The Liturgy of the Church (repeat)

This course was previously held in the spring of 2022. If you missed the course at that time, we may offer this course again if there is interest.

God’s people meet each Sunday to worship the Lord together. But why do we worship? And why do we worship the way we do? Why do we read the 10 commandments each week? Why is the sermon so central? How do we decide what songs and musical styles are suitable? What is the difference between our morning and afternoon services? Could we do things differently? And perhaps you can add a few questions of your own. The goal of this course is to explore these matters in order to enrich our understanding of and appreciation for corporate worship.

Course Objectives

  • 1)  Students will gain a deeper understanding of the biblical foundations and governing principles of Christian worship.

  • 2)  Students will gain a deeper appreciation of the importance and privilege of corporate worship as well as of the Reformation heritage regarding worship.

  • 3)  Students will be equipped to think through practical liturgical questions and to provide leadership on such matters in their local context.

Course Summary

The course begins with a consideration of biblical foundations, including the principles which ought to govern our worship. After this, we will examine practical questions of worship and liturgy. Tentatively, the sessions will proceed as follows:

  1. Biblical foundations of Christian worship

A general consideration of the centrality of worship in the Christian life, including an overview of whom, why, when, where, and how we worship. 

  1. Biblical principles and the order of worship

A consideration of the regulative principle of worship as formulated in the Reformed confessions. An overview of how Christians use the Bible to govern their worship, along with biblical teaching on the content and order of worship.

  1. The order of worship (continued)

A comparison of different orders of worship used in Reformed churches. Examination of the elements of a worship service, such as the call to worship, the use of the 10 commandments, congregational participation, the place of sacraments, etc.

  1. Music in worship and other special topics

Principles for selecting music that is suitable for worship; debates regarding psalm-singing; selecting an order of worship. Time-permitting, other select topics may be addressed (to be determined).

Course Materials

All required course materials will be distributed electronically.

  • de Visser, A. J., “The Character of the Afternoon Service.” Clarion 56 (June 22, 2007), 310-312.

  • Kuyper, Abraham, Our Worship, (Eerdmans, 2009), 8-23.

  • Lefebvre, Michael, Singing the Songs of Jesus: Revisiting the Psalms, (Christian Focus, 2010), 31-57.

  • Needham, Nick R., “Worship Through the Ages.” In Philip G. Ryken et al, Give Praise to God: A Vision for Reforming Worship (P&R Publishing, 2003), 375-411.

Classes will combine instruction and discussion, and assigned readings will be discussed during class time.

Course Requirements/Evaluation

  • 1)  Class attendance (15 points) – for every two hours of class attendance, the student will receive 3.75 points.

  • 2)  Discussion of assigned readings (25 points) – students will complete the readings and come prepared for discussion.

  • 3)  Reflection Paper (25 points) – students will write a short reflection on the assigned readings. See below for further details.

  • 4)  Assignment (35 points) – students will complete an assignment concerning practical liturgical questions. See below for further details.

Reflection Paper

Students are to submit a short reflection on the assigned readings (2 pages double-spaced; 500- 750 words). Since the readings cover a variety of topics, you may choose to focus on one or two of the readings that particularly interested you.

In the report, do your best to include the following aspects:

  1. Summarize what you have read.

  2. Analyze what you have read, highlighting where you agree/disagree and why.

  3. Apply what you have read to your present understanding and experience of worship.

Final Assignment

Students will be required to analyze two different liturgies, which will be provided by the instructor. Ideally, the student will also watch a recording of the service in which the liturgy was used.

The student will write a report on what they discover (3-5 pages double-spaced; 750-1250 words). The report should compare and contrast the two liturgies, and also evaluate each in terms of the principles discussed in this course.