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Our Joy - Psalms 34, 51, Luke 15

A service plan focused on responses and emotions in worship. Our faith gives us reason for great joy, but we also experience much pain and sorrow in this world. Part of a series of sermons pairing together some of the seemingly irreconcilable paradoxes in the Christian faith.

Worship Service

Theme of the Service

Reviewing "Worship Pairs"

This is the fourth week that we have been providing "Worship Pairs" instead of complete liturgies. Our intent is to deal with matters that seem irreconcilable or paradoxical, and to provide the building blocks for worship services that will aid God's people in achieving a sense of balance between these two matters.

So far we have provided three pairs, and you will find each of them on the website of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship.

Prayer (Jan. 16):
"God Isn't Answering," Psalm 10; Psalm 13
"Prayer Changes Things," James 5:13-18

Our Beliefs (Jan. 23):
"I Believe the Bible is True," 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21
"Sometimes I've Had to Change My Convictions," Acts 10:34-48

Our Influence (Jan. 30):
"Christians Need to be Different," 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1
"Christians Need to Be in the World," Matthew 5:13-16

For this final one of the group, we are dealing with the responses and emotions of the Christian, particularly joy. Here again we find it necessary to achieve a balance between two emphases:

"Sometimes Christians Are Broken," Psalm 34:17-18; 51:17
"Christians Should Be Happier," Luke 15:5-7, 9-10, 22-24

We remind you of several vital considerations we have raised in previous weeks. Our aim is to identify some of the dilemmas that Christians face so that we can aid them in living with a balance of issues that can sometimes seem antithetical to each other. It is ideal to schedule both sermons on the same Sunday, morning and evening, but if that is not possible they can be scheduled on succeeding weeks. We also remind you that a clear and repeated explanation of your intent is necessary to avoid any possibility of serious misunderstanding. And each worship service should be a whole in and of itself.

Suggestions for Two Sermons

Sermon #1: "Sometimes Christians Are Broken"
Scripture: Psalm 10; 13; 34:18; 51:17

1. An illustration: The worship leader began the Sunday morning service with words like these: "It's a great day and God is good so we're here to praise the Lord with all our heart. Let's stand and celebrate together!" But Greg was sitting there with a heavy heart because his business was about to go belly-up. Marlene had been told on Friday that the biopsy showed a malignant breast tumor. And Ryan and Sheila were nearly in tears because their children were contemplating a divorce. The more the congregation sang, the more left out and misunderstood they felt.

2. Is it legitimate to cry in church? Should we be embarrassed at tears in church? Are pleading cries for help out of place when everybody wants to "just praise the Lord"? Is it a "downer" to the others when we make confession of our sins? Is worship only for those who are "up"? Is the aim of worship to force us "up"?

3. Consider carefully the four Scripture passages that are listed above. In Psalm 10, the author, probably David, cries out to God in deep pain because God seems to stand "far off" and hide himself in times of trouble. In Psalm 13 David freely and bitterly complains to God that it seems like he forgets and hides himself from us in our hard times. In Psalm 34 David arrives at joy and praise (see vv. 1-3), but he remembers a time of crying out of a crushed spirit (v. 18). In Psalm 51, a sobered David not only describes himself as someone with a broken spirit, but proclaims that God will always pay attention to broken spirits (v. 17).

4. In every gathering of worshipers there is a certain percentage who cannot praise and celebrate, for life has been hard and they are wounded. Such folks easily wonder if there is room for them in the presence of God. Maybe they don't wonder so much if God will pay attention to them, but they do wonder if other worshipers will accept them.

5. The church must be formed with an accepting and empathetic spirit that does not demand that all be able to celebrate but walks sensitively in the painful experiences of those who are going through tough times. And worship should extend permission to suffering believers to be honest before God.

Sermon #2: "Christians Should Be Happier"
Scripture: Luke 15:5-7, 9-10, 22-24

1. Consider the often-heard complaints: "So much Christianity is less than attractive because so many Christians are sour when they should be celebrating." "Others are not being drawn in because of the long faces of those inside." "A glum Christian is poor advertisement." Is there truth to those statements? How do you respond when you hear them?

