Join our mailing list

Christ the King Sunday Worship Planning

Marking the kingship of Christ makes a healthy transition that leads directly from Ordinary Time into Advent, the Christmas cycle, and the remainder of the Christian year.

Christ the King

Online Resources

Reformed Worship Article

Read "Christ the King NOW" by Joy-Elizabeth Lawrence


Throne woodcut image by Betsy Steele Halstead

Worship Services

Explore these worship services based on Christ the King Sunday

Many churches may not be familiar with Christ the King Sunday. For those who carefully observe the events of the Christian year it is the last Sunday before Advent begins. As such, it helps worshipers who are already thinking about Christmas to remember that the event of Christmas is about much more than a baby in a manger—it's about a sovereign Christ! Even if you do not identify the day as a special celebration, we encourage you to consider this theme for the Sunday before Advent begins. Marking the kingship of Christ makes a healthy transition that leads directly from Ordinary Time into Advent, the Christmas cycle, and the remainder of the Christian year.

The theme of the Lordship of Christ is integral to the message of the entire New Testament and certainly to the faithful practice of Christian worship. So this Sunday aims to focus our attention and our worship on the cosmic character of Christ's reign over the world.

For this Sunday, we make suggestions concerning passages to consider for preaching, songs and music to use, and items to include in the liturgy. You will find many more ideas in other sources; we particularly recommend The Worship Sourcebook (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, FaithAlive Resources, and Baker Book House, 2004, pp. 673-685) for a wide variety of suggestions.

Scripture Suggestions

The Worship Sourcebook (p. 674) provides a wide variety of Scripture suggestions for this Sunday. It also provides statements of faith from the confessions of the church that apply to the theme of Christ the King Sunday.

If you are following or considering the Revised Common Lectionary, you will find that the following are the prescribed passages for this Sunday:
Jeremiah 23:1-6
Luke 1:68-79
Colossians 1:11-20
Luke 23:33-34

Three epistolary passages give us Paul's teachings about the Kingship of Christ. We suggest these for your sermon. You may select any one of them, or a combination of them. You may also wish to draw upon the vision of the King's return in Revelation 19:11-16. The three Pauline passages are Ephesians 1:19-23, Philippians 2:9-11, and Colossians 1:15-20. We suggest that this service include multiple Scrhipture readings (see below for suggestions).

Sermon Suggestions

1. Our world is a frightening place, as indeed it has been for centuries. War, violence, terrorism, and the unpredictable setbacks in family, marriage, health, and business keep us all on the edge of our seats. Consequently the human spirit suffers anxiety, emptiness, and a skepticism about whether religion (any religion) can answer our questions . . . yet a deep hope that it can!

2. The Christian faith is built on the conviction that Jesus Christ has a cosmic reign. His reign is supreme, his authority is cosmic NOW. We do not need to wait for some coming day when his reign will begin. It is in place NOW, in spite of all appearances to the contrary. So our affirmation of the reign of Christ is an act of faith.

3. The reign of Christ as King is directly tied to and the result of his humiliation and redeeming work. Because of his incarnation, ministry, suffering, death, and burial, the Father raised him from the grave and placed him at his "right hand."

4. Christ, as King, is largely concerned with the Christian church. He is head over all things "for the church" (see Ephesians 1:22-23), which is his body.

5. The implications of this present reign of Christ are far-reaching—we have security and hope, we are assured of an advocate, we can expect the consummation of all things, and we have a world-and-life-view that is unique to Calvinism.

Music Notes

Here are some suggestions for congregational song and service music that would be appropriate for this service of worship. All music is listed by hymn tune (where applicable) and text title. Additional resources based on the hymn tunes follow. This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but we hope the suggestions here will jump start your own ideas for using music in your Christ the King service.

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)


AZMON - “Oh, for a Thousand Tongues to Sing”

PH 386, 466, PsH 501, RL 363, RN 32, SNC 66, SFL 19, TH 164, TWC 130, UMH 57, 59, 422, 608, WOV 745


  • Bouman, Paul. Partita on “Azmon.” CPH 97-6506 [1995].
  • Cherwien, David. Groundings. Augsburg 11-11119 [2001].
  • Hobby, Robert A. Three Hymns of Praise, set 6. Morningstar MSM-10-542 [2000].
  • Manz, Paul. God of Grace. Morningstar MSM-10-599 [2004].
  • Smith, Mark Brampton. Partita on “Azmon.” Morningstar MSM-10-718 [1996].


