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DEVELOP A THEME BASED ON THE READINGS Will you used the readings provided for the day or freely choose other readings? If using the readings for the day, will you use all three, or which ones? Is a theme evident from the readings? Will the sermon be on the same theme? Is it  possible to select a theme for this Sunday?

Which of these ways will you use to make the theme evident: Opening reference by pastor? Reference by pastor during the sermon? During readers’ introductions to the readings? By a drama or responsive reading associated with one of the readings? Reference in the Prayer of the Day (collect)? Through hymn selections? Reference in church bulletin? Banner?

SELECT HYMNS AND CHOIR OFFERINGS RELATED TO THE THEME Place 3 to 4 hymns or choir pieces according to the following options: With or replacing the opening Psalm (this is, an opening hymn)? With or replacing the Psalm between readings? As a response after one of the readings? (Using a hymn after the gradual has been practiced in Lutheran churches since the reformation; this is sometimes called “the hymn of the day” because it relates to theme, readings, and sermon). During the opening praise section? During the response time after the sermon? During the prayer time? During THE offering? During communion? At the close of the service?

PRESENTATION OF THE GIVEN PARTS OF THE SERVICE It is suggested that in a given Sunday, only one or two of the following options be used as variations from the congregation’s accustomed practice. These options help the congregation to understand the distinctiveness and function of the elements in the printed order of service.

DETERMINE PRESENTATION OF PSALMS. For the opening Psalm, and for the Psalm between reading, select from the following options: Using the provided texts (Introit and Gradual): Read by leader? Read by congregation? Chanted by choir? Chanted by congregation? (Your hymnal may include chant melodies for Psalms, and may include 4-part chants – known as Anglican chant – for some Psalms).  The Introit includes the “Gloria Patri;” it should be in the same style as the Psalm verses (if the introit is sung, the Gloria Patri should be sung; if the introit is read, the Gloria Patri should be read, so it is evident that they belong together).

Using the Psalms from which the provided texts are taken, or using other Psalms that fit the theme for the day. For using Psalms selections, select one of the following options: Read by Pastor? Read by Congregation? (In both cases, it is customary to end by reading the words of the Gloria Patri). Chanted by one person? Chanted by choir? Chanted by congregation? (Chanting allows a prose translation to be set to music.) Sung to a hymn tune (use hymnal index to find hymns that are based on certain Psalms. The Reformed Church in America still publishes a Psalter that provides hymn versions of all 150 Psalms.) Have a soloist sing a setting of the Psalm? Have the choir sing a setting of the Psalm? Have choir or congregation sing a metric chant (examples are those by Gelineau).

Using other materials at the Psalm locations. Hymn? (Using an opening hymn instead of the introit as already common in many churches). Use a Responsive reading? Use a solo song? Use a choir song?

DETERMINE PRESENTATION OF THE ORDINARY (the parts that are the same every Sunday). These variations help the congregation to focus on the meanings of the words. Using more than one variation in a given week could cause confusion. It helps to make an explanation of the variation either verbally or in the bulletin.  General options for all parts of the ordinary: Read parts that are usually sung, or sing parts that are usually read (example: for the Lord’s Prayer, use Luther’s hymn based on the Lord’s Prayer). Use the hymn versions of the traditional texts (for example, use the Lutheran Hymn “All Glory Be to God Alone” at the time of the Gloria). Have the choir sing a version of the traditional text. Substitute a hymn with the same general meaning as the traditional text. Additonal options for each of the parts follows:

KYRIE. Use just the words “Lord have mercy,” or use them in conjunction with prayer sentences (that would then be a “litany”)? Use printed prayer sentences (in peace let us pray to the Lord) or write prayer sentences appropriate for the theme of the day or for the season of the year? Use Luther’s hymn based on the Kyrie (Kyrie, God Father in heaven Above; it is based on a medieval custom called “troping,” in which meaningful texts were applied to the long sequence of notes after the word Kyrie)? Use a “leisen hymn” (look for hymns that end with the phrase Lord have Mercy).

GLORIA. Use the historic Gloria (glory be to God on high) or the 20th century text “this is the feast?”

CREED. Since it is usually read, try a hymn or song version.

AFTER OFFERING: There are already many options in the printed hymnals. On this precedent, use other offering hymns or prepare a responsive reading.

AFTER COMMUNION: The use of Simeon’s song “Lord, now let your servant depart in peace” is a Lutheran contribution to the traditional service, according to Tim Maschke in There are already many options in the printed hymnals. On this precedent, use other offering hymns or prepare a responsive reading.

AFTER THE BENEDICTION: Choir or congregation could sing a piece with complementary words.


I have not included ideas for the communion prayer or for the general prayer because I suspect those decisions would generally be made by the pastor, not the worship committee.


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