2. Luke 15 is a very interesting chapter from the ministry of Jesus; he tells three parables that follow a similar pattern: lost - found - celebration. First a sheep; then a coin; and finally a son. In each case the story leads into a celebration-among friends and neighbors (vv. 6, 9) and family (vv. 22-24) and among the angels in heaven (vv. 7, 10). But the setting of Jesus' teaching is somewhat hostile. In verse 1 we learn that his audience was made up of Pharisees who were not willing to welcome sinners, and certainly not celebrate their presence. And in the final part of the third parable we see the pathetic picture of an older brother who was unable to enter the celebration going on around him-the classic Christian grump! The issue with him remains unresolved as the story comes to a close.

3. Here are a few questions that this message ought to wrestle with.

  • Is "joy over finding the lost" the same as happiness as we understand it? What's the difference?
  • In what way is there "rejoicing among the angels in heaven" over such events? What other glimpses of that do you find in the Bible? Should that be echoed in our worship?
  • How do and should Christians express their joy over God's saving work? How do they do that in worship?
  • What was the problem with the Pharisees? Does it show up today? How?
  • What was the problem with the older brother? Does it show up today? How?

4. But . . . can we really just tell people to be happy and joyful and expect it to happen? Shouldn't it come naturally? And what about those who have heavy hearts (see the first sermon)? Isn't it inconsiderate to force them to be happy and celebrative when hearts are heavy? Perhaps a greater sensitivity must be developed within the entire community to realize that some are ready to celebrate at the same time that others are ready to cry-and both are authentic expressions within the Christian faith.

Suggestions for Music

You will find here suggestions for congregational song, instrumental music, and choral anthems for both of these services on the theme of emotion in Christian living.

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)

Congregational Song Suggestions:
Abide with Me (EVENTIDE) PH 543, PsH 442, RL 440, TH 402, TWC 365, UMH 700
Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing (NETTLETON) PH 356, PsH 486, RL 449, TH 457, TWC 45,
UMH 400
Come, You Disconsolate (CONSOLATION) PsH 538, TWC 613, UMH 510
Come, You Sinners, Poor and Needy (ARISE/RESTORATION) PsH 534, RN 141, TWC 451, UMH 340
God, Be Merciful to Me (REDHEAD 76/GETHSEMANE/PETRA/AJALON) PsH 255, TH 486
I Will Sing of the Mercies of the Lord (FILLMORE) PsH 169, RN 111, TWC 30
I Will Sing unto the Lord (TZENA) PsH 152, RN 120, SFL 105
In You Is Gladness (IN DIR IST FREUDE) PsH 566, UMH 169
Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee (HYMN/ODE TO JOY) PH 464, RL 521, TWC 20, UMH 89
Listen to My Cry, Lord (LISTENING) PsH 61
O Lord, My God, Most Earnestly (THE GREEN HILL) PsH 63
Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven (LAUDA ANIMA) PH 478, PsH 475, RL 144, RN 53, TH 76,
TWC 25, UMH 66
Precious Lord, Take My Hand (PRECIOUS LORD) PH 404, PsH 493, TWC 638, UMH 474
Sing to the Lord, Sing His Praise (WESLEY) PsH 96, TH 62
When Peace Like a River (VILLE DU HAVRE) PsH 489, TH 691, TWC 519, UMH 377

Instrumental Music Suggestions:

ARISE/RESTORATION ("Come, You Sinners, Poor and Needy") PsH 534, RN 141, TWC 451, UMH 340

  • Held, Wilbur. Preludes and Postludes, vol. 1.Augsburg 11-9318 [1972] (E-M).
  • Linker, Janet. Sunday Morning Suite. Augsburg Fortress ISBN 0-8006-7560-6 [2002] (E-M).


  • Carter, John. Folk Hymns for Piano. Hope 240 [1987] (E-M).

CONSOLATION ("Come, You Disconsolate") PsH 538, TWC 613, UMH 510

  • Beck, Albert. Seventy-six Offertories on Hymns and Chorales. Concordia 97-5207 [1973] (E).
  • Carlson, J. Bert. Augsburg Organ Library - Lent. Augsburg 11-11036 [2000] (E-M).