  • Sherman, Arnold. Acclamation on “Azmon." Agape 1363 [1989] (3-5 octaves, M).
  • Sherman, Arnold. Our Great Redeemer's Praise. Red River HB0018 [1997] (3-5 octaves, level 3).

Alternative Harmonization for Organ

  • Ferguson, John. Hymn Harmonizations for Organ, bk. 2. Ludwig O-07 [1983].

CORONATION - “All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name”

PH 142, PsH 471, 630, RL 593, RN 45, TH 296, TWC 95, UMH 154


    • Cherwien, David. Interpretations, bk. 1. AMSI OR1 [1980].
    • Fields, Tim. All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name. Augsburg 11-11006 [1999].
    • Hancock, Gerre. Variations on “Coronation.” Paraclete PPM00037 [2000].
    • Krapf, Gerhard. Sing and Rejoice, vol. 2. SMP KK235 [1982].
    • Whitford, Homer. Five Choral Paraphrases, set 2. H.W. Grey GB 355 [1949].
    • Wold, Wayne L. Partita on “Coronation.” Selah 160-645 [2001].


    • Hayes, Mark. Lord Be Glorified, vol. 3. Word 301 0084 315 [1995].
    • Wilson, John F. This Is the Day. Hope 243 [1992].

    Alternative Harmonization for Organ

    • Eggert, John. Creative Hymn Accompaniments for Organ, vol. 2. CPH97-6851 [2000].

    DARWALL'S 148TH - “Rejoice, the Lord Is King”

    PH 155, 430, PsH 408, RL 110, 578, 596, RN 270, SFL 180, TH 18, 181, 301, 310, 524, TWC 86, 262, 312, 320, UMH 715


    • Callahan, Charles. Partita on “Darwall's 148th.” Morningstar MSM-10-848 [1992].
    • Wold, Wayne L. Prelude, Meditation and Finale on “Darwall's 148th.” Augsburg 11-10809 [1997].


    • Kinyon, Barbara B. Rejoice, the Lord Is King. Agape 1931 [1998] (3 octaves, level 3).
    • Page, Anna Laura. Rejoice, the Lord Is King. Alfred 16460 [1996] (3-5 octaves, level 2).

    Alternative Harmonization for Organ

    • Thiman, Eric. Varied Accompaniments to Thirty-Four Well-Known Hymn Tunes. Oxford ISBN 0 19 323210 3 [1937].

    Choral Anthem/ Concertato

    • Wolff, S. Drummond. Rejoice, the Lord Is King. Concordia 98-2552 [1982].

      DIADEMATA - “Crown Him with Many Crowns”

      PH 151, PsH 48, 410, RL 600, RN 56, SFL 181, TH 295, 316, 575, 669, TWC 92, 618, 756, UMH 88, 327, 421, 513


      • Burkhardt, Michael. Five Easter Season Hymn Improvisations. Morningstar MSM-10-403 [1990].
      • Callahan, Charles. Partita on “Diademata.” Morningstar MSM 10-409 [1991].
      • Held, Wilbur. Hymn Preludes for the Pentecost Season. Concordia 97-5517 [1979].


      • Boertje, Barbara. Piano Improvisations for the Church Year. Unity 70/1194U [1998] (E-M).

      Alternative Harmonizations for Organ

      • Ferguson, John. Hymn Harmonizations, bk. 1. Ludwig O-05 [1975].

      Choral Anthem/ Concertato

      • Pelz, Walter L. Crown Him with Many Crowns. Augsburg 11-9093 [1963].

      DUKE STREET - “Jesus Shall Reign”

      PH 307, 423, PsH 412, RL 233, RN 255, 296, TH 7, 16, 59, 441, TWC 16, 239, 745, UMH 101, 157, 438


      • Burkhardt, Michael. Five Easter Season Hymn Improvisations. Morningstar MSM-10-403 [1990].
      • Burkhardt, Michael. Six General Hymn Improvisations, set 1. Morningstar MSM-10-846 [1992].
      • Callahan, Charles. Partita on “Duke Street.” Concordia 97-5998 [1988].
      • Cherwien, David. Interpretations, bk. 3. AMSI OR-6 [1983].
      • Haan, Raymond H. Festival Hymn Preludes. SMP KK329 [1985].
      • Held, Wilbur. Preludes and Postludes, vol. 1. Augsburg 11-9318 [1972].


