Archive for June, 2013



Caution: Choir in Use (Part 2)

West Sayville Choral SocietyLast week I asked a heavily loaded question: Do you have a choir at your church?  The use of choirs in the worship service, especially in bodies like the United Reformed Churches in North America, tends to be a controversial subject, so that question was actually pregnant with another one: Should you have a choir at your church?

To help set the issue in context, I brought Revs. Idzerd Van Dellen and Martin Monsma into the discussion with their 1967 work The Revised Church Order Commentary.  Their insight explained the traditional and well-founded aversion to church choirs in the Reformed heritage, but we left off with little practical advice.  Today I’d like to wrap up this discussion with some more down-to-earth ideas for the average United Reformed congregation.

Van Dellen and Monsma provide a nicely succinct sort of thesis for their own position regarding choirs, which agrees with the historic stance of the old Christian Reformed Church:

Rather than seek our strength in choirs and in special numbers of all kinds, let us continue to appreciate and emphasize worthy and vigorous congregational singing.

To some extent, the relationship between the choir and the congregation is an “either-or” proposition.  The authors ably demonstrate that the choir was one of the chief factors, if not the chief factor, in silencing the singing of the congregation in the medieval Roman Catholic Church.  At the time this commentary was written, Van Dellen and Monsma noted that “many churches all around us have excellent choirs and soloists, but congregational singing in these very churches is often extremely weak.”  And it’s not hard to draw a parallel between the ostentatious church choirs of the mid-1900s and the blaring praise bands of the present day.  In decisions such as that made by the Synod of 1926, the Christian Reformed Church expressed strong reservations about the use of choirs in worship, rightly noticing a definite inverse relationship: Where choirs sing, the congregation becomes silent.

Van Dellen and Monsma fear more than just weakened congregational singing, however:

Choirs easily sing songs which are inferior or unsound doctrinally, because the music or sentiment of certain songs appeal.  Neither should it be forgotten that good solo and choir singing easily becomes an attraction at church services.  Some singers are tempted to exhibit.  And some church-goers go not so much to worship and to listen to the message of God’s Word, but to hear good singing.  The singing by experts occupies the center of their interest.  Furthermore, churches in their attempt to secure good choirs are often tempted to let unworthy persons sing in their choir.  Many employ paid singers.  But even if the commercial element is avoided the primary requisite with many is not true spirituality, but rather a good voice, ability to sing well.  Church choirs have often been a source of trouble and grief.  Petty jealousies and unworthy ambitions are factors which have made for ill-will again and again.

Taking all of these concerns into account, I think the regulative principle of worship and historic Reformed practice make a compelling case for the complete exclusion of choirs from our worship services, at least as an art form.  But before you disband your loyal group of singers in dismay, let me try to reframe this conclusion in practical terms.

The highest form of musical praise the church can offer is through corporate singing.  What a beautiful sound and sight when the entire congregation sings together with joy and vigor!  This kind of music, Van Dellen and Monsma note, keeps the Word of God at the center of the worship services (if the psalms are sung, as they should be!) and serves as a wonderful united expression of praise.  “[I]n the church,” they say, “we believe it is best for the whole church to sing.  Strangers who may happen to visit our services often express their appreciation of the fact that we have splendid congregational singing, that all, young and old, sing at our church services.”  The psalms contain plenty of individual exhortations to lift one’s voice to the Lord, but their commands to the congregation are also unequivocal: “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!” (Psalm 100:1).  Give me a group of however many hundred men, women, and children singing with joy to the Lord over any little group of trained singers—any day, any time.

But alas, not all of our churches are blessed with large membership, musical literacy, or even favorable acoustics in their meeting places.  What many of us witness on a Sunday morning is not a hundreds-strong congregation belting out the psalms with gusto, but a smattering of unenthusiastic voices growling out unfamiliar tunes.  How can an ordinary church translate from the latter picture to the former?  A church choir can’t infuse the right attitude into the worshipers’ hearts or magically triple the size of the congregation, but I believe its use in these situations can still be beneficial, if—and only if—the following points are clearly understood:

  • The choir is a teaching choir, not a performing choir.  The purpose of the choir ought to be to instruct its members in the habits of good singing and musical literacy.  This is not a group primarily for performance in the worship service or elsewhere, although putting on special programs is not out of the question.
  • The choir is to consist only of members of the congregation.  This should simply make sense if the purpose of the choir is clear as explained above.  The introduction of paid singers would be proof that the choir’s mission had changed.  And the director of the choir absolutely must understand and uphold the key principles of Reformed worship as well.
  • The choir should learn only what will be helpful in inculcating better congregational singing.  I hesitate to exclude all complex anthems or oratorios, but as far as corporate worship goes, they are at best irrelevant and at worst distracting.  A small teaching choir can’t go wrong with a repertoire built mainly on simple four-part psalm and hymn arrangements.
  • The choir should sing in the worship service as the exception rather than the rule.  This is tricky territory; I would highly prefer having the choir sing only on special occasions rather than in a Sunday worship service.  However, this decision must take into account the needs and expectations of each individual congregation.
  • The choir is nothing more than a slice of the congregation.  It would be ideal, of course, if every member of the church would join the choir as a kind of “Singing 101” class.  At the very least, however, the members of the choir will hopefully develop an appreciation and love for the psalms and hymns of Reformed worship.  Then they merely have to carry that renewed enthusiasm back to the pews with them on Sunday morning.  If they do, the choir has fulfilled its mission.

I would welcome your additions or corrections to this list, but I submit to you that the points above set forth a justifiable and properly-regulated domain for the church choir which is in keeping with the standards of Biblical, Reformed worship.  They are not foolproof, but at least they are fall protection.

The seventy-fifth anniversary booklet of my home church, then the West Sayville Christian Reformed Church in 1951, refers specifically to improved congregational singing as one of the goals of its Choral Society, dating all the way from 1915: “Programs are given once or twice a season and on special occasions.  The Choral Society also has done much toward the improvement of congregational singing as well as in the field of music appreciation.”

The choir, then, can serve the church only as it serves congregational singing.  Would Van Dellen and Monsma agree?  I think so.  They conclude:

All this does not mean that we should not bring our congregational singing to higher levels.  We should improve our singing whenever possible.  The organization of Choral Societies should be encouraged.  Good singing should be promoted.  But let us continue to emphasize and to improve congregational singing.  And let our good singers help to improve our congregational singing.

Amen!  “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!  Praise the Lord!”

–MRK

The excerpts quoted here are from The Revised Church Order Commentary by Idzerd Van Dellen and Martin Monsma, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1969 (third printing), pp. 205, 206.

Psalm 144: Such Blessings

Blessed be the Lord, my rock,
who trains my hands for war,
and my fingers for battle;
he is my steadfast love and my fortress,
my stronghold and my deliverer,
my shield and he in whom I take refuge,
who subdues peoples under me.

–Psalm 144:1, 2 (ESV)

1867 Dutch Reformed Church, Sayville, NY

1867 Dutch Reformed Church, Sayville, NY

The theme of Psalm 144 is hard to pin down.  Is it a song of praise, of triumph, or of petition?  Is it a lamentation, or a prayer for blessing?

In truth, Psalm 144 is a little bit of all of these things, and perhaps it is fittingly placed here, right before the Psalter’s final six songs of praise, as a summary and conclusion of each genre.

This psalm opens with David praising God for giving him victory over his enemies, with phrases that strongly resemble Psalm 18.  Yet David quickly turns his attention to a theme he first expressed back in Psalm 8: “O Lord, what is man that you regard him, or the son of man that you think of him?” (v. 3).  The fourth verse, likewise, echoes Psalm 39 in its description of man’s brevity.

Psalm 18 is once again referenced in the following four verses, mingled with a shout of praise from Psalm 33 (“I will sing a new song to you, O God; upon a ten-stringed harp I will play to you”).  But the last section of Psalm 144 is a unique composition, a call for God’s rich blessings upon his covenant people.  Concluding the psalm is a refrain from Psalm 33: “Blessed are the people whose God is the Lord!”

May our sons in their youth
be like plants full grown,
our daughters like corner pillars
cut for the structure of a palace;
may our granaries be full,
providing all kinds of produce;
may our sheep bring forth thousands
and ten thousands in our fields;
may our cattle be heavy with young,
suffering no mishap or failure in bearing;
may there be no cry of distress in our streets!
Blessed are the people to whom such blessings fall!
Blessed are the people whose God is the Lord!

