RESOURCES FOR FAMILY AND SMALL GROUP WORSHIP IN RESPONSE TO COVID-19

A Ministry of the School of Church Music and Worship
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Fort Worth, TX

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Over the next couple of months, churches all over the country will be gathering in homes for family worship and small groups rather than their worship centers.

As faculty members at SWBTS in the School of Church Music and Worship, we too will be gathering with our families or in small groups away from the churches which we normally attend. While we know many churches will provide materials for house worship on the Lord’s Day, we have developed some additional resources for churches and families. It is our prayer that the following resources will help brothers and sisters worship Jesus Christ, to the glory of God the Father, in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Visit this page each week over the next few months as we provide resources for your church families and small groups to use during this season.

Resources included each week:

  • PDF Leader’s Guide: The Leader’s Guide includes a “Getting Started” section which provides some key principles of Christian worship, suggested introductions to hymns, and transition statements between the elements. We’ve also written out some of the prayers … only as an example to follow what we call “Scripture-Guided Worship.”
  • PDF Service Order for the Group: An outline of the order of worship and the Scriptures and Responsive Readings.
  • Audio Files of the Hymns: We’ve recorded a piano accompaniment for each of the hymns we suggested in the order of worship. For the first few weeks of this resource all the hymns are public domain and do not require copyright permissions. Families and small groups can certainly utilize YouTube versions of any song or hymn. We hope the inclusion of the classic hymns we chose will be easy to facilitate (simply click on the link) and helpful in providing times of biblically-rich worship. These piano accompaniments are available in mp3 format or as YouTube videos with lyrics.
  • YouTube Video of the Hymns with Lyrics: In addition to the mp3 version, we have also produced YouTube videos of each hymn that include the piano accompaniment and hymn lyrics. Connect your computer to your TV and you’ll have audio and video (lyrics) to the hymns we suggested.
  • PDF of the Hymns: For those who wish to use printed hymns, we have provided PDFs to download and print.
  • Subscribe to Artistic Theologian: We simply request your name and email so we can send you worship resources in the future. All the content we provide on our Artistic Theologian website is free.

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Getting Started

For many leading the small group worship gatherings, questions might arise such as, “What do I say?” “How do we transition from one aspect of our worship to another?” “Without an order of worship, how do we know what to do?” We would encourage those facilitating the gathering (who might be treading new territory) to simply let the Word of God guide you through the worship. Here are some important things to remember:

  1. Worship is like a rhythm … God revealing, his people responding.
  2. In Christian worship, believers don’t respond to songs, or music, or a leader—we respond to God as he reveals himself through his Word by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Word does not return void!
  3. God gave us the gift of music to unite our voices as one voice to praise our glorious God. But music is limited in its power to unite us. What truly unites us is the Word of God through the Spirit of God, that’s why the Scriptures are so important during the corporate gathering—even before the message!
  4. Our access to God the Father in worship isn’t made possible by any means other than the completed work of Jesus Christ through the power of the gospel. Jesus is our worship leader! (Heb. 2:12). Take heart! He will lead by the Spirit in your living room as you gather with others to worship.
  5. Jesus is both the object and the means of our worship. We don’t gain access to God through an amazing band, an energetic worship leader, a stellar choir and orchestra, or our favorite style of music! Self-actuated worship is no more possible than self-actuated salvation. We are saved by grace and we worship by grace!
  6. We can do nothing apart from the work of the Holy Spirit. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide and direct every aspect of your small group gathering.

As we gather to worship with other believers, it’s vital to realize that what we do during our time together (whether in our churches or homes) is formational. Biblical worship clarifies our views of God, ourselves, and others. What we sing, pray, say, and do in worship shapes our devotional lives. Worship on Sunday forms how we worship and live the other days of the week, which is why it is so critical that our worship be guided by Scripture, for the Bible is what the Holy Spirit of God uses to sanctify us.

