Fourfold Worship – Gathering, WORD, Table, and Sending: in its simplest form it is descriptive of the liturgical form that the Church has practiced in worship gatherings for many centuries.  Undoubtedly, the intent of worship music ministers and pastors is to give God’s Word its rightful place as the centerpiece of Christian worship.  Serving, as I do, with Baptist worship music ministers and pastors, I know that many of these worship planners tend to focus a given Sunday’s worship in a thematic fashion, pointing everything toward the emphasis of the day’s sermon.

As we think again about worship singing in fourfold worship, and today specifically about singing and the Word, I want to broaden the picture just a bit to consider singing that underscores not only the portion of the Bible that will be preached in the day’s sermon, but to consider as well singing that celebrates and helps worshipers to engage with the spiritual dynamic of what is happening in this fold of worship as we seek to hear from God.  Perhaps it will be best to think of this approach as two separate aspects within the fold of worship that we call, THE WORD.

First, there is the approach to songs and singing that we would plan that relates carefully and closely to the specific chapter and verse or verses that will be emphasized by the pastor in his sermon.  If we are aware of specific direction and emphasis, hymn and worship song selections can be made that align and support the text to be read.  Prayerfully reading and re-reading the biblical text helps the worship planner to prepare by getting a sense of the timbre of the scriptural emphasis as well as the message itself.  It would seem that selection decisions should include the spirit of the music as well as the song lyric.  In best case scenarios the worship musician might know how the sermon will begin and/or end, so that music material selected closest to either of those points will be appropriate to the desired atmosphere and/or reasoned thinking.  This kind of planning may well assist worshipers in grasping the meaning within the sermon and its message.  Sung biblical truths, even actual words of scripture, can help to plant thoughts and actions in head and heart of worshipers.

A second approach within this Word fold of worship includes consideration of such things as the movement toward readiness to receive, covenant to hear and act upon what we will hear or have heard, reverence in the hearing, and thanksgiving and celebration for what we have heard.  Though most evangelicals do not follow a prescribed liturgical order, attention to such order may assist our thinking in this manner.  More formal worship liturgies include prescribed scripture readings following which the reader proclaims, “The Word of the Lord.”  The congregation replies, “Thanks be to God.”  These repeated expressions serve as a sort of grateful punctuation to hearing from the read Word.

It seems we would do well as worship planners to consider how singing might assist us to prepare our hearts to receive the Word, to respond with gratitude in faith to the hearing of the Word.

While the sermon text for the day may well be the centerpiece of the Word fold during a given Sunday’s worship, there is a larger opportunity to help develop disciples to revere the Word, head its meaning, affirm its Authorship, and reply with thankful hearts.

Consider songs for the WORD fold in worship and how they might be used to move worshipers toward the hearing, heeding, and responding to the WORD.  These could serve in a song set that includes songs more directly pointed toward a text that will be preached.  These songs come to my mind as songs that help prepare or respond to the read or preached Word of Holy Scripture.  Do you think of others that are particularly meaningful for your congregation?

Speak, O Lord – Getty & Townend

Ancient Words – DeShazo

Wonderful Words of Life – Bliss

Break Thou the Bread of Life – Lathbury/Groves

Thy Word (refrain) – Grant

Word of God Across the Ages – Blanchard

How Firm a Foundation – John Rippons’ Selection of Hymns

            Word of God, Speak – Kipley & Billard

Help worshipers through singing to receive the “Word of God for the people of God.”

Explore posts in the same categories: Congregational Singing, Leading Worship, Music Ministry, Singing Worship, Spiritual formation through singing, Worship Leaders, Worship Pastors, Worship Reminders, Worship theology, Worship thoughts, Youth Worship


  1. I love to use Speak, oh Lord and Every Promise that is also by the Gettys.

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