I know what I’m talking about

That’s not a blanket statement. I don’t know about a lot of things, BUT . . .

When it comes to worship, and especially to music and worship, I know what I’m talking about. Like many other pastors, I’m sure, I surf the web to get ideas from other people’s worship services, to find out what hymns they’ve chosen for a particular Sunday, etc. In our circles, I’ve found some egregious boo-boos in worship bulletins. I’ve blogged about them. They persist. They multiply. They mystify. To wit:

1. Call things what they are. A bulletin I saw the other day contained an element called a “Collect.” Nothing wrong with that: churches say collects every Sunday. We have the Collect for Purity (“Almighty God, unto whom all hearts are open . . .”) every Sunday, and we also have a Collect of the Day that is proper to each Sunday. Collects are great. However, in the bulletin I saw, what was printed under the title “Collect” was a responsive reading.

A collect is not a responsive reading. A collect is not a responsive anything. A collect is a short prayer, usually prayed by the celebrant.

Why are you going to call something a collect if it’s not a collect? To make your worship service sound more tony? If it’s a responsive reading, call it that. Don’t call it something it’s not. You wouldn’t call a sermon a hymn, would you?

Similarly, if you’re going to pray a closing prayer instead of pronouncing a benediction, don’t list it as a benediction. A benediction is a blessing on the people. A closing prayer is, well, a closing prayer.

I hope there’s not still anyone out there who is calling the choir’s anthem “special music”. It hasn’t been marked down at the supermarket: it’s not a “special”. It’s called an anthem. I think most people have got that one by now, but I was just checking. However, O you more hoity-toity ones in Reformed circles, if it’s a solo or a duet, call it that: it’s not an anthem if it’s not a choir singing it. If only one person is singing, it’s a solo. It doesn’t make you look more classy to call it an anthem if it’s really a solo. It makes you look ignunt.

2. Hymn tunes, hymn tunes, hymn tunes. If some of you blokes don’t get this straight I just may have to start kicking some Reformed booty. Once more, a hymn is a poem: a hymn is not a piece of music. A hymn tune is a piece of music, to which a hymn may be sung. Hymns sometimes have names (many do not: we simply call them by their first lines as a convenience): hymn tunes always have names. Call the tunes by their names! If you are singing a hymn (rather than just reading the words aloud in worship), print the name of the blooming hymn tune, already! I’ll give you some examples:

Hymn No. 1 “All People That on Earth do Dwell” OLD HUNDREDTH

Hymn No. 2 “O Worship the King” HANOVER

The more astute among you will no doubt have noticed that a) the hymn numbers are from the 1990 Trinity Hymnal, and b) I have chosen a different hymn tune from the one printed with Hymn No. 2 in the Trinity Hymnal, LYONS. Sometimes it’s nice to sing something to a different tune for a change. When you print the names of the tunes, not only are you making it clear that the hymn will indeed be sung, but you are thereby able to indicate if indeed you are going to sing that hymn either to the tune printed in the hymnal or to another one. Useful, no? That’s why they’re there, folks.

And speaking of hymn tunes, the composer has the right to name his/her tune, not you. Calling a hymn tune whatever you want to call it is not only arrogant, it gives worshipers absolutely no information, because you a referring to a tune that doesn’t exist.

Here are two real-life examples of the above that I just found in a bulletin today:

Hymn _______________ (Tune: From All That Dwell Below the Skies)
Hymn _______________ (Tune: All Creatures of Our God and King)

Problem: there is no hymn tune called “From All That Dwell Below the Skies”, nor is there one called “All Creatures of Our God and King”. “From All That Dwell Below the Skies” is the first line of a poem, which we often sing to the tunes DUKE STREET, OLD HUNDREDTH, or LASST UNS ERFREUEN (with Alleluias). Neither is there a hymn tune called “All Creatures of Our God and King”. Most often the poem that begins with the line “All Creatures of our God and King” is sung to the tune LASST UNS ERFREUEN, but it may also be sung to DUKE STREET or OLD HUNDREDTH too (provided you don’t sing the Alleluias), or any tune in Long Metre (LM), for that matter.

Got it? Good. Don’t make me come over there.


About revjatb

I am a father of six who is trying to do his best! My interests are varied. I have one blog, KnowTea, that is primarily focused on liturgy and worship and another one, Bengtsson's Baking, that is about, well, baking! I hope you enjoy both of them, and if you have any questions, please contact me!
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8 Responses to I know what I’m talking about

  1. PaulB says:

    Dang. Now I have to redo the bulletin– as well as the past 6 months worth as well. It’s not alright to list hymnwriters as “some old dead guy”? Besides, I thought Duke Street was the name of the author.

  2. PaulB says:

    RevJATB suggestions for spicing up your weekly worship:

    ~Interpretive Dance processional of acolytes

    ~Elvis impersonator version of “I Come to the Garden Alone”

    ~Dramatic reading of Scripture using The Living Bible translation. Note: Use of spotlight and musical score from Lord of the Rings a must.

    ~Local Baptist Student Union troupe of students uses sign language to perform a melody of Sandy Patti hits as the “special music”.

    ~Sermon this week: Finding the Purpose Driven Life with provided outlines from Rick Warren.

  3. RevJATB says:

    Now Paul, you know that you are excepted from the above rant for two very good reasons:

    1) I have never seen one of your bulletins, and

    2) You are my brother and have too much dirt on me from our childhood.

    To your list, I might add a special seminar for soloist on how to clear your mike cord before you step forward (or do a jazz box) and how to look adoringly on as someone else sings a solo. (Skills you and I both learned in youth ensemble.)

  4. RevJATB says:

    No, Duke Street was Gomer Pyle’s friend in the Marines.

    Actually, I think John Tesh lives on Duke Street these days. Why Vrouw Jonker wants to see him on Iron Chef is beyond me . . .

  5. Vrouw_Jonker says:

    Duke Ellington wrote Duke Street, didn’t he?

  6. Cancerman says:

    In the same way, it’s not a sermon if it is not about the Gospel. It may be a lecture, diatribe, speech or story, but it’s not a sermon.

    Just know what you are doing and why.

    By the way Duke Street is where the Blue Devils live.

  7. RevJATB says:

    Ella Fitzgerald, on the other hand, sang “Green Dolphin Street.”

  8. Cancerman says:

    This week’s bulletin

    Collect “Duke Street”

    Sermon “A Jabez Driven Life”

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