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Worship Service: A Faith that Sighs and Sings - Habakkuk 3

A worship service plan flowing from the statement that Christian faith "can be found in the deepest despair and at the greatest joy." Habakkuk reminds us that true faith does not ignore life's problems, but meets them head on.

Worship Service

Theme of the Service

It has been said that a heart that never suffers is a heart that will never sings? The amazing part about our faith is that it can be found in the deepest despair and at the greatest joy. Habakkuk reminds us that true faith does not ignore life's problems, but meets them head on.


Prelude: "Come, Thou Fount" [see music notes]

The Call to Worship: A Reading of Psalm 100

*Song of Praise: "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing" PH 356, PsH 486, RL 449, TH 457, TWC 45, UMH 400

*Our Declaration of Trust and God's Greeting:

Congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who do you trust?
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.

*Worshipers Greet One Another

*Song of Response: "How Firm a Foundation" PH 361, PsH 500, RL 172, TH 94, TWC 612, UMH 529


The Call to Confession through the words of Habakkuk 2:18-20:

Our Prayer of Confession: (see liturgy notes)
A prayer for the church and its failures,
In wrath, remember mercy.
A prayer for the community and its needs,
In wrath, remember mercy.
A prayer for our nation and its sins,
In wrath, remember mercy.
A prayer for the world and its sinfulness,
In wrath, remember mercy.
A prayer to affirm the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our pardon,
In wrath, remember mercy.

The Assurance of Pardon: Romans 8:1-14

Response of Praise: "Father, Long Before Creation" PsH 464

God's Call to Grateful Living: Micah 6:6-8


The Pastoral Prayer: (see liturgy notes)

A Bidding Prayer: prayers for: 

  • The World
  • Our Community
  • Our Church
  • Ourselves

Praise for what God has done in the past:

That in his continued faithfulness, we trust
that he will answer our prayers of the hardships we face today.

The Offertory: What a Friend We Have in Jesus [see music notes]


*Song: "Faith Begins By Letting Go" SNC 172

The Prayer for Illumination

The Reading of Scripture: Habakkuk 3:1-19 (see liturgy notes)


The Prayer of Application

Statement of Faith:
Providence is
the almighty and ever present power of God
by which he upholds, as with his hand,
heaven and earth and all creatures,
and so rules them that
leaf and blade, rain and drought,
fruitful and lean years,
food and drink, health and sickness,
prosperity and poverty, 
all things, in fact, come to us
not by chance but from his fatherly hand.

Therefore, we can be patient when things go against us,
thankful when things go well,
and for the future we can have good confidence
in our faithful God and Father
that nothing will separate us from his love.
(Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 10, Q&A 27-28)


*The Blessing and Congregational Amen (see liturgy notes)

*Song of Praise: "Go, My Children, with My Blessing" SNC 284, WOV 721 (see liturgy notes)

*Postlude: "Go, My Children, with My Blessing" [see music notes]

* You are invited to stand.

Sermon Notes:

1. The main theme of the message is that in the challenges of our life, when our faith holds firm in God's continued faithfulness, we are given feet to walk the path that is before us.

2. The sermon should include the recognition of God's faithfulness to Israel as is expressed in verses 1-15, culminating in remembering times of the Lord's faithfulness in the life of the church.

3. The sermon should include the recognition of the present reality of uncertainty, calamity, the feeling of abandonment, fear, and hardship as evidenced in verses 16-17.

4. The sermon should conclude with a resounding embrace of God's faithfulness and the strength that he gives to walk the path of life with our faith resting in him.

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)

1. The music selected for this service has been carefully picked to fit the overall message of the service. We recommend finding the meaning of the songs and, if picking new songs, to find similar messages within them to tie the whole service together.

