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  • The holy work of worship planning

    I am half-way through my second year as the Dean of Keffer Chapel at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary and one hope I have is that we, at the seminary,  can learn more of what it means to craft worship together as a team.  Here is an excellent article published by the Alban Institute that I think puts some good words around what I have found helpful when planning Assembly or LutherHostel worship. You will be able to read it by clicking here  Worship Planning . Adapted from Encounters with the Holy: A Conversational Model for Worship Planning by Barbara Day Miller (Alban Institute, 2010), this article gives a precis of the model of worship planning she proposes: planning (brainstorming together based on the texts), ordering (within the framework of the pattern for worship), worshipping,  and reflecting after the service.  The author suggests that “the planning and preparation are themselves opportunities to experience the Holy, to see God’s Spirit at work in us”, and if you have worked on creative worship teams, you will know this.  She also says, “the process itself is not always easy. It is, however, deeply rewarding, exciting, and life-giving.”  I would concur.  Take a look at the model she offers; perhaps you already use a variation of this on a regular basis or for special services. Worship teams are also one way to nurture spirited discipleship and welcome diversity.

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  • Songs for Worship

    SONGS FOR WORSHIP: Lutheran Songs Today “is the first unified resource (piano/guitar/vocal sheetmuisc, music CD, lectionary and scripture worship guidance) of alternative songs for worship by Lutheran singer-songwriters” reads the promotional material. Pastor Anne Anderson of Trinity New Hamburg, who leads the Sanctuary worship service, recommends it to you.  For more information go to Lutheran Songs Today .

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  • 20 New Year’s Resolutions for the Church Musician

    From Lucy Graham’s blog called “Spirited and Singing” comes this invitation to sing a little more in the new year!

    20 (New Year) Resolutions for the Church Musician

    Most New Years come and go before I’ve made a decent resolution. This year I am determined to be better prepared. Here is a list of suggestions you might like to run past your faith commmunity, family, actual friends and facebook friends. They are not limited to the institutional church, but extend into everyday.

    1. Sing to a child
    2. Listen attentively to a child singing
    3. Invite everyone you know around for a singalong (just for the fun of it.)
    4. Have a fundraising drive to boost the music budget
    5. Clean out the music cupboard
    6. Buy a new contemporary music source
    7. Book a course to extend your skills
    8. Recruit a new member to the church band or choir
    9. Say “well done you” to another muso
    10. Use an instrument you haven’t tried before (harmonica, tin whistle, banjo, recorder)
    11. Delegate… and trust it will be done.
    12. Don’t look so busy – leave the packing up until later
    13. Sing in places other than the shower, just because.
    14. Invite an older person (than you) to play their instrument in worship.

    15. Organise an event where instrumentalists of all ages can strut their stuff.
    16 Buy a really great drum (toms, djembe, bohran are all great choices)
    17. Learn how to drum properly
    18. Have a massage, light an aromatherapy candle, breathe deeply.
    19. Learn about and listen to a style of music you don’t like
    20.Sing an really ancient hymn unaccompanied all the way through.
    What is your musical resolution for 2011?

    To find out more about Lucy Graham  and to find weekly song, hymn and recorded music suggestions and resources for worship  based on the Revised Common Lectionary, go to Suggestions are posted on Wednesday nights, usually a few weeks in advance of each Sunday.

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  • Liturgy Chat group hosted by synod pastors

    Retired pastors Don Nevile  and Paul Bosch co-host a liturgy chat group where members offer their opinions and comments on various topics relating to liturgy. It is not an official synod chat group, but designed to provide a forum of discussion for Eastern Synod members.  Go to to subscribe.

    A recent conversation on liturgytalk produced a copy of the Epiphany Proclamation which Don offers in response to Kevin Baglole’s request for it. “If you are going to use it in print, it looks good if it is centre-justified.  The chant can be elaborate, or a very simple 1/2 on the minor cadences, and 1/7/6/1 on the major & final cadences. It is adapted from an ancient tradition of proclaiming the festivals for the coming year on the Day of the Epiphany. According to ancient tradition, this proclamation was chanted on Epiphany Sunday, following the Gospel for the Day.”

    Dearly beloved Friends, you have experienced
    the Joy with which we have Celebrated,
    by the Favour of a Merciful God,
    the Birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    In that Same Joy, we Now Proclaim his New Birth,
    The Resurrection of that Same Lord and Saviour,
    And our Reliving of it During the Year.

    The Ninth Day of March will be Ash Wednesday.
    This will mark the Beginning of the Lenten Season.
    On the Twenty-Fourth Day of April, we will Exult in the
    Full Celebration of the Passover of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    The Second Day of June will Mark
    The Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    The Twelfth Day of June will be the Feast of Pentecost.
    On the Nineteenth Day of June we will Celebrate The Holy Trinity.

    On the Thirtieth Day of October we will Recall
    with Thanks the Gifts of the Reformers.
    All Saints Sunday will be Celebrated on
    The Sixth Day of November.
    On the Twentieth Day of November we will Observe
    The Festival of Christ the King.
    The Twenty-Seventh Day of November will be the First Sunday of Advent,
    When we shall Once Again Look Forward to
    The Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    To Him be Honour and Glory Forever. Amen. Laus Deo!

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  • Bishop’s Clergy Retreat

    To worship — but not be in charge of it all!!

    The Bishop’s Clergy Retreat,  Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011 (6:30 pm) – Wednesday, Mar. 2, 2011 (12 noon), Mount Carmel Spiritual Centre, Niagara Falls, Ontario, is an opportunity for clergy to take some time out.  This year, with the programme portions being offered by Bishop Susan Johnson, ELCIC, and Archbishop Fredrick Hiltz, ACC, the retreat is a time to reflect with our national Lutheran and Anglican leaders, and, also, it is a time to pray, to be silent, to laugh with colleagues, and to build a community. Imagine what would happen if 150 pastors went in this anniversary year!  Check it out again at  Bishop\’s Clergy Retreat or to check the agenda, go to .

