, as they need to be concise, yet powerful and poignant. They also need to have relatively simple language, as they are prayed by everyone together.
PRAYER FOR CHILDREN/
Another prayer follows as we pray for the children as they are sent out to their activities. They return for communion later in the service. The first time I attended CotC, this prayer and seeing the eager faith of the parents in the congregation brought me to tears as they prayed over their children: “…that they might never know a day apart from you.”
PRAYER for ILLUMINATION: – 5 Come Holy Ghost Our Hearts Inspire (St. Anne)–
We sing the prayer for illumination, which rotates seasonally (sometimes we use this song, sometimes another song
-6 Chorus: –Alleluia– [Leader]
-6 Chorus: –Alleluia– [Leader]
SERMON/Rejoicing in Suffering
-7 Dear Refuge of My Weary Soul- [Adam]
PRAYERS of the PEOPLE/LORD’S PRAYER/CREED/PEACE
-8 Blessed Be Your Name-
THE GREAT THANKSGIVING:
DECLARATION OF MYSTERY OF FAITH: –Mystery–
-9 Communion Hymn (What He to be our brother gave)-
POST-COMMUNION PRAYER: Prayer of St Thomas Aquinas*CD track 12
BENEDICTION: -11 And Can it Be?-