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Beginning a Lenten Journey - Psalm 1

A service plan for Lent focused on Psalm 1, which reminds us that life is a journey with two possible paths; one path brings happiness, but the other path brings tragedy. This is part of a Lenten series on the Psalms.

Worship Service
Also in this Series

Psalms for a Lenten Journey

This series of worship services for Lent is built around a sampling of the Psalms.

Theme of the Service

With this service we enter the season of Lenten worship. See the introduction to the season of Lent, suggestions for worship planning during this season, and a suggested devotional service for Ash Wednesday.

During this season of Lent, worship will be built around a sampling of the Psalms, "Psalms for a Lenten Journey." Psalms are reflective of the diversity of experiences in the lives of God's people in the Old Testament and today. If you desire to reflect on the use of Psalms in worship further, we recommend "Restoring the Psalms to Worship" by David Koyzis in Reformed Worship.

We are grateful for the collaborative efforts of Carl Bosma, Associate Professor of Old Testament at Calvin Theological Seminary, who will be providing helpful information on each of the Psalms during this season. You will find the information he has provided at the end of the worship service.

Psalm 1 has been called "A Gateway to the Psalter," and therefore it serves well to begin our journey. This Psalm not only reminds us that life is a journey, but that there are two ways to travel this journey. The one brings happiness; the other brings tragedy.

* * * * *


Prelude: "Wondrous Love" [see music notes]

The Call and Invitation to Worship

*Processional Hymn: "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling" PH 376: 1,3,4; PsH 568:1-3; RN 196:1-3; RL 464:1-3; TH 529:1,3, 4; TWC 558:1,3,4; UMH 384:1, 3, 4

*The Welcome and Greeting:
Today we begin our Lenten Journey.
We are following Jesus.

Sometimes we travel with joy in our heart,
and sometimes we are not so sure.

We wonder what will lie ahead for us.
Will it be hosannas, or will it be an angry crowd?

Will it be a prayerful garden or a stark cross?
A holy meal or an empty place at the table?

So, today we begin our Lenten Journey,
and as we do our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth,

Grace, mercy and peace to you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Anthem: "Come to the Water," Foley

[see liturgy notes]

The Call to Confession

Because we trust in God's covenant faithfulness, we are free to make our confession to God and call for his compassion. Let us, therefore, confess our sins that we may be renewed in his grace.

The Prayer of Confession:

O Master, great and awesome God.
You never waver in your covenant commitment,
never give up on those who love you and do what you say.
Yet we have sinned in every way imaginable.
We've done evil things, rebelled, dodged
and taken detours around your clearly marked paths.

Compassion is our only hope,
the compassion of you, the Master, our God,
since in our rebellion we've forfeited our rights.
Master, you are our God,
for you delivered your people
from the land of Egypt in a show of power that
people are still talking about it!
We confess that we have sinned,
that we have lived bad lives.

Turn your ears our way, God, and listen.
Open your eyes and take a long look at us,
your people named after you.
We know that we don't deserve a hearing from you.
Our appeal is to your compassion.
This prayer is our last and only hope:
Master, listen to us!
Master, forgive us!
Through Christ, your Lamb, our Lord. Amen.
(adapted from Daniel 9 in The Message)

The Assurance of Pardon:

The Gospel of Christ speaks to us of the pardon we may have through the finished work of Jesus Christ. Please rise for the reading of the Gospel.

(the worshipers rise)

The reading of John 6:35-40
This is the Gospel of Christ.
Thanks be to God.

On the basis of the Gospel of Christ, we may be assured that our sins are forgiven for the sake of Christ.

Passing the Peace
The peace of Christ be with you all.
And also with you.

(The worshipers greet each other saying, "The peace of Christ be with you".)

Our Grateful Affirmation:

I believe that every thing God reveals in his Word is true.
I also believe that true faith is not only a knowledge and conviction.
It is also a deep-rooted assurance,
created in me by the Holy Spirit through the gospel,
that, out of sheer grace earned for us by Christ,
not only others, but I too,
have had my sins forgiven,
have been made forever right with God,
and have been granted salvation.
(from the Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 21)

Song of Testimony: "When Peace Like a River" PsH 489:1, 3; TH 691:1, 3; TWC 519:1, 3; UMH 377:1, 3

The Reading of Psalm 1 (in unison) [see liturgy notes]

