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The Lord Upon the Throne - Christ the King Sunday - Psalm 11

This worship service for Christ the King Sunday, based on Psalm 11, traces the major events in the life of Christ, from the beginning of his incarnation to his exaltation as King.

Worship Service

Theme of the Service

There are certain times of the season when it is very helpful for worshipers to trace a major theme from God's revelation. The Easter Vigil traces the entire theme of redemption. Some services will mark the “purple thread” and trace the story of salvation throughout Scripture. Or a series of God's promises may be explored.

In this service the major events in the life of Christ are traced, from the beginning of his incarnation to his exaltation as King. The focus is on the mighty work of God through Christ's sacrifice that results in his crowning as King, fulfilling the prophecy made in Psalm 11:4.

This service was first crafted by Emily Cooper of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship and Ladd K. Harris, Rector of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Grand Rapids, MI. The service was first published in Reformed Worship 61. It has been adapted for use in the Hillcrest Christian Reformed Church in Hudsonville, MI.

For more information read this article about Christ the King Sunday


Prelude: “Partita on ‘Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven' ”, Hobby [organ]
or: “Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven”, Dobrinski [handbell choir]

*The Call to Worship and God's Greeting:

The Head that once was crowned with thorns
is crowned with glory now.
He came to serve and love and die;
we owe our lives to him.
The highest place that heaven affords
is now rightly his.
So, come, let us bring him glory and praise.
We worship him as King.
Grace, mercy and peace be to you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

*Song: “Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven” PH478, PsH475, RL144, RN53, TH76/77, TWC25/26

The Call to Confession

Our Prayer of Confession
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to you unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are proved right when you speak
and justified when you judge.
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

(Psalm 51:1-4, 7 NIV)
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society.
Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.


The Assurance of God's Pardon – Isaiah 1:18

*Song of Gratitude: “He Is Lord” RN29, SNC160, TH97

Offertory: “A Glad Alleluia”, McChesney [handbell choir]


The Scripture Reading: Psalm 11

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Sermon: The Lord on the Throne
Text – Psalm 11:4

The Prayer of Application


His Advent:

Scripture: Isaiah 11:1-10

Song: “Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming PH48, PsH351, RL204, TH221, TWC163
or: “The King Shall Come When Morning Dawns (Morning Song)
PsH 615, RL607 (St. Stephen or Bradfield), TWC277
or: Anthem: “Prepare Ye”, Robinson

His Birth:

Scripture: Matthew 1:18-23

Song: “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” (vv.1, 2) PH31/32, PsH345, RL196, TH203, TWC171

His Childhood:

Scripture: Luke 2:41-52

Song: “Once in Royal David's City” (vv. 3, 5)
PH49 (vv.3, 4), PsH346, RL201, TH225, TWC161 (vv. 3, 4), WOV643

His Baptism:

Scripture: Mark 1:9-11

Song: “Crashing Waters at Creation” (Arise) SNC 237

His Ministry:

Scripture: Luke 4:16-21

Song: “The King of Glory Comes” (vv. 1, 2) PsH370, RN267, SFL156, TH240, TWC134

His Passion and Death:

Scripture: Luke 23:44-49

Song: “Were You There?” (vv. 1, 2) PH102, PsH377, TH260, TWC218

His Resurrection:

Scripture: Luke 24:1-12

Song: “Good Christians All/Men, Rejoice and Sing” (vv. 1, 4) PH111, PsH397, RL326, TH270, TWC255

His Ascension:

Scripture: Luke 24:50-53

Anthem: “Let Him Be Your King”, Davis
or: “Coronation”, Courtney


*Our Affirmation of Faith

As followers of Jesus Christ,
living in this world –
which some seek to control,
but which others view with despair –
we declare with joy and trust:
Our world belongs to God!

From the beginning,
through all the crises of our times,
until his kingdom fully comes,
God keeps covenant forever.
Our world belongs to God!

God is King! Let the earth be glad!
Christ is Victor; his rule has begun. Hallelujah!

The Spirit is at work, renewing the creation.
Praise the Lord!
(from Our World Belongs to God: A Contemporary Testimony, art. 1, 2, PsH p. 1019)

*The Benediction with congregational Amen!

*Song: “Lift High the Cross” PH371 (4vv.), PsH373, RL415 (5vv.), RN297 (5vv.), TH263 (5vv.), TWC (5vv.)
[note that other hymnals have fewer verses]
v.1 – all
v.4 – men
v.5 – all
v.6 – women
v.7 – all
(All will join on the refrain each time.)

Postlude: “Lift High the Cross”, Busarow or Burkhardt [organ] or Carter [piano]

* you are invited to stand



Sermon Notes

This sermon should be relatively brief because much more proclamation will be heard in the series of readings from Scripture. The sermon will help worshippers consider the plan of God for human history so that the further proclamation of the Scripture readings will be set in context.

