Calvin the Liturgist: How ‘Calvinist’ is Your Church’s Liturgy?

December 2, 2008

Calvin’s service opened with the minister entering, positioning himself behind the communion table, and saying: “Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 124:8).

A call to confession of sins and an appropriate prayer followed. In Strassburg he used an absolution at this point in the service (“To all those who thus repent and seek Jesus Christ for their salvation, I pronounce absolution in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”); in Geneva he replaced the absolution with a statement of forgiveness. The singing of the first table of the Law, followed by a prayer and the singing of the second table, concluded the service of confession.

As the people sang the second table of the Law, the minister entered the pulpit (in later years Calvin conducted the entire service from the pulpit). The minister then led the congregation in a prayer for illumination, concluded with the Lord’s Prayer. The singing of a psalm, a Scripture reading, and the sermon followed.

Calvin’s service ended with collections for the poor, intercessions, singing the Apostles’ Creed, brief pastoral encouragements, singing another psalm, and the Aaronic benediction.

Read more at Reformed Worship.

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