      • David, Anne Marie. Here I Am, Lord. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7566-5 [2002] (E-M).


      • Sherman, Arnold. Jesus Shall Reign. Agape 1708 [1994] (2-3 octaves, E-M).

      Alternative Harmonization for Organ

      • Burkhardt, Michael. As Though the Whole Creation Cried. Morningstar MSM-10-555 [2001].
      • Ferguson, John. Hymn Harmonizations for Organ, bk. 3. Ludwig O-10 [1986].
      • Johnson, David N. Free Harmonizations of Twelve Hymn Tunes. Augsburg 11-9190 [1964].

      Alternative Harmonization for Piano

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

      ES FLOG EIN KLEINS WALDVOGLEIN - “Hail to the Lord's Anointed”

      PsH 72, RL 232, TH 311, UMH 203

      HE IS LORD - “He Is Lord”

      SNC 160


      • Hayes, Mark. Lord, Be Glorified. Word 301 0047 312 [1990].

      KING'S WESTON - “At the Name of Jesus”

      PH 148, PsH 467, RL 336, RN 279, SNC 265, TH 163, 285, TWC 722, UMH 168, 592


      • Burkhardt, Michael. Praise and Thanksgiving, set 3. Morningstar MSM-10-753 [1990].
      • Johnson, David N. Easy Trios. Augsburg 11-9291 [1969].
      • Powell, Robert J. Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart. Augsburg 11-10478 [1994].


      • Gramann, Fred. Fantasy on “King's Weston.” Agape 1671 [1994] (3-6 octaves, D).

        Alternative Harmonizations 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].

        LORD, I LIFT YOUR NAME - “Lord, I Lift Your Name on High"

        RN 4, SNC 157


        • Hayes, Mark. Lord, Be Glorified, vol. 3. Word 301 0084 315 [1995].


        • Bettcher, Peggy. Lord, I Lift Your Name on High. Agape 2068 [1999] (2-3 octaves, level 2).

        MIT FREUDEN ZART - “God Has Gone Up with Shouts of Joy!”

        PH 7, 483, PsH 138, 465, RL 570, 146, RN 52, SNC 34, 154, TH 4, TWC 8, 50, UMH 126


        • Candlyn, T. Frederick H. Prelude on “Mit Freuden Zart.” Abingdon APM-148 [1961].
        • Ferguson, John. Three Psalm Preludes. Augsburg 11-10823 [1997].
        • Haan, Raymond H. Canonic Variations on “With High Delight.” Concordia 97-6167 [1992].


        • McChesney, Kevin. Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above. AGEHR A623006 [1993] (2-3 octaves, M).

        PICARDY - “You, Lord, Are Both Lamb and Shepherd”

        PH 5, PsH 341, RL 188, 289, RN 229, SNC 182, 221, TH 193, TWC 167, UMH 296, 626


        • Burkhardt, Michael. Four Hymn Improvisations for Holy Week. Morningstar MSM-10-318 [1995].
        • Travis, Albert L. Prelude on “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence.” Morningstar MSM-10-821 [1991].
        • Warner, Richard. Organ Music for the Communion Service. Concordia 97-1395 [1956].

        Alternative Harmonization for Organ

        • Burkhardt, Michael. As Though the Whole Creation Cried. Morningstar MSM-10-555 [2001].

        Alternative Harmonization for Piano

        • Carlson, J. Bert. Let It Rip! At the Piano. Augsburg 11-11045 [2000].

        Choral Anthem

        • Fedak, Alfred. Christus Paradox. GIA G-5463 [2000] (M).

        “Praise Him! Jesus, Blessed Savior”

        SNC 48

        You Are Crowned with Many Crowns”

        SNC 158


        • Hayes, Mark. Lord, Be Glorified, vol. 3. Word 301 0084 315 [1995].

        Additional Choral Resources

        • Courtney, Craig. Coronation. Beckenhorst BP1273 [1986].
        • Nickel, Larry. No More Fear. Goliard Press GP92114 [1991].
        • Smith, Byron. Worthy to Be Praised. Lawson-Gould 52654 [1993].

        Liturgy Suggestions

        1. It is important that the entire liturgy—songs, readings, and prayers—reflect a confidence and joy that Christ is King. The opening of the service should reflect this strong spirit, as should the conclusion of the service. Both the opening and the closing of the service will then shape the spirit of worship for this day.