Silence for Reflection

Song for Reflection: "Be Still and Know" RN 10, SFL 225, TWC 516


Scripture Anthem: "Psalm 130," Ferguson

The Sung Prayer for Illumination: "Psalm 51" RN 181/182, SFL 41, SNC 49

The Reading of Psalm 1
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Sermon: Beginning a Lenten Journey
[Psalms for a Lenten Journey #1]

The Prayer of Application


*Song of Adoration: "Ah, Holy Jesus, How Have You Offended" PH 93, PsH 386, RL 285, RN 183, TH 248, TWC 231, UMH 289
v.1 unison
v.2 men in unison
v.3 all, unaccompanied, in parts
v.4 unison

Silence for Reflection

Song of Amazement: "Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound" PH 280, PsH 462, RL 456, RN 189, SFL 209, TH 460 TWC 502, UMH 378
v.1-2 unison
v.3 choir only
v.5 unison

Scripture Exclamations [see liturgy notes]

Song of Love: "What Wondrous Love" PH 85:1-3; PsH 379:1-4; RN 277:1-4; SFL 169:1-4; TH 261:1-3; TWC 212:1-4; UMH 292:1-4

Scripture Exclamations

Anthem: "My Jesus, I Love Thee," Sjolund

A Scripture Reading (responsively)
I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.
My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me, let us exalt his name together.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.
Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.
He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases;
he redeems my life from the pit and crowns me with love and compassion.
The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the same of the Lord.
I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the Lord.
I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people,
in the courts of the house of the Lord-in your midst, O Jerusalem.
(from Psalms 34, 103, 116)

Offertory Anthem: "But Thanks Be To God," Handel


*The Benediction with Congregational Amen

*Song of Praise: "Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven" PH 478, PsH 475, RL 144, RN 53, TH 76/77, TWC 25/26, UMH 66
v.1 unison
v.2 all in parts
v.3 women in unison
v.4 unison, with descant

Postlude: "Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven," Hobby

* You are invited to stand

* * * * *

Sermon Notes
Introduction to Psalm 1: "A Gateway to the Psalter"
by Carl Bosma

Together with Psalm 2, Psalm 1 is the first half of a two-part introduction to the Psalter. This is evident, first of all, from the fact that Psalms 1 and 2 are linked together by means of the framing beatitudes, “Oh the happiness of the person…whose constant delight is on the law of the LORD” (Ps 1:1-2) and “Oh the happiness of those who take refuge in him” (Ps 2:12; cf. Ps 34:8). Along with “happiness,” these two psalms share the key words “way,” “murmur,” and “perish.” Moreover, they also contain important thematic words that resonate throughout the Psalter. For example, the root metaphor “refuge” in Psalm 2:12 forms an ideal transition to the subsequent series of lament psalms about pain, persecution, poverty and poor health, in which “refuge” and its synonyms function as key theological concepts.1 Finally, lacking superscriptions, these two psalms function as a superscription to the Psalter as a whole.

As the point of entry into the Psalter, Psalms 1 and 2 serve as hermeneutical guideposts that orient the readers in their understanding and appropriation of the message of the Book of Psalms. Their central claim is that those who would appropriate the subsequent psalms to voice their faith in prayer and praise in the vicissitudes of life must fit the profile of the person described as genuinely happy in the opening and closing beatitudes of this two-part introduction.2 More specifically, they encourage the readers to meditate on the law of the LORD and to acknowledge the sovereignty of the LORD and his anointed one as they sojourn through the Psalter.

It is striking that the very first word of this paired introduction and the entire Psalter is “happiness.” The fact that the opening congratulatory exclamation “Oh the happiness of the person…” of Psalm 1 stands outside of the three parallel descriptive statements of verse 1 and that Psalm 1 serves as the gateway to the Psalter suggests that this opening exclamation functions both as the theme of Psalm 1 and of the whole Psalter. In a certain sense, therefore, the first beatitude of the Psalter prompts readers to think of the entire book not only as a hymn book but also as a guide to happiness.

This suggestion is confirmed by the fact that the opening beatitude is followed by 25 such sayings that are scattered throughout the Psalter. In fact, Book I opens with two psalms that contain a beatitude and closes with two psalms that contain a beatitude, namely, Psalms 40 and 41. Consequently, Book I is a concise instruction in genuine happiness.3

In our series of exposition of Psalms for Lent we will begin with a brief exposition of Psalm 1 and conclude with Psalm 2. We begin our journey through these select psalms with Psalm 1 because, as William P. Brown notes, “Psalm 1 begins the pilgrimage and anticipates its destiny.”4 Additionally, we will also consider two more psalms that contain beatitudes, namely, Psalms 32 and 34.

