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Ideas for Using Creeds in Worship

Here are ideas for how to incorporate the creeds into a series of services, music, art, and specific places within the order of worship.

Here are ideas for how to incorporate the creeds into a series of services, music, art, and specific places within the order of worship.

Plan a series

You can structure a year of services around the Nicene Creed. This works well especially in churches that follow the Christian year and lectionary. This chart from The Worship Sourcebook shows the relationship between Nicene Creed themes and liturgical seasons. The Worship Sourcebook offers many resources for such a series.

Get ideas from this completed sermon series about the Apostles’ Creed.

Sing the creeds

You’ll find relevant songs in hymn festivals based on the Apostles’ Creed, one festival for the Hymn Society of America, the other at a small Baptist church in Kentucky.

The text of “I Believe” is like an amplified version of the Apostles’ Creed.

Catholic songwriter Sylvia Groeger wrote this sung version ofthe Apostles’ Creed.

In the U.K. some churches sing “Rising Generation,” which in its verses echoes the Apostles’ Creed. The song is by Dave Bankhead and Mike Burn. David Lee composed tunes in 1999 and 2000 to accompany Timothy Dudley-Smith’s “We Believe in God the Father.”

Martin Luther’s “We All Believe in One True God,” echoes the Nicene Creed, as does this simpler version.

Musically demonstrate the idea of worldwide communion by using chanted or sung creeds fromBritain, Estonia (Arvo Part’s Credo), Russia, and Senegal.

If your church regularly recites a creed during worship, ask hand drummers to undertone or accent the recitation. This new sound may add intensity or help people notice parts of the creed they’ve been repeating but not thinking about.

Include art

Project paintings from Dutch artist Anneke Kaai’s book I Believe: Meditations on the Ten Commandments and Apostles’ Creed.

Help worshipers reflect on the Apostles’ Creed by using the video clip “Story” on the DVD Digital Glass.

Design a banner about the Apostles’ Creed.

Use global resources to help the congregation visualize itself as part of a worldwide church. Theseinterviews with international guests (scroll down) at the 2006 Calvin Worship Symposium may spark ideas for art you can create.

When and how to use creeds in worship

Follow tradition and recite, chant, or sing the Apostles’ Creed for a baptism or profession of faith service and the Nicene Creed for the Lord’s Supper.

In his Geneva liturgy, John Calvin included a sung version of the Apostles’ Creed after the sermon and before communion.

If children leave worship partway during the service, do the creed while they are still with the whole church. Their participation makes them feel part of the church, gives them words to express their faith, and may witness to visitors who aren’t Christians.

If your services include space for people to share testimonies, then recite the creed before you open the microphone to personal stories of faith.

Look for choir anthems to sing partway through the creed recitation. At a national choral directors convention, John Witvliet suggested speaking the Nicene Creed on Palm Sunday, but pausing at the “crucifixus” for the choir to sing that section from Bach’s B Minor Mass.

In a scholarly paper on Isaiah in Christian Liturgy, John Witvliet notes that creeds are often a sign of church unity. But they also remind us what we stand for. He suggests conveying this second purpose by introducing creed recitation something like this: “The creed is a way of saying ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ With these words, we are affirming our common trust in the God revealed in scripture. We are also confessing that we do not trust in the gods of money, sex, and power. Let us confess our faith with the church of all ages.”