It is an odd time to be looking ahead. In our lives at church, work, and home, we are taking things one day at a time. Our worship has moved to the home and our gatherings with our fellow members of Christ’s body is often mediated through a screen. Our hope, of course, is that this physical separation from one another is temporary, that we will indeed be able to see one another in person and pray and sing together before too long.
In the many months prior to our current situation, the worship team of the ELCA and Augsburg Fortress—in consultation and review with many others throughout the church—has been preparing a resource to support ongoing renewal across the church’s worshiping communities. 2020 brings us almost fifteen years since the introduction of Evangelical Lutheran Worship (ELW). A blog post in March described features of the assembly song portion of All Creation Sings, the forthcoming supplement to ELW. In addition to hymns and songs, this resource will include three new liturgical settings.
Setting 11 (following the numbering sequence after the ten settings in ELW) will be a bilingual service in Spanish and English. As many of our congregations and leaders have the need for resources in Spanish, this setting will be laid out in a side-by-side column format, allowing the assembly to alternate languages within a service if desired. The liturgical music, most of it new to the ELW family, will be bilingual as well.
Setting 12 will be a setting for Holy Communion with options for evening use. Some assemblies gather around word and table at times other than Sunday morning, perhaps on Sunday or Saturday evening. Some prayer options include language specific to this evening setting; others can be used any time of day. Much of the liturgical music is newly composed for this resource.
All Creation Sings will also include a service of word and prayer. A future post will explore this liturgy in more detail, but this is a more contemplative service that can be adapted for various contexts. The pattern includes suggestions for hearing the word, prayer, silence, and song. A number of contemplative, short songs are included in the assembly song section and would be especially fitting for this service.
The title of this resource, All Creation Sings, evokes a celebrative image that permeates the scriptures. As so much of our human activity comes to a halt right now, many have noted how the natural world has come to life in unexpected ways: clearer water, cleaner air, more abundant wildlife. Even as we struggle in these days, Easter has come. Christ is risen indeed. We place our hope in the God of creation and new creation, the Spirit who brings life in unexpected places and in unexpected ways.