EVENTIDE ("Abide with Me") PH 543, PsH 442, RL 440, TH 402, TWC 365, UMH 700

  • Bish, Diane. The Diane Bish Organ Book, vol. 2. Fred Bock B-G0647 [1982] (E-M).
  • Haan, Raymond H. The King of Love. SMP KK277 [1983] (E-M).
  • Hobby, Robert A. For All the Saints. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7537-1 [2002] (E-M).


  • Schubert, Myra. Give Him Praise. Lillenas MB-511 [1983], p. 27 (D).

Alternative Harmonization for Piano:

  • Organ, Anne Krentz. Let It Rip! At the Piano. Augsburg 11-11045 [2000].

Alternative Harmonization for Organ:

  • Hobby, Robert A. Three Evening Hymns, Set 1. Morningstar MSM-10-512 [1997].

FILLMORE ("I Will Sing of the Mercies of the Lord") PsH 169, RN 111, TWC 30

  • Hayes, Mark. Lord Be Glorified. Word 301 0047 312 [1990] (M).
  • Wilson, John F. This Is the Day. Hope 243 [1992] (E-M).

HYMN/ODE TO JOY ("Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee") PH 464, RL 521, TWC 20, UMH 89

  • Burkhardt, Michael. Hymn to Joy. Morningstar MSM-10-729 [2000] (E-M).
  • Callahan, Charles. Partita on Hymn to Joy. Morningstar MSM-10-703 [1993] (E-M).
  • Callahan, Charles. Two Festive Organ Pieces. Morningstar MSM-10-761 [1999] (M).
  • Cherwien, David. Postludes on Well-Known Hymns. Augsburg 11-10795 [1997] (E-M).
  • Ferguson, John. A Thanksgiving Triptych. Morningstar MSM-10-603 [2001] (E-M).
  • Honore, Jeffrey. Classic Embellishments. Augsburg 11-11005 [1999] (E-M).
  • Hopson, Hal. Processional of Joy. Fischer P3236 [1977] (E-M).
  • Krapf, Gerhard. Sing and Rejoice, vol. 2. SMP KK235 [1982] (adaptable to piano, E-M).
  • Manz, Paul. God of Grace. Morningstar MSM-10-599 [2004] (M).
  • Manz, Paul. Two Pieces for Festive Occasions. Morningstar MSM-10-840 [1990] (M).
  • Miller, Aaron David. Improvisations for the Church Year, vol. 2.Augsburg Fortress ISBN 0-8006-7676-9 [2004] (D).
  • Wold, Wayne L. Augsburg Organ Library - Autumn. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7579-7 [2003] (E-M).
  • Young, Gordon. Chorale Preludes on Seven Hymn Tunes. Flammer HF-5002 [1960] (E-M).


  • Carter, John. Easy Hymns for 4 Hands. Hope 8146 [2002] (E).
  • Carter, John. Hymns for Piano II. Hope 8197 [2003] (E-M).

Handbells :

  • Sherman, Arnold B. Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee. Agape 1652 [1993] (2-3 octaves, E-M).
  • Wagner, Douglas E. Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee. Jenson 466-10019 [1983] (3 octaves, M).

Alternative Harmonization for Piano:

  • Gervais, Pam. Let It Rip! At the Piano. Augsburg 11-11045 [2000].

Alternative Harmonization for Organ:

  • Goode, Jack C. Thirty-four Changes on Hymn Tunes. H.W. Grey GB 644 [1978].

IN DIR IST FREUDE ("In You Is Gladness") PsH 566, UMH 169

  • Bach, J.S. The Liturgical Year (ed. Riemenschneider). Ditson [1933] (M).
  • Beck, Theodore. Augsburg Organ Library - Epiphany. Augsburg 11-11073 [2001] (E-M).
  • Beck, Theodore. Five Hymn Preludes. Concordia 97-5391 [1976] (E-M).
  • Burkhardt, Michael. Six General Hymn Improvisations, set 1. Morningstar MSM-10-846 [1992] (E-M).
  • Haan, Raymond H. Introduction and Variations on "In Thee Is Gladness." Concordia 97-5995 [1988] (M, with two trumpets).
  • Manz, Paul. Ten Chorale Improvisations, Set 8. Concordia 97-5342 [1979] (E-M).
  • Manz, Paul. Ten Chorale Improvisations, Set 9. Concordia 97-5556 [1980] (E-M).
  • Sedio, Mark. Eight Hymn Introductions. Morningstar MSM-10-836 [1991] (E-M).