  1. We become who or what we worship! The words in Psalm 115:8 are a powerful reminder giving a warning that those who trust idols “are just like them.” However, we also see in 2 Corinthians 3:18 that as we look to Christ and worship him, we are transformed into his image.” May it be that all of us realize more and more that we resemble who or what we revere.
  2. In the previous section we looked briefly at a rhythm of worship that is simple but profound—the rhythm of Revelation and Response—God revealing and his redeemed responding. There is another rhythm in worship that we see throughout Scripture and it is the rhythm of Transcendence and Immanence. In other words, in our corporate gathering we should be reminded first of who God is! He is the one who initiates our worship. He is the one who makes it possible for us to worship. Worship begins with God, and He is all the things we are not … omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent. But through Christ, he is also intimately near. His thoughts toward us “would outnumber the grains of sand” (Psalm 139:18). The God who said, “Let there be light” (Gen. 1:3), also said, “Let the children come to me” (Luke 18:15-17).
  1. A.W. Tozer once said, “The most important fact about any human being is what they believe about God.” That’s why corporate worship centered on the Word of God is so important! While all of creation is a powerful reflection of God’s general revelation, his Word is his specific revelation to us. That’s why the Word is so important as the centerpiece of Christian worship.
  2. In his book on worship (Look and See), singer/songwriter Matt Papa says, “The triune God is the only thing large enough and interesting enough to bear the weight of glory, and ultimately worship. Anything else will break your heart. Money isn’t secure enough.… Entertainment isn’t impressive enough. Music isn’t interesting enough. Food isn’t satisfying enough. People aren’t reliable enough. The world isn’t good enough. Creation isn’t permanent enough.… Only God, the highest and greatest good, the infinite holy One, is finally enough.” Nothing can bear the weight of your worship other than Jesus Christ!

Service Orders

Opening Call to Worship – A Responsive Reading (Psalm 34:1-3)

Leader: I will bless the LORD at all times;

People: His praise will always be on my lips.

Leader: I will boast in the LORD;

People: The humble will hear and be glad.

Leader: Proclaim the LORD’S greatness with me;

People: Let us exalt his name together!

Possible transition statement to hymn: “Let’s do together what the Psalmist encourages! Let’s exalt the name of Jesus together and sing, (hymn choice title here).”

Hymn Suggestion: “All Creatures of Our God and King”

Scripture and Prayer (Psalm 34:4-7)

Possible transition from Hymn: “As Psalm 34 continues to guide our worship, listen to what David writes in verses 4-7:”

I sought the Lord, and he answered me and rescued me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant with joy; their faces will never be ashamed. This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him from all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and rescues them. (Psalm 34:4-7)

Possible prayer using the verses above as a guide:

Heavenly Father, we humble ourselves before you as we find ourselves in uncertain times. And yet, because of Christ, we can sing Hallelujah and praise you for who you are – our sovereign Creator and our gracious Redeemer. We ask, as did the Psalmist, that you would indeed deliver us from all our fears. We confess to you that we have potentially gazed at our problems and the hysteria of the world around us and only glanced at you. Forgive us for acting in ways that reflect our lack of trust in you. We pray that we would indeed look to you as our source of strength and peace, and that others might see that our trust is in you and you alone. More and more we realize how much we need you … every moment, every hour, every day. And we thank you for providing for all our needs—from the moment of our salvation to the breath we breathe in this very moment. All of us are burdened by the state of the world and the virus that has caused such havoc, but we know, as you have promised in your Word, that the angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and you deliver them. We thank you for your grace and the peace we have in Christ. We thank you for delivering us and cleansing us through the precious blood of Jesus. Amen

Hymn Suggestion: There Is a Fountain

Scripture and Group Prayer Time

Possible transition from hymn: “The Psalmist continues in Psalm 34 with these words:”

Taste and see that the Lord is good. How happy is the person who takes refuge in him! You who are his holy ones, fear the Lord for those who fear him lack nothing. Young lions lack food and go hungry, but those who seek the Lord will not lack any good thing. Come, children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Who is someone who desires life, loving a long life to enjoy what is good? Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from deceitful speech. Turn away from evil and do what is good; seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry for help. (Psalm 34:8-15)

Group Prayer Time could focus on the following:

Thanksgiving:

    • As believers we have the joy to taste and see the goodness of the Lord and that we can take refuge in him.
    • He provides for all our needs.
    • His Word gives us instruction and guidance. (vs. 8-11)

Petition:

    • For believers to live lives in a manner worthy of the gospel in speech and action (vs. 12-14).
    • For the Lord to heal those with the virus, protect those who do not yet have it, and to hear the cries for help of those who are suffering. (vs. 15)
    • For the gospel to be proclaimed to a world wondering who and what to trust in.