        2. Include confessional readings that will be strong affirmations of faith in the reign of Christ. Here are some possibilities:

        • Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 45-52
        • Belgic Confession, articles 26 and 37 (you will find these formulated in litany form at the end of this material)
        • Our World Belongs to God, st. 1, 2, 6, 29, 45, 56-58
        • Our Song of Hope, st. 20, 21
        • Westminster Confession, VIII, 7, 8; XX, 4; XXXIII, 1-3

        3. The Prayers of the People in this service should reflect confidence in the current reign of Christ while acknowledging the pain of all creation and society as it "groans" right now (see Romans 8:22). This prayer should involve a delicate but very important balance of three considerations—our confidence and security in the reign of Christ, our sadness and grieving at the pain of our world, and our loving intercession for those who are suffering now. After these three the prayer should move into a spirit of anticipation for the return of Christ to bring the culmination of all his purposes.

        4. Because there are multiple Scripture passages that apply to this theme (see The Worship Sourcebook, p. 674), this is an ideal service in which to include multiple Scripture readings by multiple persons, each with a one-sentence introduction that points to the theme to listen for in each reading.

        5. Because Christ the King Sunday is both a conclusion of the Christian year and a transition into Advent and the Christmas season, we encourage you to include in your liturgy—by spoken word, prayer, or song—encouragement to make preparation for the beginning of Advent which will take place next week.

        Litanies from the Belgic Confession

        Since you may find the form of the readings from the Belgic Confession difficult to use in public worship, we provide here a few possible reformulations from articles 26 and 37. Because these have been formulated into responsive form, a congregation can more easily use them as affirmations in worship.

        The Intercession of Christ

        Do we have access to God?
        We believe that we have no access to God
        except through the one and only Mediator and Intercessor:
        Jesus Christ the Righteous.
        He therefore was made man,
        uniting together the divine and human natures,
        so that we human beings might have access to the divine Majesty.
        Otherwise we would have no access.

        Suppose we had to find another.
        Who would love us more than he who gave his life for us,
        even though "we were his enemies"?
        Who has as much prestige and power as he who is seated
        "at the right hand of the Father,"
        and who has all power
        "in heaven and on earth"?
        And who will be heard more readily
        than God's own dearly beloved Son?

        Has God really given His own Son as our Intercessor?
        Yes. It has pleased God
        to give us his Son as our Intercessor,
        so let us not leave him for another—
        or rather seek, without ever finding.
        For when God gave him to us
        he knew well that we were sinners.
        Therefore, in following the command of Christ
        we call on the heavenly Father
        through Christ,
        our only Mediator,
        as we are taught by the Lord's Prayer,
        being assured that we shall obtain
        all we ask of the Father
        in his name. (Belgic Confession, art. 26)

        The Last Judgment (I)

        Who will appear at the end of time?
        When the time appointed by the Lord is come
        (which is unknown to all creatures)
        and the number of the elect is complete,
        our Lord Jesus Christ will come from heaven,
        bodily and visibly,
        as he ascended,
        with great glory and majesty,
        to declare himself the judge
        of the living and the dead.

        Will everyone see him when he comes?
        Yes, all human creatures will appear in person
        before the great judge—
        men, women, and children,
        who have lived from the beginning until the end
        of the world.
        They will be summoned there
        by the voice of the archangel
        and by the sound of the divine trumpet.

        What about those who have already died? Will they miss it?
        All those who died before that time
        will be raised from the earth,
        their spirits being joined and united
        with their own bodies
        in which they lived.

        What about those who are still alive?
        As for those who are still alive,
        they will not die like the others
        but will be changed "in the twinkling of an eye"
        from "corruptible to incorruptible." (Belgic Confession, art. 37)

        The Last Judgment (II)

        What will happen when Jesus comes again?
        The "book" (that is, the consciences) will be opened,
        and the dead will be judged
        according to the things they did in the world,
        whether good or evil.
        And then the secrets and hypocrisies of men
        will be publicly uncovered
        in the sight of all.

        But isn't that a frightening picture to think of?
        With good reason
        the thought of this judgment
        is horrible and dreadful
        to wicked and evil people.
        But it is very pleasant
        and a great comfort
        to the righteous and elect,
        since their total redemption
        will then be accomplished.

        Are you eager?
        We look forward to that great day with longing
        in order to enjoy fully
        the promises of God in Christ Jesus,
        our Lord. (Belgic Confession, art. 37)