LAUDA ANIMA ("Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven") PH 478, PsH 475, RL 144, RN 53, TH 76, TWC 25, UMH 66

  • Burkhardt, Michael. Praise and Thanksgiving, set 5. Morningstar MSM-10-755 [1993] (E-M).
  • 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] (adaptable for piano, E-M).
  • Manz, Paul. Two Pieces for Festive Occasions. Morningstar MSM-10-840 [1990] (M).


  • Dobrinski, Cynthia. Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven. Agape 1974 [1998] (3-5 octaves, level 3).

Alternative Harmonization for Piano:

  • Porter, Rachel Trelstad. Let It Rip! At the Piano Augsburg 11-11045 [2000].

NETTLETON ("Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing") PH 356, PsH 486, RL 449, TH 457, TWC 45, UMH 400

  • Bish, Diane. The Diane Bish Organ Book, vol. 4. Fred Bock B-G0776 [1985] (M).
  • Callahan, Charles. Six Meditations on American Folk Hymns. Concordia 97-6140 [1992] (E-M).
  • Cherwien, David. Groundings. Augsburg 11-11119 [2001] (E-M).
  • Eggert, John. Partita on Nettleton. Concordia 97-6862 [2000] (adaptable for piano, E).
  • Hildebrand, Kevin. Easy Hymn Preludes for Organ, vol. 3. Concordia 97-7052 [2004] (E-M).
  • Hobby, Robert A. Three Hymns of Praise, Set 6. Morningstar MSM-10-542 [2000] (E-M).
  • Manz, Paul. God of Grace. Morningstar MSM-10-599 [2004] (E-M).
  • Manz, Paul. Ten Chorale Improvisations, Set 9. Concordia 97-5556 [1980] (E-M).
  • Martin, Gilbert. Two Preludes on American Hymn Tunes. H.W. Grey GSTC 962 [1972] (E-M).
  • Wood, Dale. Wood Works. SMP KK357 [1986] (E-M).
  • Young, Gordon. Variations on an American Hymn Tune. Fischer 9288 [1941] (M).


  • Carter, John. Folk Hymns for Piano. Hope 240 [1987] (E-M).
  • Carter, John. Hymns for Piano II. Hope 8197 [2003] (M).
  • David, Anne Marie. Here I Am, Lord. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7566-5 [2002] (M).
  • Medema, Ken. Sanctuary. Genevox 4181-16 [1989] (M).

Handbells :

  • Bish, Diane. Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing. Fred Bock BG0798 [1986] (4-5 octaves, level 4).
  • McChesney, Kevin. Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing. Jeffers JH S9186 [1996] (3-5 octaves, level 2+).

PRECIOUS LORD ("Precious Lord, Take My Hand") PH 404, PsH 493, TWC 638, UMH 474

  • Schrader, Jack. Amazing Grace. Hope 8138 [2001] (M).

REDHEAD 76/GETHSEMANE/PETRA/AJALON ("God, Be Merciful to Me") PsH 255, TH 486

  • Albrecht, Timothy. Grace Notes X. Augsburg Fortress ISBN 0-8006-7561-4 [2002] (E).
  • Bingham, Seth. Twelve Hymn Preludes, set 1. H.W. Grey [1942] (E-M).
  • Cherwien, David. Augsburg Organ Library - Lent. Augsburg 11-11036 [2000] (E-M).
  • Cherwien, David. Lamb of God. Morningstar MSM-10-302 [1989] (E-M).
  • Held, Wilbur. A Suite of Passion Hymn Settings. Concordia 97-4843 [1967] (E).
  • Krapf, Gerhard. Sing and Rejoice, vol. 6. SMP KK339 [1986] (adaptable for piano, E-M).

Alternative Harmonization for Organ:

  • Busarow, Donald. Thirty More Accompaniments for Hymns in Canon. Augsburg 11-10163 [1992].