After the prayer time, a potential transition to the next hymn: “We worship a God who has proven his faithfulness throughout all the ages. Let’s praise him…”

Hymn Suggestion: “O God, Our Help in Ages Past” (stanzas 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6)

Closing Prayer

Download a PDF of the Leader’s Guide for this service

Download a PDF of the Service Guide for your group

Opening Call to Worship – Psalm 111:1

Possible opening statement to facilitate the opening of worship:

Leader: As we gather again away from church, we know that no matter what happens, our God is always worthy of our praise. Let’s begin our time of worship by reading out loud together Psalm 111:1.

All: Hallelujah! I will praise the Lord with all my heart in the assembly of the upright and in the congregation.

Possible transition statement to hymn: The Psalmist is clear, that he will praise the Lord with all his heart. May we do the same as we sing “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty.

Hymn Suggestion: “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” (stanzas 1–3, 5)

Piano Accompaniment mp3
Full Hymn Sheet PDF
Half Hymn Sheet PDF

Scripture, Sharing, and Prayer (Psalm 111:25)

Possible transition from Hymn (*Note: the Leader may want to ask 2 or 3 individuals to read the passages below prior to the worship time)

Leader: As the Psalmist continues, let’s consider how specifically he expresses his grateful praise:

Reader 1: The Lord’s works are great, studied by all who delight in them.

Reader 2: All that he does is splendid and majestic; his righteousness endures forever.

Reader 3: He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered. The Lord is gracious and compassionate.

All: He has provided food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever.

Possible small group discussion concerning verses 2–5:

  • How often do we pass by the Lord’s great works of creation?
  • Do we study and notice and delight in his great works?
  • In what ways can we remember and rehearse God’s goodness, grace, and compassion in our own lives?

Possible prayer using the verses and group discussion as a guide:

Heavenly Father, in these moments of remembering and reflecting on your greatness, majesty, goodness, and compassion, we bow our hearts in humble adoration. We thank you that even in your majestic glory, you are compassionate and gracious to each of us. We confess that we neglect to thank you and praise you for who you are and what you’ve done, not only for your mighty acts of creation, but for the ways you watch over each of us with a diligence we cannot begin to comprehend. We confess that we have not connected your complete faithfulness in the past with our uncertainty and fear of the future. Forgive us for the ways in which we look for blessings beyond those that you have provided and will continue to provide. And most of all, we praise you for Jesus Christ. We were lost in utter darkness, until you came and rescued us. Help us to be increasingly thankful for the most precious gift of all, our salvation. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

Hymn Suggestion: “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”

Piano Accompaniment mp3
Full Hymn Sheet PDF
Half Hymn Sheet PDF

Scripture and Group Prayer Time

Possible transition from hymn: Although we might be “prone to wander” and to “leave the God I love,” our God remains steadfast, sure, and trustworthy. The Psalmist continues in Psalm 111 with these words:

He has shown his people the power of his works by giving them the inheritance of the nations. The works of his hands are truth and justice; all his instructions are trustworthy. They are established forever and ever, enacted in truth and in uprightness. He has sent redemption to his people. He has ordained his covenant forever. His name is holy and awe-inspiring. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his instructions have good insight. His praise endures forever.

Group Prayer Time could focus on the following:

Thanksgiving:

    • Our God has always proven himself faithful throughout the ages.
    • We thank him for his completely trustworthy Word.
    • We praise and thank him for our salvation.
    • We thank him for being a covenant-keeping God.

Petition:

    • For many to come to salvation through the difficult days of uncertainty with COVID-19
    • For us to speak and act with boldness and grace we encounter people who are asking questions about life and death
    • For our missionaries all over the world—that they will have open doors for conversations and ministry to eventually see the nations worship Jesus Christ
    • That followers of Christ would gain wisdom from the Lord and his Word as we trust him, fear him, and worship him
    • That we would be people who actively praise the only One worthy of praise, and that we would seek the Lord for his guidance

After group prayer time, possible transition to hymn: As the Lord through His Spirit has guided our time this morning, we can trust that he will continue to guide us individually, and that he will be our vision for today and the days ahead. Let’s sing, “Be Thou My Vision.”

