Life in the Spirit: An Ascension and Pentecost Service Based on Romans 8

This festival of song based on Romans 8 was the concluding service of the Calvin Symposium on Worship and the Arts, January 2003. It would be especially appropriate for use anytime between Ascension and Pentecost, or as background material for any service based on a portion of Romans 8. The entire chapter of Romans 8 was proclaimed from memory by different people who had been coached by Dennis Dewey (see RW 65). For this service, we celebrated in song the gifts from the body of Christ from many times and places, united by the power of the Spirit.


Gathering Songs

“He Is Lord” PsH 633, SNC 160, SFL 178, TWC 97 (trumpet descants from the Leader’s Edition of Sing! A New Creation)
“What Wondrous Love” (American) PsH 379, PH 85, SFL 169, TH 261, TWC 212 (organ, partly unaccompanied)
“There Is a Redeemer” (American) SNC 145 (piano)
“Santo, Santo, Santo, mi corazon/Holy, Holy, Holy, My Heart” (Spanish) SNC 19 (piano)

Choral Prayer

“Spirit of Faith, by Faith Be Mine,” Carl Stam


Our help is in the name of the Lord
Who made the heavens and the earth.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.


The Good News of the Ascension

Scripture: Luke 24:45-53


“God Has Gone Up with Shouts of Joy” (American) SNC 154 (organ and brass; all sopranos on descant, followed by an organ transition to the following anthem, which was sung unaccompanied by the choir)

“If You Love Me,” Thomas Tallis (Arista Edition 462); text is from John 14:15-17

The Good News of Pentecost

Scripture: Acts 2:1-4 (SNC 162 includes a verse for speakers to repeat in various languages represented in your congregation or community)


“Santo Espíritu, excelsa paloma/Holy Spirit, from Heaven Descended” (Mexican) SNC 168 (st. 1, solo, sung in Spanish; st. 2-4, sung by all in English)

The Spirit at Work, Bringing Freedom

Scripture: Romans 8:1-2


“For Freedom Christ Has Set Us Free” (Canadian) SNC 66 (st. 2 choir only, sung in the minor key; see SNC 66 Leader’s Edition)

The Spirit at Work, Renewing Our Minds

Scripture: Romans 8:3-8


“Kyrie eleison/Lord, Have Mercy” (Russian) SNC 54 (sung unaccompanied, followed by “Send Us Your Spirit” without pause; SNC 163 Leader’s Edition includes the music in D, but we sang it in E as found in the anthem setting—GIA G-3340)

“Send Us Your Spirit” (American) SNC 163 (after st. 2, 3, women sing the refrain in canon, men following)

The Spirit at Work, Bringing New Life in Christ

Scripture: Romans 8:9-11


“Cantad al Señor/O Sing to the Lord” (Brazilian) SNC 224 (accompanied by a setting by Robert Hobby for organ, trumpets, and lots of percussion; see SNC 224 Leader’s Edition)

The Spirit at Work in Our Adoption as Heirs with Christ

Scripture: Romans 8:12-17


“Loving Spirit” (Taiwan and New Zealand) SNC 235

(st. 1, solo; st. 2, men; st. 3, women; st. 4-5, all; accompanied by piano and a bell playing on rests [see SNC Leader’s Edition]; be sure to add one complete 7-beat measure between stanzas to keep the pattern going)

The Spirit at Work in Creation

Scripture: Romans 8:18-22


“In Labor All Creation Groans” (American) SNC 270 (st. 1, 3, 5, men; st. 2, 4, 6, women; st. 7, all; stanzas sung by the men can be accompanied by the alternate arrangement in the Leader’s Edition)

The Spirit at Work, Giving Us Patience

Scripture: Romans 8:22-25


“Wait for the Lord” (Taizé) SNC 96 (the Leader’s Edition of SNC includes all the instrumental accompaniments)

The Spirit at Work in Our Praying

Scripture: Romans 8:26-27


“Gracious Spirit, Hear Our Pleading” (Tanzania) SNC 166 (st. 1, 3, 5, men; st. 2, 4, women; sung unaccompanied expect for a djembe [African drum])

Spoken Prayers of Intercession

Each prayer is followed by this response:
Lord in your mercy,
hear our prayer.


“Gracious Spirit, Dwell with Me,” arr. K. Lee Scott (Augsburg 0-8006-4613-4); st. 1-2, choir; st. 3-4, all)

The Spirit Working with the Father and the Son for Our Good

Scripture: Romans 8:28-30


“Shout to the Lord” (New Zealand) SNC 223 (led by a band)

More Than Conquerors Through Him Who Loved Us

Scripture: Romans 8:31-39


“Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” (English) PsH 568, PH 376, RL 464, TH 529, TWC 558, arr. John Ferguson for organ and brass; including this stanza found in most hymnals, but not in the PsH:

Breathe, O breathe thy loving Spirit
into every troubled breast;
let us all in thee inherit;
let us find thy promised rest.
Take away the love of sinning, Alpha and Omega be;
end of faith, as its beginning, set our hearts at liberty.

Charge and Blessing

Go out in the power of the gospel. Do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord. When you suffer for the gospel, rely on the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace.

Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us.

—based on 2 Timothy 1:18-14

May the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. And may the God of peace make you holy in every way and keep your whole being—spirit, soul, and body—free from every fault at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Amen! Alleluia!

Passing of the Peace

The peace of Christ be with you all.

And also with you.

Song of Dismissal

“Now Go in Peace” (Caribbean) SNC 289 (all sing twice, and then in canon)

Carl Stam ( is the director of the Institute for Christian Worship at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the part-time minister of music at Louisville’s Clifton Baptist Church. Since 1995, he has distributed a weekly e-mail devotional on worship and prayer, Worship Quote of the Week (


Reformed Worship 71 © March 2004, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.