2. Suggestions for the prelude can be found in the following resources:
NETTLETON [Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing]

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]
Cherwien, David. Groundings. Augsburg 11-11119 [2001] (E-M)
Eggert, John. Partita on Nettleton. Concordia 97-6862 [2000] (E)
Harris, David S. Ten Hymn Preludes in Trio Style, set 2. H.W. Grey. GB643 [1978] (E)
Held, Wilbur. Easy Hymn Preludes for Organ, vol. 4. Concordia 97-7032 [2005] (E-M)
Hildebrand, Kevin. Easy Hymn Preludes for Organ, vol. 3. Concordia 97-7052 [2004]
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)
Martin, Gilbert. Two Preludes on American Hymn Tunes. H.W. Grey GSTC 962 [1972]
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)

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 (3-5 octaves, E-M)

3. Suggestions for the offertory can be found in the following:
BEACH SPRING [What a Friend We Have in Jesus]

Cherwien, David. Interpretations, bk. 7. AMSI SP-104 [1988] (E-M)
Haan, Raymond H. Be Present Now. Morningstar MSM-10-566 [2004] (E-M)
Held, Wilbur. Easy Hymn Preludes for Organ, vol. 4. Concordia 97-7032 [2005] (E-M)
Held, Wilbur. Seven Settings of American Folk Hymns. Concordia 97-5829 [1984] (E-M)
Linker, Janet. Sunday Morning Suite. Augsburg Fortress ISBN 0-8006-7560-6 [2002] (E-M)
Wood, Dale. Wood Works, bk. 2. SMP KK400 [1989] (E- M )

Porter, Rachel. Trelstad. Day by Day. Augsburg 11-10772 [1996] (M)
Leavitt, John. How Sweet the Sound. CPH 97-6891 [2000] (M)

Hopson, Hal H. Reflections on Beach Spring. Genevox 4184-18 [1986] (3-5 octaves, E-M)

4. Suggestions for the closing hymn and postlude are as follows:
AR HYD Y NOS [“Go, My Children, with My Blessing�]

Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
Burkhardt, Michael. As Though the Whole Creation Cried.
Morningstar MSM-10-555 [2001]
Eggert, John. Creative Hymn Accompaniments for Organ, vol. 2. CPH97-6851 [2000]
Ferguson, John. Hymn Harmonizations for Organ, bk. 2. Ludwig O-07 [1983]
Hobby, Robert A. Three Evening Hymns, set 2. Morningstar MSM-10-514 [1998]

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


Burkhardt, Michael. Seven Hymn Improvisations and Free Accompaniments,
set 1. Morningstar MSM-10-847 [1992] (E-M)
Cherwien, David. Interpretations, bk. 8. AMSI SP-105 [1991] (E-M)
Ferguson, John A Wedding Triptych. Morningstar MSM-10-650 [2003] (M)
Haan, Raymond H. Welsh Hymn Tune Preludes. SMP KK426 [1989] (E-M)
Harris, David S. Ten Hymn Preludes in Trio Style, set 2. H.W. Grey GB643 [1978] (E)
Hildebrand, Kevin. Easy Hymn Preludes for Organ, vol. 3. Concordia 97-7052
[2004] (E-M)
Stoldt, Frank. Five Hymn Settings. Morningstar MSM-10-931 [1988] (E-M)


Shackley, Larry. Celtic Hymn Settings for Piano. Hope 8117 [2001] (E-M)

Liturgy Notes:

1. The prayer of confession is meant to reflect on the things that each of the groups has held in place of God, things we trusted in other than God, things for which we deserve to experience God's wrath. Each section is concluded by the phrase, "in wrath, remember mercy, Lord." This is designed to be a participative or responsorial prayer. The congregation can be prepared for this form of prayer by an explanation that the phrase they will speak ("in wrath remember mercy") are words from the prayer of Habakkuk (3:2) in which he is pleading to a God, who has the right to exercise wrath, to send mercy. The worship leader should focus on the confession of the sins of the church, community, nation, and world, and then speak a repeated plea such as "Lord, hear us." and the congregation can respond with "in wrath." You may chose to print the prayer in the worship sheet so worshipers will be able to follow and feel more confident of their responses.

2. The Pastoral Prayer is designed as a "Bidding Prayer." Similar to Habakkuk's prayer in chapter three, the bidding prayer in this service is meant to help the congregation set before the LORD their praise and concerns in light of God's work in our lives in the past. If you are not familiar with the pattern of a bidding prayer, you will find helpful information in The Worship Sourcebook, page 212 ff.

3. We recommend that an older member of the congregation read the passage due in part because life experience has probably taught them the lesson of Habakkuk at some point in time.

4. We recommend that only the 4th verse be sung for the closing song. This verse captures the heart of the theme of the service.

5. We recommend that the blessing at the conclusion of the service include the reassuring promise of Romans 8:38-39 as a reminder that the God who blesses us will never let us out of his love.