–vv. 12-15

Today we’ll briefly consider the Psalter Hymnal’s two versifications of Psalm 144.  I recently uploaded to YouTube a piano improvisation (albeit a sloppy one) on these two tunes, which is embedded below.

296, “Thrice Blest Be Jehovah”

Psalm versifications from sources other than the 1912 Psalter or the Genevan Psalter are a rare sight in our blue songbook.  This full text of Psalm 144 was adapted by Harry Mayer in 1940, but despite its fairly recent composition date, it is unnecessarily archaic and often downright clunky.  (Alas, I had similar complaints regarding Mayer’s other Psalter Hymnal versification back at Psalm 136.)  Even in the early twentieth century, who really used expressions such as “thrice blest,” “nerves” (as a verb), “foemen,” “fleeteth,” “whelm him in woe,” “their tongues speak me falsely,” “grown apace,” “garners be brimming,” “then thousandfold yield”?  My spell-checker itself balks at some of these obsolete phrases!

If there’s one redeeming aspect of number 296, it’s the cheery and confident tune ST. DENIO, often associated with the hymn “Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise.”  Surprisingly, the key is not too high, and overall the tune is quite an appropriate choice—if only the text were a little less reminiscent of the sixteenth century.

297, “O Happy Land, Whose Sons in Youth”

(Sung by Cornerstone URC in Hudsonville, MI)

It’s definitely quirky, and perhaps a little overdramatic, but “O Happy Land, Whose Sons in Youth” has a special place in the Psalter Hymnal.  This is a versification of Psalm 144:12-15 which conveniently applies the statement of the last verse (“Blessed are the people to whom such blessings fall!”) to each of the preceding statements (“O happy land, whose sons in youth…”).  Although it’s a paraphrased summary of the last part of this psalm, the text leaves little to be desired—and its language is noticeably less obsolete than that of number 296!

I have to be honest: I just love the tune SHORTLE.  It’s bright and energetic, and could even be described as “rollicking.”  The meter 8.8.6.8.8.6.6. puts a special twist on an otherwise common 8.8.6.D. tune.  Make the most out of the ever-rising lines, the perky eighth notes, and the offset repeated line at the end (“The PAL-ace of a king, the palace OF a king”).  Sing it with triumph!

After all, that’s what Psalm 144 is in its most basic form–a song of triumph.  David extols the Lord for deliverance from his enemies, unmerited honor, and God’s steadfast love, and the collective church raises a song of praise to God for the blessings he showers upon them in this life and in the world to come.

O happy people, favored land,
To whom the Lord with liberal hand
Has thus His goodness shown;
Yea, surely is that people blest
By whom Jehovah is confessed
To be their God alone,
to be their God alone.

–MRK

Featured Recording: Psalm 122 and the Two Kingdoms

Featured Recording

The “two-kingdoms debate” here in the United Reformed Churches in North America often reminds me of a Fourth of July fireworks show—a steady smattering of firecrackers punctuated by the occasional attention-grabbing “ka-boom!” of the larger explosions.  And this week’s events in the blogosphere have caused some fairly deafening crashes.

If you are yet unfamiliar with the debate, I’m not going to attempt to summarize it here.  It is too controversial a topic with too many complex facets; I’ve done a bit of reading on the subject, but I’m still not sure I thoroughly understand it myself.  Suffice it to say that a Christian’s view of the church and its relationship to the world has much to do with this discussion, and its implications are far-reaching for individuals and for the URCNA as a whole.

What grieves me immeasurably is not the debate itself, which I think is a necessary one, but the prevailing tone of the interactions.  Too often the loudest and brightest fireworks on either side seem to be colored not with humility and brotherly love, but with a certain measure of arrogance.  Sometimes the actual issues are blurred beyond recognition and superseded with a disturbing desire to “one-up” the other side with satirical comebacks and ad hominem attacks.

“This is just the way we work out our disagreements,” someone might say.  “We still respect each other, and neither side takes the insults seriously.”  This may be true—and I humbly admire men who are willing to fight for the truth of Scripture at all costs.  But through the battle, what impression are we giving of our federation to the watching world?  I fear for those whose first impression of the URCNA is derived from these virtual skirmishes.  Worse, I fear for our federation itself when theologians, ministers, and members are more concerned about promoting their own agendas than fighting together for the unity of the churches.