Psalm 11 was chosen because as words of David they speak about the hopelessness of a world that has no king. Judges 21:25 speaks of such a society. Our secular society often seems that way today. David's words describe a society in which threats are many, yet in the midst of it he makes a profession of deep trust. His words remind us of Habakkuk 2:20.

This Old Testament prophecy of the Lord on the throne becomes a much larger and reassuring picture when we add the entire New Testament story about both the humiliation and the exaltation of Christ. We are able to understand this great truth even better than David for we have the full revelation of God and the complete story of Christ's ascension to heaven. We are, therefore, able to fully experience the security David was holding out to Israel.

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)
WOV With One Voice (Augsburg Fortress)

Music Level Key: E = Easy, M = Medium, D = Difficult

The prelude suggestions, both based on the tune “Lauda Anima”, can be found as follows:
- “Partita on ‘Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven' ” by Robert A. Hobby, published by Concordia 97-6082 [1991] (E-M).
- “Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven” by Cynthia Dobrinski for 3-5 octaves handbells, published by Agape 1974 [1998] (M).

The offertory music, “A Glad Alleluia” by Kevin McChesney for 3 octaves handbells, is published by Lake State Publications HB-91026 [1991] (E). It is a bright, energetic piece that is well suited to a youth ensemble.

The SATB anthem “Prepare Ye” by Marc Robinson is published by Kjos 8830 [1996]. This unaccompanied anthem incorporates a solo tenor line.

Consider using your choir and alternative harmonizations as you prepare the hymns for this service. An accompaniment in canon for “The King Shall Come When Morning Dawns” can be found in “All Praise to You, Eternal God” by Donald Busarow, published by Augsburg 11-9076 [1980]. The Psalter Hymnal contains descants for “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”, “Once in Royal David's City”, “Good Christians All, Rejoice and Sing” and “Lift High the Cross”. Michael Burkhardt has an improvisation and alternative setting for “The King of Glory Comes” in “Five Psalm Improvisations” published by Morningstar MSM-10-511 [1997]. Alternative harmonizations for “Good Christians All, Rejoice and Sing” can be found in John Ferguson's “Hymn Harmonizations for Organ” bk. 2 published by Ludwig O-07 [1983], and in Dale Wood's “New Settings of Twenty Well Known Hymn Tunes” published by Augsburg 11-9292 [1968]. John Ferguson has written another setting for “Were You There” in “Hymn Harmonizations for Organ” bk. 3, published by Ludwig O-10 [1986]. In addition David and Cathy Moklebust have set each stanza of “Lift High the Cross” for 3-5 octaves handbells and organ, published by Choristers Guild CGB193 [1997].

“Let Him Be Your King” by Peter Davis is a TTBB anthem published by Soundforth 067827 [1992]. “Coronation” is an SATB anthem by Craig Courtney, published by Beckenhorst BP1273 [1986].

The postlude suggestions can be found in:
- “Six General Hymn Improvisations” set 2 by Michael Burkhardt, published by Morningstar MSM-10-534 [1999] [E-M)
- “Processional on ‘Lift High the Cross' ” by Donald Busarow, published by Concordia 97-5442 (E-M)
- “The Wondrous Cross” by John Carter, published by Hope 1747 [1994] (E).


Liturgy Notes

If the congregation is not familiar with Christ the King Sunday, it would be wise to provide some information concerning its history and purpose. (See the introduction above). This information can either be done in printed form on the worship sheet, or verbally before the worship begins.

A smooth transition is needed from the sermon into the readings and songs that celebrate Christ's kingship. The sermon should end in such a way that it becomes clear to all that the readings and songs are a continued part of the proclamation.

The eight Scripture passages are the backbone of the liturgy. We suggest that lay persons be involved, each reading one passage. It is important that readers are well prepared, so you may want to select carefully, or provide some coaching and rehearsal.

The readings and songs should flow unannounced (a simple note on the worship sheet will suffice).

The Affirmation of Faith is taken from “Our World Belongs to God: A Contemporary Testimony”, a confession that was provisionally approved for use by the Synod of the Christian Reformed Church in 1983, and finally approved for use in 1986. For copyright permission, please contact CRC Publications at (616) 224-0819, 1-800-333-8300 or

If your congregation does not hold a Thanksgiving service, you might consider including a Thanksgiving hymn as the opening or closing hymn. Some contain references to Christ the King that will be noticeable in this service: “the Son and him who reigns with them in highest heaven”; “give his angels charge at last…”.

Using the structure of scripture and song around the events of Christ's life builds to a natural climax at the Ascension; then in word and song we affirm our faith in a sovereign, reigning Lord!