THE GREEN HILL ("O Lord, My God, Most Earnestly") PsH 63
Handbells :

  • Dobrinski, Cynthia. There Is A Green Hill Far Away. Agape 1426 [1990] (3-5 octaves, E-M).

VILLE DU HAVRE ("When Peace Like a River") PsH 489, TH 691, TWC 519, UMH 377

  • Medema, Ken. Sanctuary. Genevox 4181-16 [1989] (M).
  • Porter, Rachel Trelstad. Day by Day. Augsburg 11-10772 [1996] (M).
  • Sanborn, Jan. Piano Music for the Care of the Soul. Ron Harris RHP0403 [1997] (M).
  • Schubert, Myra. Give Him Praise. Lillenas MB-511 [1983] (D).
  • Wilhelmi, Teresa. Hymns . . . Light Jazz Style. Word 301 0136 315 [1997] (E-M).


  • Burroughs, Bob. It Is Well with My Soul. Triune HB 160 [1986] (3 octaves with C instrument, E-M).
  • Moklebust, Cathy. It Is Well with My Soul. Alfred 20206 [2002] (3-5 octaves with opt. handchimes and C instrument, level 3).

WESLEY ("Sing to the Lord, Sing His Praise") PsH 96, TH 62

  • Bingham, Seth. Seven Preludes or Postludes. H.W. Grey GB147 [1973] (M).
  • Diemer, Emma Lou. Celebration. Augsburg 11-9097 [1975] (M).

Choral Music Suggestions:

SATB Anthems:
Foley, John SJ. Come to the Water. OCP 9489 [1993] (E).
Franck, Cesar. Psalm 150. Schirmer 11013 [1963] (M-D).
Haugen, Marty. Shepherd Me, O God. GIA G-2950 [1986] (E-M).
Johnson, Ralph. Praise the Lord. Earthsongs [1994] (E-M).
Larson, Lloyd. I Will Praise You, O Lord, with All My Heart. Beckenhorst BP1510 [1997] (E-M).
Lojeski, Ed. Take My Hand, Precious Lord. Hal Leonard 08374375 [1982] (M).
Mueller, Carl F. Create In Me a Clean Heart, O God. Schirmer 8682 [1941] (E-M).
O'Brien, Francis Patrick. You Are All We Have. GIA G-3663 [1991] (E-M).
Shaw, Martin. With a Voice of Singing. Schirmer 8103 [1923] (E-M).
Wagner, Douglas E. On Eagle's Wings. Hope A675 [1993] (E-M).
Young, Gordon. Now Let Us All Praise God. Galaxy 2108 [1956] (E).
Zingarelli. Be (Go) Not Far From Me, O God. Belwin 1029 (M).

Unison/Two-part Anthems:
Jothen, Michael. And I Will Praise Him. Choristers Guild CGA-303 [1984] (E-M).
Marshall, Jane. Psalms Together. Choristers Guild CGA-18 [1986] (E, see Ps. 17, 92 in
the collection]
Reeves, Jeff. Create in Me a Clean Heart, O God. Choristers Guild CGA-879 [2000] (E-M).

Suggestions for the Liturgy

1. Both of these sermons include multiple Scripture references, rather than one shorter passage that receives concentrated treatment. The passages that are read should be selected carefully, and readers should be prepared to read them well for each passage contains pathos and drama. You may want to consider multiple readers for different passages, or parts of passages.

2. Early in the service or in conjunction with the scripture readings and/or prayer for illumination, an explanation of the intent of this service/sermon should be given. Make it clear that this service and sermon is one-half of a pair, briefly summarizing the other. This will enable all to see it as part of a whole and be able to understand it better.

3. The prayer of confession of sin is a vital part of these services. Plan and word it carefully. It represents the brokenness before God that is necessarily a part of Christian experience and should not be avoided.

4. The response of the worshipers to the Word of God must be appropriate to the theme of each service. In the service in which we admit our brokenness the response may take the form of prayers of pleading for God's help in our pain, intercession for those who are experiencing difficulty, and asking for God to make us a congregation that understands and cares for one another. These prayers can be both spoken and sung. In the service about joy over being found, expressions of thanksgiving are needed. These may be in litanies, prayers, and song.