How we Worship
Sunday is traditionally when Episcopalians gather for worship. The principal weekly worship service is the Holy Eucharist, also known as: the Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion, or Mass. In most Episcopal churches, worship is accompanied by the singing of hymns, and in some churches, much of the service is sung.
Episcopalians worship in many different styles, ranging from very formal, ancient, and multi-sensory rites with lots of singing, music, fancy clothes (called vestments), and incense, to informal services with contemporary music. Yet all worship in the Episcopal Church is based in the Book of Common Prayer, which gives worship a familiar feel, no matter where you go.
Liturgy and Ritual Worship
in the Episcopal Church is said to be “liturgical,” meaning that the congregation follows service forms and prays from texts that don’t change greatly from week to week during a season of the year. This sameness from week to week gives worship a rhythm that becomes comforting and familiar to the worshipers. For the first-time visitor, liturgy may be exhilarating… or confusing. Services may involve standing, sitting, kneeling, sung or spoken responses, and other participatory elements that may provide a challenge for the first-time visitor. However, liturgical worship can be compared with a dance: once you learn the steps, you come to appreciate the rhythm, and it becomes satisfying to dance, again and again, as the music changes.
The Liturgy of the Word
We begin by praising God through song and prayer, and then listen to as many as four readings from the Bible. Usually one from the Old Testament, a Psalm, something from the Epistles, and (always) a reading from the Gospels. The psalm is usually sung or recited by the congregation. Next, a sermon interpreting the readings appointed for the day is preached. The congregation then recites the Nicene Creed, written in the Fourth Century and the Church’s statement of what we believe ever since. Next, the congregation prays together—for the Church, the World, and those in need. We pray for the sick, thank God for all the good things in our lives, and finally, we pray for the dead. The presider (e.g. priest, bishop, lay minister) concludes with a prayer that gathers the petitions into a communal offering of intercession. In certain seasons of the Church year, the congregation formally confesses their sins before God and one another. This is a corporate statement of what we have done and what we have left undone, followed by a pronouncement of absolution. In pronouncing absolution, the presider assures the congregation that God is always ready to forgive our sins.
The congregation then greets one another with a sign of “peace.” The Liturgy of the Table Next, the priest stands at the table, which has been set with a cup of wine and a plate of bread or wafers, raises his or her hands, and greets the congregation again, saying “The Lord be With You.” Now begins the Eucharistic Prayer, in which the presider tells the story of our faith, from the beginning of Creation, through the choosing of Israel to be God’s people, through our continual turning away from God, and God’s calling us to return. Finally, the presider tells the story of the coming of Jesus Christ, and about the night before his death, on which he instituted the Eucharistic meal (communion) as a continual remembrance of him.
At St. John’s, we carry on the 500-year-old tradition of English Church music as our inheritance. We embrace our music ministry both as a beloved church tradition as well as proud heritage shared by all members of the Anglican community.
Music during each 9:30 Sunday morning liturgy includes the singing of the Eucharist and psalms, accompanied by our pipe organ, adult choir, and occasional guest instrumentalists.
Each year, the choir provides special music to accompany lessons and carols during holidays like Advent, Easter, and 4th of July. Pipe organ music also compliments other celebrations of the Holy Eucharist. Our children’s choir, which meets seasonally, each year performs a delightful Nativity and/or Easter drama during one of the liturgies.
Our adult choir typically sits at around 12 members, all of whom are either students on “choir scholarships” or volunteers. The choir rehearses every Wednesday afternoon, during which time child care can be provided when needed. Those called by God and desiring to offer their gift of musical talent should contact the Rector or Parish Musician.