Prayer Book Blues (or, practice makes perfect), part five

In part three, I asked you to make up an order of worship from traditional sources that fit the ability and culture of your congregation. In part four, I suggested some resources that you might be able to plug in.

Here, I’ll conclude this series for the interim, and offer a few suggestions.

  1. Before you go public with this kind of worship, pre-test it. Perhaps you can organize a special dinner, and try it out then. If there are any new refrains that need to be learned, they can be learned as a group, so that you won’t be struggling through them “in public.”
  2. Since worship is an expression of faith, be sure to build in time for worship training as you would any other adult or child education experience. It is at least as important as a Bible study.
  3. Within limits, hymn texts and hymn tunes of the same meter can be “mixed-and-matched.” The limitation — music people could say more — is that the text and tune are trying to say two different things: say, a cheering text to a doleful tune. Perhaps you are already singing “Guide Me, Thou, O Great Jehovah” and “God of Grace and God of Glory” to the common tune, “Cwm Rhonnda.” But, some tunes are wed so firmly to certain texts that other texts seem like intruders. The tune “New Britain” and the text “Amazing Grace” are forever locked, for instance. But if you keep that in mind, your hymn selections might be broadened, especially if you are unaccompanied. The meter index in any hymnal with music will be a great help here.
  4. If you lack a sermon, even one repeated from a printed resource, you might still profit from a “third reading.” This medieval practice revisits a bit of Christian wisdom — a portion of a letter or ancient sermon from a respected author — after the two Biblical readings. Morehouse Publishing has two good volumes Celebrating the Seasons and Celebrating the Saints, but if cash is short get the former. Sometimes Lenten manuals will have useful readings of this genre.

Now, practice, refine, and when you have that first service, welcome others into a fellowship of prayer and praise.

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