As the entryway to the Psalter, Psalm 1 has the form of an expanded beatitude. The essential outline of a short beatitude consists of a congratulatory exclamation, “Oh the happiness of...,” followed by a word or clause(s) that describe(s) the character or conduct of the recipient. The concluding beatitude of Psalm 2 is a good example: “Oh the happiness of all who take refuge in him” (cf. Ps 34:8).

The primary function of a beatitude is to encourage the reader to adopt a certain type of action. The central aim of Psalm 1 is to commend joyous and continuous delight in the “law” of the LORD (v. 2) as a key to successful living (v. 3). The basic theme of this beatitude is that only the person who delights in constant meditation on the “law” of the Lord is genuinely happy.5

The central emphasis on “law” in this beatitude has proven to be problematic for Christian readers because of their fear of legalistic moralism and/or their supersessionist law-gospel theology. Against this fear it is important to note, first of all, that the Hebrew word for “law” in verse 2 is torah. This Hebrew word does not only refer to “commandments” (cf. Ps 112:1) but also, and more basically, “direction” or “instruction." Moreover, in the phrase “law of the LORD”6 the divine name functions as a subjective genitive. In other words, it is the Lord who is doing the instruction (cf. Ps 94.12). With this in mind, it is probable that in Psalm 1 the phrase “law of the LORD” denotes the whole body of tradition through which instruction of the LORD’s will and purposes was handed down in Israel.7

Against the fear of legalism one must also recognize that recommended meditation on the Lord’s instruction is not a burdensome duty but a constant delight.8 This surprising thought is elaborated in verse 3 by means of the simile of the luxuriant tree that has been transplanted by irrigation channels.

As we noted above, Psalm 1 is an expanded beatitude. To appreciate the elaboration of the central theme of the basic beatitude, careful attention must be paid to the two dominant literary devices employed in this psalm as a whole.

The first and more obvious device is the effective use of contrast. The first contrast is between the truly happy person’s resolute dissociation from the conduct (“way”) of the wicked (v. 1)9 and his delight in constant meditation on the “law” (torah) of the LORD (v. 2).10 The next obvious contrast is between the elaborate description of the singularly happy person in verses 1-3 and the very brief description of the wicked (plural!) in verses 4-5.

This fundamental contrast comes to clear expression, first of all, in the contrary description between verses 1 and 5. According to these verses, the truly happy person does not walk in the way of the wicked nor stand in the “counsel” of sinners and sinners do not “stand” in the “council” (word play) of the righteous. This sharp contrast reaches its climactic expression in the summary statement of verse 6. This summary declaration demonstrates clearly that Psalm 1 revolves around the sharp contrast between “the way of the righteous” and “the way of the wicked.”

In fact, Psalm 1 derives its orienting power from the fundamental metaphor of the Two Ways and suggests that life is a journey. In Psalm 1 this journey entails the pursuit of genuine happiness. For the interpretation of this powerful metaphor it is important to remember that the concept “way” can refer to both one’s conduct (v. 1) and one’s destiny (v. 6).

The next important contrast is the rather lengthy simile of the luxuriant tree that has been firmly transplanted (passive participle!) near irrigation channels (v. 3) and the very short simile of the rootless, insubstantial and unstable chaff that is blown around by the wind (v. 4). Experience shows that well-rooted and irrigated trees produce fruit. A person who constantly meditates on the law of the LORD is like that tree. Experience also shows that chaff does not act. It is acted upon! It is blown to and fro by the wind. Such is also the case with the wicked. They are subject to peer pressure.

Finally, there is the pivotal contrast between the concluding complex sentence of verse 3 and the initial emphatic exclamation of verse 4:
Everything that he does, he causes to prosper11 (v. 3).
Not so the wicked (v. 4a)!

This final contrast forms the hinge on which the whole psalm revolves. This central contrast also provides an important clue for the second important stylistic device that under girds Psalm 1, namely, chiasmus (inversion). A close reading of Psalm 1 suggests that its compositional structure represents an incomplete chiastic pattern that may be outlined as follows:
Opening Congratulatory formula: “Oh the happiness of the person….
A. Description of the Conduct of the (Righteous) Person (vv.1bcd)
B. Constant Delight in the Torah (v. 2)
C. Extended Simile of the Luxuriant Tree (v. 3ab)
D. Objectifying Conclusion: Success (v. 3c)
D’. Objectifying Introduction: Failure (v. 4a)
C’. Short Simile of Chaff (v. 4b)
A’ Description of Wicked Persons (v. 5)
Summary Statement (v. 6).