I say this as someone who has little right to plunge into the debate or to judge its participants—but I cannot help that it saddens me deeply.  In stark contrast to this situation, I thought of the delight of the psalmist in Psalm 122 as he considered the glories of Mount Zion (the Church):

I was glad when they said to me,
‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’
Our feet have been standing
within your gates, O Jerusalem!

–Psalm 122:1,2 (ESV)

David describes a place to which all the “tribes of the LORD” go up in beautiful harmony “to give thanks to the name of the LORD.”  Can this kind of unity be reached here on earth?  Admittedly, no; the tribes of Israel fought among themselves all too often, and we cannot expect perfect union in the church either on this side of eternity.  But it’s the last four verses of Psalm 122 which, for me anyway, carry the most powerful punch:

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
‘May they be secure who love you!
Peace be within your walls
and security within your towers!’
For my brothers and companions’ sake
I will say, ‘Peace be within you!’
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek your good.

–vv. 6-9

Why should we strive for peace in the church?  Not only for the sake of our brothers and companions, but also by the very fact that it is the house of the Lord our God.  This is no human institution, or it would have perished in discord long ago.  For that reason Psalm 122 is both a call to rejoice, and a call to act.  We can rejoice in the fact that the Lord builds his Church, despite all the attacks it endures from without and within.  But we are also called to strive with all our might for peace, so that we may always be able to say, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’”

How appropriate it is that Psalm 122 was sung as the very first selection at the prayer service that opened Synod 2012 of the URCNA.  There two hundred delegates from every corner of the continent, and even from across the globe, rose to sing these words from Psalter Hymnal number 264, today’s Featured Recording:

My heart was glad to hear the welcome sound,
The call to seek Jehovah’s house of prayer;
Our feet are standing here on holy ground,
Within thy gates, thou city grand and fair.

The “two-kingdoms debate” is a weighty one, and I hope I’ve not exceeded my bounds in sharing these thoughts and concerns.  Let it merely be said that I have a deep love and respect for our small group of churches and the ministers that serve them, for their unwavering mission to follow Christ and preach his gospel.  I hope and pray that goal will never change.

If nothing else, I’d simply like to pose a call for reflection: Are we praying and striving for “the peace of Jerusalem” in our little federation?  Or has the fireworks show become the main attraction?

For all my brethren and companions’ sakes,
My prayer shall be, Let peace in thee abide;
Since God the Lord in thee His dwelling makes,
To Thee my love shall never be denied.

–MRK

(Click here for last week’s Featured Recording)

Lord’s Day 23: Right with God

Catechism and PsalterHaving set forth the orthodox Christian faith as described in the Apostles’ Creed, the Heidelberg Catechism proceeds to reiterate and expound upon why it is necessary for a Christian “to believe all this.”  Lord’s Day 7, which introduced the Creed, is remarkably mirrored here in Lord’s Day 23, today’s focus in this URC Psalmody series.

59 Q.  What good does it do you, however, to believe all this?

A.  In Christ I am right with God
and heir to life everlasting.

60 Q.  How are you right with God?

A.  Only by true faith in Jesus Christ.

Even though my conscience accuses me
of having grievously sinned against all God’s commandments
and of never having kept any of them,
and even though I am still inclined toward all evil,
nevertheless,
without my deserving it at all,
out of sheer grace,
God grants and credits to me
the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ,
as if I had never sinned nor been a sinner,
as if I had been as perfectly obedient
as Christ was obedient for me.

All I need to do
is to accept this gift of God with a believing heart.

61 Q.  Why do you say that by faith alone you are right with God?

A.  It is not because of any value my faith has
that God is pleased with me.
Only Christ’s satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness
make me right with God.
And I can receive this righteousness and make it mine
in no other way than
by faith alone.

Suggested Songs

212, “Praise the Lord, for He is Good” (Psalm 107)

(Sung by Cornerstone URC in Hudsonville, MI)

“In Christ I am right with God and heir to life everlasting.”  Psalm 107 is a tremendous song of deliverance.  In its 43 verses it lists several situations in which the Lord brings salvation to the afflicted, marking each scenario with two refrains: “Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress,” and “Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!”  This Psalter Hymnal selection treats the first nine verses of Psalm 107, beautifully describing the captivity from which we have been released and the heavenly city which we await.

