A Hymn-Festival Service

Celebrating the worldwide church of Christ


Introit: "In the Presence of Your People"1

PsH 160

Text from Psalm 22 and 145
Tune with characteristics of the hora, a Jewish circle dance
Psalm 96 [responsively]
Hymn: "All Creatures of Our God and King "2

PsH 431

Text originally an Italian poem
Tune of Roman Catholic origin
Confession of Faith: Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 21 ,Q & A 54 and 55 [responsively]
Hymn: "Let All Things Now Living"3

PsH 453

Text by an American author
Tune was originally a Welsh harp tune


Prayer for Illumination
Scripture Reading and Commentary: Psalm 874
Bible Song: "I Am the Lord Your God"

PsH 199

Text from the well-known "new covenant" chapter of Jeremiah 31
Tune from a Russian national hymn
Scripture Reading: Ephesians 1:3-14 and 2:11-22
Hymn: "We Come, O Christ, to You"5

PsH 238

Text by a Canadian author
Tune by a British composer
Hymn: "Christ, You Are the Fullness"6

PsH 229

Text from well-known passages in Colossians
Tune of a Korean folk song
Hymn: "In Christ There Is No East or West"7

PsH 540

Text by a British author
Tune of Afro-American origin, arranged by a famous black singer and composer
Scripture Reading and Commentary:
Luke 6:20-36
Hymn: "Whatsoever You Do to the Least of MyPeople"8

PsH 210

Text from Jesus' words recorded in Matthew
Tune by an American who favors eastern European melodies
Hymn: "Jesu, Jesu, Fill Us with Your Love"9
PsH 601
Text by a British missionary to Africa; based partly on John 13:1—17
Tune from Ghana, originally for a love song


Hymn: "God, the Father of Your People"10

PsH 322:1

Text by a missionary to American Indians
Tune from the Appalachians
*Benediction from Numbers 6:24-26
*Hymn: "Father, Long Before Creation"11

PsH 464

Text from the "underground" church in China
Tune from England
*BibleSong: "Alleluia/Alabare"

PsH 234

Text from Revelation 5
Tune of Spanish folk origin

Notes on the Service:

  1. All the songs for the service are taken from the 1987 Psalter Hymnal (PsH). The introit could be sung twice by a children's choir, using guitar and violin. (It is sung by a children's choir on the cassette recording In the Presence of Your People, available from CRC Publications.)
  2. A couple of weeks before the service, teach the children the "Alleluia" and "O praise him" sections. The song leader can sing the rest of the words, bringing in the children on the refrainlike parts of each stanza. One or more stanzas could be sung by an adult choir alone (see, e.g., the setting in Hymns for Choirs [Oxford]). You may wish to use one of the several hymn con-certatos available on this tune (with various texts); each concertato provides choral parts and trumpet or brass settings.
  3. Sing the descant or play it on soprano-range instruments. Here is a fine opportunity to use your recorder group from a local elementary school!
  4. This and another Scripture reading include "a commentary" or sermon. Preachers may choose other texts, of course, or may want to deliver only one sermon rather than several.
  5. An adult or children's choir can sing stanza 1 to help teach the hymn to the congregation. If the tune is known, have the women and children sing stanza 3 and the men stanza 4. Add a trumpet on the melody for the final stanza. This song was recorded on We Come, O Christ, to You, available from CRC Publications.
  6. Dale Grotenhuis has a concertato on this hymn in his SATB Choir Settings from the New Psalter Hymnal (Book 1). His setting provides an excellent way to introduce this new hymn. Available from the composer, c/o Dordt College, Sioux Center IA 51250, for $3.50.
  7. Teach the children one or two stanzas from this song in church school a few weeks before the service. This hymn's first line (by John Ox-enham) appears in many hymnals, but the Michael Perry version in the new Psalter Hymnal is preferred.
  8. This song could be sung by a soloist and/or children's choir, and accompanied with guitar and Orff instruments.
  9. Hal Hopson (Hope), Gordon Young (Hope), and Cindy Johnston (GIA) are among those who have made choral arrangements of this hymn. Ask the rock drummer in your church to improvise accompaniments for woodblocks and bongo drums!
  10. Stanza 2 of this hymn (text by John Newton) is a benediction; it could be sung by the choir in place of the spoken benediction.
  11. Ideally this hymn should flow right into the following one, "Alabare'," with no appreciable break (they're both in F major).
  12. 12. Children love to sing words in different languages. Make sure they learn the refrain in church school before the service.

Bert Polman was a hymnologist, professor and chair of the music department at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan. He passed away in July 2013. 

Reformed Worship 12 © June 1989, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.