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The Song of a Brother and a Sister - Exodus 15

A service plan remembering Moses, Miriam and the people of Israel and giving praise and thanks to God for his miraculous delivery through the Red Sea. The spirit is thankful celebration for God's actions on our behalf. Part of an Advent series focused on the tension between the message that "Christ has come" and "not all is yet accomplished."

The Songs of Advent

We encourage you to provide suggested devotional readings during this season that are compatible with these services to help worshipers prepare. This week we suggest readings from the songs of ascent:

Psalm 121 My help comes from the Lord.
Psalm 122 Let us go to the house of the Lord.
Psalm 123 Our eyes look to the Lord our God.
Psalm 125 The Lord surrounds his people.
Psalm 127 Children are a reward from him.
Psalm 130 With the Lord there is forgiveness.
Psalm 133 How good and pleasant it is to live together in unity.

Theme of the Service

On this second Sunday of Advent, we stand with Moses, Miriam and the people of Israel and give praise and thanks to God for his miraculous delivery through the Red Sea. The spirit is thankful celebration for God's actions on our behalf.


Prelude: "O Come, O Come, Immanuel" [see <href="#music" >music notes]

Choral Announcement of Advent

The Call to Worship

*Song: "O Come, O Come, Immanuel" PH 9, PsH 328, RL 184, SFL 123, TH 194, TWC 133, UMH 211 [see <href="#music" >music notes]

*Our Declaration of Trust and God's Greeting:
People of God, where is your trust placed?
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.

*We Greet One Another

*Response: "Magnify the Lord" PsH 622, RN 131, SFL 13


The Lighting of the Advent Candles [see <href="#liturgy" >liturgy notes]
Reader 1: The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
Reader 2: The LORD is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
Reader 1: I believe that I shall see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Reader 2: Wait for the LORD;
be strong, and let your heart take courage.
Wait for the LORD! (Psalm 27:1, 13-14, NRSV)

Song of Response: "In the Beginning Was the Word Eternal" PsH 218 (sung to tune VIOLA as in PsH 158)

Our Prayer of Confession [see <href="#liturgy" >liturgy notes]
Arise, shine: for your light has come.
O God, we live as if the light
had never defeated the darkness in the world or in us.
And the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
We confess that we ignore the Christ
you sent to be among us, to be in us.
For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you.
We've kept the birth of your Son confined to the Christmas season
and do not yearn for his birth each moment in our waiting hearts.
And nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your rising.
Lord, you came to us in the fullness of time.
Forgive us for not opening our eyes to your coming.
It's time that we prepare for your coming.
Let the earth ring with song. Let the light break forth.
Let us all rejoice in the miracle of love.
Let Christ come into the fullness of our time. Amen. (The Worship Sourcebook, D.2.2.4, based on Isaiah 60:1-3)

Anthem: "The Lord Is My Light," Allitsen [see <href="#music" >music notes]

The Assurance of Pardon:
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Your sins are pardoned.
The penalty is paid.
Thanks be to God. (The Worship Sourcebook, D.2.4.2. based on Isaiah 40:1-2)

Song: "Comfort, Comfort Now My People" PH 3, PsH 194, SFL 121, TH 197, TWC 132 [see <href="#music" >music notes]

God's Guide for Grateful Living


The Pastoral Prayer

The Offertory:
The Offering of Music: "Comfort, Comfort Now My People" [see <href="#music" >music notes]
We offer our gifts for..


The Children's Moment [see <href="#liturgy" >liturgy notes]

*Song of Preparation: "When Israel Was in Egypt's Land" PsH 334:1-3, SFL 103:1-4, WOV 670:1-2, 4-5, UMH 448: 1, 6-7[see <href="#music" >music notes]

The Prayer for Illumination

The Old Testament Reading: Exodus 15:1-21
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

The New Testament Reading: Revelation 5:6-14
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Sermon: The Song of a Brother and a Sister
Songs of Advent 2

The Prayer of Application


*Song: "I Will Sing unto the Lord" PsH 152:1-2, RN 120:1-2, SFL 105:1-2

*The Benediction with Congregational Amen!

Postlude: "Prelude, Fugue and Chaconne," Buxtehude [see <href="#music" >music notes]

* You are invited to stand.

Sermon Notes:

Exodus 15 is the first full song recorded on the pages of Scripture and became one of the songs of God's people for many generations. David quotes parts of it in the Psalms, and Isaiah includes portions of it too.

