This is the first of five reflections on worship for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
As we study the theology of the reformation, Brad and I thought it would be interesting to also explore how the reformation affected the worship service. As Brad pointed out last week, one of the rally cries of the reformation was “After darkness, light.” Light is a common metaphor for the scriptures. This comes from Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Translating the scriptures from Latin into the common language was the tipping point in making the light of scripture more accessible to the people. However, as less than 20% of the people could read3, the pubic reading of scripture during the service was a crucial part of getting scripture into people’s hearts and minds. Additionally, the scriptures needed to be explained to the people, which led to a greater emphasis on the preaching of the Word. Songs and prayers were also used to reinforce the teaching of scripture.
One type of prayer that was used exclusively to emphasize the importance of scripture was a prayer for illumination. These prayers were “offered before the reading and proclaiming of the scripture2.” These prayers sought “the illumination of the Holy Spirit to make us receptive to the life-giving Word, which comes through the scripture2.” Today, we’re going to sing a modern-day prayer of illumination, “Speak, O Lord.4” As we sing, pray that the Lord would open our eyes, light our paths, teach and revive us according to His word.
1. Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.
2. PC-USA Book of Common Worship
3. Our World in Data – Literacy
4. Getty Music – Speak, O Lord – The Story Behind the Song