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  • Rev. Daniel Benson

Reign of Christ: Make a Joyful Noise!

Updated: Nov 25, 2020

Sunday, November 22nd, 2020

When a month has a fifth Sunday, we often dedicate our worship to music, acknowledging the truth of Augustine's observation that 'singing is praying twice.' So, we echo the words of Psalm 100:

Make a joyful noise to the Lord all the earth.

Worship the Lord wtih gladness; come into his presence with a song!

But, this isn't the fifth Sunday, you say? Well, next week is the fifth Sunday but it's also Advent 1, so, what better way to mark the end of the liturgical year and the Reign of Christ than to make a joyful noise!

We've sung this version of Psalm 100 many times. Linnea Good, the composer, has deep roots in the United Church, and our hymnody is wonderfully enriched by her gifts.

Remember always, that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor masks nor viruses, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

(with apologies to Paul and the Romans for this paraphrase).

Rev. Dan.

In preparation for the following service, you may want to have a candle handy (either a real candle or one of those little battery-operated ones). We always light candles in church because they remind us of the presence and beauty of God.

Music for centering: In 1723, Johann Sebastian Bach composed a cantata called “Heart and Mouth and Deed and Life” intended for the Advent season, to celebrate God’s appearance among humanity in the person of Jesus Christ. To end each half of the cantata, he arranged a hymn tune originally composed by Johann Schop in 1642 with lyrics that have been transcribed in English as “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring”. Bach’s arrangement has become one of his best-known works.

The English pianist, Dame Myra Hess, gave new life to the music with her arrangement for piano in 1926. The piano duet arrangement that Gwen and Stan Farrow play is from a book of duets their piano teacher recommended to provide extra practice over 70 years ago.


God of all, we come today with our longings and concerns, our praise and our prayers, our gratitude, and our celebrations. We come to worship you as your people.

Open our hearts to realize where gratitude needs to be shown.

Open our spirits to share the words.

Open our lives to be your love.

As disciples of Jesus, open us to one another. Amen.

God be with you!

Robert Grant wrote this hymn in 1833, basing it on William Keathe's translation of Psalm 104 from 1561. The tune is attributed to William Croft and first appeared in 1708 as a setting for Psalm 67. Many of our great hymns have these pedigrees wherein many people over many ages draw on a variety of sources.

Lighting of the candle.

Music. The original text of this hymn was written by Henry Francis Lyte as a paraphrase of Psalm 103 ( David's Psalms, which are themselves songs, form a strong foundation of our hymnody even now!). John Goss, the organist at St. Paul's Cathedral in London, composed a new setting in 1869. The descant was added in 1975 by Herbert Belyea of Winnipeg. As you can see, even a century later, hymns are being revised and augmented in new, creative ways. And from Winnipeg, no less!

Music: One of the things new technology has offered us, is the revival of classic, beloved hymns in fresh new interpretations. Here, the one-man group "Eli Eli" sings four-part harmony for "In Christ Alone."


The sun shines down on us from an angle a little bit closer to the horizon each day -- signaling that Fall is upon us and Winter is not far behind. The streets and lawns are strewn with dabs of yellow, red, orange, and crimson as the trees shed their glory. The isolation and cautions of COVID linger like clouds that seem to block the sun, yet give no comforting shade.

In all this, we continue to be the church, to be Jesus' hands and feet in the world, to do what God will have us do to bring about God's kingdom here on earth as it is in Heaven.

Our offering is both a practical and symbolic act of our commitment to serve Christ and build His church. Although we can’t actually ‘pass the plate’ online, you are encouraged to continue your gift to the church, as the work of the St Paul’s and the staff continue:

  • Drop your envelope (cheque or cash) at the church;

  • Mail your cheque to the church;

  • Go on PAR (call the church for details);

  • Use the Donate button at the top of the page (it will take you to SPUC’s Canada Helps page where you can donate online and get an instant tax receipt).

Grant reprises his music from Good Friday.

May my gifts of time, talent, and treasure generously and lovingly offered, be instruments of change and instrumental in God's mission in the world!


Prayer. The prayer of concern and gratitude follows in video or text format. You can follow the video version, read the text aloud yourself, or do both, as you wish.