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  • Pray for Indigenous Peoples on December 5

    On November 12 the federal government announced that Canada will endorse the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This reverses its previous position, and means that Canada is no longer one of only two countries that have refused to endorse the Declaration.  Kairos, the Canadian ecumenical justice initiatives of which the ELCIC is a part, writes that “as with the federal government’s apology to the former students of residential schools in 2008, this endorsement represents another important step towards a new relationship with First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in Canada — a relationship that recognizes and respects their rights.”

    On December 5th, Kairos is proposing a “Beat the drum” action gathering. Click  Beat the Drum to find out the details.  As a worship planner, you might decide to incorporate the drums into worship on that day, as an act of solidarity with the Indigenous People of Canada and a call to live out our commitmenet to the Declaration. This drumming might be part of the gathering rite or perhaps accompany the lighting of the Advent candle. It would be helpful to include a verbal or written explanation of why the drumming is being included.

    You could also decide to include the following prayer petition:

    Creator God, we give thanks for the Indigenous Peoples of our land.  Hear the cries for right relationship coming from the drums today.    Guide our government as it carries out its commitment to Indigenous Rights and help each of us to be agents who break down barriers of discrimination.

    For more information, click here United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples .

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  • Year A lectionary readings listed

    Visit Lift Up Your Hearts for the ELCIC’s Worship Planning Calendar, prepared by ELCIC (Eastern Synod) pastor Wendell Grahlman [e-mail], which includes full lectionary citations for all Sundays, festivals and days of special devotion.

    ELCIC’s Worship Planning Calendar is available in several formats:

    Now discontinued, a similar document called Worship Planning Calendar with Hymns, included hymn suggestions. An older version for Year A remains available here:

    FOR MORE INFORMATION: The Consultation for Common Texts (CCT) is an ecumenical consultation of liturgical scholars and denominational representatives from the United States and Canada that began in the mid-1960s as a forum for consultation on worship renewal. In 1992, CCT produced the Revised Common Lectionary(RCL), and in 1995, published the  Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, providing a schedule of daily lessons related to the RCL.

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  • Alban Institute worship articles

    Two worship articles were recently published in the Alban Institute’s Alban Weekly.

    Singing an Eclectic Repertoire: November 8, 2010 No. 328

    In this article, the authors Bruce G. Epperly and Daryl Hollinger suggest that “singing an eclectic repertoire enables us to look beyond our own little world and to experience the expansiveness of God’s realm” and they provide helpful questions to assess how electic an individual congregation’s repertoire is. This article is adapted from From a Mustard Seed: Enlivening Worship and Music in the Small Church by Bruce G. Epperly and Daryl Hollinger, copyright © 2010 by the Alban Institute.

    When is a Pipe Organ Just a Pipe Organ? November 1, 2010 No. 327

    “What the mainline church needs to do is to refocus on what is foundational tradition—religiously, denominationally, and congregationally—and work our way back from there.”  This article by  N. Graham Standish invites us to think about what is foundational in our liturgy and what is an ‘accretion’.

    These articles are available to be reprinted for one-time use in congregational bulletins or newsletters. Click  Alban Weekly archive or go to  for these and other Alban Institute articles.

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  • ELCA Worship Desk changes

    For your information: The following letter comes from the November Worship News of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

    October was a difficult month for everyone whose work and ministry flows from the ELCA churchwide organization. Churchwide staff learned the details and staff implications of the reorganization plan on October 11.

    I want to share some specifics about the future of Worship and Liturgical Resources as it finds expression in the organizational structure of the ELCA. We are currently situated as a section in the Office of the Presiding Bishop. The reorganization has decreased the number of churchwide units and sections from 13 to 3. This was the only way to realistically create a sustainable structure in light of the available mission support from congregations through synods. The sad reality of this reorganization for us is that the section for Worship and Liturgical Resources will be eliminated at the end of this fiscal year. The positions of two of our worship colleagues were eliminated immediately as part of this transition. However, this does not mean the end of our work.

    The work of ongoing worship renewal and leadership in worship and liturgical resources will continue in the new Congregational and Synodical Mission (CSM) unit. Over the next several months we will all experience the ambiguity of living into a new structure. I will continue as Executive for Worship and Scott Wielder will continue as Associate Director for Worship and Music during this time of transition into the new structure.

    The fact remains that for Lutherans the church is defined by worship. The church is “the assembly of all believers among whom the gospel is purely preached and the holy sacraments are administered according to the gospel” (Augsburg Confession, Article VII).  The center from which all mission flows is the weekly gathering around the word of God proclaimed and the sacraments of holy baptism and holy communion celebrated in participating assemblies of singing, serving, and praying people. Scott and I want to reiterate our undiminished commitment to you in your ministries of worship as well as to the work of ongoing support and renewal of the Church’s worship.

    Blessings on the journey.

    Pr. Robert G. Schaefer, Executive for Worship, Office of the Presiding Bishop

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  • All Saints hymn text

    Pastor Steve Johnston of St Peter’s, Brodhagen shares this hymn text with us.  It is a 5th verse to Give Thanks For Saints, Evangelical Lutheran Worship 428, which he wrote for All Saints Sunday to celebrate the newly baptized in the past year, the new saints.

    #428 Give Thanks For Saints, Verse 5

    Give thanks for saints this year baptized

    in Christ with life brand new;

    sealed with the spirit marked and named,

    a gift that makes us all the same,

    washed clean with morning dew,

    God’s grace for me and you.

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