Exodus 15 was a "congregational song." Verse 1 says that Moses and the Israelites sang it so we should immediately see a huge congregation for we're told that Israel numbered 600,000 men plus women and children! (See Exodus 12:37.) Verses 20-21 tell us that Moses' sister Miriam and "all the women" joined in with tambourines and dancing. This presence of women with tambourines and dancing points to a jubilant celebration.

The timing of this song is also critical. The first word of Exodus 15 is a key one. It refers to Exodus 14:29-31, which is the account of leaving Egypt. The song in chapter 15 is a direct response to this event. So, like most songs, this one has a story behind it. The Israelites are celebrating the exodus from Egypt and the crossing of the Red Sea, but they are also celebrating the end of 450 years of slavery in Egypt. The best singing happens "then"..when we are on the other side of the Red Sea and of sin. It's a song celebrating deliverance. The exuberance of this song comes from the experience of deliverance; imagine how much more exuberance the song of Revelation 5 will have as final and total deliverance is celebrated!

Two themes occur in this song. The first theme is glory to God for his mighty work (see verses 1-12). The second theme is hope as they look forward in anticipation to God's future acts (see verses 13-18). Our remembrance of God's past acts stirs our expectation of his future acts. Remembering becomes eschatological!

The same is true of our songs in Advent: God's past actions give us hope for his future actions. What we experience stirs us to expect! God's acts of deliverance in the Old Testament are preparation for anticipating his mightiest acts through the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Exodus is a picture of salvation. And standing on the other bank is a picture of finally experiencing the full redemption that will appear at Christ's return.

In addition, there are three lessons about singing that come from this song.

  • We do our best singing on the "other bank" when we see and remember how we have been delivered. Remembering God's gracious and powerful acts provides the fuel for our praise.
  • We do our best singing when we do it together. Just as the dancing and tambourines added jubilance to Moses' singing, so too singing together energizes our testimony of God's deliverance.
  • Sadly, it's easy to slip from stirring praise to grumbling again. See the sharp contrast between the spirit of chapter 15:1-21 and 15:24 in only three days, and note how often grumbling shows up in chapters 16 and 17. Our praise can just as easily turn to grumbling, and we should constantly remind ourselves of God's faithfulness and his future, ultimate deliverance.

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)

The prelude suggestions and alternative harmonizations for the opening hymn can be found in the following resources:

VENI IMMANUEL ["O Come, O Come, Immanuel"]

Behnke, John A. Oh, Come, Oh, Come, Emmanuel. CPH 97-6909 [2001] (E-M)
Biery, Marilyn. (2000) Augsburg Organ Library - Advent. Augsburg 11-11034 [2000] (M)
Cherwien, David. Seasonal Interpretations Advent/Christmas. Summa Productions SP-110
[1997] (E-M)
Ferguson, John. An Advent Triptych. Morningstar MSM-10-008 [1995] (E-M)
Haan, Raymond H. Five Organ Preludes. Flammer HF5094 [1977] (E-M)
Kerr, J. Wayne. Christ Is Born! Augsburg 11-11037 [2000] (E-M)
Krapf, Gerhard. Sing and Rejoice, vol. 1. SMP KK234 [1978] (E-M; adaptable for piano)
Langlois, Kristina. 5 for the Christmas Season. Morningstar MSM-10-146 [2000] (M)
Lutkin, Peter Christian. Hymn Tune Transcriptions. H. W. Grey. [1908] (M)
Manz, Paul. Six Advent Improvisations Morningstar MSM-10-002 [1990] (E-M)
Near, Gerald. Chantworks, set 1. Aureole Editions AE42 [1997] (E-M)
Peeters, Flor. (1966 Peters) Augsburg Organ Library - Advent. Augsburg 11-11034 [2000]
Powell, Robert J. (1995) Augsburg Organ Library - Advent. Augsburg 11-11034 [2000] (E-M)
Schaffner. Five Christmas Carols in Baroque Style. Concordia 97-6194 [1993] (M)
Statham, Heathcote. (1956 Novello) Augsburg Organ Library - Advent. Augsburg 11-11034
[2000] (E-M)

Hamilton, Gregory. As the Grains of Wheat. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7577-0 [2003] (M)
Raney, Joel. Images of Christmas. Hope 8095 [2001] (E-M)
Schubert, Myra. Give Him Praise. Lillenas MB-511 [1983] (M)