Holy, infinite, and gracious Father - God beyond all descriptions and words and God of all possibilities: embrace us and lead us as you continue to transform in us the message of what it is to follow in the way of divine love. God, be our Anchor.

Abiding Spirit, comforter, companion: blow fresh breezes to clear away the cobwebs and clouds that would dim our eyes and hearts to the reality of all the blessings that surround us, the beauty that is around every corner, the companionship that is in every heart that beats. Spirit, be our wind.

Redeeming, loving, saving, Jesus: take us by the hand and help us lift our sails to steer a course from our safe harbours to explore the stormy seas of life. Jesus; be our pilot.

And as we lift our sails, we lift our hearts and prayers in concern:

For all those and us, who live in fear, oppression, anxiety, subjugation, or isolation;

For all those and us, who long for freedom, love, understanding, or acceptance;

For all those and us, who struggle with illness, grief, despair, or anger.

For a world torn apart by hatred, bigotry, racism partisanship, and war;

For a creation that is groaning under abuse, exploitation, and pollution;

And, for all the many places in the world and in our hearts that need to feel your healing presence, O God, hear our prayers and in your love, answer.

As the wind fills our sails, we fill our hearts with gratitude:

For all those and us, who have a table and food to share;

For all those and us, who extend a helping hand in friendship;

For all those and us, who take a stand for freedom, justice, and grace;

For all those and us, who give of themselves to heal and care for others;

For all those and us, who can pause, listen, and tell the sacred story and give Good News where it is needed most;

And, for all the blessings that, like the stars in heaven, are beyond counting, O God, hear our prayers and in your love, answer.

And, of all the prayers silent and spoken, we pray the one prayer that unites us in your presence:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory,

for ever and ever. Amen.

Music: In 1738, George Frideric Handel composed the opera, “Xerxes”, about a Persian king. The opera itself was a failure (only five performances), but its opening aria “ombra mai fu” (“never was shade (more dear)” became a hit over 100 years later, most commonly as an instrumental solo played at weddings and funerals, and given the simple title “Largo”. A bit of Canadian trivia: The composition became the first piece of music ever played on the radio when inventor Reginald Fessenden included a recording of it on Christmas Eve, 1906, to open the world’s first radio concert.

Stan Farrow volunteered to play it for today’s service especially for those who miss hearing the organ (which is acting up again due to lack of use). When Stan was the pianist at Muskoka’s Bangor Lodge from 1955 to 1962, he played an hour-long Sunday Morning Musicale broadcast over the grounds’ loudspeaker system each week. The program featured “classical, semi-classical and hymn tunes” but always began with “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” and ended with “Handel’s Largo”.


You shall go out in joy and be led back in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees in the field shall clap their hands (Isa 55: 12). May God's song fill your heart; may Jesus' melody guide your way; may the Spirit's harmony stir your compassion; and, may the music of Creation ring through your soul, today, tomorrow, and always. Amen.

One Last Thought. We find music and inspiration in the oddest places. And movies about nuns are sometimes odd but always popular -- especially when they defy our preconceived notions! Here, Whoopi Goldberg teaches a bunch of nuns (if that's the correct collective term) an inspired take on the song 'My Guy,' a big hit in 1964 by Motown sensation Mary Wells.

Closing notes:

  • Don’t forget to extinguish your candle

  • Note that portions of this service are drawn and adapted from 'Gathering,' a worship resource published by The United Church of Canada.

  • Thanks to our musicians this week: Gwen Farrow, Stan Farrow, and Grant Campbell, and Stan for the explanatory notes on Bach and Handel.

  • Join friends for coffee n Sunday after church!

Topic: Sunday Coffee

Time: Nov 22, 2020 11:30 AM America/Toronto

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Nov 23, 2020

I echo Leslie's words. I enjoyed the music so much. It was definitely a pick me up for my spirit. Thanks all.



Nov 22, 2020

Rev. Dan, thank you for the service today. Thanks also to Stan, Gwen and Grant for their gift of music, so meaningful and beautiful. I really needed this service. It’s easy to feel sad for all that our world is struggling with and to forget there still is joy and hope. Today’s service was a helpful and good reminder for me.


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