“Recommendations for the Conduct of Worship” from Services of Religion for Special Occasions

Orders of Morning Worship

The services are based, for the most part, upon a common pattern, or design, but are varied in content and emphasis, and the use or omission of optional parts gives additional opportunity for variations. The services are compiled with the hope that the book will be in the hands of the people, and that they will be encouraged to participate actively in those parts assigned to them. Where such is not the case the minister may use as much of the service as the circumstances permit.

The opening of the service with a chorale, introit, processional hymn, or sentences, followed by the exhortation or invocation, is the statement of the purpose which has drawn the congregation together. The minister should not use all of these elements in any one service, but should make such combination of them as is best adapted to the customary usage of his congregation. Where the musical resources are excellent the use of a chorale, introit or processional hymn is recommended, followed directly by the exhortation. Otherwise it is best to begin with one or more sentences, going on to the exhortation and invocation. In eleven of the services this is followed by a congregational prayer, and that, in turn, by an act of praise, — a hymn or responsive reading, or both. The responsive reading may be omitted when it is desirable to shorten the service. Where both are used the congregation should be trained to remain standing for the responsive reading, which may be introduced by saying, “Let us continue standing and read responsively selection number –,” or by a similar phrase.

The lessons follow, and the prayer, or prayers. A litany, with congregational responses, is printed for optional use with each service. Obviously it can be used only when the people have the books in their hands. When used, not more than one or two additional prayers, if any, will be desired. The minister is at liberty to offer “free prayer,” or to read such of the printed prayers as he may choose. It is recommended, however, that he should not follow a read prayer with “free prayer,” or vice versa, since the inevitable  difference in tone between the two is liable to be disturbing. Included in the book there will be found both “Additional Sentences” for the opening of worship, and “Additional Prayers,” topically arranged in both cases, from which he may supplement the sentences and prayers printed in the orders of service. No services for evening are provided, as such services now are infrequently held, but any of the services may be adapted for such occasions by the use of appropriate sentences and prayers for evening from the  Additional Sentences and Additional Prayers. In two of the services, the Tenth and Eleventh, the prayers are followed by an Act of Affirmation. Neither of these affirmations, nor those suggested for use in the Offertory, is included as an authoritative statement or test of belief. Some persons, however, find such an act an effective climax for a service, especially when accompanied by an appropriate

musical setting.

The Offertory is taken in so many different ways in our churches that it has seemed best to put together in one section the suggestions and materials for this part of the service.

The Offertory

The Offertory should take place at the point indicated in the services, or, if preferred, it may immediately follow the sermon. It should be regarded as an integral part of the service, symbolizing the self-dedication of the congregation to ideal ends. The desired impression will be conveyed if the taking of the collection be announced by using one or more appropriate sentences from Scripture or other suitable sources. If it is necessary to inform the congregation that the money received will be allocated to some specific purpose, an announcement to that effect may be made immediately before the offertory sentences, or may be printed in the church calendar. As soon as the minister has read the offertory sentences, the organ voluntary or choir anthem should begin.

The method followed for the actual taking of the collection will necessarily vary with the architectural arrangement and the  customary practice of the church. When the chancel is so arranged that the minister can take the plates from the communion table, give them to the ushers, and receive them again, he should do so. In some cases, however, the pulpit is so arranged that the minister cannot easily descend from it to do this, and in such cases the ushers should be instructed to come forward when the organ or anthem begins, take the plates and return them at the appropriate moment. This last will depend upon whether the reception of the plates is accompanied by an offertory chant, prayer, or affirmation of faith, or not. If not, the ushers should come forward as soon as the collection has been taken, either placing the plates on the table or giving them to the minister and waiting until he has placed them on the table and turned to face the congregation. If, however, there is to be an offertory chant, prayer, or affirmation of faith, the ushers should wait at the back of the church until the anthem or organ music is finished, and should then come forward, the congregation rising to join in the offertory chant or affirmation of faith. The ushers should then wait until this, or the offertory prayer, is finished before retiring.