Dobrinski, Cynthia. O Come, O Come Immanuel. Agape 1399 [1989] (3-5 octaves, M)

Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
Goode, Jack C. Thirty-four Changes on Hymn Tunes. H W Grey GB 644 [1978]

Alternative Harmonization for Piano:
Carlson, J. Bert. Let It Rip! At the Piano. Augsburg 11-11045 [2000]

The anthem "The Lord Is My Light" is a setting of Psalm 27 scored for SATB voices and keyboard. It is composed by Frances Allitsen and published by Temple C116 [1956] (E-M). This anthem can be found in many different voicings and published by many different companies.

Alternative harmonizations for "Comfort, Comfort Now My People" and offertory suggestions based on the same tune can be found in:

FREU DICH SEHR/GENEVAN 42 ["Comfort, Comfort Now My People"]

Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
Burkhardt, Michael. As Though the Whole Creation Cried. Morningstar MSM-10-555 [2001]
Burkhardt, Michael. Festival Hymn Settings for the Christmas Season, set 1. Morningstar
MSM-10-126 [1995]

Alternative Harmonization for Piano:
Sedio, Mark. Let It Rip! At the Piano, vol. 2. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7580-0 [2003]

Böhm, Georg. Music for a Celebration, set 4. Morningstar MSM-10-579 [2005] (E-M)
Burkhardt, Michael. Praise and Thanksgiving, set 6. Morningstar MSM-10-763 [2002] (E-M)
Ferguson, John. An Advent Triptych. Morningstar MSM-10-008 [1995] (E-M)
Haan, Raymond H. Five Organ Preludes. Flammer HF5094 [1977] (E-M)
Hovland, Egil. (1963 Lyche ) Augsburg Organ Library - Advent. Augsburg 11-11034 [2000]
Karg-Elert, Sigfrid. Karg-Elert Album for Organ. Marks M 152 [1944] (M)
Kosche, Kenneth T. Four Organ Preludes for Advent. Morningstar MSM-10-020 [2004] (E-M)
Leupold, A. W. An Organ Book. Chantry Music Press [1960] (E-M)
Manz, Paul. God of Grace. Morningstar MSM-10-599 [2004] (E)
Manz, Paul. Ten Chorale Improvisations, set 5. Concordia 97-5257 [1974] (E)
Near, Gerald. (1995 Aureole) Augsburg Organ Library - Advent. Augsburg 11-11034 [2000]
Oley, Johann Christoph. Music for a Celebration, set 4. Morningstar MSM-10-579 [2005] (E-M)
Pachelbel, Johann. Selected Organ Works, vol. 4. Barenreiter 1016 (E-M)
The Church Organist's Golden Treasury (ed. Pfarreicher and Davison), vol. 1. Ditson [1949] E-M

Dobrinski, Cynthia. Comfort, Comfort Ye My People. Agape 1861 [1996] (3-5 octaves with opt.
flute and hand drum, level 3-4)

GO DOWN, MOSES/TUBMAN ["When Israel Was In Egypt's Land"]

Alternative Harmonization for Piano:
Smith, William Farley/ Cherwien, David. Let It Rip! At the Piano, vol. 2. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-
7580-0 [2003]

The organ postlude suggestion "Prelude, Fugue and Chaconne" by Dietrich Buxtehude can be found in "The Organist's Manual" edited by Roger Davis published by W.W. Norton [1985] (M-D). This strong piece captures well the spirit of the closing hymn.

Liturgy Notes:

1. We recommend using the readings for the Advent Candles, as provided in The Worship Sourcebook, pp. 436-438. This pattern of readings includes two readers or groups of readers each week to focus on the symbols of darkness and light. We encourage you to select readers that will reflect the intergenerational nature of your congregation.

2. You may want to consider including this prayer of confession for each of the four weeks of Advent. Often it is good to repeat a standard prayer during a special season. Some worshipers find that its impact increases each week as they focus on it. This prayer also follows the theme of the Advent candles with an emphasis on darkness and light and allows for participation of those gathered.

3. Story telling is an art that has served us well throughout the history of the church. Advent, particularly with a story like the Exodus and the Red Sea, is an ideal time to make the children's message the retelling of a story. Focus especially on the jubilation that the children of Israel experienced.