A cursory look at the above outline reveals two important features, each one of which is significant for the interpretation of the message of Psalm 1. The first is the striking omission of a contrasting parallel for verse 2 in the description of the life of the wicked! From this omission it may be inferred that the wicked take no delight in constant meditation on the “law” of the LORD. They completely miss the delightful key to success and for this reason they will not stand in court (v. 5b).12

This remarkable omission shows that verse 2 is a very important. Explicit confirmation for this lies, first of all, in the fact that the positive affirmation in verse 2 stands in sharp contrast (cf. kî ’im) to the three negatives in verse 1. This contrast emphasizes that the truly happy person does not take his cue from the counsel of the ungodly but from the law of the LORD. The importance of verse 2 is also evident from the fact that the word “law” is repeated twice. This repetition underscores the centrality of the LORD’s teaching and this emphasis probably explains why Psalm 1 was accorded pride of place in the Psalter. It was assigned this preeminent position because the double occurrence of the word “law” established an integral connection between the Law and the Prophets.

Thematically this canonical connection is evident from the fact that the language of verse 2 echoes Joshua 1:7-8. In fact, a comparison of Psalm 1:2-3 with Joshua 1:7-8 shows that the words “that you may be successful wherever you go” from Joshua 1:7 are echoed in the concluding complex sentence of Psalm 1:3 (“whatever he does, he causes to succeed”) and that the command to “meditate on it [law] day and night” is picked up in Psalm 1:2. Moreover, between these two allusions to Joshua 1:7-8 the poet has sandwiched the powerful simile of the verdant tree that is also found in Jeremiah 17:8. Truly the poet is interpreting Scripture with Scripture!

The second feature is that, like the opening congratulatory formula, verse 6 also stands outside of the chiastic structure of Psalm 1. This climactic verse functions as a summary statement that wraps up the message of the entire psalm. Three stylistic features of this asymmetrical contrastive poetic line call for special attention.

First, the LORD is the subject of the first clause: “The LORD knows the way of the righteous (pl.).” Significantly, this is the first time that the LORD becomes the subject of a clause in Psalm 1. Only in this clause is the mysterious “transplanter” and “success maker” of verse 3 identified.13 Moreover, the central claim that the LORD knows “the way of the righteous” means, first of all, that there exists a personal relationship between the LORD and the righteous.14 In addition, it also denotes the LORD’s beneficent support of the life of the righteous (cf. Ps 37.18). Consequently, one could translate the active participle in verse 6a as “concerned about.”15 In other words, the LORD is concerned about the way of the righteous.

Second, surprisingly, unlike Psalm 145:20, the LORD is not the subject of the second clause of verse 6. On the contrary, “the way of the wicked” is the subject. The omission of the divine name from this second half of the poetic line demonstrates that the LORD is not responsible for the negative outcome of this way. Instead, the striking switch in subject indicates that “the way of the wicked” self-destructs. “The way of the wicked” is a dead-end road; it is directionless and leads to nowhere.

Implicit in the second clause of the summary statement is the important proverbial act/consequence principle, “you get what you deserve.” This principle teaches that our actions have built-in consequences that are rooted in the very fabric of creation. If one chooses to walk on the way of the wicked, ruin is certain (Prov 5:22-23).

Third, as in the case of Psalm 112, the last word of this poetic line and the psalm as a whole is “perishes,” which begins with the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet, taw. Interestingly, the first word of Psalm 1, “happiness,” begins with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, aleph. The use of this unique stylistic device suggests that Psalm 1 aims to offer in a concise yet comprehensive statement the “a-b-c’s” of genuine happiness. From the perspective of verse 2, constant meditation on the LORD’s instruction equips the sojourner for all the challenges in life’s journey, from A to Z.16

How does one preach these “a-b-c’s” of genuine happiness? This is an important question for two reasons. First, some use Psalm 1 to support their health and wealth gospel. But does Psalm 1’s perspective on happiness and success warrant a sermon that promises health and wealth? The fact that the verb “prosper” in verse 3 is a causative suggests that this is not the case. Moreover, and this is the more complex issue, Psalm 1’s perspective on happiness and success appears to conflict with everyday experience. The laments that follow testify to the fact that the righteous suffer and that the wicked prosper. In fact, Psalm 73 appears to question the central thesis of Psalm 1 and wrestles with the problem of the powerful influence of the wicked and their prosperity.