Hymn Suggestion: “Be Thou My Vision” (stanzas 1–2, 4–5)

Piano Accompaniment mp3
Full Hymn Sheet PDF
Half Hymn Sheet PDF

Closing Prayer

Download a PDF of the Leader’s Guide for this service

Download a PDF of the Service Guide for your group

Getting Started

  1. A.W. Tozer once said, “The most important fact about any human being is what they believe about God.” That’s why corporate worship centered on the Word of God is so important! While all of creation is a powerful reflection of God’s general revelation, his Word is his specific revelation to us. That’s why the Word is so important as the centerpiece of Christian worship.
  2. In his book on worship (Look and See), singer/songwriter Matt Papa says, “The triune God is the only thing large enough and interesting enough to bear the weight of glory, and ultimately worship. Anything else will break your heart. Money isn’t secure enough.… Entertainment isn’t impressive enough. Music isn’t interesting enough. Food isn’t satisfying enough. People aren’t reliable enough. The world isn’t good enough. Creation isn’t permanent enough.… Only God, the highest and greatest good, the infinite holy One, is finally enough.” Nothing can bear the weight of your worship other than Jesus Christ!
  3. As we consider the Triumphal Entry of Jesus on Psalm Sunday through the biblical passages in Matthew 21 and Psalm 118, we get a glimpse into the heart and character of our triune God. Savor the scenes painted by the Psalmist and Matthew. Imagine the sounds of the people lining the road of the procession as they waved their palm branches. Just days later, some of them would weep as they witnessed the cruelty toward Jesus, and yet others would change their shouts of “Hosanna” to cries of “Crucify him!” May we be steadfast in our praise of the One who died for us.

Opening Call to Worship – Psalm 118:1-4

Possible opening statement to facilitate the opening of worship: On this Sunday, we remember and celebrate the Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The people shouted their praise to the Lord as he rode on the donkey that day. But the people of God have always been encouraged through the Word to give the Lord praise and thanks for who he is—our Creator and our Redeemer.

As the psalmist writes in Psalm 118:1:

Leader: Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;

People: His faithful love endures forever.

Leader: Let Israel say,

People: His faithful love endures forever.

Leader: Let the house of Aaron say,

People: His faithful love endures forever.

Leader: Let those who fear the LORD say,

All: His faithful love endures forever.

Possible transition statement to hymn: “In this opening hymn, we are reminded to rejoice because the Lord is King! And as we sing the second verse, don’t miss the words and how they connect to Psalm 118 that guides our worship, “Jesus the Savior reigns, the God of truth and love…” We can trust that Jesus is reigning now, even in this difficult time, and that he will continue to reign, and that his love will endure forever!”

Hymn: “Rejoice the Lord is King”

Piano Accompaniment mp3
Full Sheet Hymn PDF
Half Sheet Hymn PDF

Scripture and Prayer Time

Possible transition from Hymn (choose 2 people to read the Scripture below):  On the day of his triumphal entry, many people who lined the road in praise had heard of the incredible miracles and mighty works Jesus had performed. Some of them may have been the direct recipient of his healing touch. They were looking for a deliverer and the promised Messiah, one who would answer them in their distress. In Psalm 118, the writer is clear in expressing his trust in the Lord. Listen to these words:

Reader 1: I called to the LORD in distress; the LORD answered me and put me in a spacious place.

Reader 2. The LORD is for me; I will not be afraid. What can a mere mortal do to me?

Reader 1: It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in humanity.

Reader 2: It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in nobles.

All: The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. (Psalm 118:5-6; 8-9; 14)

Possible prayer prompts for group prayer based on the passage just read from Psalm 118:

Confession:

    • Perhaps through the distress of this difficult time, we have not called on the Lord.
    • In the stress, it might be that our responses to others have been less than kind and gracious.
    • Maybe we have not thanked him enough for protecting us and placing us in a “spacious place.”
    • We confess our fear of things we cannot control and admit that we have lost control of the things we can … the responses to others, our response to circumstances, and our own emotions.

