Forms Of Worship

We have seen that Unity of Intention is necessary to congregational

worship. When a few people, animated by the same sentiments, are drawn

together by one motive, and incur the same dangers, it matters little

whether they use a form of worship or not. Whatever words are used in

their name, their unity of intention is secured by the fact that they

have no diversity of desires.

If the small body becomes a
large one and times grow peaceful,

diversity of desires will destroy unity of worship unless they adopt a


Forms of worship should, if possible, unite the most diverse features

of character, occupation, danger, trial, suffering, joy, &c. in the

expressions of Praise or Prayer which are common to them all. Local

colouring and personal references are admissible only when they arouse

a common emotion. The Lord's Prayer {18} is in this, as in other

respects, an ideal Form of Worship.

Christian Worship began amongst people who were already accustomed to

Forms. The Jews had Psalms for Worship (1 Chron. xvi. 4-43), and two

Lessons in their Synagogue Service (Acts xv. 21, First Lesson: Acts

xiii. 27, Second Lesson). The two Lessons were followed by the

Exhorter (Acts xiii. 15; St Luke iv. 16, 17).

The word Amen, being Hebrew, gives further evidence of the derivation

of the first Christian forms from the Synagogue Services, with, of

course, a Christian character infused into them (1 Cor. xiv. 15, 16;

cf. Deut. xxvii. 15-26).

Amen, as a Hebrew adjective, means firm, faithful; and, as an adverb,

verily, or, as the Catechism explains it, so be it. "Its proper

place is where one person confirms the words of another, and adds his

wish for success to the other's vows and predictions" (Gesenius). Each

of the first four Books of the Psalms ends with it--see Psalms xli.,

lxxii., lxxxix., cvi.

For some time the first Christians were able to resort to the Temple

and Synagogues, and both worship and teach there (Acts ii. 46, iii. 1,

3, 8, 11, v. 12, 21, 25, 42: xiii. 5, 14, xiv. 1, xvii. 1, 2, xix. 8).

They were joined by a number of the Priests (Acts vi. 7) whose help in

arranging the services would bring a considerable influence in the same

direction. At Ephesus (Acts xix. 9) a division arose in the Synagogue,

causing S. Paul and the Christian disciples to remove into a school.

At Corinth, for a similar {19} reason, they set up the Christian

worship in the next house to the Synagogue, and the Ruler of the

Synagogue went with them (Acts xviii. 7, 8). It is not very surprising

that under these circumstances they derived some of their forms of

Worship from the Synagogue.

Forms assist the mind to take its due part in the worship which we

offer to the Almighty. Worship is offered with body, mind and spirit.

If one of these encroaches on the others, their share is in danger. If

the tongue and the knees and the hands are too much engaged in it, the

mind grows weary or idle. If the mind is too busily employed, the

spirit has a diminished share, or the body is indolent. It is

necessary to provide occupation for the mind, but not to occupy it in

following great mental efforts for which it is unprepared. If the mind

is unprepared, it no sooner reaches one point than it has to follow the

speaker to another; and thereby the spirit loses its power of speeding

the utterance to the throne of God.