Looking at tomorrow’s worship service leaflet, my first thought is that there is a lot of music for us in the service. Elaine, our organist, is going to be busy! A prelude, a postlude, 5 hymns, the chanted psalm, and two other pieces of “service music”.
Here are three of the hymns. I notice a progression in the themes covered in these, beginning with an expression of hunger for Christ, then satisfaction of that hunger in the communion hymn, and then finally a picture of heavenly worship at the end of the service.
As the cross is carried up the center aisle in a procession that begins the service, a fine Wesley hymn:
Christ Whose Glory Fills the Skies
Christ, whose glory fills the skies,
Christ, the true, the only light,
Sun of Righteousness, arise,
triumph o’er the shades of night;
Dayspring from on high, be near;
Daystar, in my heart appear.
Dark and cheerless is the morn
unaccompanied by thee;
joyless is the day’s return,
till thy mercy’s beams I see;
till they inward light impart,
cheer my eyes and warm my heart.
Visit then this soul of mine;
pierce the gloom of sin and grief;
fill me, Radiancy divine,
scatter all my unbelief;
more and more thyself display,
shining to the perfect day.
A nice touch is that as the cross passes your row, you can bow if you like. I always do. The first time I saw this happen in a large Episcopal church on Christmas eve, I about lost it, I found it so moving. What you see is a wave upon wave of people bowing to honor the cross of Christ.
And during Communion, the choir and/or the congregation will sing : Alleluia! Sing to Jesus (click to hear a brisk but horrid midi piano and musical saw (?) version if you don’t know the tune.)
Alleluia! sing to Jesus! His the scepter, His the throne.
Alleluia! His the triumph, His the victory alone.
Hark! the songs of peaceful Zion thunder like a mighty flood.
Jesus out of every nation has redeemed us by His blood.
Alleluia! not as orphans are we left in sorrow now;
Alleluia! He is near us, faith believes, nor questions how;
Though the cloud from sight received Him when the forty days were o’er
Shall our hearts forget His promise, “I am with you evermore”?
Alleluia! bread of angels, Thou on earth our food, our stay;
Alleluia! here the sinful flee to Thee from day to day:
Intercessor, Friend of sinners, Earth’s Redeemer, plead for me,
Where the songs of all the sinless sweep across the crystal sea.
Alleluia! King eternal, Thee the Lord of lords we own;
Alleluia! born of Mary, Earth Thy footstool, Heav’n Thy throne:
Thou within the veil hast entered, robed in flesh our great High Priest;
Thou on earth both priest and victim in the Eucharistic feast.
And as the cross is carried out (more bows) and before we receive the benediction to “go forth to love and serve the world” we’ll close out the worship service with this lovely triumphant-sounding one:
Ye watchers and ye holy ones,
Bright seraphs, cherubim and thrones,
Raise the glad strain, Alleluia!
Cry out, dominions, princedoms, powers,
Virtues, archangels, angels’ choirs:
O higher than the cherubim,
More glorious than the seraphim,
Lead their praises, Alleluia!
Thou bearer of th’eternal Word,
Most gracious, magnify the Lord.
Respond, ye souls in endless rest,
Ye patriarchs and prophets blest,
Ye holy twelve, ye martyrs strong,
All saints triumphant, raise the song.
O friends, in gladness let us sing,
Supernal anthems echoing,
To God the Father, God the Son,
And God the Spirit, Three in One.
I wonder if the hymn selections carry a thematic progression like that every week!?