Thanksgiving:

    • We thank God for his Son, Jesus Christ, in whom we have our salvation, our strength, our witness, and our song.
    • We thank God for hearing our prayers.
    • We thank the Lord for knowing the details of every aspect of our lives.
    • We thank God for answers to prayer we’ve already seen through the difficulties.

Petition:

    • We pray for those who have lost their jobs because of the economic impact of COVID-19, that they would seek and find refuge and help in the Lord.
    • We pray for those who have lost loved ones and friends and that they would find their strength and hope and peace in the Lord.
    • We pray that many would come to know Christ through this difficult time through the witness of faithful Christians who model “trusting in the Lord and finding refuge in Him.”
    • We pray for wisdom for government officials.
    • We pray for strength, stamina, and protection for health care workers, doctors, and nurses.
    • We pray for our church pastors and leaders to guide and shepherd their flocks well.

Possible transition from prayer to song/hymn: “Our God not only hears our prayers, but he knows our circumstances in much greater detail than we do. He is indeed great, and he is faithful. Let’s sing…

Hymn: “Great is Thy Faithfulness” or “O Great God”

Piano Accompaniment mp3
Full Sheet PDF

Possible transition from hymn/song to Scripture: “We’ve been reminded of God’s faithful love for us throughout our time of worship this morning. As we read the Palm Sunday passage, let’s not miss the faithful love that compelled Jesus to ride into Jerusalem, knowing that each step took him closer to the Cross.

Scripture: Matthew 21:1-10:

When they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage at the Mount of Olives, Jesus then sent two disciples, 2 telling them, “Go into the village ahead of you. At once you will find a donkey tied there with her colt. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them at once.” 4 This took place so that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled:

Tell Daughter Zion,
“See, your King is coming to you,
gentle, and mounted on a donkey,
and on a colt,
the foal of a donkey.”

The disciples went and did just as Jesus directed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt; then they laid their clothes on them, and he sat on them. 8 A very large crowd spread their clothes on the road; others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them on the road. 9 Then the crowds who went ahead of him and those who followed shouted:

Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is he who comes in the name
of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!

When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in an uproar, saying, “Who is this?”

Just beneath the crowd’s celebration and their waving of Palm branches hailing him as the “blessed one,” was the reality of his soon-coming agony – the weight of the sin of the world and the wrath of God placed on him. As we read this account in Matthew, the passage closes in verse 10 with these words: “When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in an uproar, saying, “Who is this?” As followers of Jesus Christ, we have the joy and privilege of knowing who Jesus truly is and what he did – for us. May it be that we would indeed draw closer to Jesus and be more and more aware each day of who he is and what he has done on our behalf.

Hymn: “I Am Thine, O Lord” or “All I Have is Christ”

Piano Accompaniment mp3

Scripture and Closing Prayer

Possible transition from song to closing Scripture and prayer: “As we close with some of the final verses of Psalm 118, listen how closely they resemble the passage we read in Matthew:

Lord, save us! Lord, please grant us success! He who comes in the name of the Lord is blessed… You are my God, and I will give you thanks. You are my God; I will exalt you. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his faithful love endures forever. (Psalm 118:25-26; 28-29)

Possible closing prayer:

“O God our Father, through Christ Jesus you are our God and we give you thanks. As we walk through this coming week, we trust in you and you alone because we know that your faithful love endures forever. Help our belief in that truth impact our behavior. May you be glorified as your Spirit empowers us to live our lives in a manner worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In Christ’s perfect and holy name we pray, Amen.

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Service Orders

Palm Sunday

Psalm 34

Psalm 111

Hymn Accompaniments

All Creatures of Our God and King
YouTube | mp3 | PDF

Be Thou My Vision
YouTube | mp3 | PDF

Come, Thou Fount
YouTube | mp3 | PDF

Great Is Thy Faithfulness
YouTube | mp3 | PDF

I Am Thine, O Lord
YouTube | mp3

O God, Our Help in Ages Past
YouTube | mp3 | PDF

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
YouTube | mp3 | PDF

Rejoice, the Lord Is King
YouTube | mp3 | PDF

There Is a Fountain
YouTube | mp3 | PDF

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