To avoid this apparent conflict between the central claim of Psalm 1 and experience, Augustine, for example, argued that only Jesus Christ fits the portrait of the happy person in Psalm 1:1-2. Others spiritualize success excessively. Still others read Psalm 1 only as an eschatological poem.17

While each of these approaches contains an element of truth, nevertheless, we would underscore the fact that Psalm 1 is a wisdom poem that is based on lived experience. For this reason it should be preached as a confession of faith,18 like Question and Answer One from the Heidelberg Catechism. Instead of resolving the tension between the central claim of Psalm 1 and experience, a sermon on Psalm 1 should retain this tension so that it may serve as a penetrating critique of the way in which people normally understand happiness.

To that end, one might use the well-known caption from the Peanuts cartoon, “Happiness is a warm puppy,” or a series of “Happy is…” greetings cards19 in the introduction of the sermon. They are the biblical equivalent to the exuberant opening exclamation, “Oh the happiness of the person…,” in Psalm 1. Preachers in the USA might also link Psalm 1’s concern for happiness with the well-known phrase “pursuit of happiness” from the Declaration of Independence. This would allow the preacher to compare and contrast the different perspectives on how to achieve genuine happiness.

With respect to the sermon’s outline, the compositional structure of Psalm 1 suggests that there are two interpretive strategies that may be used to proclaim the message of this powerful opening beatitude. The first strategy would be to base one’s exposition on the poignant concluding poetic line in verse 6. The preacher can then exploit the challenging contrast between the Two Ways. In the sermon the preacher could then point to the fact that from the perspective of Psalm 1 there are only two types of people, two ways and two outcomes. The preacher should also emphasize that the subject of verses 1-3 is singular, whereas the terms “wicked” and “sinners” in verses 4-5 are plural. This underscores the unique happiness of the person that meditates constantly on the law of the LORD. Like Jesus in Matthew 7:13-14, the sermon would aim for a decision on which way to follow. Depending on the audience, the preacher could also use Robert Frost’s poem “Two Roads.”

The second strategy would be to explore the remarkable omission of a contrastive unit for verse 2 in the life of the wicked under the theme of “A Delightful Key to Success.” This would require a different outline.

Whichever strategy one adopts, we suggest, that to make the message of Psalm 1 relevant for today, it should be preached from a countercultural perspective on happiness. From that perspective a sermon on Psalm 1 should be a penetrating critique of our self-indulgent society that delights, not in the law of the LORD, but in the Enlightenment’s concept of “autonomous man.” Significantly, the term “autonomous” is derived from two Greek terms, autos, “self,” and nomos, “law.” Autonomous individuals, therefore, are “a law unto themselves.” According to this “law,” if it feels good, just do it.

This autonomous pursuit of happiness characterizes North American society20 and is, as J. Clinton McCann, Jr. and James C. Howell point out, the centerpiece of the American Declaration of Independence.21 According to McCann and Howell, Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf’s affirmation is representative of the prevailing American mindset: “The American dream is reaching a point in life where you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.”22

However, the irony is that the independent pursuit of happiness in our society is in crisis. McCann and Howell quote from Walker Percy and Mary Pipher to demonstrate that the pervasive mood in our culture is one of disappointment.23 This disappointment comes to clear expression in Mick Jagger’s song, “I can’t get no satisfaction,” and the intriguing refrain from Sheryl Crow’s song, “If It Makes You Happy”:
If it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad
If it makes you happy, then why the hell are you so sad?24
The insights of Pipher and Percy and the songs of Jagger and Crow show that the self-centered and self-directed American dream of the independent pursuit of happiness is becoming a quagmire. Or, in the words of Psalm 1:6, “the way of the wicked is a dead-end road.”

As an alternative to the costly mirage of Enlightenment “cultural antinomianism,”25 a culturally subversive sermon on Psalm 1 should offer the delight of constantly meditating on the law of the Lord as a countercultural spiritual discipline to genuine happiness. The first aim of this continuous meditation is to, as it were, imprint, the law of the LORD, on our minds and hearts (Dt 6:6) so that one can say with the psalmist in Psalm 40:9,
“I am concerned to do your will;
your torah is inside me.”

