Liturgy, Vol 32 “Worship in an Age of Reconstruction”

Lester Ruth, professor of Christian Worship at Duke Divinity School recently curated an issue of Liturgy Journal looking at the state of worship in america “post worship wars.” This current issue is riffing off an issue published in 2004 that explored the effect of the worship wars on mainline traditional worship – curated by Lutheran pastor and scholar Frank Senn.

Here is the list of articles from the issue published in 2004.

  1. Worship Wars by Frank Senn
  2. The Big Dig – by Sean McCarthy
  3. Worship Wars in the Roman Catholic Church – by James Empereur
  4. My Neighbor, the Evangelical Megachurch – by Amy Florian
  5. Heads Up – by Todd Johnson
  6. Worship Wars or Worship Awakening? – by Robb Redman
  7. The Portrayal of Pastoral Authority in Worship – by Deborah Knapp
  8. “Free-Church Bapto-Catholic” – by Nathan Nettleton
  9. Four Liturgical Movements – by Frank Senn

Here is the list of current articles:

[intro] Worship in an Age of Reconstruction: Introduction
Lester Ruth / Pages: 1-2
[1] The Eruption of Worship Wars: The Coming of Conflict
Lester Ruth / Pages: 3-6
[2] Style Matters: Contemporary Worship Music and the Meaning of Popular Musical Borrowings
Monique M. Ingalls / Pages: 7-15
[3] The Curious Longevity of the Traditional–Contemporary Divide: Mainline Musical Choices in Post–Worship War America
Deborah R. Justice / Pages: 16-23
[4] Lay-Prophet-Priest: The Not-So-Fledgling “Office” of the Worship Leader
Nelson Cowan / Pages: 24-31
[5] Why Worship Matters: Lessons From Lutheran Congregations Struggling in a World of Liturgical Change
Stephen Ellingson / Pages: 32-41
[6] Too Much Bono in the Church?
Aaron Niequist / Pages: 42-45
[7] Reconsidering the Role of Music in Worship: A Tale From the Vineyard
Matthew Sigler / Pages: 46-53
Bruce Benedict / Pages: 54-61

Advent Planning 2016

here are some bits and bobs for your advent planning this year!

In my mind advent songs should  (at least) have four themes in mind.
– A focus on old testament imagery – (see “O Come Divine Messiah, Dawning Light”)
– A focus on the life of faith as a journey (See “I wonder as I wander”)
– A longing for Christ’s return, his second coming. (See “At the Name of Jesus”)
– A focus on deliverance from the present “not yet” realities – calls for justice! (See Sojourn’s “Let Justice Roll”







Hark a Thrilling Voice is Sounding –
Love listening to these two diametrically opposed arr.’s of the same killer advent text!
Covenant Chicago // High Street Hymns


John Witvliet – “What ever happened to the second coming? & “Praying the Lord’s Prayer during Advent.”
Phil Majorins – “Sing 10 – Modern Arrangements for Advent


Christina Rossetti – Advent

Jacob Tilton – Psalms for Advent

The Calendar Years – Advent Album

“God has prepared for Himself one great song of praise throughout eternity, and those who enter the community of God join in this song. It is the song that the “morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy” at the creation of the world. (Job 38:7). It is the victory song of the children of Israel after passing through the Red Sea, the Magnificat of Mary after the annunciation, the song of Paul and Silas in the night of prison, the song of the singers on the sea of glass after their rescue, the “song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb” (Rev. 15:3) It is the song of the heavenly fellowship.”― Dietrich BonhoefferLife Together

Nativity Prayer of St. Augustine
Let the just rejoice,

   for their justifier is born.
Let the sick and infirm rejoice,
   For their saviour is born.
Let the captives rejoice,
   For their Redeemer is born.
Let slaves rejoice,
   for their Master is born.
Let free men rejoice,
   For their Liberator is born.
Let All Christians rejoice,
   For Jesus Christ is born.
–St. Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-440)

Worshipping through the Beatitudes


Paul Neeley recently posted that Nov 1 (All Saints) has been a day that has historically reflected on the beatitudes.  It was really hard for me to find resources on the beatitudes to use in public worship when we preached through them last fall.  So here are a few pieces to meditate on that I found.

[] Hope College Worship EP on the Beatitudes


[] Prayer of Confession (Reggie Kidd)


[] Blessed are the Humble Souls that See (Isaac Watts)
retune by Eric Graef

[] Words to Build a Life Upon (Mike Crawford)

[] Blessed are the Poor in Spirit (Sarah Majorins)

[] The Beatitudes Song (Brook Hills) – chart

[] Unwavering – Matt Maher

[] A City on a Hill – The City Harmonic

[] Rejoice in the Promise of Jesus (Crandal/Dufner)

[] The Beatitudes – Hillsong Worship

[] Other Songs that Reflect Central Themes
– In Feast or Fallow – Sandra McCracken
– Who is Like the Lord our God – Wendell Kimbrough
–  Blessed are the Ones – Audrey Assad
–  I Will Sing Praise (Psalm 146) – Kaitlyn Ferry


