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Singing the Whole Story: A hymn festival in Grand Rapids, MI

This hymn festival took place at the Calvin College Chapel on June 9, 2013.

The delegates of the Christian Reformed synod and members from many congregations worshiped at a hymn festival featuring the new hymnal Lift Up Your Hearts. The festival encouraged singing the whole story of God and God’s people through vibrant congregational song and participation of all ages including an intergenerational choir led by John D. Witvliet. The theme for this hymn festival was Singing the Whole Story: "How Wide, How Long, How Deep, How High..."

The Hymn Festival was held on Sunday, June 9 at 7:00 PM in the Calvin College Chapel. It was sponsored by the Christian Reformed Church Synodical Worship Committee, Woodlawn Christian Reformed Church, and the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. The video begins at A Prayer of Indigenous Peoples, Refugees, Immigrants, and Pilgrims.


Choral Introit:

“Total Praise,” Lift Up Your Hearts 420

Call to Worship (from Lift Up Your Hearts 524, based on Psalm 124:8, 118:24, 51:15)

Leader: Our help is in the name of the Lord,
People: who made heaven and earth.
Leader: This is the day that the Lord has made,
People: let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Leader: O Lord, open our lips,
People: and our mouths shall declare your praise.

Songs of Praise: 

“Praise the Lord, Sing Hallelujah,” Lift Up Your Hearts  6
“Ten Thousand Reasons,” Lift Up Your Hearts  559

Introduction and Prayer for Illumination


“O God, We Kneel Before Your Throne,” Lift Up Your Hearts 680

This anthem created for the 125th anniversary of Calvin College and Seminary. The text was written by Ruth van Baak Griffoen, a graduate of Calvin College who presently is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Musicology at The College of William and Mary; the tune was composed by another graduate of Calvin College, Roy Hopp who serves as the Director of Music at this church, Woodlawn CRC, as well as an adjunct professor of choral music at Calvin Theological Seminary.

How Long...

“He chose us, in Christ, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love.”  Ephesians 1:4

Song of Praise:

“You Are Our God; We Are Your People,” Lift Up Your Hearts 35
Stanza 1: Solo; Stanzas 2-4: All

David Hoekema, Professor of Philosophy at Calvin College, wrote this text and tune in June 1978 for the baptism of his daughter Janna, for whom he named the tune. By rehearsing the story of God’s covenant promises with his people from Noah through to us in the new covenant in Christ, this song reminds us of the faithfulness of God through all generations.

Litany of Praise: 

Our Covenanting God, Lift Up Your Hearts 36


“This Holy Covenant Was Made,” Lift Up Your Hearts 847


Ephesians 1:17-23, Lift Up Your Hearts 680

How Wide...

“For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace.” Ephesians 2:14-15

Song of Praise:

“There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy,” Lift Up Your Hearts 689

This hymn is one example of several “reimagined hymns” that appear in Lift Up Your Hearts; hymns with old texts that are put to new or revised tunes. The text of “There’s A Wideness in God’s Mercy” was written in 1862 by Frederick William Faber also the author of “My God How Wonderful You Are.” The tune that appears in Lift Up Your Hearts was written by Gregg DeMey, teaching pastor at Elmhurst Christian Reformed Church; it beautifully conveys the gentleness with which we experience the mercy of God.

Sung Prayer:

“For the Troubles,” Lift Up Your Hearts 663
1st time: Solo in Portuguese; 2nd time: All in English

A Prayer of Indigenous Peoples, Refugees, Immigrants, and Pilgrims, Lift Up Your Hearts 270

Mark Charles is a speaker, writer, and consultant from Fort Defiance, Ariz., located on the Navajo Reservation.  He is a member of the Christian Reformed Church, serves on the Board of Trustees of the Christian Reformed Church, is a Resource Development Specialist for Indigenous Worship at the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, and is a project coordinator for CRC World Missions. Mark shares this prayer with the church in hopes that by praying it the church as the Bride of Christ will learn to walk more fully in beauty with our fellow humans and God.


“Let Justice Flow,” Lift Up Your Hearts 295

Citizens for Public Justice, a Canadian justice organization with connections to the Christian Reformed Church, commissioned Doug Romanow a member of the Christian Reformed Church to write “Let Justice Flow” for their 30th anniversary in 1994. Romanow is a Toronto-based music producer. His production work has won numerous awards and nominations from the Junos, the Maple Blues Awards, the National Jazz Awards and the National Reggae Awards. Romanow also wrote the 50th Anniversary song for World Renew entitled, “We Sing Hallelu.” 

How Deep...

“Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:6-8

Songs of Praise:

“To My Precious Lord,” Lift Up Your Hearts 136                         
Stanza 1: Choir; Stanzas 2-3: All

“As the Deer Pants for the Water,” Lift Up Your Hearts 332                             
Stanza 1: Solo, Stanzas 2-3, All

Greg Scheer writes of this piece: “Psalm 42 and 43 are set to a haunting, melancholic melody that mirrors the poignancy of the original Psalm text.” Scheer is Minister of Worship at Church of the Servant in Grand Rapids, Music Associate at the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship and author of The Art of Worship: A Musician’s Guide to Leading Modern Worship (Baker Books, 2006).

Prayers of the People


“Nearer, Still Nearer,” Lift Up Your Hearts 659                     
Stanza 1: Choir; Stanzas 2-4: All  

“Jesus, Draw Me Ever Nearer," Lift Up Your Hearts 660

How High...

“God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places; far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the age to come.” Ephesians 1:20-21


Colossians 1:15-20Lift Up Your Hearts 779B

Songs of Praise:

“The First Place,” Lift Up Your Hearts 15

“Before the Throne of God Above,” Lift Up Your Hearts 682

Closing Prayer

Song of Response: 

“Jesus Christ Is the Way,” Lift Up Your Hearts 47

Charge and Blessing: 

Ephesians 4:1b-6, Lift Up Your Hearts 937

Closing Song: 

“May the Peace of Christ Be with You,” Lift Up Your Hearts 949

Postlude and Retiring Offering

You may also view a PDF of this service.