Moreover, once the law of the LORD is engraved on our minds (Ps 119:11), the second goal is that torah piety becomes part and parcel of our lifestyle. In other words, we ought to bring every sphere of our existence subject to the will and purposes of our sovereign and gracious covenant partner who guards our way. This second goal is clearly expressed in Psalm 37:30-31:
30 The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom,
and his tongue speaks what is just.
31 The law of his God is in his heart;
his feet do not slip.

However, to successfully offer the delight of constant meditation on the law of the Lord as an attractive alternative to misperceived Enlightenment freedom and distorted evangelical “free grace,” the preacher must present the law of the LORD, not as an alien imposition, but “as definitional for the very fabric of our existence.”26 As such, the law of the LORD contains specific strategies for redirecting and reaffirming our legitimate pursuit of happiness as it is voiced in the Decalogue and in Jesus’ summary to love God and the neighbor.27 It must also be remembered that God graciously gave his law to his liberated people Israel so that it might serve them as their “Bill of Rights” in the promised land. As is evident from Deuteronomy 4:5-8, this “Bill of Rights” served as their missionary marching orders in the promised land. In obedience these marching orders Israel was to introduce a new life style in the promised land and beyond, a life style that was to be marked by righteousness, justice, mercy and peace. That still is the mission of the church (Mt 28:19-20), the Israel of God (Gal 6:16). Understood from this perspective the law of the LORD is a powerful missionary means of grace (Ps 19.7-10). 28 Or, from the perspective of the Heidelberg Catechism, it is God’s gracious guide for thanks-living for regenerated believers. No wonder that Jesus, on his way with the disciples to Jerusalem to be lifted up (Lk 9:52), exclaimed:
“Happy are those who hear the word of God and keep it” (Lk 11.28).

Select Bibliography

Mays, James L. Psalms INTERPRETATION: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching.
Louisville: John Knox Press, 1994.
McCann, J. Clinton, Jr. “The Book of Psalms: Introduction, Commentary and Reflection,” in
The New Interpreter’s Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes
Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1996.

Music Notes:
Glossary of Hymnal Abbreviations:
PH The Presbyterian Hymnal (Presbyterian Church USA; Westminster/John Knox Press)
PsH The Psalter Hymnal (Christian Reformed Church; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
RL Rejoice in the Lord (Reformed Church in America; W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)
RN Renew! (Hope Publishing Company)
SFL Songs for LiFE (children's songbook; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
SNC Sing! A New Creation (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Christian Reformed Church,
Reformed Church in America; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
TH Trinity Hymnal (Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in America; Great
Commission Publications)
TWC The Worshiping Church (Hope Publishing Company)
UMH The United Methodist Hymnal (United Methodist Publishing House)
WOV With One Voice (Augsburg Fortress)

Suggestions for the prelude can be found in the the following resources:

WONDROUS LOVE [“What Wondrous Love Is This”]
Barber, Samuel. Wondrous Love. Schirmer 44477 [1959] (M-D)
Callahan, Charles. Six Meditations on American Folk Hymns. Concordia
97-6140 [1992] (E-M)
Cherwien, David. Interpretations, bk. 9. AMSI SP-106 [1992] (E-M)
Johnson, David N. Hymns Settings for Organ. Augsburg Fortress
ISBN 0-8006-7498-7 [2002] (E)
Johnson, David N. Wondrous Love. Augsburg 11-0821 [1965] (E)
Manz, Paul. God of Grace. Morningstar MSM-10-599 [2004] (M)
Middleswarth, Jean E. Were You There. Broadman 4570-64 (POP) [1984] (E-M)
Phillips, Don. All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name. (ed. Lyon, Sharron) Broadman
4570-31 [1976] (E)
Young, Gordon. Preludes on the Familiar. Fischer 0 4886 [1972] (E-M)
Carter, John. Folk Hymns for Piano. Hope 240 [1987] (E-M)
Carter, John. The Wondrous Cross. Hope 1747 [1994] (E-M)
Wilhelmi, Teresa. Hymns…Light Jazz Style. Word 301 0136 315 [1997] (M)
Larson, Lloyd. What Wondrous Love. Beckenhorst HB 150 [1994] (3-5 octaves, E-M)
Wagner, Douglas E. What Wondrous Love. Agape 1312 [1988] (3-5 octaves, E-M)