Praise the Lord, for He is good,
For His mercies ever sure
From eternity have stood,
To eternity endure;
Let His ransomed people raise
Songs to their Redeemer’s praise.

From captivity released,
From the south and from the north,
From the west and from the east,
In His love He brought them forth,
Ransomed out of every land
From the adversary’s hand.

Wandering in the wilderness,
Far they roamed the desert way,
Found no settled dwelling-place
Where in peace secure to stay,
Till with thirst and hunger pressed
Courage sank within their breast.

To Jehovah then they cried
In their trouble, and He saved:
He Himself became their Guide,
Led them to the rest they craved
By a pathway straight and sure,
To a city strong, secure.

Sons of men, awake to praise
God the Lord who reigns above,
Gracious in His works and ways,
Wondrous in redeeming love;
Longing souls He satisfies,
Hungry hearts with good supplies.

44, “Lord, I Lift My Soul to Thee” (Psalm 25)

(Sung by West Sayville URC, Long Island, New York)

“Out of sheer grace, God grants and credits to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ.”  This particular section of Psalm 25 expresses the psalmist’s trust in God’s grace not to record his trespasses, but rather to show sinners His way.

Sins of youth remember not,
Nor my trespasses record;
Let not mercy be forgot,
For Thy goodness’ sake, O Lord.
Just and good the Lord abides,
He His way will sinners show,
He the meek in justice guides,
Making them His way to know.

65, “The Good Man’s Steps Are Led Aright” (Psalm 37)

“I can receive this righteousness and make it mine in no other way than by faith alone.”  It is this faith which Psalm 37 exhorts its readers to pursue.  Here the psalmist expounds upon the blessings the “good man”—the one who trusts in Christ for his salvation—will receive, both in this life and in the life to come.

The good man’s steps are led aright,
His way in pleasing in God’s sight,
Established it shall stand;
He shall not perish though he fall,
The mighty Lord, who rules o’er all,
Upholds him with His hand.

Though I am old who young have been,
No saint have I forsaken seen,
Nor yet his home in need;
He ever lends in gracious ways,
His life true charity displays,
His sons are blest indeed.

Depart from evil, do thou well,
And evermore securely dwell;
Jehovah loves the right.
His faithfulness His saints have proved,
Forever they shall stand unmoved,
But sinners God will smite.

Salvation is from God alone,
Whom as their covert saints have known
When by sore troubles tried;
The Lord, who helped in troubles past,
Will save them to the very last,
For they in Him confide.

–MRK

Caution: Choir in Use (Part 1)

(NEWS ITEM: Please be in prayer for the 80th General Assembly of our sister denomination the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, which will convene beginning tomorrow, Wednesday, June 5th, at 7:00 pm.  Besides the treatment of other weighty matters, this meeting will include the release of the psalm section of the proposed URC/OPC joint Psalter Hymnal.  Pray that the Lord would grant wisdom and insight to those charged to make decisions regarding this important songbook, and that he would allow this “ecumenical opportunity of a generation,” as one OPC minister has termed it, to bear plentiful fruit.)

Choir Music ListingDo you have a choir at your church?

Here in the United Reformed Churches in North America, it’s entirely possible you do.  It’s also entirely possible you don’t.  And it’s entirely possible you feel strongly about it either way.  Quite an explosion ensued when a similar question was asked not too long ago in a Reformed discussion group.  A stranger to the practice of the URCNA might well ask, “Why all the controversy?”

The primary objection to the use of a choir in the worship service is that it tends to violate the dialogical principle which guides our Reformed worship services.  The principle is simple: God speaks, we respond.  There are only two parties in the equation—the Lord, who speaks to us through the ministry of the Word and sacraments, and the congregation, which offers up songs, prayers, and gifts in thankful reply.   In this system it is difficult, though not necessarily impossible, to justify the existence of a choir in a corporate worship service.

Assessing the ecclesiological implications of choirs in worship is far above my capabilities at this point, and the fact that so many learned men have been unable to reach an agreement on the topic shows that it can’t be resolved simply.  But I would like to approach the question from a slightly different and more practical perspective, one taken by the authors of the excellent volume The Revised Church Order Commentary.

