Monday, September 26, 2016

Modern Worship--Five Parts Short: The Seven Parts of True Worship (NRH 08)

NEW REFORMATION HYMNS album coming soon

Come Bless the Lord (Long Meter, LM,

What do most people mean when they say, "The worship was, like, really great today?" Are they referring to the confession of sin? The sacraments? Prayer? Public reading of Scripture, exhortation, preaching, the benediction? No, in the vast majority of people's minds, worship today is synonymous with music. That's it, music, and they usually mean a particular kind of music. So what then, in a majority of churches today, has become the measure of worship being great?  I fear that for many the quality of worship is measured by how closely the worship band managed to replicate the popular CCM radio sound and feel of the original band that created the music. If this is true, then worship in many churches, among other things, may be at least five parts short of biblical worship.

Observing many worship services today and one could easily conclude that there are essentially two (or maybe three) parts to worshiping God: singing and listening to some form of preaching. But that's an intensely new-fangled and wrong-headed (and wrong-hearted) way of looking at Christian worship. So much is left out. Herein, once again, Church history comes to the rescue. Based soundly on the Word of God, the Reformers of the 16th century rediscovered the seven biblical parts of worship, worship in Spirit and in truth.

Reflecting on this, and in the spirit of that great rediscovery, I attempted to build Come Bless the Lord (NRH 08) around Psalm 134 (the opening line) and Isaiah 6 when the prophet found himself in the presence of God and saw the Lord high and lifted up. Each stanza of the hymn follows the order of Reformed corporate worship in seven parts. Can you summarize the seven parts? Where does Jesus appear in those seven parts (hint: EVERYWHERE!)

Come, bless the Lord and trembling rise
Before the Sovereign of the skies;
Before his majesty now raise
Adoring hymns of grateful praise!

Bow humbly down, your sins confess;
Pour out your soul, on mercy rest.
Since Christ triumphant bears your woe,
Repent, his cleansing mercy know.

Rise joyful now and Jesus bless
For his imputed righteousness,
His sovereign kindness, lavished grace,
His freely dying in your place.

Pay all your vows and cheerful bring
The gifts he gave; give back to him.
His gifts, so vast, his life outpoured—
Ourselves we lay before you, Lord.

Come, Word of Life, yourself reveal;
Your truth make us to know and feel;
Inflame our minds to love your ways;
Make us a sacrifice of praise.

Come, Jesus Christ, sweet heav’nly Bread,
And with your life this table spread,
Then grateful we will solemn dine
On hallowed bread and sacred wine.

Now go into the world in peace,
And bear the burdens of the least,
And bathe your neighbors’ feet in love,
So Christ they’ll know and praise above.

Douglas Bond, Copyright, June 4, 2008

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