Publication information for the anthems suggested for this service is as follows:

Come To The Water by John Foley S.J. is published by OCP 9489 [1993] for SATB, congregation, piano, guitar and solo instrument. The text is suggested by Isaiah 55:1,2 and Matthew 11:28-30. (E-M)

Psalm 130 by John Ferguson is published by Augsburg 11-10749 for SATB and organ. (M)

Amazing Grace arranged by Daniel Kallman is published by Morningstar MSM-50-9073 [1995] forSATB voices with piano. It can be adapted to include congregational verses. (M)

My Jesus, I Love Thee arranged by Paul Sjolund is published by Hinshaw HMC-935 [1987] for SATB voices with flute or violin and keyboard. (E-M)

But Thanks Be To God by Georg Fredric Handel is published by Schirmer as a single anthem from “Messiah” for SATB voices and keyboard. (M-D)

Publication information for alternative harmonizations for congregational songs suggested for this service is as follows:

HYFRYDOL [“Love Divine, All Loves Excelling”]
Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
Ferguson, John. Hymn Harmonizations for Organ, bk. 1. Ludwig O-05 [1975]
Alternative Harmonization for Piano:
Cherwien, David. Let It Rip! At the Piano. Augsburg 11-11045 [2000]

HERZLIEBSTER JESU [“Ah, Holy Jesus, How Have You Offended”]
Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
Burkhardt, Michael. As Though the Whole Creation Cried. Morningstar MSM-10-555 [2001]
Busarow, Donald. All Praise to You, Eternal God. Augsburg 11-9076 [1980]
Ferguson, John. Hymn Harmonizations for Organ, bk. 2. Ludwig O-07 [1983]

WONDROUS LOVE [“What Wondrous Love Is This”]
Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
Burkhardt, Michael. As Though the Whole Creation Cried. Morningstar MSM-10-555 [2001]
Alternative Harmonization for Piano:
Cherwien, David. Let It Rip! At the Piano. Augsburg 11-11045 [2000]

LAUDA ANIMA [“Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven”]
Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
Ferguson, John. Hymn Harmonizations for Organ, bk. 3. Ludwig O-10 [1986]
Alternative Harmonization for Piano:
Porter, Rachel Trelstad. Let It Rip! At the Piano. Augsburg 11-11045 [2000]

Suggestions for postlude are as follows:

LAUDA ANIMA [“Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven”]
Burkhardt, Michael. Praise and Thanksgiving, set 5. Morningstar MSM-10-755
[1993] (E-M)
Farlee, Robert Buckley. Augsburg Organ Library – Epiphany. Augsburg
11-11073 [2001]
Haan, Raymond H. Festival Hymn Preludes. SMP KK329 [1985] (E-M)
Hobby, Robert A. Partita on Praise My Soul, the King of Heaven. Concordia
97-6082 [1991] (E- M)
Hustad, Don. Three Organ Hymns for Weddings or General Use. Hope 341
[1970] (E-M)
Krapf, Gerhard. Sing and Rejoice, vol. 6. SMP KK339 [1986] (E, adaptable to piano)
Dobrinski, Cynthia. Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven. Agape 1974 [1988] (3-5 octaves, level 3)

Historically, some traditions have eliminated the “Alleluias” from the season of Lent in all worship. Other worshiping traditions have said such elimination is appropriate for weekdays, but on Sunday they continue to celebrate with exclamations of “alleluia.” Nonetheless, we have chosen to include alleluias in this service.

Liturgy Notes:

1. The Service of Confession/Renewal is designed to be a standard form for each week of Lent. This will reinforce its impact and meaning. You will find the format that is included in this service repeated each week. However, each week a different gospel reading will be included. These passages will be included in the weeks ahead:
March 12: John 8:12-18
March 19: John 10:7-10
March 26: John 10:11-18
April 2: John 16:6-14
April 9: John 15:1-5
April 16: John 11:25-27
In this service we have labeled this part of the service WE QUIET OUR HEARTS IN HUMILITY for consistency with the spirit and message of Psalm 1.

2. In this service the congregation participates in a unison reading of Psalm 1 early in the service because it shapes this entire service. Prior to the sermon, it will be read again. A double reading of this Psalm is not repetitious but reinforcing.