[] Attempted Metrical Version of the Beatitudes (Bruce Benedict)

Blessed are the poor in spirit
who must trust in God alone
They will find their treasured living
In the kingdom of his Son
Blessed are the mighty mourners
Born for tears and grief on earth
Heaven’s joy will be their bounty
In the Spirits glorious birth
Blessed are the meek and humble
Heav’n and earth will be their own
Purchased for them by the Savior
Who their every care has known
Blessed are the famished righteous
those who hunger for God’s Word
All their thirst for heavenly waters
will be quenched at Zion’s throne
Blessed are the saints of mercy
showering this world with love
In the winds of gracious giving
love from God is their reward
Blessed are the pure in spirit
hearts that hate the lukewarm way
Longing for the holy family
and the maranatha day
Blessed are the Sons and Daughters
living out their days for peace
Following their blessed savior
Giving hate the other cheek
Blessed are the persecuted
Finding hope in God alone
Living for the unseen kingdom
Their’s a glorious welcome home
Rejoice ye persecuted prophets
Rejoice with gladness in your God
Rejoice for great is your rewarding
Soon will be your welcome home

High School Worship-Arts Camp at Hope College

I am involved with a team that through a generous Lilly grant is starting a new high school worship-arts camp at Hope College.  From Sunday Night through Friday June 12-17 we will gather to worship and explore the story of God and how to root our own stories within God’s story.  There will be a fantastic group of Hope faculty/staff and students leading this inaugural year.  At this point we still have a few spots left.  You can register here –

Most of the week we’ll be meeting in beautiful Dimnent chapel and in the brand new Jack Miller Center for the Musical Arts.

Highlights of the Week:

  • Worshipping in beautiful Dimnent Chapel
  • Lessons with world class faculty from Hope College and West Michigan. (Organ, Voice, Guitar, etc)
  • Opportunities to explore local churches
  • On-site visits to organizations pursuing peace and justice in the holland area
  • Beach worship
  • Hanging out with students involved with Hope College Worship

Faith and Vocation Songwriting Contest

Songwriting-ContestCardiphonia and Bifrost Arts Music invites congregational songwriters to submit a worship song about faith and vocation to our Faith and Vocation Songwriting Contest. The winner will receive a $750 award; the runner-up will receive a $250 award. There is no entry fee and the contest is open to all.

Submissions must be emailed or postmarked by September 1, 2016. The winning song will be featured on the 2017 Bifrost Arts Worship record, which will feature many prominent worship artists. While this contest is explicitly for inclusion in the next worship record from Bifrost Arts, submissions will also be sent to Cardiphonia for possible inclusion on a forthcoming Cardiphonia worship compilation with a similar theme.

More information and a helpful article on the theme of vocation and worship HERE.

Favorite Worship Songs from 2015

I’m a few years back on my top ten song lists so this will be a bit of a catch up…some of these I’ve never led but enjoyed in various churches and conferences I’ve attended recently.

Arise, Shine, for Your Light has Come- Isaiah 60 (Jered McKenna)
mp3 | chart
I’ve seen a lot of people using this song for both advent and epiphany. Another gem from Jered McKenna who works as a worship leader/pianist in Greenville, SC.

Come My Way – Coram Deo Church
Classic George Herbert text with an uber singable melody.  We sang this one a ton during communion and I’ve got a passable string quartet arr. written for it as well.
mp3 | chords | leadsheet

All Things Are Ready – Matthew Smith and Sandra McCracken
mp3 | leadsheet
This song for communion slipped by me until I sang it at Pillar Church here in Holland, MI.

We Will Feast in the House of Zion (Sandra McCracken)
mp3 | chords | leadsheet
New song from Sandra’s recent Psalms album.  Super singable tune and text!

Praise the Lord, All Praise and Blessing (Matt Scott)
Matt is the worship leader at a church in Hilton Head, SC and produced a great album of retunes a few years back.

His Love Endures Forever – Psalm 136 (Caroline Cobb)
mp3 | chart
There are a LOT of good songs on our new psalms project but this was one of the stand outs for me.  Caroline can write a song!

Dawning Light of Our Salvation – Luke 1 (Wendell Kimbrough)
mp3 | chart | leadsheet
Collaboration with Wendell that has gotten some traction in churches recently.  Always fun to hear your songs sung by others.

None But Thee (Trinity Grace Church)
mp3 | chart
An early track from the folks behind Young Oceans. Springsteen vibed retune

All I Have is Yours (Sojourn)
Mp3 | Chords | Leadsheet | Youtube |
That song we’ve all been looking for to use during offerings. I heard it for the first time at a Thanksgiving service. Thanks Bobby Gilles

Psalm 126 – Our Mouths They Were Filled (Bifrost Arts Music)
mp3 | chart
This almost feels like an old favorite but it’s not shown up on any of my lists yet so I’m overdue.  Really singable text and tune from Isaac Wardell. A psalm of ascents – very suitable for Lent, Holy Week.