Hymns & Songs

Four acts of worship in one hymn

Oct 2013    

Called To Gather As God’s People

Called to gather as God’s people, We assemble in this place
To unite our hearts and voices In thanksgiving for God’s grace:
For the birthing of creation, For Christ’s rising from death’s hold,
For the coming of the Spirit, Week by week claimed and retold.

Taught and formed by proclamation, We await God’s promised word:
Song and story, psalm and precept, All the range of scripture heard. By this ancient, living witness We are summoned to confess How we fall short, yet can trust that God will hear, forgive, and bless.

Fed at Christ’s abundant table, We partake of holy food,
Wake the gifts of hope and mem’ry Taste and see that God is good. So our mingled lives are taken, Blessed and broken for Christ’s sake, Given out to feed and comfort Bodies, minds, and hearts that ache.

Sent to share the Spirit’s blessing, We go forth renewed, restored, Humbled by the task before us, Strengthened by the Love outpoured. Finding faith confirmed in action, Led by hope through each new day, We are called to be God’s people, Living what we sing and pray.

Text: Carl Daw, Jr. b 1944
Tune: NETTLETON Wyeth’s
Repository of Sacred Music,
Pt. II 1813

Of the many hymns we hear and sing, here is one that teaches us about the four acts of worship. These four acts of historical worship are generally practiced by many churches although through various expressions. A brief description of each by this hymn will help us understand these acts and make us more aware of what is going on in worship.

First, we are “called to gather as God’s people”. Here, we unite our hearts and voices to express our praise and thanksgiving to our God who continues to work in creation. In this act, we may have the following elements: call to worship, opening prayer, song or songs of praise, and prayer of confession and pardon.

Second, we are “taught and formed by proclamation.” We listen to the word of God through Scripture and the sermon week after week. What is crucial here is that “all the range of scripture” is heard. When this happens, we are able to witness God’s act throughout history even as He continues to act today touching lives, healing hurts and giving us hope for the future.

Third, we are “fed at Christ’s abundant table.” This is the church’s response to the proclamation of the Word. As a community, we gather around the table to remember the great story of salvation. It is here that we are reconciled to each other, with the world and to God the Father through the love of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Fourth, we are “sent to share the Spirit’s blessing.” We now have a mission. “We are called to be God’s people, living what we sing and pray.” It is a humbling task, knowing that the world before us is a tough one. We have been transformed by the worship experience, our faith is renewed, and with the hope and assurance of God’s mercy and grace, we are now ready to face the world head-on.

The most accessible tune to use for this hymn is Nettleton (also sung to the text of “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”). It is a general hymn we can sing any time of the Christian Year.

The author of the hymn, the Rev Carl P. Daw, Jr., is an American Episcopal priest. He is Adjunct Professor of Hymnology, Curator of the Hymnological Collections in Boston University School of Theology.

Picture by zurijeta/Bigstock.com

Judith Mosomos is Lecturer in Church Music at the Methodist School of Music and a member of Kampong Kapor Methodist Church.

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