3. At two different points in the response to God's Word Scripture Exclamations are read. Such exclamations are to reflect the actions of God on which we must meditate. These can be read by members of the congregation seated in different locations in the sanctuary or by choir members. Those with strong voices should be selected, and they should be instructed to speak out clearly and animatedly so the reading has the force of an exclamation that gives us reason to celebrate the acts of God. The readings ought not to be sequential, but may overlap almost as interruptions so that it becomes a sea of voices in exclamation. Each should have a script of all that is read so that the concluding "Group Response" can be read by the choir. Here is a suggested list of acclamations we have used. This list can be divided into the two areas of liturgy where such exclamations are called for.

"Look, the sea is opening up."
"Water comes from a rock."
"The sun is standing still."
"The walls are coming down."
"Goliath is dead."
"A Savior is born."
"He is Christ the Lord."
"Glory to God in the Highest."
"Surely he was the Son of God."
"He is not here; he has risen."
"Christ is risen from the dead."
"I can walk again."
"He forgave my sins."
"I'm a new person."
"He has set me free."
"There is now no condemnation."
"Nothing will separate me from the love of God."
"Look, he's coming with the clouds."

Group Response:
"Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise!"

1 William P. Brown, Seeing the Psalms: A Theology of Metaphor (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002), 18.
2 John H. Stek, The NIV Study Bible, Fully Revised (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002), 788.
3 J. Clinton McCann, Jr., “The Shape of Book I of the Psalter and the Shape of Human Happiness,” in The Book of Psalms: Composition and Reception, eds. Peter W. Flint & Patrick D. Miller, Supplements to Vetus Testamentum XCIC (Leiden: Brill, 2005), 342.
4 Brown, Seeing the Psalms, 57.
5 For the centrality of the law to happiness see also Ps 94:12 and Prov 29:18.
6 Cf. Ex 13:9; 2 Kgs 10:13; Jer 8:8; Pss 9:8; and 119:1.
7 James L. Mays, Psalms, INTERPRETATION: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (Louisville: John Knox Press, 1994), 41. John Calvin suggests that the phrase “law of the Lord” refers to all of Scripture because “…the whole of Scripture is nothing else than an exposition of the law….” Cf. John Calvin, Commentary on the Book of Psalms, tr. James Anderson (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1949), 1: 4.
8 For this theme see also: Pss 112:1; 119:16, 24, 35, 47, 70, 77, 92, 143 and 174.
9 We interpret the QTL verbs to express decisiveness. Cf. Joüon § 112d.
10 The non-verbal clause and YQTL verb in v. 2 express habitual action.
11 The Hebrew verb is causative! Cf. Gen 39.2-3 and 21-23.
12 Christian readers tend to interpret the word “judgment” as the final judgment. However, the parallelism of v. 5 suggests that may refer to due legal process in the temple. Cf. Ps 24:3-6.
13 Cf. Craig C. Broyles, Psalms, New International Commentary (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1999), 43.
14 The Hebrew verb yd c, “to know,” denotes an intimate relationship (cf. Gen 4:1) and, as is evident from international treaties from the Ancient Near East, a covenantal commitment. Cf. Herbert Huffmon, “The Treaty Background of Hebrew Yada c,” BASOR 181 (1966): 31-37.
15 For this meaning of the verb yd c see Ex 2:25.
16 James Limburg, Psalms, Westminster Bible Companion (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2000), 3.
17 Mitchell Dahood, Psalms 1-50, AB 16 (New York: Doubleday, 1965), 1-5.
18 Mays, Psalms, 44.
19 Limburg, Psalms, 103.
20 Cf. Robert Bellah et al., Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985).
21 J. Clinton McCann, Jr. & James C. Howell, “The Pursuit of Happiness,” in Preaching the Psalms (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2001), 89.
22 McCann & Howell, Preaching the Psalms, 93.
23 McCann & Howell, Preaching the Psalms, 90 and 94-95.
24 McCann & Howell, Preaching the Psalms, 90.
25 For this term see: Paul R. McHugh, “Psychiatric Misadventures,” in The Best American Essays 19933, ed. Joseph Epstein (New York: Ticknor and Fields, 1993), 193. I owe this reference to Walter Brueggemann, “Duty as Delight and Desire (Preaching Obedience That Is Not Legalism),” Journal for Preachers 19 (1994): 12.
26 Brueggemann, “Duty as Delight and Desire,” 5.
27 Brueggemann, “Duty as Delight and Desire,” 7.
28 James L. Mays, Psalms, INTERPRETATION: A Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (Louisville: John Knox Press, 1994), 42.