Revs. Idzerd Van Dellen and Martin Monsma undertook the writing of this commentary on the Church Order of the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) in 1941 to help explain to ministers, elders, and interested laypersons the proper functioning of this group of churches.  The Revised Church Order Commentary was published in 1967 to coincide with the extensive revision of the CRC’s Church Order in 1965.  And since the Church Order of the United Reformed Churches in North America is completely silent regarding choirs, this resource is probably one of the best and most applicable to which we can turn.

Article 52 of the 1965 CRC Church Order, which directly addressed the issue of choirs, read as follows:

a.  The consistory shall regulate the worship services.

b.  The consistory shall see to it that the synodically-approved Bible versions, liturgical forms, and songs are used, and that the principles and elements of the order of worship approved by synod are observed.

c.  The consistory shall see to it that if choirs or others sing in the worship services, they observe the synodical regulations governing the content of the hymns and anthems sung.

(These principles are reflected somewhat less explicitly in Article 38 of the United Reformed Churches’ present Church Order, which states: “The Consistory shall regulate the worship services, which shall be conducted according to the principles taught in God’s Word: namely, that the preaching of the Word have the central place, that confession of sins be made, praise and thanksgiving in song and prayer be given, and gifts of gratitude be offered.”)

What points of application does this article make as to the use of choirs?  First of all, Van Dellen and Monsma point out that “the very wording of the provision under consideration, as may be noticed, is simply permissive…And if [choirs] do [sing], then the consistories shall see to it that the pertinent synodical regulations are adhered to.”  In other words, the Christian Reformed Church did not forbid the existence of choirs in worship, but it did provide a guard and limit on their use.  The authors of the Commentary note that Article 52 also allows soloists and small groups to “render special song numbers in the worship services,” provided the same restrictions are applied.

Back in 1930 the CRC had actually adopted a resolution which, though it did not condemn choirs outright, cautioned consistories from using them indiscriminately, for the following reasons:

1.  The danger exists that congregational singing shall be curtailed.

2.  If the choir sings separately there is the difficulty of maintaining the principle of Article 69 of the Church Order [which states that only the psalms and the synodically-approved hymns, i. e. the contents of the Psalter Hymnal, may be sung in worship].

In cases where choirs exist or shall be introduced, synod insists that only those psalms or hymns shall be sung which are approved by Article 69 of our Church Order; or such anthems, which contain only the exact words of portions of Scripture.

To many of us here in the URCNA, these synodical restrictions may sound unduly harsh.  Why such concern over what a choir sings?  Does its repertoire really need to be limited to the Psalter Hymnal or excerpts from Scripture?  Doesn’t its music ultimately help the congregation as we together lift our hearts in praise to the Lord?

Van Dellen and Monsma give two principal consequences of the use of choirs and soloists which the Christian Reformed Church feared.  First, many of these musical offerings are of the type which simply “do not fit in the framework of our worship services and which do not edify the worshipers.”  What percentage of these selections might be prepared with no thought at all given to the dialogical principle of worship mentioned above?  Even though we would recoil in horror from saying it out loud, too often our soloists tend to become performers and our choirs tend to give concerts.  Suddenly the dialogue between God and his people is broken, even unintentionally, by the awkward intrusion of a third party—an awkwardness that is exemplified in the uncertain smattering of quickly-smothered applause from the pews at the end of the “performance.”  Should we really be faced with this situation on a regular basis in corporate worship?

Second, the authors simply call our attention to the fact that “these extra and special numbers are very hard to control as to their doctrinal soundness.”  It is a strange phenomenon, but a true one, that an unsound song is much more likely to be sung first by a soloist or choir than by the congregation.  It is, as Van Dellen and Monsma admit, an area in which Scriptural accuracy is much more difficult to regulate than in simple congregational singing.

What is the solution to the perennial problem of the church choir?  Can this tricky element of worship be effectively redeemed, or ought it to be eliminated entirely?  Although I don’t have a simple answer to the question, in the second half of this article I’ll try to explore some practical ideas that can help individuals and congregations reach a conclusion.

–MRK

The excerpts quoted here are from The Revised Church Order Commentary by Idzerd Van Dellen and Martin Monsma, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1969 (third printing), pp. 205, 206.  See also The Church Order of the United Reformed Churches in North America.


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